Town Without Pity

Few remember – or even knew – that Gene Pitney’s breakthrough hit, “Town Without Pity,” was both the title and title song of a 1961 film. Even more surprisingly, the melody was written by Dimitri Tiomkin, who scored dozens of westerns, five films for Frank Capra (including It’s a Wonderful Life), and composed the score and theme song for Fred Zinneman’s High Noon. He not only wrote the melody for High Noon‘s “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling,” he believed in it enough to buy the rights back and release it as a Frankie Laine single. It was recorded by Tex Ritter for the film and won Tiomkin an academy award for best song.

Tiomkin’s other enduring Western classic is the theme song to the late-50s television show Rawhide, which Frankie Laine also took up the charts. Two years later, Tiomkin wrote the score and title track for “Town Without Pity,” gaining another Oscar nomination, winning a Golden Globe, and giving Gene Pitney his first Top 20 single. Pitney’s recording is included in the film, but the song is also rendered as a jazz instrumental and as a transitional theme. Tiomkin garnered several more Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and awards, but never again cracked the pop or country charts!

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