This is not as many collectors thought a spaghetti western, but an action adventure movie, set during the early 1900,s. Ty Hardin is cast in the role of a British Colonial Policeman, Lieutenant King Edwards (sorry if that should make anyone think of potatoes) an unfortunate name for the leading character but hey, the movie was a pretty solid adventure yarn and also starred respected actors Rossano Brazzi and George Sanders. Directed by Nino Scolaro and Sandy Howard, this Italian, Spanish and American co-production tells the story of a policeman’s pursuit of a band of killers who have escaped from prison and whilst doing so take a hostage Piers Angeli, who provided the love interest within the story. Edwards pursues the killers over sprawling and desolate plains in Southern Africa and tackles wild and untamed countryside that is as the title of the movie suggests, ONE STEP FROM HELL. The musical score for the movie was composed by Italian Maestro Gianni Marchetti, sadly although being a more than original and talented composer of film scores; Marchetti still to this day remains almost unknown outside of Italian film music collecting circles.
The composer worked steadily on many Italian produced films throughout the 1960,s and also into the 1970,s providing these with scores that were not only perfectly shaped to the needs of the movie but contained an abundance of composition that managed to have a life away from the film for which they were intended to enhance.
Marchetti utilised a symphonic sound for the majority of his assignments but infused and bolstered this with an almost pop or up-beat style that was akin to the sound and style that was being utilized in many Spaghetti westerns etc. Marchetti pairing electric guitar with driving percussion, brass and strings to create some tantalising and effective film music moments. His score for ONE STEP TO HELL could easily be at first listen mistaken for an Italian western soundtrack, but after one begins to explore the music more deeply it yields up an eclectic sound that encompasses many styles and incorporates a plethora of instrumentation. Harmonica player Franco De Gemini, features throughout the work producing some fine musical interludes and moments as does a solo female soprano, but I do not think that on this occasion it is Edda Dell Orso.
The score begins with a rousing and infectious theme, brass and timpani combine with underlying strings and woodwind to create a sweeping and almost romantic sound, add to this Female vocal and we have an entertaining and haunting beginning to the compact disc. Track two is completely different from the opening, it leads with a slightly subdued introduction from the string section which is short lived as the composition launches into a full on and urgent cue where throbbing African sounding drums take the lead, these are punctuated by brass stabs which are almost big band sounding in style, harpsichord is added to the equation as the brass play out a pulsating theme which is almost continually accompanied by the percussion creating an atmosphere that is exciting and dramatic. Track three is for me personally the one closest to the sound of the Spaghetti western, it starts with a martial sounding beat being played lightly on drums, this is accompanied by woods and then overwhelmed by a flourish from the strings, brass again makes an entrance this time mirrored by a bass guitar, strings then segue into the proceedings along with bursts of harpsichord and faint woodwind, the timpani all the time gaining momentum in the background until it eventually becomes foreground and then the music lulls for a few moments, timpani is re-introduced alongside electric guitar which themselves then act as background to a brief interlude from female voice.
African sounding drums then return to beat out a slow but rhythmic musical passage that brings the cue to its conclusion. Track four, is another great composition that has a infectious rhythm, again percussion is utilised to create a sound that is obviously African sounding but highly rhythmic and laced with flourishes from harpsichord and brass which rises and falls giving the percussion support, depth and even more musicality, these elements act as a background to a solo flute which picks out the now established central theme from the score. Track six, is a more upbeat affair, pulsating drums hammer out a tense and near frantic backing to big band brass which is also quite tense in its presentation and performance. I think if I was asked to describe the sound that is achieved here by Gianni Marchetti, I would have to say it is a score that has elements of the sound of the spaghetti western genre, combined with the easy listening lounge sound of Italian cinema and the grandeur and romanticism of Hollywood and Cinecitta combined. In essence a must have soundtrack an essential purchase for any fan of the Italian film music Maestro’s. Presented well by Lionel Woodmans ever industrious label, Hillside with a great front cover and also another illustration inside that can double as a front cover, the liner has no notes but is filled with colourful stills from the movie. The sound is amazing and in full stereo. I do urge you to buy this score and if you have yet to discover the originality and infectious compositions of Gianni Marchetti, this is a perfect introduction and once you have been introduced you will want more of this composers soundtracks in your collection. Maybe now SEVEN RED BERETS will receive the compact disc release it deserves along side numerous scores by Marchetti that are lying in dusty vaults waiting to be given a new lease of life. Highly recommended.