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Hitting the big 50 is something of a milestone don’t you think, well it is for certain people, and I thought that I would look back half a century to see what was going on at the cinema and what was in the racks of the record shops for us soundtrack collectors. But please don’t forget this is a purely personal view and my own opinion, Now, in 1968 I was at the tender age of 13, just a teenager, but even then, I knew I loved film music, things as you can imagine were very different in those days. There was no internet, (oh no what did we do) well we sent letters, spoke to people, used a phone in a phone box and collected LP records. Yes, there were shops in those days, yep, shops with doors that you went into and were served by staff behind a counter, and staff who knew what they were talking about. The Soundtrack sections were not that big in local shops, and orchestral scores were in the racks with musicals and albums by the likes of Frank Pourcel, Stanley Black etc who did their own take on popular themes from movies which were invariably released on Phase 4 records (which were very expensive at 42 shillings and sixpence). I don’t know about you if you were collecting in those days that is, but I preferred it then, because it was a day out when buying a soundtrack or even two. Ok let’s look at a random list of titles of movies that came out in 1968 shall we. How’s this for variety.


THE ASTRO ZOMBIES (what’s that you say, you not seen this)



So, a lot then, well there is more but the space is running out, also in 1968 there were a lot of Italian westerns being shown such as THE BIG GUNDOWN, DEATH RIDES A HORSE, DAY OF ANGER, and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY which although had been released in Italy one or two years previous had only just reached the U.K. But looking at that list its pretty impressive, Yes? So, we have there 65 titles, great you might think a soundtrack collectors dream, well no hang on, out of the 65 titles only 39 soundtrack albums were released, and most of these were re-recordings, not taken from the actual score.

Some of them such as FIND A PLACE TO DIE by Gianni Ferrio, were hard to find as well, even, A PROFESSIONAL GUN by Ennio Morricone was only available on import, one from Germany and one from France, and both were different,(do you know how infuriating that is) the German release had a different opening track, which was annoying, because you got the French version with the nice cover, then someone got the German edition, with that extra track and the not so nice cover and you had to go find that as well, well you didn’t have to but you did, you know what I mean. Then we had all those track LPS or compilations, THE GREAT MOVIE SOUNDS OF JOHN BARRY, JOHN BARRY PLAYS 007, MOVIE THEMES BY JOHN BARRY, in Super Stereo (what was that). So even then record companies were being devilish and taunting us collectors with extra cues and better-quality sound recordings, and even back then could we resist these, no way could we. Anyway.


What I am saying is the quality of the films released back then, were they better? I think they were probably more entertaining, or maybe it was because they had not been filmed before, not sure, but I for one think movies from the 1960,s through to the early 1980’s were more a lot more entertainment based, it is like the filmmakers back then set out to ensure that the audience had a great time when they sat down in front of their movies, entertaining or fresh I am not sure? But television was the same, there was certainly more variety back in the late 1960’s maybe not all of it was politically correct or was top class in the acting department, but that’s another story. All I am saying is if I ever see another show like Wedding Winners, Big Brother, All Together Now or Thru Keyhole wiv that Keith Lemon bloke again I am going to retire to a cave in the hills of Menorca and make sandals.




Ok let’s, look at some of the titles on the list, are you sitting comfortably, then I will begin. 1968. Was a good year for Alistair McClean, two of his novels were transferred to the big screen, WHERE EAGLES DARE and ICE STATION ZEBRA, and both did rather nicely thankyou at the box office, WHERE EAGLES DARE was one of those movies that you just had to go and see, believe it or not I went to the Astoria cinema to see this, now the Astoria was the palace of cinemas in Brighton, plush seats nice carpet, and an organ player at the start of the movies and also at the intermission, yes I said intermission.


Ok, hang on intermission, that was when the movie stopped half way through, for a short break, ICE CREAMS, POPCORN, KIA-ORA SQUASH and sweets with hard to open bags that made so much noise you could not hear the film, etc, remember? Right, so at the beginning of WHERE EAGLES DARE, the organist was playing some light music before the movie started, he stopped and got up and introduced the movie, he was wearing a white jacket and a big bow tie, he said he felt privileged because he was a great friend of Ron Goodwin who had written the music to the film. Which was good because it drew the audience’s attention to the music, I say this because, did you know a lot of people do not realise there is music in films, No I am not kidding its true.
So, the film opened, curtains back or was that up, not sure? The MGM lion delivered a ferocious and full roar and off we went, snare drums tapping out, a rhythm, one snare, then two, then joined by another until they are in full flow and introduce Goodwin’s dark and stirring theme for the movie, with that ominous brass, backed and punctuated by timpani, underlined by strings, and we are in, drawn in by the music which builds the tension and expectation of what will follow as it accompanies a lone what we think is a German plane manoeuvring careful through a mountainous terrain.
The film was not short on acting talent, Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood (minus his poncho), Patrick Wymark, Michael Horden, Donald Huston, Peter Barkworth, Mary Ure, Ingrid Pitt (minus her fangs).




All put in great performances as did Derren Nebitt as a German SS officer. There was also an appearance of a helicopter during the movie, which is not a machine that we normally associate with the second WW, but the German military did develop them and were quite advanced compared to the allies. I have to say I loved the movie and the score, but nowadays when I re watch it I do tend to lose interest around about half way through, maybe I need a Kia-Ora laced with Red Bull, (other energy drinks are available). I am not going to mention all the movies on the list, if I did that I would need a lot of time and a lot of Kia-Ora too. But what I will do is select just a few maybe 10 or 15 that I think were important releases or had outstanding scores, so next, has both, PLANET OF THE APES.



This was a movie that you just had to see, it was an important movie I think, ground breaking and thought provoking, brilliant direction by Franklin J Shaffner, highly creative make up by, John Chambers and a inventive and innovative musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, The Hunt scene still sends a chill up my spine when the image of the Gorilla soldier on horseback rifle in hand is accompanied by that rams horn on the soundtrack. Its one of those moments in cinema history that is iconic and will remain so forever more.


As is the final scene when we see Charlton Heston’s character Taylor realise that he has been back home on earth all the time after seeing the top half of the statue of Liberty on the beach. The other memorable scene is where Heston’s character escapes and causes chaos, Taylor is finally re-captured in a net and suspended in mid-air, an ape soldier walks up to him and touches him, and this is where Taylor speaks for the first time after his initial capture during the hunt where he is shot in the throat. TAKE YOUR STINKING PAWS OFF ME, YOU DAMN DIRTY APE. And Intermission.



Next film is, OLIVER, I really like Oliver the musical, and the movie version is one of the best musicals ever made as far as I am concerned, it has everything, lavish sets, a cast of thousands well hundreds, great songs, brilliant performances, and its Charles Dickens. What more could you want in a film, this is pure entertainment from start to finish, with wonderful performances from all concerned, Ron Moody stands out above all I must say, and Oliver Reed is just perfect as Bill Sykes, even the dog Bullseye puts in a good performance, just think the part of Bill Sykes was originally going to be given to Richard Burton with Nancy being played by Elizabeth Taylor. The part of Nancy was also rumoured to being offered to Julie Andrews and Shirley Bassey after Georgia Brown who played the role on the west end stage version, was not even considered and Fagin was offered to Dick Van Dyke, (thank you Lord for not giving it to him), it was also offered to Laurence Harvey and Peter Sellers.


The song WHO WILL BUY, I think you will agree is the showstopper, or at least one of the biggest numbers in the movie. They filmed it in Bloomsbury square, London and it took six weeks to shoot. And finally, just to spoil your illusions of the angelic voice coming from Mark Lester’s mouth, it wasn’t him, it was Kathe Green daughter of Johnny Green the musical director on the movie, but I am sure Lester did not mind, especially when he got his pay cheque a few years later on his 18th Birthday, it had been put in trust for him. The first thing he did was buy a Ferrari. (Good boy Oliver, Good boy).


Let’s move away from the dirt and decay of Victorian London and go back in time to the days of Oliver Cromwell and the British Civil War, where Royalists fought the Parliamentary forces for the control of this green and pleasant land, and whilst all this was going on, THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL was going about his business, you know drowning innocent women, burning the odd witch here and there, accusing innocent people of being in league with the devil, torturing priests and women, nice work if you can get it.



Vincent Price took the role of THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL, and I have to say did a really good job, but director Michael Reeves, did not necessarily agree with my opinion whilst the film was being shot. He and Price did not hit it off, Reeves had wanted Donald Pleasance to play the central character Matthew Hopkins, but the American production company who held the purse strings insisted on Price, Reeves found it hard to conceal how disappointed he was and Price sensed this, the director apparently criticised the actor after a scene had been filmed, Price was furious, and shouted at the director, “YOUNG MAN I have made 84 films, What have you done”? Reeves replied, “I made three good ones”.

The film starred British heartthrob and long-time friend of Reeves, Ian Ogilvy and included some strong supporting roles by Nicky Henson, Hilary Dwyer, Rupert Davies, Patrick Wymark, Wilfred Brambell and Robert Russel. One of the most attractive things about the movie was the musical score by Paul Ferris, originally most of the score was intended as library music, and to this day it is still the property of DE WOLFE music in London. Ferris penned a theme which many say is based upon GREENSLEEVES, and there are certainly similarities, the romantic sound achieved by the composer was completely the opposite to 90 percent of what was taking place on screen, but it worked and the music for WITCHFINDER was on many film music collectors WANTS list for decades and was not given an official release until 2013. Although a handful of promotional LPS were pressed for radio stations at the time of the film’s release, with music from THE CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR (also released in 1968) on the B side. Veteran composer Kenneth V Jones also contributed a few cues to the score after the producers deemed that the film needed more music for the action sequences. Ferris was also in the movie and used a stage name which was Morris Jar, a homage to the composers favourite Maestro.

When the film was eventually released onto DVD the company who owned the rights to the film refused to pay Ferris royalties, so they commissioned another score which was not appreciated by fans of the movie. The film appeared in several watered-down guises because the censors never seemed to be happy with how it was edited, WITCHFINDER GENERAL is in my opinion a classic piece of British Horror, and a movie that stands head and shoulders above most of the Hammer productions of that period, it has to it a reality a gritty and stark outlook, which shocks but at the same time attracts the watching audience. From the grizzly goings on in the dungeons of rural Suffolk we head up, up and away into the beyond for.

2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) Space Station One by Robert McCall


2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY. I saw this when I was fifteen and not when it was originally released in 1968, and to be honest, I did not really get it, don’t get me wrong the film is a masterpiece of direction and cinematography, made by a Master of his craft Stanley Kubrick, but I just did not understand it, for me it was overlong, and even the Kia-Ora at half time did not revive my interest, and the trip at the end, well it gave me a headache, ok I hear you all shouting WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU but I am being honest, didn’t like it never seen it since. Music was good or at least I thought it was a good use of classical music in a movie, but in later years after hearing Alex North original score that had been rejected by Kubrick, I was astounded, that the director saw fit not to use it. Maybe it’s a case of the filmmaker not wanting to hand his film over to the composer for fear of the composer diluting it or even overpowering the images, I don’t know. So, 2001, hailed as a classic by all, apart from yours truly.

Now off we go to Italy, the home of spaghetti, ice cream, the Vatican, madmen on scooters and Nino Rota. Rota is for me the most important Italian composer next to Morricone when it comes to film music, his collaborations with director Federico Fellini, have given us some of the most beautiful themes for cinema and in 1968 the Maestro wrote what is now an iconic love theme for Franco Zeffirelli’s version of ROMEO AND JULIET, this was a visually stunning movie, every frame lovingly put together by the master filmmaker, and underlined perfectly by Rota’s haunting soundtrack music. The star-crossed lovers portrayed wonderfully by Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. This is, Shakespeare’s classic tale of romance and tragedy. Two families of Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets, have been squabbling and fighting with each other for generations, the young Romeo Montague goes out with his friends to make trouble at a party that the Capulets are hosting, but while there he spies the Capulet’s daughter Juliet, and falls hopelessly in love with her. She has similar feelings, but they both know that their families will never allow them to follow their hearts. Rotas score and Zeffirelli.s direction gave new life to the Bard’s writings and gave us the understated but emotive love theme that still today can be recognised by many after hearing the opening three or four notes. Its unbelievable that so many movies that were produced in 1968 went onto become classics, and even now 50 years on are still considered as entertaining as they were when first released, and that’s not just by us old fossils. Ok I feel a Ki-Ora break coming on, yes, its Pearl and Dean time or maybe, Pathe News So Whilst I have my juice and my Ice Cream tub, with a wooden spoon, here is next weeks coming attraction, for your approval.


Well that looks good doesn’t it. THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, was directed by Tony Richardson, who is probably as controversial a figure in filmmaking as the charge itself. Was it an act of valour, courage and heroic daring do, or was it simply a military blunder? The movie is very different from other versions of the story, it is more of an anti-war movie than a film that promotes the glory of war, instead it lays bare the bones of the futility of conflict and the suffering and pain that conflict causes. During the ill-fated charge of British troops at Balaclava in the Crimean War, loyal soldiers who blindly followed orders were led to certain death.
This is the fifth time the story has been told on film, but the actual event of the charge is in fact an afterthought to the films main storyline. We see inept generals who have paid for their commission rather than earned it alongside politicians making decisions from a far that will affect the lives of many ordinary men who have become soldiers to fight for their Queen and country, These, pompous officers end up standing thigh high in dead bodies, because of their own in fighting and their ill-informed and inept ways and even after the battle still continue to argue and pass the blame from one to another. The director, manages to vividly transfer this to the screen, and highlights the high degree of fanaticism and total disregard for the ordinary foot soldier and cavalryman by the higher arcy of the army. Which led to the wanton slaughter of hundreds on the day of the charge. The movie cost some five Million pounds to produce, with its lavish costumes and sets alongside hundreds if not thousands of extras. After the movies initial release, it re-couped just a million pounds, which was disappointing to say the least for the director, and almost as disastrous as the charge itself. However, it has since its release become something of a cult movie being shown on TV regularly and being transferred to both video and more recently to DVD and Blu Ray.

charge of the light brigade - cinema quad movie poster (1).jpg


Trevor Howard, John Gielgud, David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave head the excellent cast. With a supporting cast made up of a plethora of faces that read like a who’s who from British cinema. The music was by John Addison, who was a composer that worked steadily within the British film industry, scoring pictures such as TOM JONES, TORN CURTAIN, THE HONEY POT, THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS, GUNS AT BATASI, START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME and A FINE MADNESS to name but a few from the 1960’s. He continued to write music for films and TV up until 1996, with films such as A BRIDGE TOO FAR and THE CRIMSON BUCCANEER benefiting greatly by the Maestro’s magical touch. His most popular and recognizable theme for TV being MURDER SHE WROTE.





Staying with the theme of the Empire and the pomp ceremony and stiff upper lips of the British from the Victorian age, we move to India, or at least the Khyber Pass, of course I am referring to that classic British comedy, CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER. This was yet another comedic romp for a cast that was instantly recognizable, and a few new faces in the form of Roy Castle for example. Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond (Sid James) looks after the British outpost near the infamous Khyber Pass. A pass which has led to the defeat of many a foreign army, but in the hands of the kilted Third Foot and Mouth regiment, you would think that it was in safe hands. But the Khazi of Kalabar (Kenneth Williams) has other ideas. He wants all the British dead! But his troops fear these “skirted-devils”; they are rumoured not to wear anything underneath. Then one is caught with his kilt down and his pants on…and all mayhem breaks loose.
This I think is one of the more interesting CARRY on movies, of course it still contains all the seaside postcard humour that the other Carry on films do, but that is all part and parcel of things, its saucy, hammy, suggestive and dare I say the word again, ENTERTAINING. The musical score by resident carry on composer Eric Rogers was in fact dramatic and contained a slice of Elgar-esque tone when the movie required it. At the time of the films release no soundtrack was available, but in recent years a suite of music from the movie has appeared on various compilations of Carry on music. I think that the 1960’s were a little too easily labelled as being the swinging era of Britain, yes of course there was a certain element of risqué and sexual freedom in movies, but I also think that in the 1960’s especially the latter part of the decade, films were just purely entertainment, there was no hidden agenda behind any of the scenes, it was simply entertainment, I am also of the opinion that as the 1960’s reached their end, audiences seemed to be easier to please and were a lot less critical. But that is a personal view. We are off to the world of horror once again for the next movie, it’s a Hammer film, s we know it will be good, don’t we?


DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, was the fourth movie in Hammer’s Dracula cycle, if you include THE BRIDES OF DRACULA which starred David Peel as the bloodsucking Count. It is for the most part typical Hammer Horror fodder, and thankfully it had not yet sunk to the employment of too much sexual content to keep the storyline interesting, the first half of the movie plodded along and had no real direction or substance, but, thankfully the plot becomes more interesting as the pace quickens mid=way through the proceedings with a strong and memorable finish. I think I am right when I say it was the first Christopher Lee, Dracula movie where the Count had dialogue, this was when the enraged Count screams at a priest when he finds a crucifix attached to the door of castle Dracula, “WHO HAS DONE THIS THING”. Stalwart star of stage, screen and TV, Rupert Davies is convincing as the Monsignor who becomes Dracula’s nemesis and Veronica Carlson adds the glamour throughout as Maria, the Monsignor’s Granddaughter, who is the object of Dracula’s attention. Music is courtesy of the great and sadly missed composer James Bernard, who worked on numerous films for the House of Horror. Again, the music from this and previous Dracula movies from Hammer was never made available in their full version, there were a few compilations which offered watered down arrangements of the themes, by Dick Jacobs and his orchestra etc, but we had to wait until the early 1990’s for Silva Screen to take a step into the unknown and release MUSIC FROM HAMMER FILMS on which there was a suite of music including the Finale from DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE.

Then a few years later enter GDI records and that opened the flood gates for a wealth of marvellous Hammer soundtracks to be made available on compact disc, this was a wonderful series, and I suppose an historic one for British film music. 1968, was a bumper year for great movies, and it must be said that even the not so good releases are probably better than what is being aired in cinemas these days. We were treated to classy westerns such as, 5 CARD STUD, BANDOLERO, SHALAKO, THE SCALPHUNTERS and FIRECREEK. Plus, HANG EM HIGH which was Hollywood’s answer to the success of the Italian western, with Clint Eastwood in the leading role. Ironically Italian western FIND A PLACE TO DIE was also released and took its storyline from the more traditional American or Hollywood made western. But Spaghetti westerns were on the up as well, with one film in particular that year attracting audiences,

A PROFESSIONAL GUN was directed by Sergio Corbucci, and starred Franco Nero, Jack Palance and Tomas Milian, it was what became known as a Zapata western, which was a sub-genre of the Italian made western, and set in the days of the Mexican Revolution, thanks to an inventive screenplay by Luciano Vincenzoni who worked with Sergio Leone on THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, and strong performances from all of the main characters, it was a roaring success, it contained what is now regarded as a text book Italian western soundtrack, which was penned by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai and contained performances by Alessandro Alessandroni as a whistler and guitarist. Musicals too were still in demand, FINIANS RAINBOW for example with Fred Astaire, Petulia Clark and Tommy Steele. FUNNY GIRL with Barbara Streisand and Omar Sharif, STAR with Julie Andrews and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, with Dick Van Dyke. Lionel Jefferies, Gert Frobe, Robert Helpmann and Sally Ann Howes.


Based on the novel by Ian Fleming, yes, the James Bond guy, this was great entertainment for kids of all ages, just watch out for that pesky child catcher, (I never could resist a lollipop). Horror movies were also popular, maybe the days of the typical Gothic horror was on its way out, but in 1968, THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR and THE BLOOD OF FU MAN CHU (not technically a horror), hit the screens, but it was also a time of a new breed of horror, which came in the form of THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the harrowing ROSEMARYS BABY. Both movies went beyond the horror that we had become accustomed too and acted as a blue print for many chilling tales that were to follow, and still to this day influence what we see in the cinema. There were also examples of the genre, that maybe we really can’t take too seriously THE ASTRO ZOMBIES for instance. Hammer were active in 68, with the previously referred to, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE and THE VENGEANCE OF SHE, with their rivals AMICUS films having success with THE TORTURE GARDEN. Then there was THE HOUR OF THE WOLF (VARGTIMMEN) a phycological horror from Sweden, which starred Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann. So again, a wide variety of films even if they are all from one genre. It was a year when stars of the silver screen such as, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Henry Fonda, Lucille Ball, Marlon Brando. Richard Burton, Steve McQueen, Tony Curtis and their like were regulars on both the big screen and on TV.
There were also movies that were maybe looked upon as being a little seedy, as it were, in other words they dealt with the more delicate, racier or sensitive areas, these included, IF, ALL NEAT IN BLACK STOCKINGS, THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE, PRUDENCE AND THE PILL, UP THE JUNCTION, HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH and their like. A time of wonderful movies great soundtracks and life that was as I remember, not so complicated.

It was the year of the 41st Academy Awards, with OLIVER!! Winning Best Picture, and also receiving Academy Awards for Art Direction-Set Decoration (John Box, Terence Marsh, Vernon Dixon, and Ken Muggleston), Directing (Carol Reed), it also won best Score for a Musical Picture, original or adaptation by John Green, (an Award that I don’t think exists anymore) it also won for Sound (Shepperton Studio Sound Department), and Onna White received an Honorary Award for her outstanding choreography on the movie. Katharine Hepburn became the first person to win three Academy Awards in either the Best Actor or Best Actress categories. This year, she won for the LION IN WINTER. That however was a tie with, Barbra Streisand, for her role in Funny Girl. This was at the time the second time in Academy history two performers had tied for an Academy Award. Hepburn also became the third individual to win the honor in consecutive years. Her 11 acting nominations were also a new record. Martha Raye was presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, making her the first woman to be so honored, and the Honorary Award went to John Chambers for his outstanding and highly creative makeup achievement for PLANET OF THE APES. Other movies that are worth a mention from 1968, include, YELLOW SUBMARINE (only coz its yellow and it’s a submarine), ANZIO, THE BIGGEST BUNDLE OF THEM ALL, MAYERLING, PERFORMANCE, THE BOSTON STRANGLER, BULLIT, and COOGANS BLUFF. Plus, we should not forget, HOW TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE AND RUIN YOUR LIFE, HELLFIGHTERS, FOR THE LOVE OF IVY, THE PRODUCERS, LADY IN CEMENT, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY, THE STALKING MOON and BARBARELLA. (who could forget Barbarella), and then there was THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, yes there was a version in 1968, long before the not so interesting recent version in 1999, the original directed by Norman Jewison, oozed charisma and charm, and starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, with an outstanding soundtrack by French composer Michel Legrand.

The score boasted an array of luscious jazz numbers and a whole lot more with two songs from the movie becoming hits, THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND and HIS EYES, HER EYES. So, 1968, was it a good year for film, and film music oh yes it was, and I am so glad I was there to witness it.