There are a few new soundtracks out or at least have been announced that I thought I would cover in addition to the latest batch in Soundtrack Supplement forty-nine.  I was impressed by the music for the EA video game Battlefield 1943, which contains some very stirring material composed by Ian Livingstone.

The score is overflowing with drama, drive, and vibrancy. It maybe a new score but I think it evokes many of the great soundtracks from the war movies that were produced in the 1960’s such as The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare, etc. It is filled with rich thematic material and has to it a sweeping and striving persona packing a resounding and powerful punch, a brief work but nevertheless well worth a listen which is available on most digital platforms.

Filmmaker MJ Bassett has helmed the movie Endangered Species, which contains a score by composer Scott Shields, the movie, which was released in 2020, is a drama and focuses upon a family who are in a safari park but are set upon by a rhino which destroys their transport leaving them injured and panic stricken at the mercy of the wilderness. The composer gets the balance just right and not only manages to enhance the magnificent scenery displayed in the movie with his score but also adds layers of tension and emotion to the proceedings weaving in ethnic touches along the way that include African vocals which are highly effective. Although the work enhances and elevates the more action focused scenes as in Leopard Attack with its dominant percussive elements creating tense and nervous atmospheres, it also has to it a melancholy and poignant sound that is highly affecting. As in Look at the View. I enjoyed this a lot.

The French composer and music producer Rob (Robin Coudert) always manages to come up with music and musical sounds that are pleasing and melodic but more importantly creates scores and soundtracks that are supportive of every project he is involved with. Oxygen is one of his latest works for film and is no exception to the high standard of music that he has already written. This is an interesting French Sci-Fi movie released by Netflix which can be categorized I think predominantly as a survival movie.

The music is suitably tense and smoldering, the film’s producer Alexandre Aja and Rob collaborated previously on Horns (2014) which also contained an interesting soundtrack. The music perfectly underlines and adds weight to the already tense and claustrophobic mood of the story. With electronic and auditory sounds having most of the work, it is a worthwhile listening experience, currently available on digital platforms only.

Intrada records in the States have once again been busy re-releasing Sleepy Hollow (1999) by Danny Elfman and Extreme Prejudice (1987) by Jerry Goldsmith.

 Sleepy Hollow is a score I have always liked in the context of the film and as a listening experience also away from the movie. Elfman’s dark but wonderfully lyrical soundtrack is to be given a four compact disc re-issue by the label.

With so much music coming I often wonder do we really need every piece of music that the composer penned for a movie, I think I am content with my single disc soundtrack, but it won’t stop me investigating the Intrada release. The same goes for Extreme Prejudice, which will get a two CD re-issue.

For me it was one of the highlights of Goldsmith’s work during the 1980’s and had to it some of that sparkle and drama that we heard during the 1960’s from the composer. So, two scores that I think will be great additions to your collection if you do not already have them. Another label that features large with collectors of film music is the ever industrious La La Land records, and this August they will release a volume two of music from the vintage and popular TV series The Time Tunnel, which features music by various composers including John Williams, Leith Stevens, and others. This is a three CD set and a must have item.

The label has also announced Star trek ll-The Wrath of Khan by the late James Horner which will be a two CD set. Both The Time Tunnel and Star Trek ll are limited additions of 10,000 units.

The Retreat (2021) focuses upon a lesbian couple who are having problems in their relationship who go to a wedding retreat to try and get back on track but end up fighting off a group of serial killers who are trying to kill them, blood and drama all the way with this one. The movie contains a tense score by Steph Copeland. Based, in Toronto, Copeland is a composer, producer and singer/songwriter best known for her genre film scores and darker leaning electro-pop works (I’ll Take Your DeadBite, Antisocial 1 & 2).

Her more recent work has been composing music for City-TV’s 2020 dramatic series The Wedding Planners as well as various made-for-TV romantic dramas (The Art of Falling in Love, and Snowbound for Christmas). Her score for The Retreat is inventive and intense as well as being wonderfully atmospheric and affecting. I know this will be of interest to fans of the horror genre. A composer to watch, I think.

Next up is the soundtrack for an animated series that started airing on August 11th 2021 by the Disney Plus channel, What if? Is a reimagining of famous events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, the series often flipping them and presenting them in different ways It is Marvels first animated series with directorial duties being undertaken by Bryan Andrews; The suitably heroic and anthem like sounding score is by composer Laura Karpman. Her music is very thematic and rousing, sounding grandiose and commanding throughout. Much of the work is symphonic from what I am hearing, with enhancements from electronics being subtle and minimal, but there again I could be wrong because synthetics have come such a long way in the past ten years, it often being difficult to tell symphonic and electronic apart. I have to say I was hooked right from the outset on this score, it is colourful, vibrant, and attractive. Available the likes of Spotify and Amazon. Check it out.

Another horror score that is available on digital platforms is The Stairs music courtesy of B.C Smith. The music perfectly conveys sinister moods and dread filled atmospheres, the textures and colours of the music realising uneasy and disturbing layers that underline and give greater depth to the scenarios unfolding on screen.

The composer makes effective use of guitar throughout the work, sometimes purveying light and melodic pieces but at other times acting in a more threatening and malevolent fashion. I did catch a hint of a nod to to maybe Morricone via the guitar performances, I think this manifests itself in Hunting Trip, and within the cues Blood Moon which is brief but effective and ShroomSexKill that attracts because of its diverse sound and instrumentation. The composer creates a fine balance within the score that switches from melodic and lilting, to tense and unsettling very quickly, this is inventive and masterful giving us a glimpse of his real talent and gift for fashioning affecting motifs and music for film. The Stairs is a soundtrack that you should check out.

Released in 2020 Minamata stars Johnny Depp as war photographer W.Eugene Smith who travels back to Japan to document the awful and devastating effects of mercury poisoning in communities on the coastline of the country. The music is by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who has written a sensitive and emotive sounding work to enhance and give greater life to the images and characters on screen. The composer employing both conventional instruments as in solo violin, piano, voice, and strings to which he adds synthetic and electronic textures, the combination of both symphonic and synthetic is stunning and creates some heart stopping and heart-breaking moments that are filled with poignancy. It is the kind of score that leaves you silence and deep in thought after you have heard it.

The track Boy and Camera is particularly affective with a simple piano piece being bolstered by underlying strings that builds gradually but melts away before it fully develops. An interesting score, give it a listen.

Noah is invited by his best friend Ethan to take part in expeditions that Ethan organizes with his gang in the depths of the subway. In this dark and in-between world they compete to find their place, Ethan challenges the teenagers to jump over the rails before the train arrives. For Noah, risking his life seems to be the only way to be accepted and, above all, to exist in Ethan’s eyes.

That’s a brief synopsis of a new movie entitled The Life Underground, the movie is a Swiss production and has a great soundtrack by composing trio Diego, Nora and Lionel Baldenweg, or Great Garbo as they are known. The score is a varied and entertaining one, with jazz influenced trumpet performances throughout, subdued woods, vibes, strings, and percussion also being utilised to great effect. This is at times a brooding and mysterious sounding work, but for the most part maintains a level and air that can only be described as innovative.

The way in which instruments are combined or put together is itself interesting as well as being a rewarding listen. I would recommend that you take a listen to this as soon as you can, I know you will enjoy its vibrancy and freshness and its attractive and beguiling musical persona.

Finally, to a score by French composer Sacha Chaban (The Aftermath, The Vanished and Darkness Falls). Redemption Day is a powerful and driving soundtrack with the composer turning to both synths and symphonic instrumentation to create a commanding and exhilarating soundtrack.

The composer makes such effective use of percussion with booming and relentless cues that are interwoven and punctuated by strings that too are hard and driving and seem to push the percussion along at pace. But there is more to this than just action fuelled cues, the composer provides the movie with lighter touches and melodic and delightful sounding pieces such as On the Way to School and Boxing with Dad, but soon returns to a darker and more upbeat style,

The score is tense and taught for the majority of its duration, but because it is action led does not mean that there are no themes, because these are present in their abundance, another one for you to check out on digital platforms.  Until next time folks…


These soundtrack supplements seem to come around quicker each time. Which is good news for all film music fans because it means that there has been a bundle of new soundtrack releases. And like always we try to include new scores, re-releases and scores from yester-year that did not get a release when the movie was in cinemas. Plus, at times look at scores that you could have missed. One of my favourite soundtracks from the late 1960’s being released in 1969.

Stiletto, is something of an oddity because although the soundtrack was popular amongst soundtrack fans the movie did not really do that well at the box office, it is most certainly a case of the music being more popular and outliving the actual movie it was written for. The movie was based on the novel by Harold Robbins and had a score by composer Sid Ramin, now Ramin was not a film music composer in the real sense but had worked on numerous movies including West Side Story. The soundtrack was originally released on a long-playing LP record on the CBS label, as well as the theme and the song from the soundtrack Sugar in The Rain being released on a single, the song had lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman who had worked with French Michel Legrand.

The style of the song with Ramin’s sugary sounding easy listening arrangement was something straight of the Legrand songbook but was perfect for the movie. Performed by Sally Stevens, who was uncredited on the album and who was something of a celebrity when it came to performing on film soundtracks was born in Los Angeles. Stevens attended UCLA, and began her work in film, television, and sound recordings in 1960 while still at UCLA. The first film score she sang on was How the West Was Won in 1961, and the most recent being Deadpool 2, in 2018. She worked in Variety TV with famous artists such as Danny Kaye, Red Skelton and Carol Burnett. She contracted vocals for, and sings on Family Guy, The Simpsons and American Dad. She toured as soloist with Burt Bacharach, and before this with Ray Conniff and Nat King Cole. Her solo work includes hundreds of TV series and film scores, and in the mid-eighties she added Vocal Contracting to her work, contracting choirs for John Williams, Danny Elfman, Jamers Horner, James Newton Howard, Alan Silvestri, Marc Shaiman, Don Davis, Tyler Bates and many others.

She has written lyrics for film, sound recordings and TV for composers Burt Bacharach, Dominic Frontiere, Don Ellis, Dave Grusin and others. She served as Choral Director for the Oscars broadcasts for over twenty years and sings on the Main Title of The Simpsons and Family Guy, still airing as of 2021. Her talents are manyfold and the performance on Stiletto is sexy, sultry, and stunning.

Ramin’s score is a tour de force of dramatic and jazz influenced compositions, the composing blending and perfecting them as he develops and expands the tonality, musicality, and textures of his score. The inventiveness and the impact of the music is absorbing and compelling. The soundtrack was on many wants list for a compact disc release and finally a few years ago Vocalion records released it, the running order is the same as the original Long Play record, the sound however is much improved.

It is a must have item and an essential addition to your collection, it’s up there with the likes of Bullit, In the Heat of the Night, and Shaft, totally groovy and infectious, with its bass punctuation, jazz brass and totally out there Hammond organ. Every track is an outstanding one, with the composer building and adding nuances here and there to create tension and drama but also at the same time producing some light and easy-going cues as in Goat Island and Illeana’s Theme both of which ooze a classy Italian style which is akin to The Godfather. The latter having affiliations with the Bossa Nova styles of Mancini and Morricone. 

The score is also available to check out on digital platforms, this is an addictive and entertaining listen, if you missed it in the 60’s don’t miss it this time.

Four years after Stiletto was released Superfly came along and with it the now classic disco, funk and soul flavoured soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. I have the LP and the subsequent CD release, which I do return to often, but on digital platforms there is a two disc edition which is billed as the 25th Anniversary release which contains a lot of instrumental cues that were not on the original releases. It’s great to listen to all the familiar tracks plus more expanded versions of these and orchestral compositions that we heard in the movie all those years ago.

Tracks such as Freddys Dead, Eddie you Should Know Better and Check out your Mind all in instrumental form. It was in my opinion already a classic score from the 1970’s but with all these extra tracks, radio spots and a track including Mayfield talking about scoring the movie, this is just stomping. It rivals the Hayes penned Shaft score and puts Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack in the shade. Wonderful stuff, great memories.

So to something new, and to the highly atmospheric and effecting score from Miranda Veil which is the work of composer Ian Le Cheminant, on frsst hearing the soundtrack I was struck by the daunting and rather foreboding atmosphere that the music conjured up in my mind. This mood and sound open the work and it continues three tracks in, then the atmospherics and aura of the work alters as we are treated to the simple tones that the composer employs in Miranda and Co Drink (track number four), although synthesised it has to it a lilting and an attractive persona, the melody is brief but establishes itself straight away and becomes haunting.

However, the darker style and the shadowy moods continue, and although I have to say there is not really a great deal of melodic content, it is a score I would say is worth a listen for the times that the melodies and the inventive sounds do surface. Available on digital platforms via solar flare music, the score runs for over an hour and I have to say once I started to listen, I could not stop.

One impressive score is from the Netflix anime series Transformers War of Cybertron Trilogy; Kingdom which has a robust and vibrant score by composer Alexander Bornstein who also scored the Seige part of the trilogy and recently worked on TV series The Boys and Are you Afraid of the Dark 2. Bornstein’s music you have most definitely heard before but maybe did not realise that he was the composer as he has provided additional music, synth programming and arrangements for movies and TV shows such as The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space, The Smurfs, and Ray Donovan.

The score for Kingdom is proud and exciting filled with adventure and oozing rich and driving themes and has to a sound and style that maybe Jerry Goldsmith would have written, and Brian Tyler does so well. Brass, percussion, strings and woods combine to fashion a soundtrack brimming with tense and sweeping themes, the composer enhancing these with electronic support. There is however a softer side to the score which can be hears in Coda which is a beautifully affecting melody for strings, violin, flute and piano.

The Green Knight, has a score by Daniel Hart, and although I have to say it is not what I expected is still an entertaining work in a small way at least, but maybe not one on my top ten list of new releases.

I found it to offbeat at times, and it never seems to get going or develop, it teeters on the edge but never truly dives in and brings to fruition anything that is memorable or thematic it is available on digital platforms which is good because then you don’t have to take up valuable shelf space with it. Disappointing.

The score for the video game Eldest Souls, is probably everything that The Green Knight is’nt, its robust thematic and powerful, with choral performances and at times upbeat cues filled with inventive and rhythmic percussive elements and brass underlined by strings that create a driving pace that punctuates and carries the work forward. Music is by composer Sergio Ronchetti, and I have to say I am impressed, take a listen below.  

Relentless Justice is a 2015 movie that was scored by the one and only Chuck Cirino, and like all of score this one does not disappoint.  This I think is one of his best scores, it seems more developed and thematic than others, but there again Cirino always writes a good tune in my book, no matter what the budget or the genre. This is a gripping score, a melodic score and also a dramatic and vibrant one. I must add that it is a polished work that makes one want to return to it again and again. You must check it out asap, its on digital platforms.

And don’t forget Cirino’s score for The Sorceress (1995)is also on digital platforms from Dragons Domain Records and is well worth a listen.  

John Murphy’s score for The Suicide Squad is about to get a release, and on hearing it I was somewhat unimpressed at first, it has to it a more rock than symphonic vibe although there are along the way some symphonic sounding heroic themes, but initially one would think it is just a rock influenced work which is bolstered and supported with symphonic textures. However, after listening through a few times, I must admit that I do like it, maybe because its somewhat different from what we perceive as superhero film scores but saying this The Suicide Squad are not your conventional superheroes are they, if indeed there is such a thing as being conventional when discussing superheroes. So, the score is different but very entertaining, with intense musical passages that are filled with that rock sound which is enhanced via the symphonic colours of the orchestra, that are in likewise supported via electronic /synth sounds. It is worth a listen, and I think you will be surprised in a good way.

I particularly like The Squad Fight Back, which is a prime example of a theme starting out in rock mode and altering course and ending up being a proud and anthemlike symphonic piece plus there is Suicide Squad vs Starro the Conqueror, again the composer applying both symphonic and the more upbeat styles of the score and combining these to great effect.  Take a listen.  

Jungle Cruise is the latest work from composer James Newton Howard and well what can I say, it is up to his normal high standard, and I listened to it so many times but never tired of it, it is a fusion of contemporary styles that are mixed with the more filmic soundtrack styles that we have come to know and love. Its high octane, melodic, dramatic, and also romantic with a touch of the mysterious. In many ways it reminded me of the sound of the late James Horner with Newton Howard placing his own musical fingerprint upon it as well add to this a striving and sweeping style akin to Williams and Goldsmith and that is what we have here. Highly recommended go and listen now here.

The Pact by composer Frederic Vercheval is certainly worth checking out, it is mysterious but at the same time affecting and subtle sounding work via its subdued but elegant themes, there is a sound present that although apprehensive is also melodic, it evokes Morricone, and also has affiliations with the style of Herrmann creating a tense atmosphere but remaining alluring. Recommended available on digital platforms vis Movie Score Media.

The same can be said of his score for Duelles which is also released on digital platforms, there is inventive and innovative writing within the score and I found it strangely affecting and almost hypnotic in places, the composer bringing to fruition compositions that have hints of themes and touch upon motifs without really developing them, thus leaving the listener waiting for more.Recommended.

Next is a work by composer Sacha Chaban for the Horror, mystery The Aftermath, the score is a fusion of styles and also of instrumentation as in synthetic and a scattering of the more conventional, I do think it is a good score and there are present at certain points hints of themes that are delicate and display a fragility, but for the most part the music is apprehensive and action led as in track number two, I Need Someone Here Right Now, the composer creating a tense and chaotic atmosphere which is harrowing to say the least. He fashions this frenzied sound via swirling strings and percussive elements that drive and race along at pace purveying a sense of desperation and urgency. Then there is track number three Who are You, still there is an underlying mood of apprehension present, but the theme that the composer has written is lilting and emotive, starting out on piano and then being handed to the string section, until midway through the cue when a more menacing and percussive persona emerges telling the listener that not all is well here. There is still a hint of melody, but it is soon overwhelmed by a fearsome and foreboding aura.

It is a score for a horror movie so expect the norm with dark and ominous passages etc, but there is a side to this score that if you listen carefully is melodic and at times poignant, which manifests itself in Antilove (track number five) and Would you like to create a Second One (track number six). Recommended.

American Traitor Trial of the Axis follows the life of American woman Mildred Gillars portrayed by Meadow Williams and her lawyer played by Al Pacino as they struggle to redeem her reputation.

The score is by Kubilay Under, who’s scores for the movies For Lovers Only (2011) and the Tom Berenger western Gone are the Days from 2018 I enjoyed. This latest offering from the composer is an interesting one and a work that boasts numerous themes and many delightful interludes both emotional and dramatic. The soundtrack features some alluring saxophone performances and the style employed does for me at times evoke both the sound of Morricone and to a degree John Barry. Another one for the collection.

Amazon have released a Spanish TV series based on the life of El Cid, which is now in its second season. As you know the Miklos Rozsa score for the 1961 movie El Cid is amongst my favourites, so I was interested to hear what composers Gustavo Santaolalla and Alfonso G. Aguilar came up with, well it’s not a rip-roaring epic score, but it is a solid and inventive one.

It seems to go down a more traditional as in folk sounding work in places, but there is also a dramatic mood purveyed as well, with guitar being employed on many of the tracks, but also a more robust symphonic approach also becoming apparent as the work progresses that is enhanced by an earthy and ethnic musical ingredient.

Ok if you are looking for epic as in fanfares and racing strings that are also romantic, then maybe its not the score for you, but I would say give it a chance as its one of those soundtracks that grows on you and upon each listen you discover more and more. Available on digital platforms.

The Great Yokai War:Guardians is an upcoming Japanese fantasy adventure film directed by Takashi Miike. A sequel to The Great Yokai War, the film is scheduled to be released in Japan on August 13, 2021 by Toho and Kadokawa Pictures. The music is by Koji Endo (13 Assassins Mojin-The Lost Legend), and it is a score that I enjoyed very much, I think it is because there is so much going on in the score and the composers inventive orchestration is also attention grabbing at times he utilises Japanese ethnic instruments adding depth and atmospherics to the work. It is a varied soundtrack with the composer employing symphonics but also writing in a more individual fashion and including jazz performances along the way. The varied content and its richness of thematic material is its appeal, what more could you ask for.  

Colette is a 2020 documentary which focuses upon the relationship between an elderly French woman and a student who is interested in finding out about her family’s past. The documentary has a relatively short running time but makes effective use of its brief duration to explore the life of Colette Marin-Catherine who is the last surviving member of a family who fought the Nazi’s in World War Two when they were all active members the French Resistance. The musical score is just nine minutes in duration, but nevertheless is effective within the movie, underlining and punctuating but never being overpowering or intrusive. The score is the work of Nami Melumad who collaborated with composer Michael Giacchino on Medal of Honour-Above and Beyond in 2020 and in the same year provided additional music cues for An American Pickle which had a main score by Giacchino. Melumad scores Colette with great sensitivity and applies a subdued and subtle musical approach throughout. Available on digital platforms.

Hall is yet another horror movie, I say another as the horror genre seems to have taken over a little of late. The Canadian produced movie has been met with mixed reviews and sad to say most are of the negative variety. The story is kind of borderline between a Zombie movie and an Infection movie, like Contagion or even 28 Days Later. The story of a hallway in a hotel that is infected with some deadly and horrible disease develops well, but at times it dips and maybe the film could do with being shorter as it runs for an hour and a quarter plus.

But the director Francesco Giannini does well for the most part to keep things interesting and oh so scary, making great use of a red colour tint effect which immediately puts the audience on edge. The film mixes suspense, apprehension, and chills  successfully with the personal lives of the characters involved so it not all jolts and frights. The music by Michael Vignola works superbly in the movie, but it probably does not work that well as just a listening experience away from the images on screen, however, its film music and what is film music supposed to do? Yes, exactly support the movie and it does this no problem whatsoever. The score is filled with an unsettling air that the composer fashions via synthetic means but even though its not an overblown or symphonic work it is still well written and placed to create maximum effect. Take a listen its on Spotify.  

Pablo Borghi, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1978. He began his musical studies at the age of 14 years with various piano teachers. Which has continued to do at Ciudad de Buenos Aires Music Conservatory, Lemmensinstituut, Belgium, plus he studied Composition and Orchestration at The Manuel de Falla Music Conservatory in Buenos Aires. He has worked on many films, shorts, and TV projects, one of his latest is the score for the Argentinian movie Santa, which is a drama directed by Victor Posticlione, there is very little information on the movie, but the score is stunning, and I am hoping that we will be hearing a lot more from this composer in the very near future.

The music is eloquent and touching, delicate and filled with emotion, at times the composer utilising piano and a small string ensemble to create a poignant and affecting piece.  He also employs cello in the cue entitled Camino which is heart breaking and hypnotic. The score also has its darker moments, which too are effective but remain thematic even though they are purveying an uneasy sound. Certainly recommended.


A look at a handful of movies that starred American Actor Charlton Heston.

The Epic movie was one of those genres of film that was so popular during the late 1950’s through to around the end of the 1960’s. Many were Biblical slanted tales such as The Robe, Greatest Story Ever Told, and of course Ben Hur. There were others however which were adventures such as Genghis Khan, which was supposedly based upon true events but also had a lot of elements thrown in that probably never happened, but it was a case of producing an entertaining movie in epic form I suppose. Films such as The Long Ships and The Vikings I also include in the epic genre, but maybe we should look at these differently as it is obvious that many are just stories that are set in historical times and there is not an ounce of truth in them, but the entertainment value was precious and it is films such as these that the stuff of dreams were made of for kids of all ages. One thing that you could be sure of was that if it was an Epic, Biblical story, Adventure or a Sword and Sandal romp then the music would be rousing and most of the time very good. Maybe the quality of the music in some of the Italian made Sword and Sandal tales was not consistently good, but these were movies made on a very tight budget and often the music was the last thing on the mind of the director. But the Hollywood epic, well that was different these were lavish affairs, big stars and even bigger sets, lavish budgets and casts that were in the hundreds if not the thousands. I think my favourite epic film must be El Cid, closely followed by the likes of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and 55 Days in Peking.

All four movies had actor Charlton Heston in common, with two of them the actor playing the central character. Both El Cid and 55 Days at Peking were produced by Samuel Bronston. Heston was always busy he would go on not to be just associated with the Epic movie but become synonymous with sci-fi films such as The Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, and Soylent Green. The actor also produced memorable performances in movies such as Khartoum, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Earthquake, The Greatest Show on Earth, Major Dundee, and The Buccaneer to name but a handful. Heston had also featured in The Big Country, another box office hit in the 1950’s.

So, lets, look at some of his movies and the music for them. One of Heston’s most worthy movies in my opinion is The War Lord, I came across it on TV late when I was in my teens and was impressed by the entire production with Heston’s performance standing out. The music was composed by Jerome Moross, a composer I had already discovered via his iconic score for The Big Country. The soundtrack for The War Lord, was a highly melodic one, it displayed the composer’s gift for creating emotive and tender interludes but also included robust and action led thematic material. With one section of the score The War Lord in Battle being written by vintage Hollywood composer Hans J Salter.

Directed by American film maker Franklin J Shaffner, who would go onto to work with Heston again on films such as the original Planet of the Apes, which is still in the opinion of many the best incarnation of the tale. The director also helmed Patton: Lust for Glory in 1970, which starred George C Scott in the title role and directed Scott again in the movie Islands in the Stream in 1977.

Heston and Shaffner.

The War Lord was based upon the play by Leslie Stevens entitled The Lovers and set in eleventh Century Normandy. Produced by Walter Seltzer who acted as producer on a number of Heston’s movies, it was released in cinemas originally in the March of 1965. The cast was an impressive one, with Guy Stockwell, Richard Boone, Maurice Evens and Rosemary Forsyth, it tells the story of a Norman Knight who is sent with a small force of soldiers to a coastal village by a Duke that he serves, the area is prone to raids and an attempt to build a castle at the site earlier has already failed.

The Knight (Heston) soon takes charge of the situation and is asserting the duke’s authority and keeping raiding barbarians at bay, until that is he falls in love with a local girl (Forsyth) who is betrothed to one of the men in the village. It is an absorbing and interesting story, and one that is photographed beautifully by Russell Metty. Jerome Moross produced a score that elevated and complimented the storyline and succeeds in underlining both the romantic connection between the Knight and the girl, the building storyline and the action on screen. The opening flourishes of the score employ a fanfare that sets the scene and the tone of the remainder of the movie and score.

The composer fashions an epic and adventurous sounding musical score for the production, brass, strings, and percussion combine to create a proud and noble sound that moves from the epic into a full and lush theme filled with romanticism and emotion. Within the score one can hear small references to the composers work on The Big Country, but The War Lord is I think a far more accomplished example of the composers writing for film, with Moross producing a score that is brimming with rich thematic material that at times has a subdued persona, a style that the composer had employed on previous assignments to a degree in films such as The Mountain Road (1960) and The Five Finger Exercise (1962). It is sadly a score that is often overlooked with many not managing to see past the work Moross had done on the likes of The Big Country, The Valley of Gwangi, The Proud Rebel, and The Jayhawkers.  But one only has to listen to the opening music for The War Lord to know that this is a soundtrack draped in luscious and luxurious themes, the composer writing rich, passionate and opulent sounding music that laced, supported and punctuated delicately the films scenarios.

He also provided some impressive compositions for the rural scenes that took place in the village as in The Druid Wedding, Nocturnal Procession and The Forsaken Village. It is without a doubt one of the composers most inspired works for cinema.

From the coast of Normandy in France to the sun-soaked plains of Spain and El Cid, a movie that really needs no introduction as it is probably one of the best-known movies that Heston starred in. It also starred the beautiful Sophia Loren and featured many well-known faces from film. Released in 1961 and directed by Anthony Mann it had a screenplay by Phillip Yordan and Ben Barzman, that was based upon a story by Frederic M. Frank.

Set in the eleventh Century it tells the story of a time when Spain was overrun by the Moors who burnt Churches, conquered cities, and killed Christians. Spain needed a leader a hero to unite the country so it could rise up and drive the invaders into the sea. Rodrigo de Bivar comes to the realisation that as a divided country Spain can never rid themselves of the invading hordes, it becomes his quest in life to Unite his war torn country against these merciless enemies from Africa even enlisting Moors into his ranks after sparing them from death. The movie charts his life, his loyalty to a Monarch that is not deserving of it and his undying love for Chimene and later his twin girls, taking us up till his death at the battle of Valencia where his efforts to lead a united Spain against the enemy and drive them into the sea and back to where they came finally are fulfilled but at the ultimate cost to himself and his family.

The musical score for El Cid was the work of a giant of film music Miklos Rozsa, of course the Maestro was no stranger to working on Epic productions by the time the decade of the 1960,s dawned. Producer Samuel Bronston however mentioned in an interview at the time of the film being released that he was somewhat nervous about offering or asking Rozsa to create the score for his historical epic as the composer had worked on so many big productions leading up to it, including Sodom and Gomorah, Ben Hur, Quo Vadis and Bronston’s own ill-fated Biblical epic King of Kings. All of which were set Centuries before the time of El Cid. But thankfully Dr Rozsa agreed to work on the score and in my ever so humble opinion created one of the most stirring, romantic, and emotive soundtracks of the 20th Century, and one of his most accomplished and popular. There have been various recordings of Rozsa’s music over the years the most recent being the Tadlow Music 2-disc set, there have also been a number of suites of the music one of my favourites being conducted by Elmer Bernstein that included a number of cues which at the time of its release had never been recorded before.

I however have to say that I still prefer and go back to the original MGM release of the soundtrack and I know it is nowhere near a complete example of the work like the Tadlow release but I suppose it holds a special place in my heart because I first purchased it on the MGM long playing record with the yellow label for the princely sum of one pound and two shillings, then acquired the Compact Disc years later when issued on the MGM/EMI label and although it contains just 11 tracks for me it is the best and most entertaining edition. Rozsa’s score is a triumph and an exhilarating listening experience whilst watching the movie as it interacts and supports, embellishes, and enhances the images on screen and weaves its way into the storyline and accompanies each of the films characters.

But it also stands alone as a rewarding and enriching listening encounter away from any images. It is filled with drama, pageantry, emotion, intimacy and romanticism plus it  contains some of the most powerful and majestic sounding fanfares I have ever heard, it is a soundtrack that is brimming with an inspired and heroic sound which is added to and given more depth and emotion by its poignant and heartrending tone poems and intimate and haunting love themes all of which is further enriched and augmented by some of cinemas most pulsating and ominous sounding battle music, the composer underlines the action with effervescent and thundering passages, but also retains the scores sense of richness, grandiose and lushness, via his proud Hispanic sounding compositions. This I think can be heard most effectively in the cue The Battle of Valencia.

Where the composer enlists an array of percussion and timpani and combines these elements with driving strings that are aided and underpinned by rasping and frantic brass to depict the desperate efforts of the Spanish armies to halt the advance of the Moors, the music is the charging cavalry and the clashing of metal the endless waves of arrows that are launched at the charging Spanish forces, the cacophony and near chaotic sound of battle music is abruptly halted in its tracks by the Cid’s theme being introduced as he is struck by a Moorish arrow, this theme adds emotion and also gives the piece a sense of despair as our hero is wounded and retreats back to the safety of Valencia’s walls. When the theme builds but soon evaporates into a more sombre version of the motif as his troops hear the news and quickly loose morale and are thrown into a despairing and desperate retreat back to the relative safety of the City. The sombre mood continues as the seriousness of the Cid,s wound becomes evident, the composer utilising dark and low strings to depict and elaborate upon the gravity of the situation and its mood.

The MGM/EMI release of the soundtrack on compact disc opens with Overture, which bursts into life via Rozsa’s rousing and glittering fanfares that are punctuated by percussion, followed by strident strings that take on the central theme and are further embellished and accompanied by martial sounding timpani tapping out a riding pace which is laced with fearsome sounding brass, all of these elements combine and build into one of cinemas most appealing and powerful themes setting the scene for what is to follow on the disc. It is an apprehensive sound that is underneath the surface but one that is also proud, majestic and heroic, reaching its conclusion in a tumultuous crescendo of brass fanfares, booming percussion and romantically fervent strings that are embraced by harps.

Track two is The Prelude, but it is the music that was utilised as the opening credits rolled. Spanish influenced with a romantic and highly emotive style filled to overflowing with pride, patriotism and oozing a sense of dedication, faith and spiritualistic in its overall impact. Rozsa’s music is magnificent and highly charged.  The track Fight for Calahorra, is for me one of this score’s highlights, rousing fanfares, galloping percussion and windswept sounding strings bring us one of the soundtracks most appealing and stirring compositions and introduces the fight which Rodrigo must undertake to win the city of Calahorra for his King, a task he volunteers for after he has killed the Kings champion who was the Father of his Bride to be Chimene. This cue really is heard prior to the fight and is performed as both peasants, Knights and Royalty are all summoned to attend what is looked upon as a spectacle but, is a desperate fight to the death.

This is a cue that underlines the joyous atmosphere of the occasion but also introduces dark elements that emphasise the more serious side of the proceedings. The cue Farewell showcases the more tender and fragile sounding elements of the soundtrack and at just over six minutes is one of this disc’s longest tracks, the cue opens with a heartrending version of the Cid’s theme which is performed in the first instant by woodwind, then guitar is brought into the equation and plaintive and subtle strings too underline or mirror the theme. The Love Theme for Chimene and Rodrigo is also given a fuller working here performed by an achingly effecting violin which is beautifully mesmerising. This is a classic score for an iconic movie.

From eleventh Century Europe let’s move forward a little way and shift continents to the Americas and to to The United States of America in 1864 where the movie Major Dundee is set, released in 1965 and directed by Sam Peckinpah. The movie had mixed reviews when it was initially released, most of them being negative although Peckinpah was praised for his direction. The movie tells the story of raids by renegade Apache’s into the U.S. from Mexico which are becoming more frequent and bloodier with white children being abducted by the Apache. A U.S Cavalry officer Major Amos Dundee played by Charlton Heston decides that he will lead a force of volunteers illegally into Mexico to track them down and wipe them out.

He oversees a prisoner of war camp which houses Confederate prisoners who have been incarcerated there after being captured in the Civil War, their officer in charge is Captain Ben Tyreen played by the wonderful Richard Harris. Because he cannot get a large enough force to undertake this expedition Dundee decides to enlist the help of the Confederates and civilian mercenaries. The mix of these and Union troops including black infantry soldiers, becomes like a simmering pan ready to boil over and tensions run high. But although the rag tag army of sorts have their differences, they are united in tracking the Apache and unite to fight the elite French lancers who are also standing in their way.

The movie had a good cast which included, Jim Hutton, Senta Berger, James Coburn, Michael Anderson JR, Mario Adorf, Brock Peters, and three actors who would also feature in another Peckinpah western The Wild Bunch L.Q Jones, Warren Oates, and Ben Johnson. The original score for the 1965 release was by vintage Hollywood composer Daniele Amfitheatrof, who provided a more than rousing set of themes for the movie which included a title song performed by Mitch Miller and the Gang The Major Dundee March and another vocal which acted as a love theme entitled To Be with You also performed by Mitch Miller and his singers. However, when lost footage of the movie was discovered it was re-released onto DVD and re-scored by composer Christopher Caliendo, his score was welcomed by some but dismissed by as many who favoured the original music. Amfitheatrof’s music was thought even at the time of the films original release to be out of kilter with the movie, and some said was dated even in the 1960’s.

I believe both scores work within the movie but on different levels and as a collector of a certain age I cannot watch the movie without Amfitheatrof’s dramatic and jaunty score, especially the music he penned for The French Lancers. Major Dundee may not have been popular when first released but has since become something of a cult movie and as always Heston produced a credible performance in the title role.  

As well, as Epics and westerns Charlton Heston also starred in his fair share of Sci-Fi movies, one is probably one of the most iconic motion pictures of the 1960’s, Planet of The Apes. Charlton Heston was marvellous as the cynical Taylor an astronaut who with a crew of three others two male and one female had crashed landed in a lake on what they thought was an alien planet sometime in the future. They had been put into a deep sleep and on impact realised that the Female member of the party had passed away, they escape from the space craft and start to explore the inhospitable terrain which is predominately desert they eventually find a green area and take advantage of fresh running water to refresh themselves and bathe, whilst doing so however they become aware that they are not alone on the planet and have their clothes and also their scientific apparatus stolen they give chase but it is too late the apparatus is smashed and they see that the inhabitants of the planet are human like but are mute. Taylor thinks it is not a bad thing as if this is the best that the planet has to offer it won’t be long before they will be running the place. But he could not be more wrong, an ominous sounding cry is heard, and the mute humans begin to panic and run, not knowing what is wrong the three astronauts do the same, running in the same directions, but from what or whom? It is not long before the watching audience and the astronauts find out and from that moment on the film is a rollercoaster ride in a topsy turvy world where talking intelligent apes are the masters and primitive humans are reduced to being guinea pigs for surgeons or target practise for the ape army.

Taylor is injured in the hunt and as a result loses his voice after being wounded in the throat by an ape bullet. Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall, also star who were most convincing in their respective roles of Zira and Cornelius two chimpanzee scientists. The cast also includes Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, and James Daly and introduced Linda Harrison to audiences in the role of Nova. With superb direction from film maker Franklin J Schaffner an entertaining screenplay by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling that was adapted from the writings of Pierre Boulle (Monkey Planet) and produced by Arthur P Jacobs, with a highly innovative and Avante Garde score by Jerry Goldsmith and convincing make up created by John Chambers. Released by 20th Century Fox it was to be the first of five movies in the original series and not only spawned a TV series, and an animated series but acted as inspiration for the series of re-boots which continue to entertain today. It was and remains a compelling motion picture that is not only visually outstanding and intelligently constructed but also one that sent chills down one’s spine when it eventually reaches the final scene which must be one of cinemas most sobering sights.

The decaying statue of Liberty or at least part of it rising out of the beach as Taylor makes his getaway with Nova is an imposing and memorable image. Taylor right at the end of the movie realising that he is back on earth, back to the place that he was so desperate to get away from, the upside-down planet ruled by apes is his planet, destroyed by war or some disaster natural or man-made. Jerry Goldsmiths inventive and highly original soundtrack played a large part in creating the mood and setting the scenes for the movie.

The composer utilising Rams Horn, and synthesised sounds that mimicked ape noises along side more conventional symphonic instrumentation. Dark and ominous sounding piano and percussive elements all playing their part to create a score that was just as unsettling as the mood of the movie. The composer created what seemed to be a whole new style and fashioned a sound that had not been heard before by using conventional instruments in a less than conventional way. With echoes and reverb effects enhancing pizzicato strings and interesting steel percussion being employed. The most impressive section of the score is without a doubt The Hunt and the sequence in the movie too is impressive and unforgettable. The images and the music work flawlessly together, with Goldsmith adding tension, chaos and shock via his racing and highly powerful composition. The same can be said for the cue No Escape, which is another triumph of musical sounds and passages and a tour de force of that displays the composer’s sheer genius, in which he combines, pizzicato strings, trumpet and xylophone at one point to create a apprehensive atmosphere.

Planet of the Apes was a milestone movie, for Heston, Schaffner, and Goldsmith. It was a movie that has in my opinion never been bettered and remains the go to version dismissing all others.

Heston returned to the Apes franchise in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, but it was not what one would call a starring role more like a featured performance, appearing at the beginning of the movie and towards the end of the film. The movie which was directed by Ted Post had a score by composer Leonard Rosenman which again was highly original, but somehow paled in the significance and excellence of Goldsmith’s original.

At times the Rosenman work becoming a noisy and tangled affair as opposed to having any real thematic direction. Heston never returned to the franchise apart from appearances done in flashback which were taken from the first two movies. Schaffner also did not direct another Apes movie and after Beneath the Planet of the Apes the franchise seemed to decline and have the appearance of TV movies with at times terribly cheesy screenplays, wooden acting, and poor direction.    

Looking at the films that Heston starred in during the 1960.s I think he must have made Planet of the Apes and Will Penny back-to-back as they were released around about the same time which was between February and April 1968. Will Penny was a classy western but at the same time quite a brutal one. With Heston taking the title role, ably supported by Joan Hackett, Donald Pleasance, Lee Majors, Anthony Zerbe, Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Bruce Dern. Zerbe would feature in The Omega Man (1971) alongside Heston, portraying Matthias the head of the dreaded family and Neville’s (Heston’s character) nemesis. The music for Will Penny was composed by Hollywood Maestro David Raksin, five cues from the score (approx:18 minutes) were featured on a Dot records LP and have in recent months been made available on digital platforms being included in a compilation of themes from movies as scored by Raksin such as Sylvia, and Too Late the Blues. Will Penny contained a song The Lonely Rider which was performed by pop and big band vocalist Don Cherry,who had a hit in 1955 with Band of Gold.

The LP is now something of a rarity and both the LP release and the digital edition contain dialogue from the movie featuring Donald Pleasance on the track An Eye for an Eye. Raksin composed a romantic sounding score and one that evokes memories of the film music of the golden age of Hollywood. The movie was directed by Tom Gries, who also provided the screenplay. The movie was based upon an episode of the 1960 TV series The Westerner, entitled Line Camp which was produced by Sam Peckinpah and again written by Gries. Heston often said that Will Penny was one of his favourite movies.  

Composer Ron Grainer wrote an atmospheric and symphonic/pop sounding music for The Omega Man in 1971, the Australian born Grainer’s music worked well with the storyline and the images on screen, the composers use of organ in-particular was striking and gave the movie greater depth and created an eerie atmosphere that became the motif for the infamous Family. It was also perfect for the various action sequences and underlined the spookier sections to great effect. As soon as the movie was released and fans heard Grainer’s score, they began to request that the soundtrack should be released, sadly it was not forthcoming and they would have to wait many years before the score eventually got a release on compact disc by film score monthly, the original release soon so. ld out and a re-press followed a little later. Which too, soon became sought after and is now a rare release changing hands on the internet for inflated prices.

Thankfully it is now available to stream on the usual sites, so everyone can sample its delights. Many had already experienced the music of Grainer through Doctor Who on the BBC and another British TV series The Prisoner which was popular in the late 1960.s. In fact, one could hear elements and certain nuances and orchestration styles within The Omega Man that the composer had experimented with in the theme and several the scores for The Prisoner. A driving score that matched the action and created wonderfully atmospherics. The Omega Man was directed by Boris Sagall and was based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the story or at least a version of it had been filmed previously in 1964, entitled The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price in the central role. It has also been given a more contemporary setting in I am Legend which starred Will Smith.

The Omega Man remains one of those movies that you just must watch over and over and stands as one of Heston’s more interesting sci-fi films alongside Soylent Green.

Which brings us to that movie, released in 1973, this ecological dystopian thriller was directed by Richard Fleischer, with Heston in the lead role supported by Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotton, and Edward G. Robinson in his final film role. The film was based partly upon the 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room! which was written by Harry Harrison, the film successfully combines police procedural and science fiction elements: that includes an investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman and a dystopian future of dying oceans, high temperatures, pollution, poverty, overpopulation, euthanasia, and resources that are running out. It won the Nebula Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. Looking at it now its like it  was a pre-cursor to events that are now taking place in the world on a daily basis, let’s hope however it does not come to this.

The score was by Fred Myrow, who is probably best known for his music to Phantasm and Scarecrow. I must comment that I did not notice any music in the movie, apart from the rather quirky and upbeat main titles, but I suppose that is the sign of a good score and composer, the audience not being aware that the music is even there, but it still does its job. It was not until I got the soundtrack on compact disc many years later that I was able to fully appreciate Myrow’s affecting soundtrack.

Composer John Scott has contributed much to world of film music both as a composer of film scores and in his early days as a performer playing on soundtracks for the likes of John Barry. The composer has scored numerous movies some of which have been high profile releases and successes at the box office, however I as a collector of soundtracks feel that this great British Maestro still has not received the applause and recognition he so richly deserves, I am not entirely sure why this is, but it seems that this talented and versatile music-smith is almost ignored or shall we say overlooked.

His musical triumphs for the big screen include movies such as Antony and Cleopatra, which was directed by and starred Heston in the role of Mark Antony. Scott’s score is sumptuous and melodic, the composer fashioning beautiful and at the same time powerful thematic materials to enhance this story of romance, deceit, and war.  The movie also starred with the alluring Hildegard Neal as his Cleopatra, released in 1972 the film did not fare well at the hands of the critics, in later years however it has been given the acclaim it so rightly should have received upon its release.  Scott’s own label JOS records decided to release a full version of the score from the movie and this was finally released in 1992. It was a long-drawn-out process and a labour of love for Scott, he approached the publishers of the music and told them of his idea to release the complete score, but his words fell upon near deaf ears the publishers telling the composer that it would be too costly to record. So over the years the composer would record sections of the score at the end of sessions for other recordings, the process began in Berlin or East Berlin as it was then called in 1987, it was at this time that Scott managed to find time to record the Overture from his score, he returned in 1988 and recorded more sections and after a while he managed to finance a session and complete the recording of the soundtrack. The completed recording was then assembled, mixed, and edited in Los Angeles almost twenty years to the day after the original recording sessions in London. This is a superbly lyrical work and is one of the composers finest. The movie too although not appreciated by the majority is still worth watching. 

In closing here is a brief bio of Charlton Heston.

Which is taken from Wikepedia.

Born John Charles Carter on October 4, 1923, Charlton Heston was an American actor and political activist.He appeared in almost 100 films over the course of 60 years. He played Moses in the epic film The Ten Commandments (1956), for which he received his first nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama. He also starred in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Secret of the Incas (1954), Touch of Evil (1958) with Orson Welles, The Big Country (1958), Ben-Hur (1959), for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor, El Cid (1961), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Planet of the Apes (1968), The Omega Man (1971) and Soylent Green (1973). In the 1950s and 1960s, he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Heston left the Democratic Party in 1971 to become a Republican, founding a conservative political action committee and supporting Ronald Reagan. Heston was a five-term president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), from 1998 to 2003. After announcing he had Alzheimer’s disease in 2002, he retired from both acting and the NRA presidency.  He died on April 5, 2008.