Category Archives: Sleeve Notes.


Released on Quartet records in 2010.



After the success of Sergio Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and its even more popular sequel FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. Italian filmmakers began to see the potential of the western, and marked it as a genre of film that might be able to revitalise the then ailing Italian film industry. An industry which had been left almost depleted after Hollywood film makers had pulled out of Italy and ceased to produce epics such as BEN HUR, SODOM AND GOMORRAH,THE ROBE and their like, after the biblical slanted movie had lost it’s appeal with cinema audiences. Film makers based at the Cinecitta studios started to produce a number of westerns in the style of Leone,s initial Dollar films, attempting to both emulate and mimic the blueprint that Leone had created.

THE HILLS RUN RED (1966) was essentially an Italian western but also contained a number of the trademarks, themes and clichés that had become synonymous with American produced sagebrush saga‘s. This was also the first western produced by the ever industrious filmmaker Dino De Laurentis. Directed by Carlo Lizanni who for this particular project went under the pseudonym of Lee W Beaver. Lizanni is probably best known for directing Hollywood heavyweight actor Rod Steiger in THE LAST DAYS OF MUSSOLINI (1977) and for helming a number of lesser known Italian movies including the marginally successful spaghetti western REQUIESCANT in 1967. He was also responsible for making several films and dramas for Italian television which he excelled at during the 1980,s. The director provides us with some interesting camerawork throughout the movie including a Sergio Corbucci-esque violent and close up fist fight sequence. THE HILLS RUN RED or A RIVER OF DOLLARS (UN FIUME DI DOLLARI) as it had been originally entitled, was released in what can only be referred to as the boom year for the Italian western genre. As it was in 1966 that the spaghetti western really established itself with cinema goers outside of Italy.

Filmed in both Spain and Italy the production boasted a fairly robust cast that included American actors in three of the movies four principal roles, these were, Thomas Hunter, who had only just previous to THE HILLS RUN RED made his screen debut in another European western TRE PISTOLE CONTRO CESARE (DEATH WALKS IN LAREDEO). The seasoned veteran actor Dan Duryea, who had made a name for himself in numerous minor Hollywood motion pictures and American television productions. Plus a spirited and larger than life performance from Henry Silva who turned in a memorable if not a somewhat exuberant and as many critics said at the time an overblown portrayal of the psychotic and cruel Mexican, Mendez. These three performances and the trio of protagonists although being very different all came together and worked well within the films storyline, complimenting and supporting each other, giving the film a more realistic and believable quality.

thomashunter1The movie opens in 1865 at the end of the American civil war, two Confederate soldiers, Jerry Brewster (Thomas Hunter) and Ken Seagall (Nando Gazzolo) steal an army payroll from what was the Northern States army. They are pursued by government troops who soon close in on them, the pair of former rebels quickly hatch a plan that one will jump from the wagon they are travelling in with the money packed into saddle bags and hide, whilst the other draws the attention of the Yankees. They cut cards to see who will stay and who will jump from the wagon and it is Seagall who gets the high card and takes the money and jumps, promising his comrade that he will take care of his wife and son. The plan being that they will meet up afterwards and divide the money. Things don’t go exactly as they hoped and Brewster is captured. After being beaten by his captors he is taken to a prison at the nearby Fort Wilson, where he is locked away for a punishing five years of forced labour and torture. When he is finally released Brewster makes his way back home, but upon arrival at his farm finds his home empty and run down and it is apparent that it has not been lived in for years. He finds a note from his wife Mary that tells him she thinks he has been killed in the war, and how she is struggling to make ends meet, it also explains that his friend Seagall who now calls himself Ken Milton returned from the war with lots of money, but refused to help her in her hour of need.
Seagall has been made aware of Brewster’s release from prison and instructs his foreman Mendez to despatch two of his men to make sure Brewster is killed, but things don’t go to plan thanks to the timely intervention of a stranger who is taking shelter in the barn, Getz (Dan Duryea) helps Brewster by throwing him a pistol with just two bullets in it. Brewster shoots one of his attackers and then fights with the other, eventually killing him with his attackers own knife. Getz tends to Brewster’s wound and together they decide to try and bring about Seagall’s downfall. Brewster convinces Getz that the only way to show Seagall that he is dead is to remove a tattoo from his arm by cutting it off and showing it to Seagall, Getz does this somewhat reluctantly, and takes the tattoo to Seagall, who on seeing it is convinced that Getz is telling him the truth. He is so grateful that he gives Getz a job at his ranch. Brewster goes to town where he has a disagreement with two of Seagall’s men and guns them down in the saloon, he assumes the name of Jim Huston, and it is not long before Mendez tracks him down and after a violent fist fight with a number of Seagall’s thugs, Mendez decides that Brewster/Huston is the kind of man he needs on his side. Brewster receives information that Seagall plans to attack and punish the people of Austin who refuse to bow down to his attempts to take over the city. Brewster travels to Austin and organises the inhabitants into defending themselves, but is himself wounded during the fight with Seagall’s henchman and is nursed back to health by Mary Ann (Nicoletta Machiavelli) who is none other than Seagall’s sister. Seagall finally realises who Brewster is and the two men lock horns in a deadly fight of strength and wills.

Getz reveals that he is actually a government agent, Colonel Winney Getz, who has been sent to investigate Seagall. Getz joins forces with Brewster in a final shootout against the tyrant and his men, a shootout in which Seagall and the loathsome Mendez are killed. The film reaches its conclusion with Brewster being re-united with his lost son Tim (Loris Loddy) and Getz appointing Brewster as Sheriff of Austin, with the ways of law and order prevailing once again. The mix of both Italian and what can be looked upon as Hollywood western stylisations worked well within this particular example, not only complimenting each other, but fusing together to create an interesting and also entertaining movie. The script by Piero Regnoli (who also worked on Navajo Joe in the same year) although being well paced was however a basic revenge story and not particularly original, and it is probably this factor that prevented THE HILLS RUN RED becoming categorised as one of the genres higher stratum examples.

But, it is still nonetheless one of the better middle ground entries within the spaghetti western collective of movies because of its high production values and also because of the outstanding and realistic performances of its cast and invigorating musical score.
The music for THE HILLS RUN RED was the work of Maestro Ennio Morricone but credited to Leo Nichols which was one of the composers nom de plumes during the early part of his career.( For reasons only known to the composer he tried to veil his involvement with the production.) It was Morricone and director Sergio Leone who were jointly responsible for establishing the sights and also the sounds of the Italian or spaghetti western, together they created what was to become the foundation for 90 percent of western movies and scores which were to follow in the wake of the now classic motion pictures, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Morricone’s soundtrack for THE HILLS RUN RED is somewhat overlooked by many and at times neglected by Morricone fans and also admirers of the genre alike. This is probably because of the success of the composers major works within the genre for movies such as the aforementioned Dollars trilogy and other key works ie: THE BIG GUNDOWN, NAVAJO JOE, DUCK YOU SUCKER, DEATH RIDES A HORSE, A PROFFESSIONAL GUN, THE GRAND SILENCE and THE FIVE MAN ARMY etc.


The score for THE HILLS RUN RED, relies largely upon a central or principal theme which is repeated throughout the movie in various arrangements, underlining the many chases, brawls and gunfights that occur. The composer also includes a variety of sounds and musical trademarks that he made use of within other scores both before and after scoring THE HILLS RUN RED, ie: Music box effects, jaunty saloon piano interludes and strong thematic properties where he utilises racing percussion that acts as a backdrop to urgent sounding brass flourishes. Female vocalist Gianna Spagnola features prominently within the work also, her distinct voice lending an almost earthy near primal savage rawness to the music, the lament of sorts that she performs creating not only effective atmospheric qualities but also character, strength and appeal to the work. The score also contains a somewhat bitter sweet sounding love song of sorts. “HOME TO MY LOVE” had lyrics by Audrey Nohra,who was to collaborate with Morricone on a number of title songs, the energetic and fast paced RUN MAN RUN for example.She also wrote lyrics for numerous other Italian composers,Franceso De Masi for example, the catchy and up tempo song FIND A MAN from the spaghetti western THE DIRTIEST STORY OF THE WEST had lyrics penned by Nohra and she collaborated with both De Masi and Alessandro Alessandroni on the theme from the now archetypal Italian western score ARIZONA COLT, entitled THE MAN FROM NOWHERE.

5659The music included on this compact disc is taken from album masters, the actual master tapes from the film having been lost or worse, maybe destroyed. The music cues here were first issued on a long playing record on the bootleg label POO during the 1970,s, a label which also issued Morricone’s THE HORNETS NEST and a handful of other hard to find soundtracks by various composers. There was also another long playing record issued of the score utilising the same music tracks which was said to have been produced in New Zealand, this release had different art work. Plus United Artists records in the United Kingdom issued one track from the score on a western compilation during the 1970,s. Since then tracks have appeared on various western compilations and the album version of the soundtrack was released onto compact disc for the first time by FSM in the United States at the end of 2009, but was part of a collection of compact discs and could not be purchased as a single item. The box set contained a number of MGM soundtracks from both the 1960,s and 1970,s HORNETS NEST among them, and although this is a magnificent collection a number of collectors missed out on it because it was a limited edition and sold out very quickly.


john Mansell 2010.


for dvd/soundtrack cd release.




Released in 1968, IL MERCENARIO / A PROFESSIONAL GUN, was realized and brought to the screen by respected Italian filmmaker Sergio Corbucci and produced by the well known mogul/producer Alberto Grimaldi.  The film was originally a project for director Gillo Pontecorvo, but he pulled out and Corbucci asked Grimaldi if he could take the helm. Set in Mexico in 1915, the films storyline takes place during the Mexican revolution which was taking happening whilst the so called superior nations fought each other in Europe, it was and still is one of the most polished and well made Spaghetti Westerns that belongs to the ‘Zapata Western’ sub genre and remains one of the Italian western genres most entertaining and interesting examples, with its political undertones and its inclination towards the underdog rising up against the system scenario.

It tells the story of a poor but passionate peon Paco Ramon (Tony Musante) and his ascent from a lowly downtrodden and cruelly treated individual who is forced to labour in a silver mine, to a leading figure within the revolutionary movement. It also charts the unlikely pairing and eventual strong friendship between Paco and a soldier of fortune Sergei Kowalski (Franco Nero) who has left his native Poland and the war in Europe. The Polack as they call him is in Mexico for one reason and one reason only and that is to get his hands on as much money as he can. He has originally arrived at the mine to strike a deal with the owners The Garcia Brothers to ensure that the silver from the mine arrives safely at its destination. After his meeting with the mine owners the Polack heads towards the mine, but unbeknown to him Curly a psychotic and vicious homosexual played by Jack Palance kills the Garcia brothers and decides that he will stop the Mercenary and take the silver for himself. Kowalski arrives at the mine to find that the Federal troops that were stationed there have been massacred and Paco and his fellow workers have taken over.

After an uneasy first meeting and a battle with more government troops led by Colonel Alfonso Garcia (Eduardo Fajardo) in which the Mercenary teaches Paco (after getting money from him) to use a machine gun in a somewhat unorthodox but effective way.
The Polack convinces Paco that he can help him. He manipulates the Mexican who is somewhat in awe of the mercenary and plants the seeds of ideas in his head getting him to carry out acts against the authorities convincing him and his followers that it was actually their idea in the first place. Thus earning himself money and also bringing notoriety to Paco and his men. After a handful of encounters Kowalski leaves Paco and his men and gets ambushed by the unpleasant Curly and his henchman, but Paco and his band arrive in the nick of time to help the Pollock, killing Curly’s men and stripping Palance’s character to his underwear before sending him off into the desert, Curly refusing to leave his pants on and stripping himself naked before he sets off vowing to kill Paco and have his revenge on Kowalski. It is after this that Paco hires Kowalski to teach him how to lead a revolution collecting money from the members of his band to fund the mercenary. Paco and his men travel the countryside liberating villages and towns from the grip of the tyrannical authorities and as they do their numbers grow, at one of the villages that they free, they encounter Columba a beautiful young women portrayed by Giovanni Ralli, and both Paco and Kowalski are attracted to her, thus begins a friendly but at times fierce rivalry between the two. Columba joins the band of revolutionaries and soon sees through Kowalski, she realises he is in the revolution for the money and tries to convince Paco that he can do without him, Paco and his men decide to make a stand in a town that they have liberated staying to defend the people against a large contingent of federals, Kowalski advises them not to stay, but they refuse to take this advice and Kowalski leaves. Paco and his men are defeated by the government troops and flee to a nearby village where Kowalski is waiting for them with food and drink. Paco makes another deal with the Mercenary who has this time doubled his rates of pay. Paco agrees to pay him and they carry on with their revolutionary acts freeing villages and inflicting losses upon the federal forces, after defeating an entire regiment and capturing a town, Paco decides that Kowalski has become to greedy and takes him prisoner taking all of the money he has paid him back. Whilst the Pollock is tied up and in prison Paco marries Columba but the town is attacked by Colonel Garcia‘s troops aided by Curly and his henchman. Paco soon realises he cannot handle the situation so has to release Kowalski, a fierce battle ensues and most of Paco’s men are killed as the Government troops enlist the aid of an aeroplane, which is eventually shot down by Kowalski, but things do not go to plan as Kowalski escapes and Paco is trapped, but he is soon released by Columba and they escape before Curly finds them.

After a period of some six months or so, Kowalski comes across Paco in a circus dressed as a clown, he is surprised that the Mexican has survived, and is hiding away from Curly. When the performance has finished and the watching crowd has left Curly enters the arena and his men capture Paco, the idea being that Curly kills him.

Kowalski intervenes much to the relief of Paco, killing Curly’s men and then hands both Paco and Curly a rifle and a bullet each so that it will be a fair fight. The showdown ensues and Paco kills Curly shooting him through the heart. But after Paco has done this Kowalski then turns his gun on the Mexican, taking him prisoner and heads off towards the headquarters of Colonel Garcia’s 51st regiment to collect the reward that is being offered for Paco. Columba sees what Kowalski is doing and heads for the headquarters herself pretending to betray Paco telling them where they can find the Mexican and also the Polack the federals believe her and set off to intercept Paco and Kowalski. So when the troops catch up with the pair Kowalski finds himself under arrest too because he has a bigger price on his head than Paco.

The two men are sentenced to death and are told they will die by firing squad. However Columba puts her plan into action and with the assistance of a handful of men and two machine guns, She manages to free the pair and then Paco, Columba and Kowalski make their escape, eventually meeting up in the desert. Kowalski says to Paco that they should team up and they could form a company, working for both sides in a revolution any where in the world and make a lots of money and retire rich. But the Mexican is wise to the ways of the Mercenary and laughs as he and replies. “I would like to have a partnership with you Polack, but I have a dream and My Dream is in Mexico”, referring to the revolution. Kowalski looks at Paco puzzled as the Mexican continues, “Do you ever dream Polack, No I don’t think you do”. With this Kowalski and Paco part ways and head off into the sunset, but Kowalski notices that a handful of Federals led by Colonel Garcia are laying in wait for Paco, the Mercenary kills all of them when they are about to shoot Paco, he then calls to the Mexican “ Keep dreaming, but do it with your eyes open”. Paco then rides off into the desert to join Columba who is waiting for him in a nearby town. IL MERCENARIO is a classic spaghetti western, and the relationship between the principal characters Kowalski and Paco has certain noticeable similarities to that of Sean and Juan in Leone’s GUI LA TESTA (A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE) and also between Chuncho and Bill Tate in Damiani’s excellent QUIEN SABE ? (A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL). It remains a firm favourite with fans of the genre and has certainly stood the test of time, as it has not aged or become clichéd as other examples of the genre have over the years. It is a well made, inventive and entertaining motion picture.



Sergio Corbucci was born on December 6th 1927 in Italy. Most of this directors movies have the reputation for containing copious amounts of violence, but at the same time his films were intelligent and inventive examples of Italian cinema. He is probably best known for his work within the Italian or Spaghetti western genre. But he was at home within any genre, a number of his action films contain social criticism of left wing politics as Corbucci never hid the fact that he was a communist. The art direction he employed within his films was mostly apocalyptic and surrealistic which became one of the filmmakers trademarks and a mark of his black humour. Corbucci who was often referred to as the other Sergio, (the other being Leone) began his career in film within the Sword and sandal days of Italian cinema, and it is probably true to say that he learnt his craft from many Hollywood film directors that had travelled to Italy,s Cinecitta to work on Biblical epics during the 1950,s and 1960,s. He did however contribute a number of examples of the Sword and sandal variety to the genre. These included SON OF SPARTACUS, which although nothing remotely like the original SPARTACUS was an enjoyable adventure romp. In 1965 he directed MASSACRE AT GRAND CANYON, which was a spaghetti western of sorts, by this I mean it belongs to the genre, but really contained non of the trademarks that we now so readily associate with the Italian produced sagebrush sagas. In the same year he worked on MINNESOTA CLAY again an Italian western, but one which still contained many of the clichéd trademarks of the Hollywood produced western and is basically a updating of the films directed by the likes of Delmar Davies, with stars such as Alan Ladd in the main roles..

He entered 1966 full of ideas of how to shape the western all’Italiana and it was in this year that he directed RINGO AND HIS GOLDEN PISTOL which was one of the earlier real spaghetti westerns, containing a gimmicky storyline , but still had some connections with the Hollywood version of the western. It was DJANGO an ultra violent western that he also filmed in 1966 that was to be the directors first major break into the commercial film market, the movies leading actor was Franco Nero who was to be the leading figure in many of Corbucci’s later movies.

The film became an instant hit in Italy and also a cult film throughout Europe, it was and still is notorious for its scenes of violence and also the amount of killings it contained, which led to it being banned in the UK for some 20 years. In many ways it was a more brutal version of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS.

With Ku Klux Clan and Mexican bandito’s taking the place of the Rojo’s and the Baxter’s and Django being stuck in the middle playing both sides off against each other. In the same year Corbucci directed NAVAJO JOE, which was a vehicle for young American actor Burt Reynolds, but it was the success of DJANGO that put Corbucci firmly on the filmmaking map, after this success Corbucci went onto become a director in demand and made numerous other westerns during the period from 1966 through to 1971 that remain to this day original and iconic examples of the genre. These included, THE GREAT SILENCE which was perceived to be so violent that it too was banned from a number of countries.

The movie had two endings shot one happy and one gruesome and dark. Other westerns that Corbucci directed include, HELLBENDERS, THE SPECIALIST, COMPANEROS, BANDA J AND S and WHAT AM I DOING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE REVOLUTION. Corbucci became the most successful director in Italy after Sergio Leone. When the genre of the Italian western had run its course and the ideas for the genre had been explored fully and more or less exhausted by filmmakers, Corbucci concentrated mostly upon comedies which was a genre that he also excelled in.

These movies often starred the singer/actor Adriano Celentano, many thought that Corbucci.s contributions were not important examples of Italian cinema at the time of them being produced, but over the years he has become an extremely significant and highly regarded figure within the world of film making. Sergio Corbucci died on December 1st 1990.


IL MERCENARIO, contained a quick and clever script, and had an inventive and interesting storyline and plot. This was partly due to the work of screen writer Luciano Vincenzoni, who had worked with Sergio Leone on FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Vincenzoni was born in Italy on the 7th of march 1926, he is one of Italy’s most respected scribes for the cinema and is known in Italy as THE SCRIPT DOCTOR. He has provided the scripts/screenplay etc for over 60 movies which were produced over a period of some 46 years. It was due to his connections that Leone’s FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE was actually sold to United Artists for distribution, and amazingly during the meeting to discuss this he managed to convince UA to take THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, which at that time had not even been fully written or planned. He had begun to develop the idea from a film he had worked on in 1959 entitled LA GRANDE GUERRA, and it was Vincenzoni that came up with the title for the movie on the spot at the meeting, convincing UA that it would be a success.



Probably one of the most well known actors in Italian cinema, Franco Nero was born Francesco Sparanero was born in San Prospero, Emilia-Romagna and spent much of his early life in Bedonia and Milan. He originally had decided to study economy and trade at University but then made a decision to study the piccolo Teatro di Milano. His first role in a motion picture was in 1964 when he was given a small part in LA RACAZZA IN PRESTITO, this was followed by a few more small roles but he was propelled to fame in 1966, when director Sergio Corbucci gave him the leading role in DJANGO. This was to be the role that set Nero off on his busy acting career and one that established him as an actor of much presence and talent. In the same year Nero starred in no less than eight movies, TEXAS ADDIO and TEMPO DI MASSACRO among them. In 1967, Nero was asked to take the part of Lancelot in the Hollywood produced movie of the Lerner and Lowe musical CAMELOT, starring alongside Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave, it was here that he and Redgrave became attracted to each other and thus began their long time partnership which was to last some 40 years. The role in Camelot was followed by an appearance in a mafia laced story entitled IL GIORNO DALLA CIVETTA (1968) which also starred Claudia Cardinale. His awkwardness and apparent difficulty to master the English language seemed to limit the roles he was offered, although he did land parts in other English language productions such as FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE, THE VIRGIN AND THE GYPSY, DIE HARD 2 and ENTER THE NINJA. Nero has been somewhat typecast during his career in movies such as KEOMA-THE VIOLENT BREED AND DEAF SMITH AND JOHNNY EARS, but he has also managed to perform well in some quite demanding roles, i.e.; THE BIBLE, STREET LAW and QUERELLE. He has appeared in some 160 movies to date and also had a hand in the writing and production of JOHNATHAN AND THE BEARS in 1993, more recently he has starred in CONQUEST (1996) and HOLY CROWN (2001) for Hungarian filmmaker Gabor Koltav. His partnership with Vanessa Redgrave produced a son, who is now a screenwriter and a film director who goes under the name of Carlo Nero.



Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Anthony Peter Musante jnr, on June 30th 1936, he was the son of an accountant and a school teacher. He attended The Oberlin College and graduated to the Northwest University. Musante became a familiar face in a number of motion pictures that were produced in the USA and Europe. He was also very much in demand in Italy where he was the star of the television series TOMA which was the predecessor to the now well known BARETTA. He also made an appearance in the soap, AS THE WORLD TURNS and during the 1970,s played Broadway, in 1975 he received a Drama Desk award for his part in the play P.S YOUR CAT IS DEAD! And in the same year was nominated for an Emmy award for his part in the TV movie A QUALITY OF MERCY. He more recently made an appearance in the TV series OZ, where he portrayed the Italian gang leader inside the Emerald City, during the shows first season.

John Mansell 2008.


The score was due for re-issue on the fin de siecle label in 2008, but was cancelled.




MV5BMTI0OTg4MzExNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDEzOTcyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_Released in 1969, this impressive and inventive Italian western is an above average example of the genre. Although the movie may at times lack pace and is somewhat subdued in the action department, it has a solid script which contains clever twists and turns within a plot that is full of character and charisma. The movie borrows unashamedly from the style of Sergio Leone, making effective use of some of the master filmmakers techniques, ie: close ups of the protagonists faces concentrating on their eyes, the use of flashbacks to explain more fully to the audience why certain things have occurred and ultimately why the main characters do what they do and also the Director like Leone, seems to have a certain attraction to showing perspiration upon characters faces. Director Ferdinando Baldi, creates a movie that utilizes some near operatic moments within its story line and although this is a low budget project it still manages to press all the right buttons and tick all of the proverbial boxes for fans of the genre. Baldi although being active in film-making during the 1960,s and 1970s never really received the credit he so richly deserved and we must not forget that it was he who brought to the screen a shining example of the spaghetti western genre in the form of TEXAS ADDIO (1966) and was particularly active within the area of the Peplum before making the transition to the production of Spaghetti westerns. Like so many Italian/Spanish co-produced westerns GUNMEN OF THE AVE MARIA is a tale of vengeance and centre’s upon a murder that was carried out twenty years previous to the period in which the film is set. Anna Carrasco (Luciana Paluzzi) and her lover Tomas (Albert de Mendoza) together orchestrate the killing of her husband a famous General, Juan (Jose Suarez), who is murdered brutally during a massacre. Many years later Anna and Juan’s son Sebastian (Leonard Mann) assisted by Rafael (Peter Martell) set off to avenge the murder. Sebastian witnessed the killing of his Father and the memories of this violent act have haunted him. Rafael to is plagued by memories of the massacre. The movie was known by many titles, GUNMEN OF THE AVE MARIA, THE FORGOTTEN PISTOLERO, LAND OF THE BASTARDS and in Germany as HIS BULLETS WHISTLE THE DEATH TUNE. Which itself is a different slant on the German title for ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST-SPEIL MIR DAS LIED VOM TOD (PLAY ME THE TUNE OF DEATH).


The musical score for GUNMEN OF THE AVE MARIA is pure spaghetti through and through, composers Roberto Pregadio and Franco Micalizzi collaborated on the soundtrack and came up with what is probably one of the most familiar themes for an Italian western away from the obvious as in anything by Morricone. It is in a word Iconic and contains within its opening theme many of the trademarks and sounds that are now associated with the Italian western score. It has been utilized in recent years within TV ads, and shows and even in other movies to depict the atmosphere of the spaghetti western, ie in duels, stand offs and scenes of tension. As soon as anyone hears the opening bars of the composition they immediately think Italian Western, so this says much for the quality, style and longevity of the music. GUNMEN OF THE AVE MARIA was in fact the first western score written by Franco Micalizzi, who went on to create memorable works for THEY CALL ME TRINITY and SACREMENTO, . The music penned by both Pregadio and Micalizzi not only contains the raw savagery that is synonymous with the Italian western but also has a lighter almost romantic sound to it and even contains some waltz infused compositions. Roberto Pregadio, was no stranger to scoring films when he co-composed the score to GUNMEN OF THE AVE MARIA, and like Morricone and many other Italian composers penned numerous Italian western soundtracks, the composer was also active within other genres of film, and created infectious and haunting soundtracks for EMMANUELLLE BIANCA E NERA (1976) and MEDICO LA STUDENTESSA (1977), his many contributions to the world of cinema remain popular some thirty years on. His western scores include, L’ULTIMO KILLER(1967), CICCIO PERDONA (1968), UN BUCO IN FRONTE (1968) and EL HOMBRE QUE VINO DEL ODIO (1971), and THEY CALL ME TRINITY again with Franco Micalizzi.


Released on Quartet records QRSCE010, in 2010.



Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a notorious incident that took place at the battle of Balaklava (Ukraine) during the Crimean War in the October of 1854. It is still considered to be among the most supreme military blunders in history, and one of many that befell the British military during the reign of Queen Victoria, the events of the episode being immortalized in the celebrated poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

The expedition to the Crimea was marred by an incredible lack of forethought, tactics or preparation by both the British and French military and their respective governments. The two then super powers had formed an alliance in order to aid Turkey in their struggle against superior Russian forces who had invaded their country in an attempt to gain control of the Dardanelles. Russian jurisdiction over this particular area would have badly affected British and French sea routes that were vital to both countries economies.

Inadequate weapons, camouflage, food supplies, health care, weather conditions and lack of even basic communications hampered the expeditionary force and many soldiers fell ill or perished before they even reached the battlefield. Diseases such as cholera took a heavy toll upon the ranks. By the time they arrived on the battleground much of their equipment had been either lost, or was no longer in working order. In the final battle, all the soldiers had to protect themselves was their nerve, unwavering patriotism and faith.

As Tennyson put it:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismayed ?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why, Still-from-The-Charge-of--004 (2)
Their’s but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death                                 
Rode the six hundred.

Tony Richardson’s movie is an archetypal analysis of the futility of war and the horrors inflicted on the average but courageous man who goes to fight in the name of his country and sovereign only to be let down and forgotten by both. The film was completely removed from the Americanised, cliché-filled original big screen treatment of the events on that fateful day. The Hollywood version released by Warner Brothers in 1936 was basically a vehicle for screen heart-throb Errol Flynn, who was the movies principal player. Although referred to as a classic, it is by today’s standards rather subdued, containing wooden performances and also grossly historically incorrect in places. Its saving grace being the spectacular charge of the brigade filmed by Michael Curtiz, which was realistic and stirring.
Richardson’s vision of the story purveyed war to be what it is in reality – brutal, bloody, pointless, chaotic and full of carnage and mayhem, eschewing any Hollywood glitter or dressing up of events. Richardson wanted to call the movie THE REASON WHY, maybe in an attempt to un-glorify the events of the day and highlight its pitfalls and deadly mistakes. The director did however, manage to infuse segments of comedy and snippets of satire which lightened the mood of the movie and bought an air of normality to the proceedings. Richardson also grasped upon every opportunity that was possible to show the inept and erroneous policies and practices of the British government of the time, who were willing, it seemed, to entrust the lives of thousands of soldiers to inexperienced officers who in many cases had not earned but purchased their commissions in the army. Buying Commissions was something that happened regularly in Victorian England. Wealthy individuals with no military understanding at all would at times go as far as buying the regiment that they wanted to be associated with, appointing themselves as commander. These individuals were full of their own importance, never giving a thought for the down rankers who looked to them for guidance and support.

Three such characters were portrayed wonderfully by esteemed British actors in Richardson’s movie. Sir John Gielgud is annoyingly convincing as the incredibly imperceptive, aloof and near senile Lord Raglan (Fitzroy James Henry Somerset), who was ultimately held responsible for issuing the order for the brigade to charge the Russian guns. Trevor Howard and Harry Andrews play squabbling brothers-in-law (Lord Cardigan and Lord Lucan respectively). Both are excellent and true to life; their characters more concerned about who gives the orders to whom and who is in overall command, rather than concentrating on the battle itself or giving thought to the men they are supposedly in charge of and responsible for. Their constant bickering becomes so intense that their respective staff’s refuse to co-operate and an order sent to Cardigan from Lucan is misinterpreted sending the light brigade into a situation and an engagement that was not only disastrous but also one that went against all military codes and practise.

“IT IS MAGNIFICENT. BUT IT IS NOT WAR”.(French Marshall in the Crimea, Pierre Bosquet)    

Still-from-The-Charge-of--004 (3)





David Hemming’s takes on the role of Captain Louis Edward Nolan, who is it seems, to be the only glimmer of sanity and reason amongst all of the chaos, ineptitude and slaughter, and ironically in the movie is the first fatality in the charge, struck down before the brigade has reached a gallop. In reality Nolan was a respected officer and a great supporter and believer in the power and strategic usefulness of British cavalry. Properly led, the British Hussar and Dragoon could in his mind break squares, take batteries, ride over columns of infantry, and pierce any other cavalry in the world as if they were made of straw. It was Nolan who took the order to the brigade and according to eye witnesses on the day when asked by the brigade commander “ Where are we to advance to”? Nolan pointed in the direction of the Russian lines and said “THERE ARE THE ENEMY, AND THERE ARE THE GUNS”.


(Benjamin Disraeli in the House of Commons 15 December 1855)

A fresh faced Vanessa Redgrave provides the love interest as Clarissa, who embarks on an affair with the Hemmings character. The presence of Vanessa Redgrave,( the director’s wife from 1962 to 1967), in the role of one of the prim Victorian ladies, is itself amusing as Redgrave was then and still is a dedicated left-wing actress who has never disguised her support of a variety of political causes. There are also a number of familiar British actors in the cast who take on minor but important roles, Peter Bowles for example who plays the irritatingly pompous popinjay paymaster, Captain Henry Duberly, who is it seems very good at talking military matters but has little experience of them. Ray Pattison as the rough and ready (but loyal) regimental Sgt Major and Jill Bennett as Mrs Fanny Duberly, who constantly lusts after Lord Cardigan.

Director Richardson’s expertise behind the camera brought out the best in these actors, with their roles made more realistic and credible because of the film-makers down to earth approach. The movie was filmed in a fashion that fused feature film and documentary styles to great effect, which again added depth, realism and atmosphere to the films storyline and visual/aural content. This technique drew attention to the social levels of the period and fixed upon the observations and comments however insignificant of individual officers and their underlings. It highlighted the stark and broad gap between officers and soldiers and made comparisons between the pompous and luxurious lifestyle of the wealthy as opposed to the basic and impoverished day to day struggle to survive of the common man.



It also focused upon the bullying that was experienced by younger officers by so called veterans and the prejudices that were rife within the upper classes of the time. The production was filmed in various locations, but the all important Charge Of The Light Brigade and battle of Balaklava was filmed in a valley near Ankara, Turkey. The director had wanted to film at the site where the actual battle took place, but Russian authorities refused permission, saying that the location was too close to a missile site. Richardson’s production company Woodfall, rented a 700 acre area from the Turkish government which cost approx £20,000 and were aided greatly by the Turkish Presidential guard which acted as extras and whose commander provided the production with 600 horses. In return for this co-operation Richardson’s production company transformed the valley into a fully irrigated area of agricultural land, as well as paying the locals double what their harvest would have brought in and they also installed electricity to nearby villages which were their base during filming. Things however did not run that smoothly, and the villagers and soldiers who were extras would often clash over various occurrences that arose. For example it had been agreed that the land in the valley would not be farmed whilst filming was taking place, but the villagers would at times plough up areas which made it difficult and also dangerous for the horses, the soldiers would then get angry with the villagers and arguments would break out on a regular basis.
After the cameras ceased to roll all of the improvements were left behind for the people of the area to benefit from. The production was also aided by the utilisation of some excellent animation, which was made up of images of achievements in the industrious Victorian age, and also propaganda related illustrations. This striking imagery was the work of Richard Williams, who based his etchings upon original material published in the PUNCH magazine. Williams created the Pink Panther cartoon character for the opening of the Blake Edwards comedy movie which was far removed from the work he did on The Charge of the light Brigade. The clever and strategically placed animated sequences acted as an adhesive of sorts that bound the movie together, (showing simply what was happening and what was being carried out in cartoon form as opposed to attempting to do this with actors etc,) linking episodes of the story together. These animated sections featured characters and items such as the British Lion, who is awoken from its slumbers by France and Austria and donning a policeman’s helmet proceeds to square up to the Russian bear after the bear not only attacks but plucks and throttles a terrified looking cartoon of a Turkey, which represents the country.
In the directors memoirs he recalled the production of the movie, and a number of instances that occurred during the actual filming both dangerous, silly and humorous. There was for example an incident that took place involving the Turkish military who were supplying the extras for the film. Richardson recalled, “ Every day brought some new emergency, we had managed to persuade the relevant authorities to let the young recruits grow beards and moustaches etc to fit in with the soldiers of the period. One evening a high ranking officer arrived on set, and not understanding what the film was about or having no idea of the time period in which the story was set, took one look at the recruits and ordered them to shave immediately, the next day was a nightmare as we were desperately phoning, Rome, Paris and London to contact hairdressers and suppliers to replace the devastation caused by the officers orders”. The filmmaker also recalled how merciless he was whilst editing the movie, he discarded whole sequences and cut complete sub plots from the film, he even omitted the charge of the heavy brigade. The editor Kevin Brownlow had hinted to Richardson that maybe the sections that had ended up on the cutting room floor could at some stage be re-introduced into the film, and then the movie could be re-released as a four and a half hour special edition, sadly this idea did not come to fruition and the edited material was destroyed. Interesting trivia that is related to the movie includes. Actor Laurence Harvey was given a role as a Russian Prince, but his scenes were cut completely, although he can be seen briefly in the scene in the theatre sitting near Trevor Howard. Harvey had wanted to produce the movie originally before it was taken on by Woodfall films and even went to the extent of buying the bugle used during the charge when it went up for sale in 1964. Giving him a part in the movie was part of a settlement the actor had with Woodfall when they took over the project. Also the movie was the first on screen role for Natasha Richardson and the Hussars tunic that was worn by David Hemming’s in the movie was later owned and worn by new romantics performer Adam Ant during his Prince Charming video. Tony Richardson who was well known for being notoriously difficult at one point had insisted on the Guardsman wearing blue tunics during the battle of Alma instead of scarlett because he thought it looked better, it was only when the historic advisor on the movie Boris Mollo threatened to resign that the director backed down.




The musical score too was an important and also an integral component of the movie. The at times grand sounding soundtrack was the work of British born composer John Addison. His anthem-like themes enhance, support and ingratiate both live action and animated footage in Richardson’s film. But at the same time his music is intimate and gracious. The music from the film was originally issued on a long playing record in 1968 on the United Artists label. Forty one years later the soundtrack received its first compact disc release, when it was issued as part of a box set of MGM/UA Soundtracks released by American record label Film Score Monthly.

This edition of the score on Singular Soundtracks is the first time that it has been released as an individual item on compact disc and although it contains no extra music it is still a worthy addition to any film music collection. Addison’s music is mysterious and even low key at times, but more often than not it is patriotic, driving, majestic and brimming with sheer Britannic pomp and bravado. The love theme which he penned for Nolan and Clarissa is not as one would expect for a story set in the romantic era of Victoriana. It is neither lush or overly melodic, instead the composer utilises a lilting woodwind motif that is subtly underlined by understated strings in an almost veiled fashion, creating a slightly fragmented theme, which although gentle is at the same time portentous. John (Jock) Addison was born on March 16th 1920 in Cobham Surrey. He was educated at Wellington college and also at the Royal College of music from 1938 to 1939. His studies were interrupted by the start of WW ll, Addison enlisted in the army as a cavalry officer and was attached to the xxx corps, an armoured division who would be involved in the ill fated operation market garden which was fought against German forces in Arnhem Belgium. This engagement would have disastrous results for the British and inhabitants of the town. Addison did not actually take part in the operation, but felt a strong connection with the men in the corps. Addison was actually wounded at Caen during the Normandy landings in 1944. It was fitting that many years later Addison would score Sir Richard Attenborough’s big screen treatment of the Arnhem expedition, A BRIDGE TOO FAR.(1976), which garnered Addison a BAFTA for best original score. The composers music acting as a tribute to the fallen troops on both sides.
After the war had finished and Addison was de-mobbed in 1947 he returned to his studies at the Royal College of Music and in 1950 became a professor of composition there. Addison’s first classical composition dates back to 1948, this was Three Terpsichorean Studies for orchestra. But his involvement with music for films began two years previous to this when he arranged the songs for BRIGHTON ROCK (1946). His first actual scoring assignment was for THE GUINEA PIG in 1948. The composer did originally set out to write music for the stage and this aspiration began when he scored the four hander revue CRANKS in 1955, and although his music for this was acclaimed and said to be adventurous and highly original, it is music for film that Addison will be best remembered for, he worked on numerous motion pictures in Gt. Britain, during the 1950,s through to the late 1970,s and was responsible for providing the soundtracks to countless movies that established the British film industry as a force to be reckoned with throughout the world. During the 1950,s Addison was associated with films such as, SEVEN DAYS TILL NOON (1950), THE RED BERET (1953), THE MAGGIE (1954), THE COCKELSHELL HEROES (1955), PRIVATES PROGRESS (1956), REACH FOR THE SKY (1956), I WAS MONTYS DOUBLE (1958) and CARLTON BROWNE OF THE F.O. (1959).


Still-from-The-Charge-of--004 (1)

During the decade of the 60,s the composer provided the scores for groundbreaking and box office success’s alike, such as, THE SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS (1960), THE ENTERTAINER (1960), A TASTE OF HONEY (1961). LONELINESS OF A LONG DISTANCE RUNNER (1962), TOM JONES (1963), GUNS AT BATASI (1964) and caused quite a stir in Hollywood when he replaced composer Bernard Herrmann on Alfred Hitchcock’s TORN CURTAIN in 1966. As the 1970’s dawned the composer remained busy scoring movies and television projects such as MR FORBUSH AND THE PENGUINS, SLUETH, LUTHER, SWASHBUCKLER, JOSEPH ANDREWS and THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION. Mid way through the 1970’s the composer relocated from his native England to the United States, firstly settling in Los Angeles, but then moving to Vermont in 1990 where he remained until his death in 1998. During his time in America Addison became widely known for his television scores and in particular for his infectious theme for the series MURDER SHE WROTE, which opened the show on over 250 occasions. During 1978 thru to 1979 Addison worked on all twelve episodes of the NBC TV series CENTENNIAL. His workload remained steady during the 1980,s and he was involved with other projects such as ELLIS ISLAND, GRACE QUIGLEY, STRANGE INVADERS and TO DIE FOR. Addison passed away on December 7th, 1998, after suffering a stroke.



Track Information.
The music tracks on this compact disc are not in order of how they appeared in the movie, they are in order of the long playing record release.

Track 1.
THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE.The opening track is a modern sounding pop orientated song, performed by fashionable sixties band Manfred Mann, who execute lines from Tennyson’s poem set to music. The song never appeared on the films soundtrack, and was I suppose an early example of record labels and film companies including songs on disc releases in an attempt to boost sales. Or maybe it was destined for inclusion on the score and was not used. It is not clear if the music is by composer John Addison or members of the band that perform it.

Track 2.

John Addison’s regal sounding central theme for the movie is given its most full working in this cue. The composition begins slowly its atmosphere being almost foreboding. The mood of the cue soon alters as the tempo is increased and the composer introduces the strident and regal theme. The music accompanies the stunning animated images of Richard Williams, which depict the achievements, inventiveness, wealth and also the poverty of the Victorian age.
Track 3.

This cue is heard just before the Light Brigade ride into the valley of death, and is heard as Captain Nolan (David Hemmings) rides out to the waiting Light Brigade with Lord Raglan’s orders that will send the Brigade to assured death. The composition includes a different arrangement of Nolan’s theme, which is performed in the main by the brass section, supported by urgent sounding strings.

Track 4.

In the movie we hear this theme for the first time when Captain Nolan visit’s the barracks of the 11th Hussars, he talks to stable hands and officers alike and shows no prejudice or signs of class snobbery. Which does not sit well with the upper echelon members of the regiment. Addison utilises to great effect woodwind and strings which are interspersed and punctuated by hesitant sounding trumpet flourishes. This theme and style of scoring is repeated throughout the film when Nolan is on screen.

This music is heard just before the fateful charge of the hussars into the valley, Russian soldiers steal the British guns and are seen to be moving them towards their own positions, the British cavalry stands watching and not being utilised in anyway to stop them. Captain Nolan is incensed by this act and harasses the British commander Lord raglan into sending an order to the light brigade to engage the enemy. The composers supporting music is a mixture of Nolan’s theme as he persuades Raglan to send the order and also tense and suspense filled martial sounding motifs and passages that include a subdued trumpet fanfare of sorts which is punctuated by the use of rolling timpani that perfectly depicts and accompanies the incompetent and indecisive British commanding officers who are attempting to reach a decision of how to best deal with the Russian infantry that have stolen the guns.
The British and French alliance continue to make very little headway and are struggling to even make an impression upon the Russian defences, but the British newspapers and reporters with the expedition, exaggerate the truth and imply that the campaign is going well and that victory has been achieved in Sebastopol. This is a gross and unwise twisting of the facts, and the animated sequence lays out this victory in all its patriotic and pompous glory. The composer rises to the occasion and provides the images with some suitably overblown and majestic writing, that is introduced by music that is light and at times near celestial, performed by both orchestra and choir.

Still-from-The-Charge-of--004 (4)
Whilst training in a London park, a young raw officer(Captain Morrison, played by actor Mark Burns), who is a friend of Nolan’s becomes unseated from his horse and is made fun of by other members of the regiment. Nolan arrives and takes control of the excited animal plus he also cuts short the ridicule being dished out by the other officers. The music present in this cue is not fully utilised within the film, the introduction which is the excitable music that accompanies the horses disobedient capers is not in the film, but the arrangement of Nolan’s theme that follows it is heard as Nolan takes charge of the horse and assists his friend back into the saddle.

This a unashamed piece of propaganda, Addison’s music is heard over a cleverly put together animated sequence. Urgent and almost fraught cries of THE RUSSIANS !
THE RUSSIANS ! open the cue and are interrupted by a forthright and urgent cry of, POOR LITTLE TURKEY ! A forthright and threatening theme is heard as we see a cartoon image of the Russian Bear approach Turkey and subsequently attack and abuse it. The composer accompanies this with some suitably Asian and colourful sounding music. The mood and atmosphere of the composition changes once again as The British Lion and French Rooster join forces and forge across the map of Europe to retaliate against the Bear to assist the beleaguered bird, Addison introduces segments of the French National Anthem and combines it with the scores central heroic theme to create a pompous and typicaly imperialistic tone.


Another animated sequence that is richly and inventively illustrated by Richard Williams. Addison’s music again is the perfect partnering for the images and creates a superlative enhancement, it supports, punctuates and becomes an important and integral component of the proceedings. The British fleet sails out to war supported by a stirring “RULE BRITTANIA”, which segues into a full bodied chorale rendition of the scores principal theme, this is interpolated by a brief but conspicuous introduction of
“LA MARSEILLAISE”, that represents the French fleets involvement as it joins the British. The allies arrive in Constantinople and it is at this point that the composer introduces a comical sounding and jaunty version of a nautical shanty which accompanies a caricature of Lord Cardigan who has seemingly fallen behind the rest of the fleet and is arguing with his brother in law Lord Lucan. The fleet sails on from the Turkish capital into a dark storm clouds, the music finishes at this point as animated images shift back to live action, the fleet battling against the elements in a violent maelstrom, where many men and horses perish.

Addison’s vigorous and vibrantly energetic music for this sequence was not used in the finished film, the director opting for the sound of battle instead of that of an orchestra.
In hindsight this was probably a good choice by Richardson. As the spectacle of the charge did not really need any musical accompaniment. Addison produced a fast paced pulsating and proud sounding cue that relied primarily upon a variation of Nolan’s theme, a variation that suggested desperation and anger and futile adversity as the six hundred strong brigade launched itself into a situation that many of them would not return from. Brass flourishes are supported by driving and urgent strings that are embellished by the utilisation of timpani and other percussive elements. It is an impressive composition and one that conjures perfectly the confusion and outrage of war.

Captain Nolan and his best friends fiancée Clarissa walk together in the woods. It is obvious the pair have an attraction for each other, but both also realise it is wrong to feel the way they do. Addison’s music reflects the almost tormented and uncomfortable atmosphere that is present within the sequence. It is not until the actual kiss that the couple share that the composers music turns very slightly romantic, but it still posses a style that is tinged with an atmosphere of uncertainty and hesitance.

Addison composed some wonderfully elegant and authentic Victorian dance cues for this sequence in the movie. It is during this scene that the director takes the opportunity to introduce a handful of the movies principal characters, Captain Nolan, Lord Cardigan and Mrs. Duberly among them.

The march on Balaklava takes a deadly toll upon the British and French forces, many of the men being stricken with the deadly cholera. Addison’s music underlines the pain and desperation that is felt by Nolan as he watches many of his comrades fall foul to the illness and the relentless sun that beats down upon them. Nolan’s realisation of the desperate situation reaches its apex when he is scared by the thought of sharing his water bottle with a man that has collapsed from heat exhaustion. Addison provides the sequence with a desperate and tormented sounding composition that lends it’s support to the unfortunate soldiers and officers in their hopeless plight.
After the British and French have had their first encounter with Russian forces, Nolan stands and surveys the field of the dead. A mournful and guarded down tempo variation of Nolan’s theme is heard underscoring the futility of the situation and Nolan’s thoughts and feelings.

Following a disagreement with Cardigan in which Nolan accuses the officer of having others spy upon him, Nolan goes to the stables to reflect upon his situation and also ponder on the future of the British army. Addison’s music is low key but effective by giving the scene support but never being intrusive.


Addison’s regal and proud sounding end credits music was not used in the film, instead Richardson relied on a silent credit role and a quite graphic image of a beheaded horse, which was neither proud, or filled with glory, this static image on screen was enhanced by the sound of flies buzzing. Giving departing audiences something to ponder upon.
John Mansell © 2010.


Swashbuckler was released on Intrada records in 2007.








                                             SWASHBUCKLER .






That was one of the tags for Swashbuckler (a.k.a The Scarlet Buccaneer in the UK). A pretty ambitious statement considering that we had already seen the likes of Captain Blood (1935), The Sea Hawk (1940) and Against all Flags (1952). During the 1970s Hollywood was looking for ways to rejuvenate the film industry and encourage more people into the theatres, which led the studios and film makers to revisit already tried-and-tested formulas such as westerns, gangster and heist movies, and the pirate/adventure tale. Swashbuckler was, to be fair-minded, a good, entertaining pirate romp containing all the correct ingredients to make a successful and memorable film. Sadly, it did not fare that well at the box office, either in the UK or the United States. The movie was basically an attempt to re-create the magic and success of the films of Errol Flynn. While Swashbuckler lacked one vital ingredient: the presence of Flynn himself, leading man Shaw turned in an admirable performance in the film;s principal role; his performance added colour, flamboyancy and continuity to the proceedings. The movie was intended to be an affectionate homage the pirate films of years ago, but also made a brave attempt to play as a comedy at the same time. Handled carefully this mixture of action, drama and comedy can work with audiences; we have seen this successfully demonstrated within the Indiana Jones series and more recently in The Pirates of The Caribbean trilogy. But in the case of Swashbuckler the styles did not quite gel, with the comedy often falling a little flat and leaving the audience unsure if the film was a comedy, an adventure, or a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the vintage pirate movies, ala Burt Lancaster’s The Crimson Pirate (1952).
The cast list for Swashbuckler was an impressive one, with Shaw in the role of the pirate Ned Lynch who along with fellow buccaneer Nick Debrett (portrayed by James Earl Jones) go to the rescue of a damsel in distress, Lady Jane Barnet (played by Genevieve Bujold). They return her to Jamaica only to find that many of their comrades have been taken prisoner by an unfeeling, spiteful and merciless dictator Lord Durant who is portrayed albeit somewhat unconvincingly by Peter Boyle. Lynch and Debrett begin to devise a way to rescue their friends and at the same time bring down the cruel oppressor Durant. Beau Bridges also stars, taking on the role of Major Folly, a well-dressed fussy popinjay who never seems to be able to get things right. Lots of skulduggery, bloodletting, comedy, romance and swordplay ensues as pirates and gypsies combine forces to take on Durant. The acting partnership of Shaw and Jones makes the movie worth watching, and what the film lacks in plot it makes up for in action, exotic scenery ( the movie was filmed in Mexico) and some good one-liners. All of which were brought together by director James Goldstone. The film-maker had been working steadily in Hollywood, but had failed to have a breakout movie success. He had worked on the second Star Trek pilot for television entitled Where no Man Has Gone Before(1966) and garnered a certain amount of credo with critics and his peers for his work on the mystery murder They only Kill Their Masters(1972) which starred James Garner and Katherine Ross.


John Addison (Jock) was a resourceful, creative and talented composer who entered into the world of scoring movies during the late 1940s. His first assignment being The Guinea pig in 1948, a film that starred a fresh-faced Richard Attenborough. Born in West Cobham, Surrey, in the United Kingdom on March 16th 1920, Addison studied at the Royal College of Music in Kensington London. He concentrated upon composition, conducting, oboe, piano and clarinet. After his initial foray into writing music for film Addison rapidly established himself as an artist who was at home within any genre of film, and one who was also able to adapt easily to any situation that arose whilst working on a project.
th (30)
The composer/conductor reached what many would call his creative musical high point during the 1950s with the commencement of the British film industries revival. His sprightly semi-classical melodies and at times temperamental jazz-infused scores enhanced and graced many of the “coming of age” movies that were being produced during this period. Because of his ability to be flexible, Addison’s talent and versatility as a film music composer soon became apparent within his soundtracks to productions such as Look back In Anger (1959), School For Scoundrels (1960), A Taste Of Honey (1961), Guns at Batasi (1964), The Honey Pot (1967), and his Oscar winning score for Tom Jones(1963).

Addison continued to be in demand as a film music composer throughout the 1960s and in 1966 caused something of a stir within the movie music fraternity when Alfred Hitchcock asked him to score Torn Curtain. This was after the filmmaker had rejected long term collaborator Bernard Herrmann’s music for the picture. It was also during the 1960s that Addison worked on films such as A Fine Madness(1966) and The Charge Of The Light Brigade (1967) for Director Tony Richardson, whom he had a fruitful creative partnership with. Addison remained active during the 1970s, working on projects such as Mr Forbush And The Penguins (1971) and Sleuth (1972) for which he received an Academy Award Nomination in the category of best original dramatic score.

In 1976 he worked on Sir Richard Attenborough’s world war ll epic A Bridge To Far. This was a project close to Addison’s heart as he had served with the XXX corps during the war and Attenborough’s movie told the story of the ill-fated operation market garden in Belgium where many members of the XXX corps lost their lives. The composer did not actually take part in the operation but felt a strong connection with the men who did (Addison himself was wounded at Caen during the Normandy landings in 1944).

It was during the mid 1970’s that Addison re-located to the USA, firstly settling in Los Angeles, then moving to Vermont in 1990 where he remained until his death in 1998. It is ironic that he will probably be best remembered for the work he did for the small screen whilst in the United States as opposed to his numerous film scores. His enduring and endearing theme for the popular CBS series Murder She Wrote, still remains well-liked today thanks to repeated screenings of the show on cable television. Addison’s spirited theme opened more than 250 episodes of the series, earning him an Emmy. He also worked on the epic TV series Centennial for NBC during 1978-1979, scoring all twelve episodes and Ellis Island was another TV assignment in 1984 for the CBS network. Plus the composer scored a handful of motion pictures during the 1980s these included, Strange Invaders (1983), Grace Quigley (1985) and To Die For (1989).

All the time that Addison was composing for film and television he continued to write “serious” music or music for the concert hall. His Bassoon Concertina was premiered in Manchester in the UK, during 1998. John Addison passed away on December 7th 1998 in Bennington Vermont, USA, after suffering a stroke.

One of the most outstanding and memorable attributes of Swashbuckler is the infectious, feisty and robust musical score by composer John Addison. At times the music for the movie can be just as entertaining as the action unfolding upon the screen. As with many of Addison’s movie soundtracks, Swashbuckler has a extremely English, almost William Walton/Clifton Parker/Vaughn Williams sound to it, the work echoes many of the composers past triumphs in films such as The Charge Of The Light Brigade, Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews and The Amorous adventures Of Moll Flanders.
Addison provided the movie with four key musical themes. The first of these being the accompaniment for the pirate ship in the film, The Blarney Cock. Then there is a more sinister but almost gloom filled theme for the Lord Durant character; action music which accompanies the antics of the pirates and their associates and a sumptuous love theme which enhanced the scenes involving Ned and Lady Jane. Approximately half of Addison’s score was released on LP record back in 1976 (MCA 2096). This is the first compact disc release of the soundtrack and contains the same music tracks as the original LP record.

1. Main Theme- The track opens with the theme for the Pirate ship The Blarney Cock, this is a light hearted, relaxed and somewhat tropically-orientated composition, and is heard only briefly before giving way to serious and tense martial sounding percussion. This too melts away so that the theme Addison penned for Lord Durant can make a short-lived appearance. The Blarney Cock theme then makes an almost triumphant return to the proceedings, this time in a fuller, more sustained working, establishing it firmly as the central and main thematic core of the work.

2. The Coach Robbery– An energetic and exhilarating composition that introduces Addison’s high-spirited action music into the score for the first time. This jolly and rollicking piece is filled with vigorous performances from the string section that receive hearty support from both brass and Addison’s favourite instrument the harpsichord. The theme, which is a form of sea shanty come action piece, steadily builds throughout the movie becoming the music that is associated with the pirates and the gypsy characters who eventually join forces against the overbearing Lord Durant.

3. Love Theme- This arrangement of the composers theme was not actually utilized within the movie. The music heard here is a lush-sounding attractive rendition of Addison’s composition, arranged especially for the LP release. The music suggests the notion of actual romance between the Ned and Jane characters, rather than the real extent of their relationship in the story. It is an appealing and sensitive sounding piece that employs heartfelt blossoming strings, embellished by minimal use of woodwind and delicately placed harp, performed in a manner that evokes the style of composers such as Max Steiner or Alfred Newman and harkens back to the days of the Golden age of film making and film music in Hollywood.



4. The Fencing Lesson-Ned and Jane.- The music here is taken from two separate cues on the films soundtrack. The first part of the track is utilized in the scene where a desperate and vexed Jane Barnet has a meeting with her cousin. The second part of the cue is taken from the fencing scene, where Ned taunts Jane and in a less than chivalrous fashion, proceeds to fence with her on the beach trying to belittle her in front of his comrades. The music contains elements of the love theme combined with a secondary action theme which rapidly increases in tempo and memento.

5. Torture-Erotica in Waltz Time.- This tense-sounding composition features parts of Durant’s theme, played adjacent to and layered over sinister sounding strings. The cue heard here is shorter in duration to the one used within the movie and is utilized to great effect whilst Durant’s mute henchman menaces Major Folly with a set of metal talons, as Durant himself relaxes more or less sublime to what is going on, whilst having his back waxed.

6. The Pickpocket Monkey.- A playful and quite mischievous piece which has light near impish sounding woodwinds opening the cue, which are supported by sparsely placed strings. The music accompanies the scene of a trained monkey attempting to steal a set of keys from a sleeping gaoler. Durant’s theme is also introduced momentarily, but it is the love theme motif that brings the cue to it’s conclusion, swelling strings reaching a lush and almost luxurious sounding crescendo as Jane is re-united with her Father who has been imprisoned by the venomous Lord Durant.

7. Retreat To The Ship.- This cue is extremely up tempo at its outset, but slows to a much easier and comfortable pace approximately mid way through. It contains Addison’s action music in a differing and fresh arrangement with the familiar Blarney Cock theme rising proudly for a few seconds during the proceedings. This cue is heard as The Pirates retreat back to the safety of their ship, though not all of them make it back, with a few of their number being captured, hence, this track reaches its conclusion with a version of Durant’s theme.

8. Swashbuckler Love Theme Reprise.- We are treated here to another arrangement of Addison’s luxuriant love theme, again this particular version was not included within the movie. It is a gentler almost tranquil version of the haunting melody, with the string section again coming into its own. As before the style is totally reminiscent of the Golden age film scores lush, extravagant and emotive.


9. The Incredible Chase.- This extensive sequence is scored by Addison with a jolly almost circus music sound, so much so, one can imagine acrobats and clowns rushing here there and everywhere when listening to it. The sequence was described as being “one of the most exciting chases ever brought to the screen, which ends with the greatest stunt in the history of motion pictures”. Not entirely an accurate description of events, but both the scene and the accompanying music are exhilarating. Addison’s music is vibrant and full of energy, featuring a short burst of the action theme towards its conclusion.




10. Swimming Sequence-A New Awareness.- Yet another interpretation of the love theme, this time it is the version that the composer utilised in the movie. It is even more appealing in this form than in the first two performances the composer giving us a lighter more delicate and intimate treatment of his composition. Gentle woods take the lead whilst being underlined by supporting strings. There is a short intervention by Durant’s theme, but this is short-lived as the string-section take up the love theme motif bringing the piece to its conclusion.
11. Assault On The Fortress.- This is without any doubt the high point of the movie, the drama and action unfolding upon the screen being matched perfectly by Addison’s tense and anxious sounding music. Strings again take on the lions-share of the performance with brass bolstering and supporting them. Both the brass and strings then fade away as the piece lulls into a more subdued and relaxed sounding interlude; a lone clarinet playing a mournful melody is given centre stage which is gradually overridden by the introduction of flute underlined by soft unobtrusive sounding strings that delicately punctuate and support at the same time. The cue then progressively builds in tempo and volume, strings again returning supported by underlying brass bringing the track to an abrupt end.
12. Derring-Do !- This cue is heard as the prisoners are rescued from the fortress prison. It is a full working of the riotous action music that has been heard throughout the score, with a brief deviation into a waltz like motif, but soon returns to the action composition which increases in tempo and vigour bringing the cue to a rousing and resounding close.


13. End title-End Cast. As the end credits roll, Addison’s Blarney Cock theme returns; the arrangement here being in a very similar fashion and sound to the main title version, but on this occasion Addison adds a short-lived variant within the cue, ensuring that the theme remains vibrant and bright till the end, bringing the adventure and the score to it’s finale.



John Addison’s score for Swashbuckler, is certainly an enjoyable one, and a work which not only supports the action, romance, comedy and melancholic moods of the movie, but also remains entertaining away from the images it was intended to enhance. It is indeed one of the composers most amusing, sparkling and memorable works for the silver screen and falls squarely in the tradition of other grand adventure soundtracks. The score is an enduring legacy to the talent, inventiveness and craftsmanship of the composer.
John Mansell 2007.