Tag Archives: Jerry Goldsmith


The most terrifying thing about THE SWARM is that it is based on Fact: It exists. Fact: It has awesome destructive power. Fact: We don’t know how to stop it.




THE SWARM was released in 1978, it was not exactly one of the best movies released in the decade of the 1970’s but it was fairly entertaining. There were a lot of disaster movies released in the latter part of the 1970’s EARTHQUAKE, THE CASSANDRA CROSSING and THE TOWERING INFERNO etc among them. THE SWARM, like THE CASSANDRA CROSSING, combined the elements of a disaster movie with that of the horror genre but at times I felt it descended into a rather farcical piece of cinema that was hard to take seriously, it was an Irwin Allen production which he also directed. The screenplay by Sterling Silliphant and was based upon the novel of the same name written by Arthur Herzog. The movie was criticised heavily at the time of its release and was a significant failure at the box office for the Warner Brothers studios. Despite having an all star cast that included Henry Fonda, Michael Caine, Richard Widmark, Bradford Dillman, Fred McMurray,  Katherine Ross, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, Jose Ferrer, Richard Chamberlain and Olivia De Haviland, it still failed to stir up any real enthusiasm amongst cinema going audiences. It did however receive an Oscar nomination for best costume design.



The musical score was by Hollywood movie music giant Jerry Goldsmith. The composer was already well versed in the ways of scoring action thrillers and provided a score that many said was better than the movie it was written for. On listening to the score one will identify straight away the typical Goldsmith approach and style, with at times grandiose and action packed compositions being purveyed via the brass section and accompanied by urgent strings that themselves are supported and embellished by the use of pounding percussive elements, thus creating a tense and powerful sound. Goldsmith employed horns and other brass instrumentation and combined them with dramatic sounding strings to create the sound of the humming bees which was particularly effective in the scenes where we see the swarm descend onto towns and other places where people are. There are also softer moments within the score and the track A GIFT OF FLOWERS evokes past Goldsmith compositions such as A PATCH OF BLUE and the track THE PIPER DREAMS from the OMEN. Originally issued onto an LP and cassette tape which was released on the Warner Brothers label, this however has been long out of print, a re-mastered and expanded version of the soundtrack was issued by Prometheus records on compact disc for the first time in 2002 which contained over 40 minutes of extra music. Now we in 2020 thanks to LA LA LAND records are finally able to listen to the complete score, the recording which also contains several alternate takes and the cues from the LP as well as the actual film score is a complete picture of Goldsmith’s powerful work.

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Even listening to this today one can hear the excellence of Goldsmith’s score and hear within it that unmistakable stamp of musical inventiveness and the presence of quality that the composer placed upon each and one of his projects, good or bad. The sound achieved by the composer is a distinct one and even if you are not a devotee of Mr Goldsmith it is a style that is instantly recognisable, and has manifested itself in earlier works such as THE OMEN, RANSOM and THE SAND PEBBLES and again would be displayed in later scores such as U.S. MARSHALLS and SMALL SOLDIERS etc. Disc one of the release contains the film score of which there are thirty cues, disc two containing the album tracks and additional cues. The release comes with a full colour booklet with notes by Jeff Bond. A not to be missed release.




THE WIND AND THE LION is a movie I have to admit I loved from the first time I saw it, it has everything, action, romance, great landscapes and locations and a cast of impressive actors that include Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, Brian Keith and John Huston. Loosely based upon the Perdicaris incident which took place in 1904, the film was written and directed by John Milius. The filmmaker based his story on a number of what he described as adventure stories, which ranged from an article by Barbara W. Tuchman and also the writings of Rudyard Kipling to Rosita Forbe’s 1924 biography RAISULI THE SULTAN OF THE MOUNTAINS.


The latter being at times quoted word for word within the screenplay. Milius wanted to evoke the adventure and excitement of films such as GUNGA DINN and others like it. And even turned to the works of Akira Kurosawa and the British publication BOYS OWN for his inspiration. The result is a movie that although not totally accurate historically is probably one of the most entertaining and exciting that was produced during the 1970’s. Released in 1975, the film drew minor attention and was surprisingly accepted by the critics even though it contained an attitude that endorsed American Imperialism which in the aftermath of the Vietnam war was somewhat unpopular. The musical score was by American film music maestro Jerry Goldsmith, who penned a magnificent and grand epic sounding work. It is in my opinion one of the composers best works for cinema. Its brass flourishes and pounding percussive elements add authenticity and stature to the movie, with Goldsmith’s edgy by also sweeping strings evoking the sound and style of bygone days from film music history. It also manifested strong thematic properties and styles that were to influence the composers later works such as MULAN, THE 13TH WARRIOR and FIRST KNIGHT.

Its proud but at the same time menacing horns and driving strings which were already a trademark of Goldsmith become even more prominent and effecting within this movie, the score becoming not just a background or an accompaniment to the action, but an integral and essential part of the film itself. The love theme from the score I REMEMBER is too text-book Goldsmith, with eloquent and effecting strings that tug at the emotions, with their sumptuous and lush sound overwhelming the listener whilst also enhancing and supporting the scene being acted out on screen. THE WIND AND THE LION is an epic tale, and the composer stepped up to the mark when writing the score, it is a grandiose and thrilling work, and one that I know is so popular amongst connoisseurs of expressive, exciting and lavish film music. Originally issued on ARISTA records on LP there was also later a compact disc on the Intrada label, which was the same line up as the original Arista release, in recent years an expanded version of the score was released also by Intrada records as a two disc set. It remains one of Goldsmith’s most memorable soundtracks. If you have not heard this then purchase any version that you can just to hear the booming and grand opening theme or thrilling RAISULI ATTACKS. If you have the single compact disc version it is essential you get the two disc set of this classic.



To say that composer Jerry Goldsmith was a prolific writer of music for film and TV is an understatement of the greatest degree. In a career that lasted some 50 years the composer was responsible for writing the music for so many motion pictures that can easily fit into the category of the Blockbuster. Jerry Goldsmith was born in the February of 1929 in Los Angeles. At the age of twelve he began to study piano under Jacob Gimpel, for the best part of the 1940’s he continued to study with lessons in composition from Mario Castelnuovo-Tedasco.




Towards the end of the forties Goldsmith attended L/A/ CITY COLLEGE and also whilst there did a years extra study at the University of Southern California. It was whilst studying at U.S.C. that he was tutored by Miklos Rosza in the film music class. In the early part of the 1950’s Goldsmith joined the music department at CBS he was initially an assistant, but soon moved up to become a composer for live radio and TV shows.



It was whilst at CBS that Goldsmith worked on shows such as DR. KILDARE, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, STUDIO ONE, CLIMAX and GUNSMOKE. In 1957 the composer was given his break into scoring motion pictures when he worked on BLACK PATCH. This led to other assignments including LONELY ARE THE BRAVE in 1960. In 1962 the composer received much critical acclaim for his score to the movie FREUD after which he found himself in demand.


The silver age was a busy period for Goldsmith and arguably this was his most innovative and furtive stage of his career, with scores for films such as, THE BLUE MAX, BANDOLERO, LILLIES OF THE FIELD, SEVEN DAYS IN MAY, THE SAND PEBBLES, A PATCH OF BLUE, and his much revered score for THE PLANET OF THE APES. The 1970.s was also a fruitful period with the composer writing the soundtracks to THE OMEN, PATTON, PAPILLION. CHINATOWN, THE WIND AND THE LION, ISLANDS IN THE STREAM and DAMIEN OMEN TWO.



With so many wonderful scores to his credit it is somewhat hard to perceive that the composer won just one Oscar which was for his dark and chilling soundtrack for THE OMEN. Goldsmith continued to be in demand throughout the 1980’s and also into the 1990’s working on movies such as HOOSIERS, GREMLINS, SUPERGIRL, UNDER FIRE, TOTAL RECALL, STAR TREK, BAD GIRLS, THE RIVER WILD, MEDICINE MAN, MULAN, SMALL SOLDIERS, GREMLINS 2, AIR FORCE ONE, FIRST KNIGHT, MALICE, BASIC INSTINCT, RAMBO, INNERSPACE, POLTERGEIST, CONGO and so many more. His last scoring assignment was in 2003 when he wrote the music for LOONEY TOONS BACK IN ACTION. He died on July21st 2004 aged seventy five.




I don’t know about you, but it seems to me, there is always a catalyst that propels one to the life time interest of film music.
You might be interested in film music before, but one score that can set you on a lifetime love of music . For me it happened it seems almost a lifetime away at the now sadly gone ABC Regal Cinema in Torquay. There I experienced Otto Preminger’s epic for that year, IN HARM’S WAY. When you think of the stellar cast he managed to assemble, names now mostly no longer with us, it was quite an achievement. Preminger also liked to experiment, if that is the right word with his composer. He didn’t repeat his musical choice, but each time found someone new, and relatively untried – witness Hugo Montenegro for HURRY SUNDOWN – Did he ever come up with a better score than that? So for IN HARM’S WAY, he picked Jerry Goldsmith, then an experienced novice if you like with a few great scores under his belt even then.


Little did I know as the film unrivalled that I would actually see Mr Goldsmith at the piano during the opening scene. I think it was years afterwards before I found that out

So as I mentioned, that was the one. For me Goldsmith contained everything I wanted to hear in a film score, and of course you have to bear in mind the choice available to him in the Sixties. War Dramas, Comedies, Spy Thrillers, Sci- Fi, Intimated stories., let alone the TV series that came from most of the big studios at the time. He could do everything as we now well know, . .

IN HARM’S WAY contained all the elements of a great score . Dramatic action pieces, THE ROCK, which we now know was for a different place entirely. NATIVE QUARTER, strings against a wonderful percussive background, A more mature Love theme for THE ROCK AND HIS LADY, and a different one for Tom Tryon and Paula Prentiss, and a suitably symphonic finale which brought the LP, then and now CD to a fitting close . It is worth mentioning that RCA at the time thought of it as more of a …………. well, let me quote from a advert for the LP that appeared in , I think Playboy but I can’t be sure, and it is worth quoting in full “Starting with the sound and fury of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the music sets the mood for the dramatic events that followed. There’s “Love Theme”, the big soaring main theme… “Liz” a dance band swinger that captures the off – limits, honky tonk atmosphere of parties in Honolulu… and “Night Swim”, that tells musically of a passionate interlude in the moonlight surf. This is the music that was born of the war years – the big band sound reminiscent of Glenn Miller and Harry James – played in a modern style that makes it timely for listening and dancing pleasure today!.” Well full marks for the copywriter, but I wonder if he actually heard the LP in the first place. Still one can see how Neely Plumb – the Producer and Goldsmith came up with the choices of what to put in ,and more importantly leave out.

It came out first in the UK on RCA Records in 1965, and in the CD era, firstly I believe around the late eighties from SLC in Japan, and then on Intrada, more than once. Now we have an expanded LP with tracks that did not make it on to the original album, coupled with a full re mastered LP a la RCA album I don’t know if you have noticed but a number of new releases are doing this. BASIC INSTINCT probably being the latest. I guess if this wasn’t done, then there would be little take up at all, for after all BASIC INSTINCT has been around a few times as well.

Will you get this one for basically three extra cues.? One by the British Composer Eric Coates, that opens the film, a short cue by Goldsmith called SILVER SEA and the undoubtedly highlight OLD SWAYBACK, a full one minute , twenty three seconds of Goldsmith at his scintillating sixties best. .

We don’t have the electronic hums that accompanied the Battleships approaching each other, A marvellous short cue when Brandon De Wilde is heading into battle in his Torpedo Boat, and the almost Jaunty cues when Australian Stanley Holloway leads the commandoes on a reconnaissance mission.

Fifty years we have been waiting but unless somewhere in the depths of Paramount vaults there is a rusty tin , unmarked that contains these cues, I suspect this fan will be heading one day to the great recording booth in the sky still waiting!!

So what do you do. What a question!! You go and buy it of course and go down on bended knees that there is Douglass Fake out there, who is still bringing out these gems . I am not sat on the edge of my seat waiting for the latest blockbuster by Michael Giacchino, Philistine that I might be, and as there ain’t a great deal of lost scores appearing these days, a Sixty year old classic is just music to my ears. There must be a God after all!!



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One trilogy of movies that I think made a great impression upon cinema audiences was the movies in the THE OMEN series. The original movie was released in 1976, with two sequels in that particular cycle being added, DAMIEN- OMEN ll in 1978 and then THE FINAL CONFLICT being the last in the series hitting cinema screens in 1981. All of course charted the life of Damien Thorne who is in effect the son of the devil and his rise to power and his eventual downfall. Damien is the son of American diplomat Robert Thorne (Peck) who is made ambassador to the court of St James’s in the United Kingdom his Mother Katherine (Remick) gives birth to a still born baby in a Rome hospital, a priest approaches her husband and suggests that he replace the dead infant with a baby that has just been born and who’s Mother has died in childbirth, without telling his wife Thorne agrees. After the family re-locate to London events start to take place and strange occurrences begin to happen. The Ambassador is warned by a priest played by Patrick Troughton that his son is in fact evil, at first Thorne refuses to listen, until the priest is found dead impaled on a spike from a church steeple, after this Thorne begins to uncover things about his adopted son.

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Damien’s beginnings, life and demise were all underlined by composer Jerry Goldsmiths wonderfully dark but inspiring scores for all three of THE OMEN movies. We see Damien grow from an infant into a toddler then into a teenager and into manhood and as he does he becomes more determined and focused on carrying out his real fathers bidding, gathering around him followers and supporters who are as him set on creating a world that is filled with chaos and misery. Goldsmith supports and punctuates each and every dark and at times violent scenario that is evoked or instigated by Damien and his protectors. Goldsmith’s malevolent and richly ominous AVE SANTANI chorus being the core of each and every soundtrack. The first in the trilogy THE OMEN was directed by Richard Donner and starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, with supporting cast being made up from British actors and actress’s such as David Warner Billie Whitelaw, John Stride, Anthony Nicholls and Patrick Troughton. Goldsmith developed the central thematic material for the score which was the AVE SATANI motif and also a love theme which at a later date was developed into a vocal track entitled THE PIPER DREAMS. I remember hearing the composer in interview once and the subject of the song was brought up, Goldsmith was very swift to point out to the interviewer that he was not the one who decided that a song should be included on the soundtrack, but it was his melody that was used within it.

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Goldsmiths central foreboding motif and also the lighter and more romantic love theme worked well together creating a darkness and also a lighter side to the work, the composer fused the two components together throughout the score at times lulling the watching audience into a false sense of safety and security. The scene in the graveyard is particularly well served by the ominous and guttural sounding soundtrack, the fearsome voices creating a frenzied and urgent atmosphere and adding a greater impact to the scene.

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The cue entitled THE DOGS ATTACK slowly builds after in the first instance creating a mysterious and apprehensive mood, Goldsmith introduces a harsher and far more urgent sound by the way of brass, voices and strings, in the build up to the more action led section of the piece the composers music acts as if it is a spectator that is watching the events unfold, knowing full well what is about to happen. As the dogs begin to appear so the musical accompaniment begins to become more agitated and grandiose percussion, strings, choir, rasping bass brass lines and plucked basses punctuating the proceedings, dark piano also is introduced adding an even more menacing persona to the cue. Goldsmiths momentous score was helped greatly by the orchestrations of Arthur Morton and also the musical direction of Lionel Newman. In fact the composer said that he felt that THE OMEN was a tribute to the talent of Morton who had based his orchestrations upon detailed musical sketches that were given to him by Goldsmith. The OMEN ended with Damien being taken to a church by Robert Thorne to be killed on the altar but police arrive just in the nick of time and shoot Thorne dead. Leaving Damien an orphan after his Mother has died earlier in the movie, which brings us to DAMIEN – OMEN ll.

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Although a serviceable sequel, I and others felt that the film was not entirely in the same league as the original movie. However Goldsmith did not disappoint, again the AVE SANTANI chorus was in place and creating the foundation for the composers score, we hear it over the opening credits as Carl Bugenhagen is seen driving erratically through the streets of a town called Megiddo, Bugenhagen is the archaeologist who in THE OMEN gave Robert Thorne the seven daggers of Megiddo which were the only instruments able to destroy the antichrist. Goldsmith retains his AVE SANTANI theme but on this occasion it is arranged and orchestrated in a very different way, there seems to be more menace and a kind of visceral virulence to it, it has a more up-tempo background supporting the mad driving of Bugenhagen. Goldsmith employs variants and alternate versions of the themes we heard previously in THE OMEN but for DAMIEN OMEN ll he develops a different sound and one that is at times far more threatening and unsettling. The male voices for example are more threatening and with the baritones in particular underlining the arrival of the crows superbly. The composer adding a disturbing element to the proceedings via these vocal stabs as it were and combining them with low brass accompaniment made this a stand out feature of the soundtrack.

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The score also contains wonderful use of a quite insistent sounding organ and there are additional sounds created via synths that fuse seamlessly with the conventional instrumentation evoking an atmosphere of pure mischief and evil. Organ and choir combine in the cue FALLEN TEMPLE which unfortunately was not used in the film, but is included on the deluxe release of the score on Varese Sarabande, in fact there are two versions, the edit from the original album release and then the shorter and in my opinion more powerfully striking version taken from the actual film soundtrack, organ underlines the choir in a frenzied fashion giving more power and urgency to the vocal performances. Again Goldsmith turned to conductor Lionel Newman and the National Philharmonic who managed to bring to fruition all of the composers stunning and original ideas. THE OMEN was and still is regarded as a groundbreaking score, DAMIEN OMEN ll is an extension of Goldsmiths writing for the original film and in many ways gave the composer a chance to develop more fully many of the ideas he had for THE OMEN. THE FINAL CONFLICT came next, in this we see Damien grown to adulthood and played convincingly by Sam Neil. THE OMEN will always be my favourite score from the trilogy, simply because when it was released it was so fresh, vibrant and original, but THE FINAL CONFLICT is I think very close to that soundtrack, Goldsmith creating a more grand sound for the final instalment of the series and also giving the music a more religious and epic sound.

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Again it is the AVE SANTANI chorus on which Goldsmith lays his musical foundations, with the composer replacing choir in the opening bars of the films main title with imposing brass flourishes, then introducing choir that is supported by brass, strings and percussion, and moves to a gloriously tumultuous crescendo before segueing into a reverent and almost celestial interlude which takes the cue to its near calming conclusion. This is a score that is filled with grandiose set pieces as in track number 7, THE SECOND COMING, Goldsmith creates a beautiful piece build around a variation of the AVE SANTANI but in this case it is a heavenly and triumphant sound that we hear, although it is at times interspersed with icy whispers and threatening voices, these give way to the splendour of Goldsmiths vibrant and awe inspiring music that announces the second coming of Christ, the cue ends with the AVE SANTINI motif performed on French horns, giving the cue a fearsome and commanding finish.


THE FINAL CONFLICT is filled to overflowing with rich thematic material, imposing and affecting fanfares and flourishes plus there are still present the evil sounding verses that we recognise and relish from both THE OMEN and DAMIEN OMEN ll. This I think is probably Goldsmith largest score from the trilogy, the composer developing fully all of the elements that he may have touched upon in previous scores and adding to them, it is also a more reverent work and one that also contains a greater urgency. The highlight cues for me personally are THE MAIN TITLE, THE SECOND COMING,THE HUNT and the excellent end sequence music, which underlines Damien’ s demise and heralds the appearance of The Nazarene in all his glory. All soundtracks were originally issued on LP record, then received compact disc releases, which in the first instant were duplicates of the LP releases, then Varese Sarabande issued deluxe versions of all three scores containing previously unreleased cues. These compact discs are the ones to get with more music and excellent notes and art work they are a worthwhile addition to any film music collection.

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