Tag Archives: Ron Goodwin

FOUR FACES OF THE 60’S FILM SCORE, PART TWO-THE WAR FILM.

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Like the Western, War movies were tremendously popular during the 1960’s in fact their popularity and appeal had not really faded since the end of the 1940’s and were always of interest to cinema audiences in the aftermath of WWll. There were some classics produced during the 1960’s and I hope that the four I have selected meet with your approval as being iconic cinema and also have scores that sometimes fit into that category.

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“Wait a minute. You aren’t seriously suggesting that if I get through the wire… and case everything out there… and don’t get picked up… to turn myself in and get thrown back in the cooler for a couple of months so you can get the information you need”?
The first has a theme that has certainly stood the test of time and is now still as popular with everyone, even if the younger members of the community do not realise it came from a movie and who composed it. THE GREAT ESCAPE was a movie I went to see at an early age and have continued to watch it every Christmas, Easter and bank holiday when it is aired on television. It is what I call essential viewing and to not watch it would I think be sacrilege. Its not just the movie though, it’s the robust and haunting score from composer Elmer Bernstein, one thing you can say about composers who worked in the 1960’s is that they knew how important it was to have a memorable theme for a movie. A theme that the audiences could latch onto and leave the cinema humming or whistling. Bernstein’s GREAT ESCAPE theme not only opened the movie but popped up here and there adding an identity to certain characters and scenarios, the composer at times presenting the theme in a dramatic or even a melancholy fashion, but aswell as the familiar theme the composer also provided the movie with a handful of themes that themselves could have easily acted as core musical foundations for any number of movies.

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I suppose what I am saying is that Bernstein produced a score that was not only an essential component of the film and the drama being acted out on screen, but he also wrote themes that were easily listenable away from the images, which I think was the appeal of a lot of movie scores from te 1960’s. The GREAT ESCAPE theme even had a vocal version that was released in the USA as a single entitled I MUST BE FICKLE.

 

 

 

GREAT ESCAPE MARCH, THE (from ‘The Great Escape’)
Lyrics: Al Stillman; Music: Elmer Bernstein

The Kirby Stone Four

Mabel – I love you, Mabel,
Love you as much as I am able.
Although I’m crazy for little Daisy,
She is the one girl for me.

(Chorus)
Fickle? I may be fickle,
But it’s a dollar to a nickle,
That when I’m kissin’, the one I’m kissin’,
She is the one girl for me.

Carrie – I need you, Carrie,
But I don’t think that we will marry,
For that would hinder my love for Linda;
She is the one girl for me.

(Chorus)
Fickle? I may be fickle,
But it’s a dollar to a nickle,
That when I’m kissin’, the one I’m kissin’,
She is the one girl for me.

Fickle, fickle, dollar to a nickel,
Fickle, fickle, fickle me!

I love Matilda, she is very nice,
But that Hilda makes it paradise.
I love Matilda, but Hilda is very nice.
She is the one girl for me.

Fickle, fickle, dollar to a nickel,
Fickle, fickle, fickle me!

(Chorus)
Fickle? I may be fickle,
But it’s a dollar to a nickle,
That when I’m kissin’, the one I’m kissin’,
She is the one girl for me.
She is the one girl for me.
She is the one girl for me!

It reached number 23 in the billboard 100 but I think I still prefer the Bernstein score version of the theme. THE GREAT ESCAPE was in my opinion along with movies such as THE LONGEST DAY one of the first movies that boasted what is now referred to as an all-star cast. It had names from the world of cinema and theatre from all over the globe. Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance, James Garner, James Donald, David McCallum, Nigel Stock, Gordon Jackson, Angus Lennie and many more. Directed by John Sturges and released in 1963, the film was based upon true events, with writer James Clavell working on the film’s screenplay.

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A group of allied prisoners that are notorious with the third Reich for their expertise in the art of escaping, the German high command decide the best way to deal with them is to put them all in one Stalag, which is supposedly escape proof. But the POW’s see this as a bigger challenge and set out to prove that the Stalag is not escape proof at all. The leader of the prisoners plans a mass escape that will see hundreds of prisoners escaping all over Germany keeping the Nazi’s tied up hunting them down, thus depriving the German army of much wanted troops. The first part of the movie comes across as a comedy in places as we see various prisoners outwit and belittle their German jailers. However, the second part of the movie takes on a more serious and darker tone as we see the prisoners escape and follow individuals and pairs of comrades making their way across land, sea and air in an attempt to stay free. Bernstein’s score at times gives the watching audience little snippets of respite that come in the form of lilting melodies, that are lush and ooze a style and sound that is filled with melancholy and hope.

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But in the main the composer manages to apply the pressure with music that is martial and robust, the theme being the foundation of the entire score with each cue on the soundtrack having elements of it or at least variations of the theme within it, THE CHASE I think is a great piece the composer pulling out all the stops to accompany Steve McQueen’s character as he attempts to make his escape into Switzerland on a motor bike he has stolen from the Germans, the only thing standing in his way is a twenty foot fence, which he intends to jump over on the bike.

 

 

Bernstein’s music adds even greater atmosphere and tension to the sequence, and we all are rooting for the bike rider to make it over the fence, even if deep down we know that it is not possible. THE GREAT ESCAPE is a classic film and has a classic soundtrack to enhance and support it. When they say they don’t make like that anymore, they are most certainly referring to the movie and the music.

 

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“We’re not easily frightened. And we have the Channel, which is not easily crossed. The last little corporal to try it came a cropper”.
The same can be said for a movie that was released some six years later, again a cast full of stars and a musical score that was rousing and vibrant if not a little controversial. THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN was released in 1969, and I think was probably one of the big war movies of the 1960’s and also the type of film that never seemed to make a comeback once the 1970’s got into full swing. This was the British stiff upper lip at its most taught.

 

A large scale production that originally was to be scored by Sir William Walton, but because of scheduling and Walton’s pace of writing the producers became concerned, and one they heard the score and just how sparse it was they decided to engage another composer, enter then Ron Goodwin. And the rest as they say is history, all that remained of Walton’s score was the cue BATTLE IN THE AIR, the films main score being written by Goodwin.

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BATTLE OF BRITAIN was filmed in three countries, England, Spain and France, the movie cost over thirteen million dollars to make and was produced by Harry Saltzman and S. Benjamin Fitz, released in 1969, the movie recounts the tense and uncertain days during the summer of 1940, when Hitler unleashed his formidable Luftwaffe on England, and the brave and courageous pilots, ground personal that against all the odds flew and fought off the overwhelming German forces and saved the island from invasion. The film was directed by Guy Hamilton, the film was a faithful re-creation of the events with superb aerial photography by Johnny Jordan and Skeets Kelly whos talent and attention to detail was second to none, along with the collaboration of assistant director, Derek Cracknell and the excellent cinematography of Freddie Young.
Sir Laurence Olivier, Trevor Howard, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Kenneth More, Susannah York, Robert Shaw, Ian McShane and Edward Fox starred in the movie with Lord Olivier portraying the Air Chief Marshall, Hugh Dowding. It had been at Olivier’s request that Walton had been engaged to write the score for BATTLE OF BRITAIN as a director Olivier had used Walton on a number of his movies, Most notably HENRY V. Ron Goodwin who had made his mark on the world of film music via his infectious theme for MISS MARPLE and the now iconic 633 SQUADRON was deemed to be perfect as composer for the film because he had also been successful with his soundtracks for WHERE EAGLES DARE and THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES, and he was able to write quickly, which was something the producers of the film wanted as the release date was looming and they had a movie with no score.

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Goodwin in my humble opinion made an excellent job of the score in a short period of time, and in my opinion must have heard some of Walton’s score whilst spotting the movie as there is a definite homage within some of the cues to style of Walton, as in the use of woods and strings and brass. Whether this was accidental or done out of respect for the great composer I do not know but remembering how amiable Goodwin was, I would like to think it was the latter. Walton’s score ran for just nine cues, whereas Goodwin’s score boasted some nineteen cues on the compact disc, both scores were released by Ryko on one disc, and listening to the Walton score now I fail to see what was wrong with the actual music apart from there not being enough of it. I remember going to see the movie at the REGENT cinema in Brighton and in the intermission was able to buy the Goodwin soundtrack LP on the U.A. label in the foyer of the cinema. It has remained one of my favourite scores, and the RYKO CD showcases the differing styles of both composers when scoring the same movie. The film was also issued onto DVD and on the disc, there is an option for one to watch the film with either the Goodwin score or with Walton’s music.

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I have to say Walton’s score is surprisingly supportive of the film and oozes with a regal sounding richness and just a hint of that stiff upper lip that is expected of us Brits in situations that seem to be most dire or hopeless. Goodwin’s score too has some wonderfully crafted and stand out moments, THE LUFTWAFFE MARCH or ACES HIGH for example and the central theme for the movie which is a highly charged full piece for driving strings, trumpets and horns.

But BATTLE IN THE AIR by Walton for me personally is the outstanding piece within the film, as the music takes centre stage as there is no sound of gunfire, plane engines or explosions, it is just images of the RAF against the Luftwaffe over land and sea accompanied by Walton’s urgent and swirling composition, which is also at times chaotic and frenzied, but essentially this is truly masterful film scoring. Andre Previn once said. “If they can reject the music of Walton, what chance do us mere mortals have”?

sink

 

Take a message: “Request pleasure of the company of Second Officer Anne Davis at dinner.”

From a battle in the air to a film that focused upon battles upon the Ocean, a movie that is often wrongly mistaken for being released in the 1950’s or before because it has the look and also follows the style that ad been established in films such as THE CRUEL SEA (1953), THE DAMBUSTERS (1955) and REACH FOR THE SKY which was released in 1956. SINK THE BISMARK was released in 1960, directed by Lewis Gilbert this black and white British classic was based upon true events that had occurred during WW ll. The movie starred Kenneth Moore and Carl Mohner and relayed the events which took place between 1939 and 1941. The film opened with newsreel footage of the launching of the hull of the battleship in 1939 which was overlooked by Hitler himself. During the post war period in England war movies such as this became the staple diet of cinema going audiences. And kept the British film industry in gainful employment in the less than affluent days after the war. SINK THE BISMARK was received well by both critics and public alike, with one magazine at the time of the film’s release commenting “THIS IS A FINE FILM, WHICH FULLY CAPTURES THE TENSIONS, DANGERS AND COMPLEXITIES OF BATTLE”. The film also focused upon the human side of events and not just from the British side, it also showed respect to the German forces involved. The musical score was by much revered composer Clifton Parker, Parker’s score is to this day, mentioned and marked as a work of quality by critics, film music collectors and audiences alike. The march from the movie is particularly memorable and is an intensely patriotic and stirring composition in a true Walton/Elgarian fashion. The proud and inspiring score not only matches the action but also adds a tense and dramatic atmosphere to the picture and its impressive battle scenes.


Parker had worked on numerous movies before he came to scoring SINK THE BISMARK, and had received much acclaim for his music to the 1957 horror movie THE NIGHT OF THE DEMON, the composer also providing memorable scores for movies such as SEA OF SAND (1958), THE BLUE LAGOON (1949) and HMS DEFIANT (AKA DAMN THE DEFIANT in the US. (1962).

 

It was Parker who also worked on films such as TREASURE ISLAND and THE SWORD AND THE ROSE. He was like other composers such as Walton, Alwyn and Mathieson a giant in the world of British film music. Sadly, the majority of his film scores were lost or destroyed, but there is hope as a number have been reconstructed and sections have been recorded on the Chandos label.

 

dirty

 

“Very pretty, General. Very pretty. But, can they fight”?

 

The 1960’s was a decade that was for me personally filled with a variety of movies, there always seemed to be something that one wanted to go and see at the cinema or the PICTURES as we used to call them, Sometimes there were so many movies released and I mean good movies that a Saturday would consist of a trip to sometimes three maybe four cinema’s. By this I mean we would start with te matinee, then go to the afternoon and early evening screenings then to the night time performance and at times if we had enough money and could stay awake would head off to the all nightery at the Curzon. Yes, those were the days and we still had change from 4 pound. A film I did go and see a couple of times was THE DIRTY DOZEN,(1967) well I actually stayed in the cinema and watched it through again, because in those days you could go in at any time and sit there and watch the film over and over and not have to pay again. And don’t forget in the sixties there was always a B feature which screened first then the main feature took to the screen. I can’t remember what was on with THE DIRTY DOZEN, but it was not that good because all I remember was the main feature. Although I enjoyed the film, I don’t think at the time I appreciated it or indeed the array of stars that featured in it, to me at the time it was a knock em down and drag em out movie, which when you think about it I suppose it was.

I also never actually liked the score, by composer Frank De Vol. he was a composer who’s music I could take or leave and very often I left it in the record racks. In later years I re-watched the movie and then began to take in the storyline and also appreciate more fully the acting talents that were on offer.

 

 

The score however I still cannot really get into, its not that this is a bad score, no in fact it fits like the proverbial glove, but there are certain things that one just cannot accept and De Vol’s soundtrack is one of them as far as I am concerned. Like most war movies that were released in the 1960’s THE DIRTY DOZEN had a brief but suitably stirring martial sounding opening theme. But on listening to the score again, I still feel that De Vol was playing it is for laughs and was basically sending the whole movie up. Which spoilt the entire experience for me, there was even a song, THE BRAMBLE BUSH sung by Trini Lopez who also starred in the film. The composer also incorporated DON’T SIT UNDER THE APPLE TREE into one of the cues, which was in a way effective, but not for me. I do know that many film music collectors consider this soundtrack a kind of mini classic, but it has a long way to go to attain that status, personally speaking that is. The same can be said for the other scores that De Vol penned for the movies, McLINTOCK, KRAKOTOA EAST OF JAVA to mention just two, the composer was popular no two doubts about it, but I think the popularity was not really as a film music composer, but more as a light music artist, arranger and orchestra leader, in a very similar way to that of Henry Mancini, but of course not as successful. So why have I included this movie here as a face of the 60’s film score, well because the film was so successful, but it’s a sad thing that people who are fans of say THE GREAT ESCAPE, 633 SQUADRON or even to a degree THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN do have an idea of at least the films opening theme, I don’t know, but I am quite confident that people coming out of THE DIRTY DOZEN when they went to the cinema to see it, did not come out whistling anything from De Vol’s score apart from maybe the Trini Lopez song and that’s debatable. The film well, after re-visiting it a few times, yes I can see why there were so many fans of the movie.

 

 

The cast alone is enough to attract much attention, and Aldrich’s direction is quite stunning, the plot is entertaining, and the performances are believable. Set in WWll, an insubordinate and rebellious U.S. army officer (Lee Marvin) is given a handful of convicted murderers who he is expected to train and turn into fighting force and lead them on a mission which is to assassinate a number of top German officers who are taking time out at a French Chateau.


Train them! Excite them! Arm them!…Then turn them loose on the Nazis!

The movie is quite an amusing one and the comedy aspect shines through amongst all the brawls and tense situations whilst the 12 men are being trained and put through their paces, the realy hard hitting stuff comes I would say in the last 20 minutes or so of the movie, when the dozen trap the Germans in a bomb shelter, and throw grenades into the air shafts, which causes chaos underground, the Germans not realising that the pins are still in place on the grenades, but then our merry band of heroes decide to pour petrol down the shafts and then throw a grenade into the mix, which causes an inferno.

 

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It’s a good war movie, and an entertaining one, which was then mimicked over and over, most notably in THE DEVILS BRIGADE one year later in 1968 and to a certain degree in KELLYS HEROES in 1970. THE DIRTY DOZEN is a classic to many, but just an entertaining picture to others. The film starred, Telly Savalas, Clint Walker, Donald Sutherland, Trini Lopez, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, John Cassavetes, Jim Brown, Charles Bronson and George Kennedy amongst others. The soundtrack was released originally on an MGM LP record, and later re-issued on MCA classics, the score received a handful of compact disc releases, including one on the TCM label paired with the score for DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE and also on the UA/MGM label with HANNIBAL BROOKS.

THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES or in English- MONTE CARLO OR BUST.

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Composer Ron Goodwin is probably best known for his themes and scores to war movies such as 633 SQUADRON, WHERE EAGLES DARE and BATTLE OF BRITAIN. But of course, we as collectors know that there is far more to Goodwin than thundering themes that are inspiring and patriotically driving. His score for THE TRAP for example is I think a most underatted soundtrack, in fact Goodwin’s music has outlived any memories of the movie itself and also the theme found a new lease of life when TV producers procured it to use as the theme for the London Marathon. Then there was his brilliant score for VALHALLA which sadly was to be his last, and let us not forget, ONE OF OUR DINOSAURS IS MISSING for Disney as well as CANDLESHOE for the same studio. Then there were all those excellent compilations on long playing records released by EMI, which at the time of their release gave film music fans versions of the composer’s music for film as well as music by many others which was given the famous Goodwin treatment. His quirky style and split-second musical timing was most certainly well suited to the British comedy THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES with both the score and the song becoming instant hits, a popularity that has lasted to this day I might add. After the success of THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN etc, we were treated to another magnificently well written and highly entertaining score, when the composer once again teamed up with film maker Ken Annakin on the British/Italian co-production MONTE CARLO OR BUST or as it was entitled in the United States THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES. Goodwin created a wonderfully inventive score for the movie and penned several original themes which would accompany various characters that were involve in the hi-jinks that was taking place on screen. The cast list read like a who’s who of British and international cinema. Goodwin’s atmospheric and hilarious at times soundtrack, has become a classic of sorts in the film music collecting community. The music was originally released in 1969/1970 on a LP which was on the Paramount records label. This at the time was quite a long running LP as it contained some forty-two minutes of music. Sadly, the score was never re-issued and was never given a compact disc release, until now that is. Yes, those lovely people at Quartet records have at last made many of Ron’s faithful fans dreams come true, with an extensive and expanded release on CD, a two-disc set as well.

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Yes, not one but two compact discs, the first containing the soundtrack as we have come to know and love which is the LP record tracks, and disc two, which is the icing on the proverbial cake, all together there are sixty one cues on this set, alternate takes and outtakes galore it is certainly Ron Goodwin heaven for many. So how to review something that is already considered a classic, now that’s a difficult one, we already know that the score is practically perfect in every way (sorry wrong movie, but it sounds good). THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES or as I like to call it MONTE CARLO OR BUST is an onslaught of cleverly orchestrated and quirky comedic pieces which Goodwin weaved in and out of the movie to enhance and give support to key points and scenarios, it is without a doubt one of his most accomplished and entertaining soundtracks, with cheeky little nuances, dastardly and mischievous passages along side stiff upper lip musical moments that accompanied the characters superbly portrayed by Messer’s Moore and Cooke, Goodwin even throwing in a nice little arrangement of JINGLE BELLS when aforementioned du found themselves driving on ice or in snow.

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We are also spoilt for thematic diversity and vibrancy, when the composer brings into play a German march and a wonderfully light and airy Italian sounding piece. There are so many themeatic moments within this score that it is difficult to explain just how many and in what context that they are utilised. Goodwin’s score is a truly international sounding work, and also contains a luxurious and rich love theme which accompanies Tony Curtis and the films female love interest Susan Hampshire. The movie itself was madcap but entertaining and was even more compelling because of Goodwin’s strategically placed musical score, with its Charleston type backing and oom-pah-pah moments and over the top keystone drama it is I think one of his best.

 

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The song from the movie, entitled MONTE CARLO OR BUST was performed by veteran star Jimmy Durante, whose gravelly sounding vocals were just perfect, it achieved success on its own away from the movie as any radio stations included it on their playlists. This double CD set is a sight for sore eyes and a welcome listening experience which evoked memories of when I first heard the LP record back in 1969/70 The CD boasts the original United States LP record cover art and the colourful booklet contains notes by Jeff Bond and the recording is presented with clean and sharp flawless sound thanks to precision re-mastering work by Chris Malone which as always is excellent. This is a release you will not want to miss order it now, send it from you to you for Christmas. Recommended.  While your on line buying this one from quartet why not treat yourself to the expanded version of THE ITALIAN JOB also released on that label.

Those Daring Young Men in their Jaunty Jalopies (2-CD)

The Italian Job

 

 

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CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND RON GOODWIN.

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Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat, if you haven’t got a penny a halfpenny will do, if you not got a halfpenny then, God Bless you. Nice sentiments from Christmas’s long past, nowadays its more like Christmas is coming, the ads are on the TV in June, the Kids want everything, and the adults too, lets find an obscure toy and say it’s the most wanted and then not send it to the stores so parents feel inadequate when they can’t get it. Changed a bit has’nt it. I think we know that the festive spirit is in short supply because rather than watch THE MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET or IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, people would rather watch the latest Marvel superheroes or a festive edition of LOVE ISLAND. Is it me or am I just getting old, when I see this drivvle on TV and think what the !!!!!!! It’s the same with Christmas music as well, it’s the same old stuff churned out every year, LAST CHRISTMAS, I WISH IT COULD BE CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY (no please anything but that), BAND AID, SHAKIN STEVENS, MARIA CAREY ( she has done well for herself with her Walkers advert hasn’t she—sorry Meoooow).But I suppose that is also a sign of the times because no one wants to or is able to write a decent Christmas song, and cant blame them because we are just to obsessed with what X factor failure will get a number one for the yuletide and line Simon Cowells already bulging pockets so he can buy more shirts that don’t do up, to even think about a Christmas song at Christmas. It’s the way of the world I suppose, with shops open on Christmas day as well and the big stores basically forcing their staff to cut short the already trimmed down Christmas holidays to open on boxing day. Would it not be nice to go back to say the 1970’s and have a proper Christmas, everything closes on Christmas eve, and stays closed until at least the 27th of Dec, if you not got something guess what go without, you want a newspaper on Christmas day well nope not happening etc. Bah and satsuma (sorry never did like humbugs). Why am I going on and on, you ask (You did ask right?). Well I purchased an LP many years ago that was a Christmas record a compilation of brilliant Christmas songs and I loved it and for me it made Christmas and also did come out at other times during the year. What is he going on about I hear you shouting, this is a film music site isn’t it? Yes, it is but this album is film music related, because it was recorded by one of England’s finest film music composers who also contributed to the easy listening or light music market in the form of numerous compilation LP’s.

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Ron Goodwin recorded so many albums on various labels and kept the nation entertained via his arrangements of popular songs and film music by other composers as well as inspiring and entertaining us with his own robust and vibrant film scores. The album I am talking about was called CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND, which was released on the EMI STUDIO 2 STEREO label back in 1967, the album contains 14 tracks all of which are classics, even the track that Ron wrote himself entitled THE CHRISTMAS TREE, this is just a wonderfully happy and easy going collection of songs and carols, that I for one thought would one day be released onto CD but sadly no that has not happened as yet, and as its such a vintage album I do not thin it will ever get a compact disc or even an official digital release, I did approach a number of labels, but none were interested, it’s a limited market, yes I agree but it’s a big market if you advertise it correctly and maybe just maybe in these days of hectic lives and stressful days an album such as this would actually be popular, its an album that one just puts on and lets it play through and through whilst either putting up the decorations or even on Christmas day when the family are around opening presents etc. The arrangements are joyously simple and even at times cliched but are still just great. Ron takes us through the Christmas concert that we would all love to go to, the album opening with WHITE CHRISTMAS, which the composer gives a rich and leisurely sound, via strings and the brass section that are punctuated by unassuming percussion. Track two is a cheeky and childlike sounding arrangement of RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER, which I have to admit is probably my favourite and its also the track from the album that has popped up on various Christmas collection over the years. Track three is a stunning rendition of SILENT NIGHT, a tearjerker at the best of times, Goodwin, s sensitive re-working of this traditional classic is mesmerising. With strings that begin slowly an in an adagio style to swell and purvey a true sense of the meaning of CHRISTMAS that is emotive and poignant as well as heart-warming. Track four is a jolly version of SLEIGH RIDE complete with the sound of sleigh bells and hooves a galloping and tripping along, this is a rather impish sounding performance, but I think because the album was recorded in the Summer the orchestra just really got into the festive mood, with Goodwin even wishing them all Merry Christmas before starting the recording. Track five, is a beautiful and haunting arrangement of LITTLE DONKEY originally the song had been a hit for Nina and Frederick, and the sheet music for the piece had also reached number 1 in 1959 for the composer Eric Boswell.

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The final two cues on side one of the LP are HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS and a rather engaging performance of THE CAROL OF THE DRUM. Side two opens with a jaunty and up-tempo version of JINGLE BELLS which has to it a style that is unmistakably Goodwin, as employed in THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES and later in MONTE CARLO OR BUST. Midway bursting into a jazz band style and then here we go with those magnificent men again or at least a style similar, this is outstanding in the entertainment department, jazz, big band and a film music style are all rolled into one fantastic arrangement. Time to go down beat for the next cue, with Goodwin utilising woods and harp initially for his gorgeous arrangement of MARY’S BOY CHILD. To the harp and woodwinds, he adds solo violin, although brief this is certainly affecting. The album is a perfect accompaniment to roast chestnuts, drink wine and just relax for the Christmas period, with Goodwin treating us to touching and also toe tapping arrangements of evergreens such WINTER WONDERLAND, BRAHMS LULLABY and THE CHRISTMAS SONG. Then we have Goodwin’s very European sounding cue THE CHRISTMAS TREE which I always liked for its simplicity and its charm, the composer incorporating a soprano into the proceedings performing SILENT NIGHT whilst his composition continues to play as a background. The album reaches its crescendo with a medley of traditional carols, which is the frosting on the fruit cake or the chocolate butter icing on the yule log (see what I did there). This opens with what I can only say is an inspired and glorious version of O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL, which neatly segues into AWAY IN A MANGER, and then continues with, GOOD KING WENCELAS, GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN, THE HOLLY AND THE IVY and ending in a tumultuous but gracious performance of THE FIRST NOEL. This is a wonderful album and should be released ASAP onto CD before it is lost forever. His writing a list, and checking it twice, ah yes CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND by Ron Goodwin for John in the U.K. on CD.  Thanks Santa…. But until then I will have to be contented with the LP and also anything that just might pop up on You Tube. Merry Christmas, ( what its only November, Tell that to John Lewis).

BATTLE OF BRITAIN.

 

I don’t know about you, but I have always loved the music for war movies, many containing rousing marches and tremendously high octane action cues, the composer having to compete with explosions, crashes, gunfire and all sorts, but this genre of movies has always yielded some excellent music which is not only serviceable within the context of supporting the movie itself but also the genre has given us the film music collector so many memorable themes which have endured over the years and still today entertain and delight many.

 

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Royal Airforce, so I thought how I could mark this milestone birthday on MMI, well what better way than to maybe mention a few titles of movies that involved the courageous personal of the RAF. The best way I thought was to review THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN soundtrack or to be more precise, soundtracks, because there were two, the first by Sir William Walton being rejected by the producers and replaced with Ron Goodwin’s now classic score. The only part of the Walton score that remained on the movie being BATTLE IN THE AIR, which itself has attained the status of being an iconic piece of movie music, because of its high quality and because of the notoriety that surrounded the controversial decision to reject the rest of the score.

 

 

 

BATTLE OF BRITAIN was filmed in three countries, England, Spain and France, the movie cost over thirteen million dollars to make and was produced by Harry Saltzman and S. Benjamin Fitz, released in 1969, the movie recounts the tense and uncertain days during the summer of 1940, when Hitler unleashed his formidable Luftwaffe on England, and the brave and courageous pilots, ground personal that against all the odds flew and fought off the overwhelming German forces and saved the island from invasion. The film was directed by Guy Hamilton, the film was a faithful re-creation of the events with superb aerial photography by Johnny Jordan and Skeets Kelly whos talent and attention to detail was second to none, along with the collaboration of assistant director, Derek Cracknell and the excellent cinematography of Freddie Young.

 

 

 

The film boasted an all-star cast, which at the time of the films release read like a who’s who of British cinema, Sir Laurence Olivier, Trevor Howard, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Kenneth More, Susannah York, Robert Shaw, Ian McShane and Edward Fox. Lord Olivier who portrayed the Air Chief Marshall, Hugh Dowding was well respected as an actor and film maker and at his request the producers engaged Sir William Walton to compose the score for the movie. Walton was certainly no stranger to writing music for films, he had written the scores to several motion pictures including THE FIRST OF THE FEW which told of the creation and development of the Spitfire aeroplane which played such a vital role in the Battle of Britain. Walton had also written the scores for HENRY V, HAMLET and RICHARD lll for Olivier which were popular amongst film music devotees and critics alike.

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However, Walton took so long to write the music that the producers were becoming concerned, and when they realised how short the composers score was (they were thinking of soundtrack album sales) they decided to engage a second composer in the guise of Ron Goodwin who had made his mark on the world of film music via his infectious theme for MISS MARPLE and the now iconic 633 SQUADRON. He was deemed to be perfect as composer for the film because he had also been successful with his soundtracks for WHERE EAGLES DARE and THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES, and he was able to write quickly.

 

 

Walton had not scored a movie for some thirteen years when he was offered BATTLE OF BRITAIN and because he was slow and methodical he asked his friend Malcolm Arnold to assist him with at first the conducting and later Arnold not only acted as director but also as orchestrator and at times composer on the score, if one listens carefully one can hear Arnold’s distinct musical fingerprint within certain cues on the score. Walton was said to be terribly upset and offended by the rejection of his score and it was thought that all tapes of the recording sessions were lost or destroyed but recording engineer Eric Tomlinson had rescued copies of these and stored them away and although they were damaged in places they were eventually restored for release on a Ryko enhanced CD.

 

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Goodwin in my humble opinion made an excellent job of the score in a short period of time, and in my opinion must have heard some of Walton’s score whilst spotting the movie as there is a definite homage within some of the cues to style of Walton, as in the use of woods and strings and brass. Whether this was accidental or done out of respect for the great composer I do not know but remembering how amiable Goodwin was I would like to think it was the latter. Walton’s score ran for just nine cues, whereas Goodwin’s score boasted some nineteen cues on the compact disc, both scores were released by Ryko on one disc, and listening to the Walton score now I fail to see what was wrong with the actual music apart from there not being enough of it. I remember going to see the movie at the REGENT cinema in Brighton and in the intermission was able to buy the Goodwin soundtrack LP on the U.A. label in the foyer of the cinema. It has remained one of my favourite scores, and the RYKO CD showcases the differing styles of both composers when scoring the same movie. The film was also issued onto DVD and on the disc, there is an option for one to watch the film with either the Goodwin score or with Walton’s music. I have to say Walton’s score is surprisingly supportive of the film and oozes with a regal sounding richness and just a hint of that stiff upper lip that is expected of us Brits in situations that seem to be most dire or hopeless. Goodwin’s score too has some wonderfully crafted and stand out moments, THE LUFTWAFFE MARCH for example and the central theme for the movie which is a highly charged full piece for driving strings, trumpets and horns.

 

 


But BATTLE IN THE AIR by Walton for me personally is the stand out piece within the film, as the music takes centre stage as there is no sound of gunfire, plane engines or explosions, it is just images of the RAF against the Luftwaffe over land and sea accompanied by Walton’s music, which is urgent and at times chaotic but essentially this is truly masterful film scoring. Andre Previn once said. “If they can reject the music of Walton, what chance do us mere mortals have”? So, I would recommend the RYKO disc to any one without a second thought, that is of course if one can still get it.

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RON GOODWIN THAT MAGNIFICENT MAN AND HIS MUSIC-TWO SIDES OF RON GOODWIN.

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I was privileged enough to have met Ron Goodwin twice, and also attended a few of his concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra. He always came across as a friendly and kind person who loved to entertain as well as compose music. His scores for numerous movies made up a good part of the popular music that was played on the radio during the 1950,s through the 1960,s and into the 1970,s and even today we occasionally hear his more famous compositions for the big screen on stations such as CLASSIC FM and BBC Radio 3. His death was sad indeed it felt like many of us collectors had lost a friend rather than a composer who’s music we adored. Of course I like many were introduced to Goodwin’s music via movies such as 633 SQUADRON,THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES,THE TRAP and OPERATION CROSSBOW. Goodwin was closely associated with war movies and his stirring and highly dramatic themes and scores thrilled cinema audiences world wide, but Goodwin’s music was not just background score for a movie it also contained memorable thematic material that easily crossed over into the popular music category and I think this is why the composer was so successful, because he appealed to one and all. Shortly after his death, EMI decided to issue a double compact disc as a tribute to his musical prowess and diversity. RON GOODWIN THE MAGNIFICENT MAN AND HIS MUSIC MACHINE contained 53 tracks of Goodwin’s compositions, 24 of which were taken from his film scores and also compositions written for his long playing record releases the remainder being made up of his early single releases.

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It is a highly absorbing and entertaining collection of music that evokes memories of this wonderfully talented British composer. My main encounter with Ron Goodwin’s music came via the excellent EMI STUDIO TWO releases, the most popular being the LP,s of LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN, ADVENTURE and EXCITEMENT, all of which have been re-issued onto compact disc. Let us start now though with disc number one of this compilation, THE EARLY YEARS-POPULAR SINGLES, It opens with JET JOURNEY which is a somewhat typical British sounding travelogue piece, strings sweeping the proceedings along at a fairly brisk pace, in fact this was Goodwin’s first single to be released on a 78rpm disc in 1953.

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This became popular very quickly and caused something of a stir when it was first available in Gt Britain. Goodwin composed many other pieces that were released as singles on the Parlophone label, the dramatic THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN, the jaunty and somewhat Hispanic sounding RED CLOAK, and the infectious SKIFFLING STRINGS among them, but Goodwin was also active in the area of recording cover versions or arrangements of other composers works, WHEN I FALL IN LOVE for example by Victor Young, a rousing version and tempestuous version of VICTORY AT SEA by Richard Rodgers and a particularly haunting arrangement of Ronald Binges ELIZABETHAN SERENADE (which was used for the dairylea cheese spread advert). I remember listening to most of his music in my room as a teenager on my trusty blue and cream coloured Dansette record player. It was a period in my life that I look back on with great fondness, it was a time when I was discovering film music and music in general thus Goodwin became a big part of that discovery process because via Goodwin I got to hear a lot of film music or at least the themes from soundtracks that were not available at that time. Which was also true of other artists/composers such as Stanley Black, Mantovani and to a degree Ronnie Aldrich, all of whom released some great compilations that either concentrated solely of film music or mixed film themes with easy listening standards. Goodwin’s releases however held a special place in my affections, both his albums and singles were things I looked forward too, and I remember being the proud owner of a white label 78rpm of the theme from SHANE which was a one sided disc, sadly it got broken a few years ago when moving house. I think everyday life was simpler then and also so was music and film, both seemed to be straightforward and uncomplicated. But I digress, back to this marvellous collection of music from Ron Goodwin. Disc one also includes BLUE STAR which was the theme from the television series MEDIC, which was written by Victor Young, Ron’s interpretation simply oozes charisma and purveys a luxurious atmosphere.

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LINGERING LOVERS was the sequel to Goodwin’s popular SKIFFLING STRINGS or SWINGING SWEETHEARTS depending on what side of the Atlantic you heard it. Again the lush and luxurious strings employed by Goodwin set the mood for something that is easy going and uncomplicated but at the same time posses a haunting melody. Track number 5 on disc one is Goodwin’s version of the ever popular COLONEL BOGEY MARCH, which made an appearance in the now classic war movie BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, this arrangement also includes THE RIVER KWAI MARCH which weaves in and out of the piece. Other delights on disc number one are THE MELBA WALTZ, UNDER THE LINDEN TREE, THE LAUGHING SAILOR, MOULIN ROUGE and the alluring and haunting THE GIRL FROM CORSICA which was penned by Trevor Duncan. Disc two is entitled RON GOODWIN’S ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS FROM FILM AND LP’S. It opens most stupendously with the composers familiar and rousing theme from 633 SQUADRON and also includes the love theme from his score in track number two.

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THE TRAP is up next the movie which starred Oliver reed and Rita Tushingham I have to say is almost forgotten but the music that was written by Goodwin lives on and is also used as the theme for THE LONDON MARATHON. THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES is next in the running order, Goodwin’s music is still to this day instantly recognisable to all ages. For this compilation the principal themes from the score have been woven into a suite of music a suite which has been on many of Goodwin’s compilations. LANCELOT AND GUINEVERE is a lesser known score by Goodwin, here we are treated to a 4 minute piece from the soundtrack which is romantic and regal. As well as movie themes or suites of music from his scoring assignments such as WHERE EAGLES DARE, BATTLE OF BRITAIN, OPERATION CROSSBOW, THE MISS MARPLE’S MOVIES, MONTE CARLO OR BUST, DECLINE AND FALL and FRENZY this second disc also includes original compositions by the composer that were released on compilation albums such as the busy and almost frantic sounding LONDON SERENADE depicting the hustle and bustle of a busy Metropolis. Plus lively compositions such as JUMPING JUPITER and the laid back and uncomplicated THE GIRL WITH MISTY EYES. All in all this a wonderful 2 disc set that covers some of the composers musical triumphs, I say some because there is so much more to Ron Goodwin that I think it would take up a 50 disc encyclopedia type recording. Please don’t miss out this one it is still available…

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