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In Harm's Way (Original Soundtrack)

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Album Review

Jerry Goldsmith was at a transition point in his career when he got the assignment to score Otto Preminger's production of In Harm's Way (1965); having worked in television for a decade, he was already at the top of that field and had already moved into motion pictures, including some high-profile titles such as Freud (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964). But In Harm's Way was a gargantuan production with an all-star cast headed by John Wayne and Kirk Douglas, and directed by Otto Preminger, who, since the '50s, was associated exclusively with epic-length blockbusters. And Goldsmith's music would get an LP release, a relatively rare event at that point in his career. For this score, Goldsmith rose to the occasion with a bold, sophisticated score that emphasized the suspense as well as the martial and spectacle aspects of the production — there was no main title music, as there were no main titles (the movie simply begins, set in Honolulu, Hawaii on the night of December 6, 1941, after the title comes across the screen, thus giving it a record — for a Hollywood movie, at least — 160-minute pre-credit sequence). But the centerpiece of the score is a martial theme called "The Rock," referring to John Wayne's character of Capt. (later Rear Admiral) Rockwell Torrey, heard in its full glory when he assumes operational command of the mission that will redeem his reputation — a rousing, exciting theme (heard for many years on PBS as the theme of the public affairs talk-show Agronsky & Co.) built on layers of brass and horns and a driving beat — it was a fairly close cousin to Goldsmith's opening theme for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for the latter series' first season. But surrounding that rousing central theme, a light-textured love theme, and some material intended to evoke the free-and-easy tenor of life outside of combat in the Pacific (mostly surrounding the Kirk Douglas character's dissolute lifestyle before his rescue from bureaucratic purgatory), a large part of the score is also given over to much more subtle material, orchestral snarls, contrasted with calls on the winds and reeds (some of which anticipate elements of Goldsmith‘s score for Patton four years later), all highly musical (and some of it surprisingly percussive), associated with the military actions at the center of the plot. Goldsmith, working with the largest canvas yet of his career, brings it all off beautifully, and the RCA album release is also especially pleasing in stereo, which allows one to hear the divided orchestral parts and voices in sharp relief. Goldsmith also had a serious dispute with Preminger over the presentation of the music in the movie, which made it one of the more frustrating experiences of his early career, and this album is the best way to hear the music properly. The only mystery is why the album has never made it out on compact disc.

Biography

Born: 10 February 1929 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

For over four decades, Jerry Goldsmith ranked among the film and television industry's most highly-regarded and prolific composers; at the peak of his activity during the 1960s, he was estimated to have scored an average of about six films annually. Born in Los Angeles on February 10, 1929, Goldsmith studied music at the University of Southern California, and after accepting a job as an office clerk at CBS television later graduated to the network's music department in 1950. There he composed themes...
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