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The Thing - From Another World

Dimitri Tiomkin

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Album Review

This album is a real treat, not only to science fiction fans, but also for devotees of the strange and avant-garde in film music. Dimitri Tiomkin's music for Howard Hawks' The Thing has been transferred from the composer's personal acetate copies of the unmixed music, which have held up exceptionally well across 50 years — there is some noise that can't be filtered out or otherwise dealt with, but generally this is a remarkably sharp and clean presentation of this eerie, unsettling score. Indeed, even for the listener who has seen the movie countless times, listening to the CD is a revelatory experience, in terms of hearing elements of the scoring that had previously eluded him/her — the details in the brass playing of the "Flying Saucer Sequence, Part 2"; the vivid texture of the theremin in the "Melting Sequence," and the percussion underscoring the close of the same cue. The total music for The Thing amounted to just 25-minutes-and-change, and the producers have filled out this CD with Tiomkin's 1953 score for the military-based drama Take the High Ground, which is far more conventionally melodic (and, indeed, recalls elements of Tiomkin's music for High Noon and anticipates elements of his score for Gunfight at the OK Corral). The title theme song today seems campy, but overall the score is a pleasant diversion, even if it's not remotely as cutting edge as the accompanying music from The Thing.


Born: 10 May 1894 in Kremenchuk, Ukraine

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

It was once considered cute by Hollywood wits to poke fun at Russian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin's borscht-flavored accent. How amusing it was to hear him yell out "Switt lyand of lyaberty!" while orchestrating "The Star Spangled Banner" for Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). A graduate of the St. Petersburg Academy (where he studied under the famed composer Glazunov) and a holder of both a law and music degree, Tiomkin exhibited a fondness for Native American music early in his...
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