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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Soundtrack > Prize, The (Limited CD)

The Prize†† (Limited Edition CD Soundtrack)

 

Sound: B†††† Music: B

 

 

In 1963, Jerry Goldsmith was put into an odd position.M-G-M wanted another action hit like they had with the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film North By Northwest.When they got the writer of that film, Ernest Lehman, to adapt the espionage thriller The Prize, they went all out to put together what they hoped would be a winning film.This left Goldsmith trying to come up with a score that would have the expectations of something Bernard Herrmann would do.

 

What resulted instead was a very different score in which Goldsmith did not compromise himself into being a secondary film composer, and his soundtrack for The Prize debuting the original film score with LP soundtrack re-recordings, is now available as a limited edition CD from the FSM label of the magazine Film Score Monthly.There are only 3,000 copies of this pressing, which can be ordered exclusively from them at www.filmscoremonthly.com with many other such exclusives.

 

For the film, journeyman director Mark Robson would helm the project and the stars would include Paul Newman, Elke Sommer, Diane Baker, Kevin McCarthy, and Edward G. Robinson.Despite the high-class cast and intentions, but the film lands up being a pastiche of all the elements Lehman and Robson could fit from all the big-budget VistaVision films like North By Northwest that Hitchcock was doing in the 1950s.This film was shot in less expensive Panavision.Weíll save a review of the film for when the DVD is covered on this site, which brings us back to the music.

 

It turns out that The Prize becomes an important transitional score for Goldsmith, who had recently done some of his best early work on TVís original Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and John Hustonís Freud (1962).The Spy craze arrived the same year, though it had not built up to its peak yet.As the James Bond films were less psychological versions of Hitchcock films, with more blatant sex and action, that narrative transition would be somehow mirrored by a musical one.Luck may be a term we could use, but Goldsmith would be ahead of the game thatís to The Prize, which allowed him to be a few steps ahead of the many other composers of Spy product when TVís The Man from U.N.C.L.E. showed up.That, the Flint films, and many other great works he would pull off in the 1960s owe something to his diverse work here.The transition going on here also makes this a strange work, one that feels as claustrophobic as a nightclub, yet as open as a street fight.

 

That same year, John Barry did his seminal Bond score for From Russia, with Love (just re-issued on Capitol CD), and Henry Mancini did his amazing score for Stanley Donenís Charade (available in an amazing audiophile XRCD2 from JVC that is strongly recommended, but also a limited edition).They are the defining works of the genre at the time, but Goldsmith would catch up, as all three would continue to define that genreís music.

 

This CD also sounds good, especially considering its age.There is very rarely any distortion trouble at all, and the entire 36 tracks are in stereo, though the re-recordings for some LP compilation are slightly different sounding that the body of the CD.They are included as bonus tracks and the fidelity is a sliver less than what precedes it.For fans of music, Spies, and Goldsmith, this is one to hear.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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