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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > Soundtrack > 36 Hours (Limited CD)

36 Hours   (Limited Edition CD Soundtrack)


Sound: B-     Music: B-



Dimitri Tiomkin is one of those great Hollywood composers that movie fans knew just a generation ago, but has not remained as known as he deserves to be.  If you don’t know him, you certainly have heard his music.  Two Alfred Hitchcock films (Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train), the original High Noon, the original Thing, John Wayne’s Alamo, 55 Days in Peking, The Guns of Navarone, and George Stevens’ incredible Giant are among the important films he scored.  Oddly, many of them are just now coming out on DVD.  One that is not yet a DVD is 36 Hours, a 1964 psychological thriller from M-G-M and director George Seaton.


For an action/suspense film, the music is surprisingly experimental by genre standards and not what you might expect.  Though it has some suspense pacing, the flourishes feel more like purely Classical music, and was so different that the producers did not get full use out of because they cut out more of the score than seemed reasonable.  This never dates it, thanks in part to some Latin arrangements.  It instead feels offbeat and that is a strength, especially unusual in this genre of film.


The picture takes place in WWII as a U.S. operative (James Garner) has to deal with Nazi’s who want information about the Normandy situation, so they go out of their way to fake a U.S. hospital and try to convince him he has been in a coma for a few years.  This may sound contrived, but the lengths they go through to make him believe this more than suspend disbelief.


Though it is a score that is bold in approach, it still does not always work.  The theme song, “A Heart Must Learn to Cry” is a strange misstep in its vocal version, dating this score far more than any other single element.  The instrumental versions work better, but it still feels the oldest.  Also adding age is some of the fidelity of later tracks on the CD that have not survived as well as we could have hoped for.  That is more of a “wow” problem than outright damage and warping, but most of the PCM CD sound is fine.  The vast majority of the CD is in stereo.


The original tracks form the now-defunct Vee-Jay Records (remember them?) are all here, four of which are expanded.  The rest of the album further expands the disc by adding 14 never-before-released tracks, many of which never made it into the film.  It is also sad how some great music was jettisoned when it probably should not have, as the liner notes point out.  You will come to understand as you read and listen.


Any more details about the film will be held back until Warner Bros. does their DVD release, but don’t wait that long to get this soundtrack.  The FSN label of the magazine Film Score Monthly has issued this exclusively as a limited edition of only 3,000 copies, which can be ordered at www.filmscoremonthly.com along with dozens of other such exclusives.  Besides the film, film music, Tiomkin, and thriller fans, those interested in unusual approaches to music might want to pick this one up.  Now if we could just hear that darker It’s A Wonderful Life score Tiomkin composed, but Frank Capra rejected for being too dark!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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