Jerry Goldsmith, an appreciation

Jerry Goldsmith, circa mid-1960s

Feb. 10 is the 90th anniversary of the birth of composer Jerry Goldsmith. July will mark the 15th anniversary of his death at age 75.

Things just haven’t been the same since this remarkable talent left us.

Goldsmith had a long career. But he had a particularly big impact during the spy-fi mania of the 1960s.

Goldsmith was involved in the genre before its popularity surged. He acted as what we would now call a music supervisor for the 1954 broadcast of CBS’s adaptation of Casino Royale. He selected music from the CBS music library to be played as underscore during the live broadcast.

Almost a decade later, producer Norman Felton enticed Goldsmith to score the pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (titled Solo at the time). Goldsmith had worked for Felton on the latter’s Dr. Kildare series.

Goldsmith turned in not only a memorable theme but a top-notch score for the pilot. The thing is, he’d later tell journalist Jon Burlingame that he felt U.N.C.L.E. was “silly.” But you couldn’t tell it by the work the composer performed.

The composer also made a huge contribution to the two Derek Flint movies of the 1960s starring James Coburn (Our Man Flint and In Like Flint). Watching today, it looks like the movies had a budget only marginally higher than TV shows of the era. But Goldsmith’s music coupled with Coburn’s performance elevated the proceedings immensely.

Jerry Goldsmiths title card for Tora! Tora! Tora!

Goldsmith also got to be an actor (briefly) in the 1965 war film In Harm’s Way. Naturally, he played a musician during an early sequence depicting a party for U.S. Navy officers on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

One of Goldsmith’s most famous television themes was for Barnaby Jones, the 1973-80 Quinn Martin series with Buddy Ebsen as an aging private eye. Goldsmith told Burlingame for an interview for the Archive of American Television he disliked the pilot and wanted to get out of it.

But you couldn’t tell it by the quality of work Goldsmith provided. One of Goldsmith’s best compositions for that pilot accompanied Ebsen just walking down to the street to the office of his murdered son. Goldsmith’s theme is playing as we watch Jones walking. It was a classic technique, getting the audience to associate the theme with the character. Simple, yet memorable to those who watched it.

Goldsmith was nominated for almost 20 Oscars. His one win was for The Omen.  He was nominated for films such as Chinatown, The Wind and the Lion, Hoosiers and L.A. Confidential. Goldsmith displayed consistent excellence that was easy to take for granted.

The blog gave a favorable review to the 2015 movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  Still, it would have been better if director Guy Ritchie had permitted a full version of Goldsmith’s U.N.C.L.E. theme instead of a few notes.

Regardless, Goldsmith retains his fans. One example is a Facebook page, The Cult of Jerry. His enormous contributions to television and film remain, long after he passed away.

TCM has a night of spy films on Jan. 25

TCM logo

Turner Classic Movies will show five spy films the evening of Jan. 25 and early-morning hours of Jan. 26.

Here’s the lineup. All times EST.

8 p.m.: Arabesque (1966), directed by Stanley Donen: Donen had a success with 1963’s Charade, a suspense film that included a bit of humor. That movie also included a score by Henry Mancini and titles by Maurice Binder.

Mancini and Binder reunited with Donen on Arabesque, with Gregory Peck as a university professor who gets involved with spies as well as a woman played by Sophia Loren.

Also present was Charade scripter Peter Stone. However, Stone took an alias (Pierre Marton) and shared the screenplay credit with Julian Mitchell and Stanley Price.

 10 p.m.: The Ipcress File (1965), directed by Sidney J. Furie: James Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman launched a second, less flamboyant, spy film series based on Len Deighton’s novels. This was a source of tension with Saltzman’s 007 partner, Albert R. Broccoli.

The name of Deighton’s spy wasn’t disclosed in the novel that’s the basis of this movie. The character, as played by Michael Caine, was christened Harry Palmer for the film.

For the first of three Palmer films, Saltzman hired a number of 007 film crew members, including composer John Barry, production designer Ken Adam and editor Peter Hunt.

12 a.m.: Our Man Flint (1966), directed by Delbert Mann: The first of two spy comedies with James Coburn as Derek Flint.

The movie takes nothing seriously, with an organization called ZOWIE (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage). ZOWIE is headed by Kramden (Lee J. Cobb), who gets exasperated when he’s forced to recruit Flint (who wouldn’t follow orders when Kramden knew him during their military days). Kramden has no choice because ZOWIE computers have pinpointed Flint as the only man who can foil a plot by Galaxy.

The best things about the movie are Coburn’s winning performance as Flint and Jerry Goldsmith’s score. Goldsmith’s music elevates the proceedings. In terms of production values, it looks only slightly more expensive than the television series produced at the time by 20th Century Fox.

2 a.m.: Our Man in Havana (1959), directed by Carol Reed:  The director again collaborates with Graham Greene, who adapts one of his novels. Vacuum cleaaner salesman Alec Guiness is recruited by British spook Noel Coward to do some spying in Cuba before the revolution. The cast includes Maureen O’Hara, Burl Ives and Ernie Kovacks.

4 a.m.: The Prize (1963), directed by Mark Robson: A spy tale starring Paul Newman centered around the Nobel Prizes being awarded in Stockholm. The script is by Ernest Lehman, who wrote 1959’s North by Northwest. Here Lehman adapts an Irving Wallace novel. The cast includes Leo G. Carroll, who was also in North by Northwest and who would shortly take the role of Alexander Waverly in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Jerry Goldsmith provided the score.

Shoutout to Mark Henderson who brought this up on Facebook.

 

1964: Flint before there was Flint

Publicity still from The Americanization of Emily (1964)

Publicity still from The Americanization of Emily (1964)

Fifty-one years ago, James Coburn played a suave, womanizing character.

However, it wasn’t Derek Flint from Our Man Flint. That film wouldn’t be released until January 1966. Rather, it was a publicity still for The Americanization of Emily, which came out in 1964.

The ’64 movie was a light movie that took on heavy topics, thanks to screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. James Garner and Julie Andrews were the leads but Coburn made a big impression in a secondary role.

In the publicity still for the movie, Coburn evokes the Flint character he’d soon portray. Take a look for yourself.

Jerry Goldsmith and the 1954 Casino Royale

Barry Nelson in 1954's Casino Royale

Barry Nelson in 1954’s Casino Royale

UPDATE (March 22): Jon Burlingame’s research indicates Casino Royale was all “tracked” music, with Jerry Goldsmith just selecting previously recorded musical cues. See below in the original post where Goldsmith describes the process. Meanwhile, the post has been re-titled.

ORIGINAL POST: As we’ve noted before, the 1954 television broadcast on CBS of Casino Royale doesn’t get a lot of respect from James Bond fans. But did that first adaptation of an Ian Fleming story include music by a future superstar movie composer?

The composer in question is Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004). In 2002, Goldsmith gave an interview to journalist Jon Burlingame about his career. One of Goldsmith’s first efforts was on the CBS series Climax!, a series of one-hour live television dramas.

BURLINGAME: How did you get Climax!? Did they feel you were ready?

GOLDSMITH: No, they did’t know anything. This was the very early days of television. Music was even more infantile. Music was the bastard child…it was a necessity but it was the most unimportant necessity…At that point, CBS, they had me sort of on staff. They said they were going to put me under contract and I’m going to be responsible for the music on Climax! Basically, it was going to be recorded music.

BURLINGAME: So you were supposed to be picking cues?

GOLDSMITH: Yeah.

BURLINGAME: Just as you had done on (CBS) radio?

GOLDSMITH: Yeah.

At this point, it sounds like Goldsmith was more of a music supervisor for Climax! and wasn’t doing original work. Yet there are more details in the interview.

To avoid union penalties, “Whatever I wrote for CBS would immediately be recorded in Europe as track music,” Goldsmith told Burlingame in 2002. “I actually wrote music for the (CBS) library.”

At the same time, directors wanted music tailored for the Climax! episodes, Goldsmith said in the interview. According to Goldsmith, there’d be a mix of some new music (with very few instruments) with the track music.

Here’s the key thing. Burlingame pressed Goldsmith about the first Climax! episode he wrote music for. “I remember it was the second broadcast. We had an alto flute, and me playing the piano and organ. That was it.”

Burlingame asked again what the show was. Goldsmith didn’t specify. “I did three years…I did 36 a year…It became mostly original after a while.” Later, Goldsmith says “the first show I did” was The Long Goodbye. Goldsmith doesn’t mention this but The Long Goodbye was was the first episode of Climax! (One of that episode’s highlights, Goldsmith says, is an actor whose character was supposed to be killed gets up and walks off.)

The Climax! adaptation of Casino Royale, with Barry Nelson as an American Bond, was the show’s third broadcast, ON OCT. 21, 1954. While there are copies of the broadcast out there, some have shortened end titles, which don’t include complete end titles. The IMDB.com entry for the broadcast credits Goldsmith with the music, but IMDB.com relies on volunteers to enter information.

Goldsmith did indeed get music credits for later Climax! broadcasts, including Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which he received a “special music composed and conducted by” credit. In Keep Me in Mind, he’s listed as musical director.

Here’s the 2002 interview. The part about Climax! starts around the 16:00 mark, with the reference to The Long Goodbye around the 28:00 mark. The interview lasts almost two hours:

1967: Dick Tracy vs. spies

Dick Tracy by Chester Gould

Dick Tracy by Chester Gould

Producer William Dozier had a hit with 1966’s Batman television series and sold a second series with The Green Hornet, based on a radio show. So, in 1967, he tried to extend his streak with a pilot for a Dick Tracy series.

The final product ended up being influenced by ’60s spymania.

To write the pilot, Dozier hired Hal Fimberg, who wrote or co-wrote the two Derek Flint movies starring James Coburn. Rather than use an established member of Tracy’s gallery of villains, Tracy’s foe in Fimberg’s script was Mr. Memory (Victor Buono).

Mr. Memory is kidnapping various ambassadors as part of a plot to disrupt NATO on behalf of an unspecified froeign power. They’re being abducted in Washington and taken to Tracy’s unnamed city. In the comic strip, the city wasn’t specified either, but seems like Chicago. Cartoonist Chester Gould, Tracy’s creator, lived near the Windy City. Gould’s successors, on occasion, drew the city to closely resemble Chicago.

The Tracy of the pilot was influenced by Dozier’s Batman show. While there was no “Tracy Cave,” the detective has a sophisticated lab in the basement of his house, accessible only by a secret entrance. Evidently, the city’s police lab wasn’t up to Tracy’s standards.

Besides Mr. Memory’s plot and the presence of writer Fimberg, there are other influences of 1960s spy entertainment.

One of Mr. Memory’s goons is played by Tom Reese, who played Ironhead in the Matt Helm movie Murderers’ Row. Fimberg’s script also lifts a bit from The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

In that spy show’s second episode, The Iowa Scuba Affair, Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) is locked in while poison gas is being pumped into his hotel room. Solo gets out by setting fire to a container of shaving cream and blowing the door open. In the pilot, Tracy ends up in a hotel room. Mr. Memory injects poison gas and Tracy pulls the same trick.

Actor Ray MacDonnell certainly had the Tracy look. If you ever seen Victor Buono playing a villain, you know what to expect. The proceedings aren’t subtle but they’re not as campy as Batman was.

Dozier’s failure to secure a buyer for this was an indicator his hot streak was coming to an end. Also in 1967, ABC canceled The Green Hornet after one season. The network also cut Batman back to a single episode weekly as it limped into its final season.

The pilot is embedded below (though there’s always the risk the video will get yanked). There’s a snappy theme song from The Ventures.

One oddity in the closing credits: There’s a credit the show is “based on and idea and characters created by” Gould and Henry G. Saperstein. Saperstein owned the UPA cartoon studio that made some bad Tracy cartoons in the early ’60s. All of the primary characters (Tracy, Sam, Lizz, Junior, Chief Patton) in the pilot are from Gould’s comic strip. Also, at the very end, you can hear Dozier in his best “Desmond Doomsday” voice.

HMSS’s favorite character actors: Roy Jenson

Roy Jenson getting kicked by James Coburn's Derek Flint

Roy Jenson getting kicked by James Coburn’s Derek Flint

One in an occasional series

Roy Jenson is one of the most famous actors you’ve never heard of.

If you look at his IMDB.com bio, you’ll see one of the most famous scenes of 1974’s Chinatown, where Jack Nicholson’s J.J. Gittes is about to get his nose cut wide open. For our purposes, he was a frequent presence in 1960s spy entertainment, including The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (the pilot episode and a two-part fourth-season story), Our Man Flint, The Ambushers (the third Dean Martin Matt Helm movie), Mission: Impossible, I Spy and The Wild Wild West.

Born in 1927 in Calgary, Jenson for a time played professional football in the Canadian Football League. At 6-foot-2, at a time it wasn’t common to encounter somebody that tall, he eventually found work as a stunt performer and bit part player. When the 1960s spy craze commenced in U.S. television, Jenson found frequent work as secondary villains.

The actor died in 2007 at the age of 80. To view his IMDB.com bio, CLICK HERE.

Ray Aghayan, costume designer of Flint movies, dies at 83

Ray Aghayan, who designed costumes and wardrobe for Our Man Flint and In Like Flint, has died at 83.

The New York Times, in an obituary you can read BY CLICKING HERE, says Aghayan had a noteable career.

Mr. Aghayan was nominated for the Academy Award three times, and in 1967 he and (his partner Bob) Mackie shared the first Emmy ever awarded for costume design, for their partnership in the TV movie “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

The partners received Oscar nominations for the 43 ensembles worn by (Diana) Ross in “Lady Sings the Blues,” the 1972 Billie Holiday biopic, and for the 1930s-style dresses, hats, gloves and shoes worn by Ms. Streisand in “Funny Lady,” the 1975 sequel to “Funny Girl.” Mr. Aghayan received his first Oscar nomination for “Gaily, Gaily,” a 1969 comedy set in Chicago in 1910.

Some of Aghayan’s costume design work can be seen in the trailer for Our Man Flint: