The first hint that The Cassandra Crossing, despite its big-budget and
international cast, is a cheesy actioner is evident when O.J. Simpsons
and Martin Sheens names appear early in the credits, immediately following
Sophia Loren and Richard Harris. What follows is one of those Euro-American
conglomerate efforts that work best as tax-shelters for the stars and producers.
They also make good filler for late-night TV. So why does Jerry Goldsmith
bother with such turkeys? This isnt early Goldsmith, mind you -- by
1976, when Sir Lew Grade was assembling this mishmash, Goldsmith had become
(deservedly) Hollywoods most sought-after composer, with classics such
as Patton and Chinatown on his resume. That same year, he would win the Academy
Award for The Omen. Nevertheless, there he is, struggling to envelop the
cinematic silliness of Cassandra Crossing with music that makes it seem somehow
worth watching. The wonder of it is, he succeeds. The Cassandra Crossing
-- in which a train heads toward a doomed bridge while carrying a cast of
disparate characters, one of whom carries a deadly plague virus -- contains
vintage Goldsmith action music accompanied by inventive orchestration.
The cue "Break-in" is at times reminiscent of his earlier Planet of the
Apes and The Sand Pebbles. Later, in "The Climber," Goldsmith
creates a maelstrom of music, pulling out all the stops as he mixes low brass
and percussion with woodwinds in a middle register.
One of the films more outlandish action scenes involves an attempted
rescue of train passengers via helicopter, which swoops in fast and low to
hover over the train. But wait! The trains about to pass into a tunnel
and the helicopter will crash into the side of the mountain ...whew! It pulled
up and away just in time! Sounds corny, but believe me,
it works, thanks largely to Goldsmith. Contrasting with the excellent action
cues is a simple, four-note love theme that also functions as the main theme.
Its most lush appearance on this recording comes as an orchestral version
of a song ("Its All a Game.") Also elbowing its way onto this recording
is a song Goldsmith had nothing to do with, and which also seems to have
nothing to do with the movie. Subtract this pair of cues, however, and
whats left is a good half-hour of top-notch Goldsmith action music,
making this film score a must for die-hard fans of the composer. Others can
safely pass on this one. In any event, finding The Cassandra Crossing may
not be easy. The liner notes of the recording reviewed here mention previous
U.S. and Japanese releases, and I know that Citadel issued an LP back when
the film was released. But even this RCA release, a re-mastering that lists
at more than $20, can be a challenge to find. So where did I get mine? At
a Barnes & Noble book and music chain store -- which just proves you
never know where youll find a rare film score!