January 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Jerry GOLDSMITH The Cassandra Crossing OSTs RCA Italy OST 102 [34.09]

The first hint that The Cassandra Crossing, despite its big-budget and international cast, is a cheesy actioner is evident when O.J. Simpson’s and Martin Sheen’s 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 isn’t early Goldsmith, mind you -- by 1976, when Sir Lew Grade was assembling this mishmash, Goldsmith had become (deservedly) Hollywood’s 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 film’s 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 train’s 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. It’s most lush appearance on this recording comes as an orchestral version of a song ("It’s 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 what’s 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 you’ll find a rare film score!


John Huether


John Huether

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