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June 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /June01/

The Biggest Bundle of Them All  
  CHAPTER III CH 37503-2   [61:02]

Zigzag, and Biggest Bundle

Two rather different kinds of movies are represented here, the first a continental comedy crime caper (trying saying that five or six times in a row!), The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968) starring Raquel Welch and Robert Wagner, while the second, Zigzag (1970), is an altogether more serious crime drama starring George Kennedy.

Songs seem to be the order of the day during the late sixties and The Biggest Bundle of Them All 'treats' us to a Johnny Mathis rendition of 'Most of all There's You', a very routine, very 60's pop ballad, which now sounds incredibly dated. And things never really improve from here. 'Celli's Theme' is a laid-back bluesy piece which is recalled in several different guises, as on 'The Preparation For', 'The Professor Arrives' and 'Juliana and Ceasar', but it's appeal is limited to say the very least. There is also an instrumental take on the Mathis number in 'The Meeting of the Minds', but this too makes no headway at all. Elsewhere, 'The Dance on the Terrace' is awful, generic 60's muzak and 'In the Nightclub' gives us some would-be hip dance music of the period. The only time anything remotely interesting occurs is for a few bars mid-way during 'The Train Robbery', a mock-serious suspense cue. But that's really a case of desperately searching for a ray of sunshine amidst a thunderstorm. Finally 'The Biggest Bundle of Them All', as performed by Eric Burdon and the Animals, is a very ordinary pop tune, a pale imitation of other far better Animals songs in fact.

I'm sorry to say that Riz Ortolani's score showcases many of my pet hates; it's knowingly trendy, shallow and inordinately bland. These European funded bits of fluff with a few American stars to draw in an unsuspecting audience proliferated the late sixties and this score is very much a product of that time and thinking. All in all, a thoroughly poor film score which wasn't even reasonable at the time of its release, when presumably it was at least in vogue.

Better, but only by a slight margin, is Oliver Nelson's work on ZigZag (1970), which again opens with one of these pesky songs, this time 'All You Did Was Smile' performed by Bobby Hatfield, but it's another below average, rather mushy number that has little or no charm. The 'Main Title' in contrast is a good deal more memorable, if not necessarily for all the right reasons, featuring as it does some jazzy, almost avant-garde percussion, before a fast paced, rather frenetic string and brass theme gallops in, sounding vaguely reminiscent of a TV cop show theme. And there's more frantic percussion on 'It Was You, It Was You', a quirky, almost frenzied piece with suspense strings played against almost schizophrenic piano and woodwind. A kind of nightmarish cacophony, but actually quite effective! In fact this kind of manic, percussion led music is at the heart of the entire score and dominates the Lalo Schifrinesque suspense music of 'The Other Car'. But unfortunately it's just a little too out-there for my taste. Others may be more forgiving. 'All You Did Was Smile' gets some more mileage on 'Love Theme', an up-tempo jazz version and there's also the aptly titled 'Variation of Theme'. And just when you thought you'd heard enough, two more songs are thrown into the pot with 'I Call Your Name' another Bobby Hatfield number that is simply an inferior pop ballad and 'ZigZag', a mediocre tune which while the vocals are uncredited on my copy of the CD, my research tells me that they were actually performed by none other than Roy Orbison.

Admirers of jazz scores from this era may well find something here to appreciate, but for me it was all rather wearisome, except for the virtual madness of 'It Was You, It Was You', which was so bold it deserves at least a passing nod of approval. Unfortunately though that cue was the one single highlight amongst a very great deal of dross.

Sadly, for myself at least, a pretty dismal experience twice over.

Mark Hockley


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