For full details see track listing and press release and the end of this review.
This two CD set of Alex North's score for The Shoes of the Fisherman from Film Score Monthly does much what the company's recent double disc presentation of Diane did offers a disc of score, plus a second album rounding-up related material which would not fit on previous single disc releases. Where the second Diane CD showcased more music from the title film and further material by composer Miklós Rózsa, or from films which he had scored, this time the remit is rather different, the bonus material being taken from 'MGM Widescreen Spectaculars' all released in 1968.
Thus apart from eight cues of source material from The Shoes of the Fisherman which range from choral music in the Catholic tradition to jazzy party music to the tender, Barryesque 'Tiny Folly' the second disc offers almost ten minutes of Michel Legrand's demos for his Ice Station Zebra score. The literally Cold War background of that adventure at least has something thematically in common with Fisherman, even if the cues really add nothing to the already very extensive FSM release of the excellent complete score.
The bulk of the second disc is taken up with a full reissue of the 1960's LP rerecording of Ron Goodwin's great score for Where Eagles Dare. This would be exciting enough in its own right, were it not that FSM have very recently issued a 2CD set containing the complete soundtracks to Where Eagles Dare and another Goodwin scored WWII adventure, Operation Crossbow. The rerecording is very faithful to the soundtrack, simply shorter, so acquiring it here is either for the very fanatical indeed, or a very nice bonus for those who want Fisherman and are not sufficiently interested in Eagles to buy the complete soundtrack. Those who buy Fisherman for North's music, not being familiar with Goodwin's, may fine a most welcome treat on the second CD
Which complete supporting programme brings me to the main feature, Alex North's score for The Shoes of the Fisherman. A large scale drama made amid 1960's Cold War fever in which the first Russian pope attempts to prevent, through diplomacy rather than James Bond tactics, World War III.
After being removed from scoring 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by director Stanley Kubrick, North scored The Devil's Brigade, the moved onto Fisherman. For which, as part of his large scale and complex score, he recycled some of the modernist, pseudo spiritual music he had written for 2001. This he did amid passages of imaginative Hollywood-Goes-Russian post Maurice Jarre's Doctor Zhivago (1965) and playful 1960's Italian colourings not so far removed from Nino Rota's Fellini scores. There is music of religious grandeur, music of thoughtful introspection and low-key suspense, and the material originally intended for 2001. How this works in the film I have no idea it was certainly wrong for the space odyssey and however bad Kubrick's personal treatment of North was, the director was right to replace it with iconic classical selections but perhaps it fares better accompanying the near future speculation of Fisherman. In any case, a comparison can now be made between this use of the material and the cues as composed for Kubrick and recorded by Jerry Goldsmith and the National Philharmonic for album release in the 1990's.
As an album the current disc presents music which is rich, complex and rewarding, and should add further fuel to the endless debates about North's music and the whole controversy over his score being rejected from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Cues such as 'The Election' and 'The Gathering' particularly stand out as dazzling showcases for North's talent, glittering percussion and mysterious strings alternating with strikingly modern post-Straussian (Richard that is) fanfares.
There is much to admire here, and much to enjoy in an album which will take many explorations to uncover all its secrets and hidden depths. A very notable addition to the film music catalogue and an essential footnote to the study the most important film made to that date.
- Disc one:
- The Shoes of the Fisherman
Music Composed and Conducted by Alex North
- Overture 4:02
- Main Title 2:00
- Kiril's Release/Kamenev 2:33
- Rome 2:32
- Pope and Kiril/Announcement/St. Peter's Square 2:18
- Ceremony 3:10
- Arrival of the Cardinals 3:03
- The Election (album version) 4:37
- Kiril's Past 1:38
- Kiril Is Proclaimed Pope/White Smoke 3:59
- Entr'Acte/Leone 2:25
- Kiril's Loneliness 2:12
- Adventure 2:15
- Consolation/Tiny Folly 6:54
- Commission's Reaction/Telemond's Death 2:23
- Solitary Pilgrimage/Daybreak at St. Peter's 2:39
- The Gathering 2:19
- Coronation 4:29
- End Title/End Cast 1:32
- Exit Music 2:00
- Total Time: 59:47
- Alternate Score Cues
- Main Title (alternate) 2:48
- Election of the Pope (film version) 4:01
- Kiril's Loneliness (alternate) 2:12
- Theme From The Shoes of the Fisherman 1:58
- Solitary Pilgrimage (alternate) 2:25
- Coronation (alternate) 0:46
- End Titles (Leone version) 1:02
- Rome (alternate)/Main Title (excerpt of alternate) 1:57
- Total Time: 17:23
- Total Disc Time: 77:09
- Disc two:
- M-G-M 1968 Widescreen Spectaculars
The Shoes of the Fisherman
- Veni Creator Spiritus 7:08
- Tu Es Petrus 6:00
- Celebration 1:40
- Roman Band 0:27
- Zoo 1:05
- Roman Party 2:53
- Tiny Folly (jazz version) 2:18
- Tiny Folly (film version) 2:29
- Total Time: 24:23
- Ice Station Zebra
- Water Theme 3:19
- Theme From Ice Station Zebra 3:23
- Water Theme/Theme From Ice Station Zebra (combined) 2:55
- Total Time: 9:47
- Where Eagles Dare
- Main Title 3:05
- Ascent on the Cable Car 7:06
- Pursued by the Enemy 4:04
- The Booby Trap 3:20
- Encounter in the Castle 2:03
- On Enemy Territory 4:00
- Descent and Fight on the Cable Car 7:16
- The Chase to the Airfield 3:43
- Three Incidental Pieces From the Film: (a) Beguine 1:13, (b) Polka 2:12, (c) Fox Trot 2:05 5:36
- Total Time: 40:39
- Total Disc Time: 74:50
Film Score Monthly press release
Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music
Alex North had his roots in the American stage but achieved his greatest fame in the epic film genre: his scores for Spartacus (1960), Cleopatra (1963) and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) are beloved for their scope and grandeur. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was to be another North epic but ended up with Stanley Kubrick's selections of classical music. Later in 1968 North was able to use some of his 2001 ideas in M-G-M's The Shoes of the Fisherman, a colossal modern-day tale about the first Russian Pope.
The Shoes of the Fisherman was based on a novel by Morris L. West and starred Anthony Quinn as Kiril Lakota, a political prisoner who rejoins the Vatican after his release. When the Pope dies, Kiril emerges as an unlikely successor, and must set the course for the Vatican's role in a current world crisis. The film also starred Laurence Olivier as the Soviet Premier, David Janssen as an American journalist, and Oskar Werner as a Jesuit philosopher and friend of Kiril's.
Alex North applied three major approaches for the film: For Quinn's Russian character, North wrote a Ukrainian-styled folk theme, orchestrated for anywhere from a full symphony to small folk ensemble. David Janssen's TV journalist is in the midst of a marital crisis, and North provided a romantic, pop-flavored theme, also used for Kiril's fascination with the modern city of Rome. But it is the score's third area that has long thrilled film music fans: mammoth, crashing chords for the Church itself -- not liturgical music, but a modernist symphonic approach for the awesome concept of God on earth. (This is the music derived from North's unused score to 2001.)
The Shoes of the Fisherman was released on LP at the time of the film. FSM's premiere 2CD set features the complete underscore on disc one, remixed and remastered from the six-track 35mm masters, including a bonus section of additional and alternate cues. The score features all the symphonic power for which North is known -- at over 100 pieces, it was one of the largest orchestras ever used for film -- plus his intimate attention to drama.
Disc two of this release is a "bonus disc" designed to "close the book" on three widescreen M-G-M spectacles which were all released at the end of 1968. FSM has already released these soundtracks, but each has had additional recordings that could not fit on their respective albums: source music and pop-based alternates for The Shoes of the Fisherman (including the full-length liturgical choral recordings made in Rome); Michel Legrand's demo recordings for Ice Station Zebra (FSMCD Vol. 6, No. 2); and Ron Goodwin's LP re-recording of Where Eagles Dare (FSMCD Vol. 6, No. 21).
The entire 2CD set is in stereo. Liner notes are by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall.