June 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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Force 10 from Navarone  
Music composed and conducted by Ron Goodwin
  Available on Film Score Monthly (FSM Vol. 9 No.4)
Running Time: 50:58
Amazon US

See also:

  • The Guns of Navarone
  • Where Eagles Dare
  • 633 Squadron
  • The Guns of Navarone (1961) was the first in the series of escapist WWII adventure yarns from the pen of novelist Alistair McLean. Its success both as a novel and as a motion picture film in 1968 staring Anthony Quinn, Gregory Peck, David Niven, was to later inspire a sequel in both book and film, albeit some seventeen years later. The long break between the two films was mostly due to waning interest in wartime heroics by the time the producers began to work on the sequel, despite the success of McLean adaptations Where Eagles Dare and The Eagle Has Landed. In the sequel, the story picks up literally from the finale of the first film in the ‘Prologue’ sequence. Edward Fox and Robert Shaw, replacing David Niven and Gregory Peck respectively,  are sent on a new assignment to locate and eliminate a traitor. With the help of a new American colonel here (Harrison Ford, fresh from Star Wars) the team must go to Yugoslavia and destroy a strategic military target.

    Force 10 from Navarone unfortunately bombed at the box office, a victim of poor production values and declining interest in the genre. (A Bridge too Far, the ironically titled Richard Attenborough film, was another victim of the trend.) Very few, if any, of the creative talents behind the original remained for the sequel, the composer of Guns’ bombastic score Dmitri Tiomkin among those who did not return. (The composer died shortly after the film’s release.) The chores of scoring went naturally to the best man suited for the job: Ron Goodwin. Ron Goodwin already a veteran of WWII films, whose resume included 633 Squadron, Where Eagles Dare, Operation Crossbow and Battle of Britain. The film score had previously been issued on other labels in less than complete form, and is presented in complete form for the first time on this new release from Film Score Monthly.

    It’s a score very much in Goodwin’s classic style. The ‘Main Title’ is the great highlight of the score – triumphantly jaunty. It has a bright patriotic charm to it that recalls the grandeur of nineteenth century military marches, and is showcased in tracks such as ‘Arrival’ and ‘End Credits’. Variations on the theme are another strong feature of the score, in such cues as ‘Fight’ and specially ‘Take Off’ where Goodwin develops the march into an anthem. There are also various motifs derived from the Main March that appear in different guises throughout the score, specially noteworthy is the melodic quote in minor mode in ‘Where is it/Being Followed/Here We Go Again’.

    Two interesting trademarks set Goodwin’s score apart from typical march-dominated war movie scores. Interestingly, he abandons the traditional military snare drum like motives in favor of more aggressive brassy chords which propel both action and draw out suspense. There is also a strong rhythmic pulse built within the motives which serve as devices to bridge the action. The composer also spares the obvious use of minor keys and dissonance in favor of major-key modulations. Generally, the score tries to depict a ‘Boy’s Own’ feel to the action and the unfolding drama. If there’s a complaint to be made at all, it is that the suspense cues are too drawn out, and may wear out the listener’s patience until the next reprise of the main title. (‘He’s a Spy’ being a good example.)

    The grand finale is the ‘Down Bridge’ cue where we get a triumphant, almost nautical sounding rendition of the main march. ‘End Credits’ sport a more fulfilling expansion of the main title march in rather regal form and close out the disc.

    The production values on the cd are top notch and analogous to previous Goodwin FSM releases such as: 633 Squadron and Where Eagles Dare. (Reviews of these are linked above.) The stereo sound quality is dynamic and crisp. The sources used are from the composer’s own archives. Detailed and copious liner notes, stills and photographs from the film detail the films production history and track by track notes by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall are icing on the cake. A wonderful release that should be welcomed in any respectable soundtrack collection.

    Amer Zahid

    Rating: 4

    Film Score Monthly News Release:

    Force 10 From Navarone (1978) was a long-after-the-fact sequel to the 1961 blockbuster The Guns of Navarone, and an attempt to resurrect the " Boys Own" war adventure genre for the modern-day Star Wars era. The film featured an assortment of internationally known stars -- Harrison Ford, Robert Shaw, Carl Weathers, Edward Fox, Richard Kiel and Barbara Bach -- in an " impossible mission behind enemy lines" directed by 007 veteran Guy Hamilton.

    Scoring Force 10 From Navarone was the man most identified with the British war genre: Ron Goodwin, who had excelled in similar films from the 1960s, such as 633 Squadron, Operation Crossbow, Where Eagles Dare and Submarine X-1 (all released by FSM). The composer was beloved for his ability to capture these stories' sense of stiff-upper-lip patriotism, bare-knuckles action and riveting suspense.

    Though he had not scored a war film since 1969's Battle of Britain, Goodwin picked up exactly where he left off and gave Force 10 From Navarone a rousing main title march, colorful action cues, and undulating, nervous textures that heightened each sequence of enemy infiltration and shocking revelation of secret identity.

    This premiere release of the soundtrack to Force 10 From Navarone features the complete score in excellent sound quality as mastered from 1/4' stereo tapes in the late composer's personal collection. Liner notes are by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall.

    Track Listing:

    1. Prologue (1:18)
    2. Main Title (1:54)
    3. Fight (1:53)
    4. Take-Off/In Yugoslavia (4:25)
    5. Hiding (3:05)
    6. Morning/Met Comrades (1:36)
    7. Arrival/Surprise (1:10)
    8. Kill Them (1:28)
    9. Where Is It/Being Followed/Here We Go Again (3:28)
    10. Captured (1:22)
    11. Not Dead/The Escape Begins (5:07)
    12.  It Worked/How To Blow It Up/Explosion (1:06)
    13. She's Dead/You Need Me/The Tank (1:46)
    14. Trapped (2:51) 
    15. He's a Spy (2:13) 
    16. A Little Diversion/Come On, Blackie (3:11)
    17. Setting the Charge/Out of Time (4:21)
    18. You Did It (1:45)
    19. Down Bridge (3:07)
    20. End Credits (3:15)

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