April 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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Escape to Victory  
Music composed and conducted Bill Conti
Performed by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra
Orchestrations by Peter Myers
  Available on Prometheus (PCR 520)
Running Time: 42:57
Amazon UK   Amazon US

“Even readers of the Boys Own Paper might have blanched … ludicrous beyond belief”
– Tom Milne, MFB

The 1981 Lorimar production Escape to Victory (aka Victory) starred Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Max von Sydow together with a number of internationally renowned soccer stars including Pele and Bobby Moore in a far-fetched tale about a German POW camp in 1943 that imprisoned a lot of renowned footballers. An escape is planned during a football match against a German team.

Bill Contis’s score was recorded in Hollywood by 70-80 piece orchestra and the CD booklet caries an amusing story of the vicissitudes of the recording process.

The Main Title Theme is a racy, lusty march very much in the mould of so many other heroic World War II films with some cheeky asides that seem to suggest the prisoners cocking a snook at their German guards. This devil-may-care impudence is carried over to the sardonic march that is ‘The Team Uniforms’. The tense material of ‘Match’s Getaway’ is offset by some more witty ironic material that borders on mickey-mousing – you can almost visualise the action from Conti’s vividly evocative music.

‘Paris Express’ is a chugging variant of the main march theme with tense bass piano ostinato and brutal staccato brass – an imaginative track, well above average for its kind. ‘Team Outing’ is equally novel, rhythmically jagged and restless, very reminiscent of Ravel’s Bolero. ‘Krauts on a Roll’ unsurprisingly is all brutal swagger, Conti contributing some impressive polytonal writing. ‘Don’t Leave’ seems to imply tense action and urgent communication – the ostinati suggest morse code.

‘Let’s Go Guys’ is a cheeky nod towards Jerry Goldsmith’s Patton march and other American patriotic marches. Conti’s writing for the brass, as on every track, is most impressive and the Hollywood Orchestra shine in what must be quite tricky material to perform. ‘Match’s Revenge’ of course recapitulates all the themes in triumph. Three bonus tracks offer alternative dubs of ‘The Team Uniforms’, ‘Lets Go Boys’ and ‘Match’s Revenge’

Superior heroic, witty marching score for a lesser film

Ian Lace

Rating: 4

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