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Shout at the Devil
  • Composed by Maurice Jarre
  • Quartet Records QRSCE009 / 2010 / 39:31

Action!  Adventure!  Romance!  The poster for Peter Hunt’s Shout at the Devil (based on Wilbur Smith’s novel) doesn’t make such exclamations, but it certainly could.  Roger Moore and Lee Marvin star in this tale of derring-do in East Africa at the start of the First World War; the liner notes quote Roger Ebert saying “this is the kind of movie they used to make, back when audiences were supposed to have the mentality of a 12-year-old” – a time that sees so distant now we’re in the era of Roland Emmerich’s 10,000BC or Michael Bay’s Transformers movies.  Anyway, it’s hard to think of any composer better-suited to scoring a movie with action, adventure, romance etc than Maurice Jarre – this came in 1976, just after the exceptional film and exceptional score The Man Who Would Be King.

So, what’s in the score?  Well, have a guess – action, adventure, romance.  It begins with a spectacular action-based main title cue (with five grand pianos!) – typical Jarre, full of excitement and with an epic grandeur.  There’s a top love theme, too (“Rosa”) – I’m surprised it’s not better-known since it could sit proudly alongside so many of this composer’s popular melodies.  Jarre injects a couple of notes of comedy (guess what ethnic sound appears in the cue titled “Flynn Patrick O’Flynn”) and there’s a hint of Africa, but only a hint – given the composer’s well-known passion for incorporating ethnic elements into his scores I’m very surprised he didn’t make more of it.  But for all the different elements presented here (in a great album sequence done when people still knew how to sequence soundtrack albums) it’s certainly the action music that stands out, and in particular the spectacular “The Burning of Lalapanzi”.  It’s certainly not a great score by Maurice Jarre’s standards, but it’s one which is very hard to dislike and very easy to enjoy.  *** 1/2

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  1. christopher (Reply) on Friday 9 July, 2010 at 15:39

    Did you meant to quote Ebert as saying back when audiences *weren’t* supposed to have the mentality of a 12-year old? If not, his quote sounds like an insult…

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Friday 9 July, 2010 at 19:18

    Nope – I got the right quote (according to the liner notes).

  3. christopher (Reply) on Saturday 10 July, 2010 at 11:26

    I don’t get it… So this film expects me to have the mentality of a 12 year old? And that’s a good thing? And Transformers doesn’t? Is that because it expects me to have the mentality of a 6 year old?

    • James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 11 July, 2010 at 00:22

      I think he’s saying that it’s pure entertainment and not intended to be particularly intellectually stimulating. When he wrote those words, cinema was going through a rather more high-brow phase than it is now.