Movie Wave Home
Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer

Composed by

* * * 1/2

Album running time

Performed by
conducted by

Produced by

Released by
Serial number

Artwork copyright (c) 1975 Universal Pictures; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Climb every mountain


One of his earliest films as director, The Eiger Sanction saw Clint Eastwood playing a retired CIA assassin lured back for one final mission.  Set against gorgeous Swiss scenery, it's an entertaining espionage thriller based on the popular novel, and it's also one of the few times the man with no name has hired a "proper" film composer.  He couldn't have picked a much better one, either.  This is John Williams's only real score in the spy genre, and an impressive one it is at that.

The main theme is what makes it what it is.  Heard initially on piano in the main title, it's a very catchy piece, containing the right mix of suave sophistication and mystery; a great piece.  It's given a much jazzier rendition in the titular second track, a little kitschy perhaps but no moreso that other scores in this genre from the time.  Another great variation on the theme is the romantic "Friends and Enemies", a really lovely piece of music, developing into a pop piece somewhat reminiscent of Lalo Schifrin's more easy listening material.  Despite the quality of the thematic material, perhaps the most impressive sections of the score are the grand orchestral cues associated with the mountain from which the movie takes its name.  "The Icy Ascent" is a brilliant piece of music, capturing both the beauty of the surroundings and the inherent dangers.  Best of all may be "The Top of the World", a rapturous piece full of the kind of orchestral celebration Williams has become so used to writing in the decades since.

"Training with George" is a pseudo-baroque piece full of life and imagination and some really lovely string writing, demonstrating Williams's remarkable versatility while retaining that musical signature that makes all of his scores so recognisably his.  The theme is reprised in "George Sets the Pace", though this time heard as a guitar solo with flute harmony, which works very well again.  "Microfilm" is a little action music, though it's a bit more detached than maybe people are used to hearing from Williams, taking a somewhat low-key approach - it works quite well, though.  "Up the Drainpipe" (which sounds more like the title of a 1960s sitcom set in Yorkshire than a cue title from a John Williams score) is suspense music, very different in tone to the rest of the album, and not particularly good, though it does feature some interesting vaguely dissonant passages.  The finale, "The Eiger", is triumphant and beautiful.  The Eiger Sanction will never be considered among Williams's finest scores, but it does have a certain allure to it and is rather different from anything else he's done.  It's less Sherpa Tensing, more Sherpa Van Trophy, I suppose (don't worry, I don't suppose too many readers will get that curiously parochial reference).  It's quite stylish (well, it was 30 years ago) and memorable in some places, beautiful and orchestral in others, so comes recommended.  

Buy this CD from by clicking here!


  1. Main Title (2:24)
  2. The Eiger Sanction (2:53)
  3. Fifty Miles of Desert (2:50)
  4. The Icy Ascent (3:41)
  5. Friends and Enemies (3:01)
  6. The Top of the World (3:05)
  7. The Eiger Sanction (2:09)
  8. Training with George (2:13)
  9. Helock and Jemima (2:07)
  10. George Sets the Pace (2:39)
  11. The Microfilm Killing (2:04)
  12. Up the Drainpipe (3:18)
  13. The Eiger (2:14)