Visit the Movie Wave Store | Movie Wave Home | Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer | Contact me
Camp, cheesy 70s music from Bernstein is wonderful!
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Universal Music Enterprises; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
"Gold is a film with every ingredient - spectacular crime, action, romance, riches." Not my words, but those of Roger Moore, who admittedly wasn't an entirely disinterested party since he starred in it, but the movie - based on a Wilbur Smith novel - was popular on its 1974 release. The story of a ruthless businessman who tries to manipulate his company's share price by deliberately flooding its own gold mine was directed by Bond veteran Peter Hunt, and a number of Bond alumni were amongst the crew; not John Barry, though, with scoring duties instead falling to the great Elmer Bernstein.
The film opens with a main title sequence designed by Maurice Binder, accompanied by a brassy, dynamic song with lyrics by Don Black - sound familiar?! "Gold" is an exceedingly silly song, sung with gusto by an admirably straight-faced Jimmy Helms, and in its own way is a 1970s camp classic. The song melody is used as the film's main theme, cropping up in various instrumental guises, most notably the jazzy "The Mine" - it's cheesy beyond belief, but quite wonderful. The composer extracts a motif from the theme and uses it to bind the action music together, most notably in the suspenseful "Trapped" and the explosive "Flood!", both of which are very fine pieces.
There are two other main themes, both quite romantic in nature, and both also turned into songs. The main love theme first appears in "The Lovers" (and later in a vocal arrangement, sung by Maureen McGovern) - a lovely, soaring piece which is quintessential Bernstein. The other is first heard in "The Apartment" and is lighter, breezier piece. Its vocal arrangement is belted out by Trevor Chance in "Where Have You Been All My Life?"
This is clearly not top-tier Bernstein, and at times it's so cheesy it almost hurts (particularly the songs), but Gold is an exceptionally enjoyable score. Intrada's new release is a straight reissue of the LP (though unlike with Film Score Monthly's equivalent releases, there is no commensurate reduction in price) and is highly recommended.