Movie Wave Home
Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer

Composed by

* * * * *

Album running time

Performed by
conducted by


Engineered by
Music Editor
Produced by

Released by
Serial number
SRS 2014

Artwork copyright (c) 2002 Masters Film Music; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Exceptional score for bizarre movie


The popular pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan charmed audiences around the world in Sleepless in Seattle and, later, You've Got Mail, but many fans are probably unaware of their earlier get-together in the little-known Joe Versus the Volcano.  There's a reason it's little-known: it's an indescribably bad film, surely one of the worst that's ever been made.  The plot virtually defies belief: Hanks plays a man with a lousy job, fed up of his life, who gets diagnosed with a "brain cloud" (!) and is given six months to live.  By bizarre coincidence, shortly after receiving this diagnosis he is approached by a man who tells him that there's an island in the South Pacific where every century, a man must jump into a volcano as a sacrifice to the god.  Naturally, Hanks agrees to be this man and save the people for another hundred years.  Along the way, he meets three different characters all played by Ryan, and in the end the whole thing turns out to be a scam and he isn't really dying after all (sorry to spoil the ending).

In the annals of great scores for lousy films, rarely can the differential have been so great as it is here.  Of course (sadly), composer Georges Delerue would have several entries in those annals for his American movies, but none can be quite so pronounced as this: his score is simply magical, a wonderful effort which shows off all of his great melodic qualities.  There are three main themes, each of which is a classic.  The main love theme, "Marooned Without You", is turned into a Hawaiian-style song late in the score, where it works surprisingly well (sung by Henry Mancini-style choir), but before that happens in appears in numerous renditions through the score: first, in a lovely guitar arrangement in "Dinner with Dee Dee", and in the very next track in a more traditional orchestral arrangement.  There's also a lilting, music-box type theme, heard more fleetingly than the others, but still having an impact.

The other theme is dramatic but still truly gorgeous.  Indeed, it's just as rapturously beautiful as the love theme.  One of its fullest arrangements comes in the slightly cheesy "Shopping Spree", where it's performed by a string orchestra and solo sax.  It sounds very 1980s, but still sends a shiver down the spine.  The magnificent nine-minute piece "The Storm / The Rescue" is a truly thrilling action track, in which Delerue manages to convey so much anguish it's unbelievable, incorporating his main themes in strident, brassy orchestral renditions and adding new material alongside.  It's a breathtaking piece of music, one of the most thrilling you'll ever heard in a film score - and that it accompanies this film is nothing short of a miracle.  "I've Got to Go" is the sweet, touching counterpart to this, still full of emotion, but of an entirely different kind.  

Everything comes to a conclusion in the wonderful six-minute end title track, in which Delerue reprises each of his three main themes in sweeping style.  Delerue was truly one of the great composers and probably film music's best-ever creator of exquisite melodies, and he is still missed today.  Joe Versus the Volcano was not released at the time of the film because it simply wasn't successful enough, leaving Delerue fans having to be satisfied with one of the worst-sounding bootlegs ever put out.  Producer Robert Townson - a great fan of Delerue - fortunately came to everyone's rescue in 2002 when his Masters Film Music label finally released the score.  Limited to 3,000 copies, it's now sold out again, which is sad for those who didn't buy it, but advantageous in that 3,000 people around the world are now able to own this film music masterpiece.


  1. Once Upon a Time (:20)
  2. Brain Cloud (3:04)
  3. Dinner with Dee Dee (2:03)
  4. Love Theme (1:12)
  5. Joe Alone (:26)
  6. Graynamore's Pitch (1:53)
  7. I'll Do It (1:18)
  8. New York (:28)
  9. Shopping Spree (2:14)
  10. Alone in New York (1:30)
  11. To the Hotel (:48)
  12. To the Ship (2:41)
  13. History of the Waponis (:38)
  14. Pat Tells Joe (2:26)
  15. Fishing (3:25)
  16. The Storm / The Rescue (9:10)
  17. Hava Naglia / When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1:32)
  18. I've Got to Go (3:28)
  19. Explosion / In the Water (2:03)
  20. They Sail Away (1:08)
  21. End Credits (6:14)