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FSM Vol 5 No 16

Artwork copyright (c) 2002 Turner Broadcasting Co.; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall



Vibrant early Goldsmith spy score

The 34-year-old Jerry Goldsmith was already on the Hollywood A-list of composers back in 1963 when he scored The Prize, having already notched up notable successes like Lonely are the Brave and Freud, the latter of the two earning the composer his first Oscar nomination.  It's incredible really that he's remained on that A-list ever since.  Very popular in the 1960s were spy films.  While the Bond films are often credited with starting the craze, there were various others along the way too.  John Barry and (purely as a result of Mission: Impossible) Lalo Schifrin are probably the two film composers most associated with the genre, but in fact Goldsmith probably scored more espionage thrillers in the 60s than anyone else.  He did The Satan Bug, The Man from UNCLE, Our Man Flint, In Like Flint and various others as the decade wore on but The Prize marked his first entry in the genre.

A film that aimed to recapture the spirit of Hitchcock's comic masterpiece North by Northwest, The Prize was even written by the same screenwriter, Ernest Lehman.  In an attempt to prove that he could do this sort of light comedy, Paul Newman took the lead role, but critics weren't too kind to his performance; joining him were Elke Sommer, Diane Baker and Edward G. Robinson.  A chase thriller, the film had Newman as a member of the Nobel Prize Committee and was concerned mainly with his bedroom exploits, though also found time for an auction at a nudist colony, among other comic episodes.

Goldsmith's earliest scores are fascinating to hear, so long after the event, because those familiar with his career as a whole can get a wonderful insight into what set his creative juices flowing all those years ago.  Far rougher around the edges and shallower than his later work, they are still almost invariably enjoyable and interesting works.  The Prize score can be split into four parts.  First is the sexy, spy-music stuff, with a kinetic theme backed by the ubiquitous bongos, not a million miles from Goldsmith's Flint themes.  Appealing and enjoyable, the main theme certainly deserves a look.

Probably the most dominant type of music is the suspense material.  Never less than interesting, it shows that even then Goldsmith knew how to write that sort of thing better than almost anyone else.  Of particular amusement is the trombone glissando that appears throughout.  It's an ingenious suspense device that Goldsmith would use countless times, notably in Planet of the Apes and Logan's Run but also recently in all sorts of 1990s scores, including The Mummy, The Shadow and The Edge.  Thirdly comes the action material.  There's not a huge amount of it, but when it comes it's a joy to behold, with Goldsmith probably far less restrained than he would be today.  Cues like "Stratman's Abduction" and "Man Hunt" are beautifully-constructed, thrilling and fun.  The piano-and-xylophone mix would be a staple of Goldsmith's action music for many years.  Finally, the section that doesn't really work at all, is the comedy music, the one part that Goldsmith would probably pay people not to hear.  It tends to come out of nowhere, be elaborately mickey-mousey and frankly just a little embarrassing.

Back at the time of the film, an LP album was released, featuring four re-recorded tracks of Goldsmith's score.  These are included here, along with the entire score's original tracks (which run for 48 minutes) and about 20 minutes of source music, most of which I'm sure nobody will even consider listening to.  Liner notes are extensive, though don't include an anecdote I once heard Goldsmith deliver.  After the film was released he was driving around LA with the movie's producer Pandro S. Berman.  An instrumental piece came on the radio and Berman said "Jerry, I like what you wrote, but we should have used this as the theme for The Prize.  Do you know what it is?"  Goldsmith politely pointed out that it was the theme from The Prize.


  1. Prelude (1:39)
  2. Main Title (1:55)
  3. Special Delivery / Bottle Party (:44)
  4. Man in Shadow / Stratman's Abduction (1:23)
  5. The Night People / The New Doctor (2:58)
  6. The Whole Truth / Too Many Women (2:24)
  7. The Phone Call / Cab Fare (2:28)
  8. Man Hunt (3:34)
  9. Silent Treatment / No Friends (1:17)
  10. Craig's Proposition (2:30)
  11. Inger's Theme (2:29)
  12. The Hospital (1:55)
  13. Hot Light (1:49)
  14. The Escape Act (2:07)
  15. Return from Bare (2:14)
  16. Rejected Suitor / Free Ride (1:58)
  17. The Wrong Blonde (1:30)
  18. The Facts / Stake Out / Boarding Party (4:12)
  19. A Hole in the Head (1:05)
  20. Three Lost People / Escape from the Dock / The Getaway (2:20)
  21. Shock Treatment (1:19)
  22. The Blade / The Last Act / Danny's Exit (2:50)
  23. End Title (:57)
  24. Juke Box (2:54)
  25. Just You, Just Me (2:00)
  26. How About You? (2:05)
  27. On Green Dolphin Street (2:03)
  28. Winter Garden (2:24)
  29. The Villa (1:00)
  30. Fashion Show (2:50)
  31. Breakfast, Part 2 (2:39)
  32. King's Song / Prize Fanfare / Nobel March (1:15)
  33. Theme from The Prize (2:10)
  34. Man Hunt (2:44)
  35. The Night People (1:58)
  36. The Courier (1:32)