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The focus of the flag in the movie sand pebbles

This writer was privileged to be asked to contribute to the music-with-commentary track along with producer Nick Redman and screenwriter Lem Dobbs. Weeks of research — including a review of Goldsmith's surviving sketches and all of the fully orchestrated scores — preceded the recording of that track in an effort to cover as much of the history of Goldsmith's contribution as possible.

Along the way, we discovered a good deal of hitherto unknown detail and information that calls into question some previously held assumptions.

By the time Jerry Goldsmith was signed to score The Sand Pebbles, he had already received two Oscar nominations for Freud, 1963, and A Patch of Blue, 1965 and was considered one of Hollywood's hottest young composing talents. Fox musical director Lionel Newman, who had conducted much of Cleopatra for North, knew that the veteran composer would give director Robert Wise exactly what the picture needed: But as North was about to start the film, he developed a painful bout of sciatica that caused him to beg off the job.

Privately, Goldsmith would later tell friends that he thought the film's violence put North off. But correspondence between North and Wise points only to the medical issue. Wise wrote that he was "equally sorry" that North could not contribute, and sent get-well wishes.

The Hollywood Reporter announced North's illness on Aug.

  • Terrence steven steve mcqueen march 24, 1930 — november 7, 1980 was an american movie actor an academy award nomination for his role in the sand pebbles;
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Plus, Goldsmith had written the prologue music for North's Agony and the Ecstasy, so the choice may have seemed an obvious one for Newman. Goldsmith was about to start Grand Prix for director John Frankenheimer at MGM, but Fox was able to "pre-empt" Goldsmith out of that picture — because of a clause in his Fox contract — and bring him back for Sand Pebbles.

The Sand Pebbles

It was really the first big picture I did. Bob Wise was a little nervous about me doing it. In those days this was a blockbuster picture. It cost 11 or 12 million dollars, and it was a bit controversial. It made quite an antiwar statement. We were embroiled in Vietnam then.

The focus of the flag in the movie sand pebbles

By comparison, many composers today are lucky to get four weeks for that much music, and often even less. He's very precise in what he wants and where he wants the music. It was a great learning experience for me. Photograph courtesy of The Film Music Society.

Goldsmith's approach demanded two musical signatures: The American theme becomes most apparent in the scenes between Steve McQueen as Navy machinist Jake Holman and Candice Bergen as missionary schoolteacher Shirley Eckertwhere it functions as a romantic motif. But parts of it surface all over the movie, most notably when the American flag is raised and it becomes a heroic fanfare. Had there been a place for it in the film, it probably would have received an Oscar nomination.

The Chinese theme is most often associated with Richard Attenborough as Frenchy Burgoyne and Marayat Andriane Maily but, again, it is not solely their love theme, as it arises in other contexts involving the Chinese people.

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It is interesting to note that this theme actually originated in Goldsmith's score for a 1959 Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Blushing Pearls," guest-starring a pre-Star Trek George Takeiwhich dealt with a young Japanese girl accused of murder.

There are secondary motives such as the decisive, five-note Chinese theme that basically represents mainland China and the threat its army poses to the American gunboat the "San Pablo" and its personnel.

There is also a melancholy motif associated with the violent deaths of characters including Po-han Mako and later the Chinese student whom Holman kills with his ax after the gunboat battle. Newman conducted the music — as he did for almost every Fox film at the time — which was recorded piecemeal over two months. There were eight sessions Oct. There are also two instances of Chinese music attributed to Earle Hagen, the television-music pioneer who at the time was scoring I Spy, which had many episodes set in the Far East.

They are each about a minute long and serve as "source music" for outdoor scenes. Asked about this, Hagen explained: Fox needed some ethnic music and asked if they could use some of mine. I didn't write them or have anything to do with them other than buying them in Hong Kong. He recalled it in interviews as his first 70mm, six-track stereo film. Actually, The Blue Max came first, also for Fox, but that film failed at the box office although its score is still rightly regarded as one of the composer's 1960s triumphs.

The Sand Pebbles was a huge success, with multiple Oscar nominations including one for Goldsmithso it's not surprising that he remembered that one as his first roadshow picture.

There was a much higher level of showmanship involved with the roadshow films of that era than we see in movie exhibition today.

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Musically speaking, they often featured an overture, entr'acte music for the intermission, and exit music. Goldsmith actually wrote two overtures for The Sand Pebbles. The first focused primarily on the "Chinese love theme," and that appeared on the original soundtrack album. But between the time it was recorded and the end of the last session, someone decided — and it might have been Wise, or Newman — that the overture should feature Goldsmith's other love theme, "And We Were Lovers," so orchestrator David Tamkin reworked the overture, and that is the one that accompanied the film it is labeled "overture new " on the surviving orchestrations, although it is not dated.

Fox music logs indicate that Arthur Morton — who had done The Blue Max in London with Goldsmith and who would later become Goldsmith's regular orchestrator — was already booked, composing multiple episodes of the studio's popular Peyton Place television series throughout the fall of 1966. The so-called "exit music" is a different story. So the the focus of the flag in the movie sand pebbles cut on side 2 of the LP is the "exit music," a radio-friendly arrangement of "And We Were Lovers," written by arranger Warren Barker perhaps best-known for creating the nose-twitching music on Bewitched.

That also became the A-side of the single. Barker did another arrangement for the flip side, a version of the "Chinese love theme," but although recorded, it was not used a truncated version of Goldsmith's original overture appeared instead. It surfaced only recently, on the 2002 Varese Sarabande "deluxe edition" CD. Neither Goldsmith nor Tamkin were involved in any of these attempts to popularize the music. It was tough," Goldsmith recalled. There was a lot of time to do the picture, and a lot of stuff I had to go back and rewrite because it wasn't right.

The composer utilized a battery of traditional Oriental instruments, along with unusual percussion instruments from around the world, all designed to evoke the right mood. He used angklungs, which are perhaps best described as bamboo slide rattles; the Indonesian gamelan, pitched percussion instruments; crotales, tuned metal discs; Chinese temple bells; wood drums; and, surprisingly, European instruments including the cimbalum and mandolin, which we do not associate with Asia yet which help in establishing the exotic atmosphere.

There is also a harpsichord, notably in the sequence Goldsmith called "Restless Months," as the San Pablo sat in the river during the winter. And, of course, gongs, chimes and other sounds that Westerners tend to associate with the Far East. Goldsmith went on to score several other films set in the Orient including, for Fox, The Chairman 1969Tora! Goldsmith incorporated elements of The Sand Pebbles music into his "Motion Picture Medley" that he performed in concert for many years.

And the score itself remains among his finest works, one happily revisited, and celebrated, on the new DVD.