JOHNNY MANDEL: POINT BLANK’S COMPOSER

Johnny Mandel, the veteran composer of many a film score, passed last Monday, June, 29th at the ripe old age of 94. His obituary is a fascinating read in terms of how prolific he was for decades in both film and the music industry.
As the obit states, he was probably best remembered for his score to M*A*S*H (1970), as well as the Taylor/Burton vehicle, The Sandpiper (1965), and their accompanying title songs. Beyond that, his heavily jazz-influenced music remained largely in the background of most films and not nearly as memorable as say the scores of John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith. In the long run, that’s probably a good thing as film scores are meant to enhance the mood of a film, not necessarily stand out and distract from it.
Fortunately, one of his scores that actually did both, enhance AND standout, was his score for John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967). I was not a fan of the film the first time I saw it as I felt it was pretentious in its obvious ‘arti-ness.’ But, like most great films, it grew on me with every successive viewing. In fact, by the time I first came to write about it and later research and write Lee Marvin Point Blank,  I was enthused enough about it to create some interesting perspectives on the production.
One aspect I think is clearly overlooked is the moody score Mandel created. I am a huge fan of film music but not knowledgeable enough about it to write with any discernable skill. Luckily, a limited release CD of the score was put out by the good folks at Turner Classic Movies in conjunction with Film Score Monthly. The results included some great and detailed liner notes I believe was penned by the late, great Nick Redman. So, below is his detailed description, scene by scene, of Johnny Mandel’s haunting score.
SPOILER ALERT: The details are so exact, that if you have yet to see the film, be forewarned as the film’s entirety is given away in the notes. If you have seen it, then enjoy this belated tribute to a Johnny Mandel score ripe for rediscovery. Rest in Peace, Mr. Mandel, your work will not be forgotten.
– Dwayne Epstein

POINT BLANK CD cover.

1st page of POINT BLANK liner notes.

2nd pages of POINT BLANK liner notes.

3rd pages of POINT BLANK liner notes.

4th pages of POINT BLANK liner notes.

concluding page of POINT BLANK liner notes (Johnny Mandel pictured).

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