Jerry Goldsmith, the legendary composer of great film music, never scored a Lee Marvin film, and as classic film fans, we are less enriched because of it. I say this as the author of Lee Marvin Point Blank and genuinely wish that he had, as it would have been a wonderful marriage of an actor’s persona and a musical entity’s talent.
I should explain in that I am a huge fan of Jerry Goldsmith’s music and given the theme or setting of a project, he excelled even beyond his very talented contemporaries. For example, if a film involved a train as part of the premise and Goldsmith composed the score, the result was breathtaking. Listen to his main themes to the likes of  Von Ryan’s Express (1965), Breakheart Pass (1975) or The Great Train Robbery (1978).  He evokes the the motion of the train, the period the stories takes place and creates a hummable main theme…all at the same time!
With that in mind, I find it very disappointing that director Robert Aldrich failed to hire Goldsmith to score Emperor of the North (1973), choosing instead to go with Frank DeVol. Mostly known for his lighter scores for TV and Doris Day movies, DeVol was also an actor, most notably playing the dour-faced conductor Happy Kyne on “Fernwood 2-Night.”

CD cover of the belated release of Frank DeVol’s score to Emperor of the North.

I doubt if a Jerry Goldsmith score might have saved Emperor from its box-office disappointment, but it would have, at the very least, made for a great opening credit and rousing theme for the fight scene.
Another example is yet another Robert Aldrich film scored by Frank DeVol. Granted, The Dirty Dozen (1967) really didn’t need any help in reaching its classic status and DeVol’s main theme is pretty good. However, his reliance on variations of “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” may have been period correct but lazy composition, in my opinion.

Original DIRTY DOZEN vinyl soundtrack cover featuring Trini Lopez.

Having scored many films with military themes, most notably his Oscar-nominated score for Patton (1970), I think Jerry Goldsmith would have done amazing things with The Dirty Dozen. However, composers, like actors, are often hired based on their working relationship with a a given director, or are typecast based on the film’s subject. In this case, Robert Aldrich almost always went with DeVol, while Goldsmith frequently worked for several other high-profile directors, such as Franklin Schaffner and Joe Dante.
As a huge admirer of Goldsmith’s rich melodic scores, I just think it’s a damn shame that he never composed a rousing score for one of Lee Marvin’s films. In those golden days of rich music film scores, it’s a true pity that we shall never see the likes of Jerry Goldsmith again, nor, for that matter Lee Marvin.

Rare CD cover of the great Jerry Goldsmith conducting some of his best scores. I treasure it!

  • Dwayne Epstein
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Soundtracks on Vinyl
Research for Lee Marvin Point Blank sometimes included things not normally associated with an acting icon, such as collectible soundtracks on vinyl records. Below are some examples of just that….


soundtrack cover to Ship of Fools





Ernest Golds’ rousing and poignant score for Stanley Kramer’s Ship of Fools (1965) was released as an album conducted by no less than Arthur Fielder of The Boston Pops.

Capitalizing on the surprising success of Cat Ballou the same year, an album was released as a’sort of’ soundtrack that was comprised of the title tunes sung in films by the then recently deceased Nat ‘King’ Cole, even though the album cover prominently featured something else….


soundtrack cover to Cat Ballou


With his stardom in full ascension by the mid and late 60s and soundtrack sales soaring, it was a natural that the following albums to Lee Marvin films be released. Maurice Jarre’s muscular, Mexican-themed score to The Professionals (1966)…..


Soundtrack cover to The Professionals


soundtrack back cover to the professionals

And of course, Marvin’s biggest hit film of the decade (and of his career) naturally meant a soundtrack release of Frank DeVol’s score for The Dirty Dozen (1967), especially for anyone who needed to hear the full version of Trini Lopez singing The Bramble Bush….


soundtrack cover to The Dirty Dozen


soundtrack back cover to The Dirty Dozen


Closing out the decade with a true musical entity, Paint Your Wagon’s soundtrack included this simple watercolor of Marvin in the inside gatefold….


Inside watercolor portrait of cover to Paint Your Wagon of Lee.

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