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The Adventure Begins With Safan’s “Remo Williams” and Mancini’s “Moneychangers”

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Raise your hand if you remember the golden age of the television miniseries!  Once upon a time, the miniseries was king:  Rich Man, Poor Man, QB VII, North and South, Roots, The Thorn Birds.  Sprawling novels were translated into multiple evenings of rich, dramatic television, with the small screen taking advantage of a length that even big screen fare couldn’t offer.  One such miniseries was 1976’s The Moneychangers, based on a novel by Arthur Hailey (Hotel, Airport) and scored by the same man who would go on to win an Emmy for The Thorn Birds: Henry Mancini.  The man born Enrico Nicola Mancini was the perfect choice for the miniseries format, well-versed in the grandeur of Hollywood cinema and the necessities of dramatic scoring.  But while Mancini wrote one of his most ambitious scores (at nearly two-and-a-quarter hours’ length!) ever for The Moneychangers, a soundtrack recording was never released.  35 years after the miniseries’ premiere, Intrada is releasing the full Henry Mancini score on a special 1,500-copy limited edition 2-disc set.  But that’s not all!  The label has also announced a reissue of Craig Safan’s soundtrack from the 1985 pulp-inspired adventure film Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins!  That one’s a 1,000-copy limited edition.

Arthur Hailey found unexpected drama in the machinations of a bank in his 1975 novel The Moneychangers.  When a miniseries was shot the following year, a powerhouse cast was assembled.  Kirk Douglas and Christopher Plummer led the ensemble as two executives with very different moral codes.  Douglas is kindly and ethical, while Plummer is avaricious and self-centered.  As they vie for control of the financial institution, those around them are caught in a web of intrigue.  The supporting cast is filled with familiar names and faces, including Anne Baxter (All About Eve), Ralph Bellamy (Rosemary’s Baby), Timothy Bottoms (The Last Picture Show), Hayden Rorke (I Dream of Jeannie), James Shigeta (Flower Drum Song), Lorne Greene (Bonanza) and Robert Loggia, a favorite character actor of director Blake Edwards.  Edwards, in turn, was the most frequent collaborator of Henry Mancini.

The Moneychangers’ director Boris Sagal intended to heighten the drama and the human situations of what could have been a cold story, and Mancini matched his vision musically.  Intrada’s first-ever release of the score is sequenced in four parts, as the film was.  The sweeping, expansive score offers lush romantic themes, suspenseful action cues and customary combo pieces.  The license for release was granted by CBS to Intrada but the release wasn’t made possible until the bass trombonist from the sessions located the original ¼-inch full-track mono safeties of the complete score!  The line-up of players assembled by Mancini was expectedly top-notch, drawing on many of the same key players who had contributed to his best-selling albums over the years.  Players like Ted Nash, Vincent DeRosa, Graham Young, Dick Nash, Bob Bain, Terry Woodson and Shelly Manne all delivered that unique Mancini sound; Mancini, of course, conducted.  As the only piece of music previously available was the re-recorded main theme on the Mancini’s Angels LP, much of The Moneychangers will be a major surprise to even the most dedicated Mancini fans.  (This is, in fact, the perfect complement to Intrada’s first Mancini world premiere of the year, March’s Trail of the Pink Panther.)

There’s more adventure, Remo Williams-style, after the jump!

Unlike The Moneychangers, the score to Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins has previously been released on CD.   But the last edition on Perseverance Records reversed the channels; even the master tapes were incorrect in this regard!  Intrada’s new release happily introduces the correct channel balance, adds source music to the program’s conclusion and slightly re-indexes the tracks.  Remo Williams was based on the pulp adventure stories in The Destroyer, a series of novels about an American government operative which began in 1971.  Like Henry Mancini, composer Craig Safan was at home on both the big (The Last Starfighter) and small (Cheers) screens, and for Remo Williams, he employed a number of colors including orchestra, synthesizers and even a group of Korean musicians for a sound that was authentic to the film’s setting. 

Without a doubt, Remo Williams is eighties action/adventure in high-flying style.  Director Guy Hamilton’s film starred Fred Ward as the titular character, supported by Wilford Brimley, Kate Mulgrew and Joel Grey.  Already an Oscar and Tony winner, Grey received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as Williams’ martial arts master Chiun.  Though the film didn’t achieve blockbuster status, it nonetheless spun off a television pilot which didn’t lead to a full series; that pilot starred Jeffrey Meek as Williams and the venerable Roddy McDowall  as Chiun.

The limited editions of both The Moneychangers and Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins are available for pre-order now from Intrada.  The 2-CD Moneychangers sells for $29.99 while the single-disc Remo can be had for $19.99.  You’ll find pre-order links below!

Henry Mancini, The Moneychangers: Original Soundtrack (Intrada Special Collection 172, 2011)

CD 1: Part One, Tracks 1-17 & Part Two, Tracks 18-34

  1. Main Title
  2. Son of Main Title
  3. Bye Bye Roselli/Willing to Forget
  4. Taco and Salsa
  5. Alex and the Hoods
  6. Missing Money
  7. Tall Building/Basta
  8. Clean Hands
  9. Good News
  10. Celia/All About Celia
  11. Margot
  12. The Fireplace Ploy
  13. March of the Moneychangers
  14. Here Comes Mrs. Dorsey
  15. Wainwright Hates Easton
  16. Key Change Ad Music/Drummonburg, Here I Come
  17. Miles Behind
  18. The Snitch
  19. Visit to the Morgue
  20. The Big Q
  21. Karla (Once is Not Enough)
  22. Welcome to the Bahamas No. 1
  23. Avril’s Theme No. 1
  24. Avril’s Theme No. 2
  25. Welcome to the Bahamas No. 2
  26. Avril’s Theme (Guitar/Orchestra)
  27. It’s Done
  28. Easy Money Montage
  29. Pull the Drapes
  30. Free Lunch
  31. Lunch Money
  32. Let Them Eat Cake
  33. Ain’t For Sale
  34. Fire Bomb

CD 2: Part One, Tracks 1-13 & Part Two, Tracks 14-25

  1. Fade In
  2. Trick or Treat
  3. I’ve Missed You
  4. Miles Returns
  5. An Idea/Buzz Saw
  6. H.E.L.P./Flamenco
  7. Face to Face/Margot Loves Alex
  8. Good Things Take Time/Mucho Gusto Senor
  9. Something for Miles
  10. Stay Out of It
  11. How Was Church/We Will We Will
  12. Good as Gold/The Big Q Slips
  13. The Big Bug
  14. The Deacon Speaks
  15. I Heard
  16. Hang On
  17. Find Him
  18. White Girl Boogie/Black Girl Boogie
  19. Purchase is Approved
  20. Meet the Wizard
  21. For Money/One Guess
  22. The Shootout
  23. Roscoe Takes a Cab
  24. The End
  25. End Credits

All tracks previously unreleased.

Craig Safan, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Intrada Special Collection 177, 2011)

  1. Main Title
  2. Knife
  3. Rear Ended
  4. Remo Steals Ambulance/Chiun
  5. Rooftop Running
  6. Obstacle Course/Bad Gun
  7. Wonder Wheel
  8. Remo Floats
  9. Plot Thickens/Statue
  10. Liberty Chase
  11. Remo’s Revenge
  12. Wet Cement
  13. Chiun and Remo
  14. Smart Dogs/Rats
  15. Escape/Mac Self Inflicts
  16. Mt. Promise
  17. Gas/Chiun Returns/No Brakes/Little Father
  18. Remo Runs for Chiun/Carpet Bombs/Log Ride/Log Jump
  19. Grove Gets Up
  20. Chiun Walks on Water
  21. Remo’s Big Ending
  22. TV Soap Opera
  23. Calliope No. 1
  24. Calliope No. 2
  25. Plot Thickens (Alternate Mix)
  26. Elevator Encounter

Tracks 1-22 previously issued in slightly different form on Perseverance PRD-010, 2006

Written by Joe Marchese

July 26, 2011 at 08:31

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