Film Music Review
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Original MGM Motion Picture soundtrack.

Music composed and conducted by Heinz Roemheld.

37 Tracks (Playing Time = 45:49)

Album produced by David Schecter and Kathleen Mayne. Digital editing and mastering: Graham Newton. Layout: Teresa Hogenson. Liner notes: David Schecter.

Monstrous Movie Music MMM-1961

Rating: ***1/2

Limited edition of 1000 units


For those who, like me, grew up with the 1950s paranoia about The Bomb and radiation and how it might destroy the world - or at least cause insects and other pests to grow to giant size - the cheaply made films like THE MONSTER THAST CHALLENGED THE WORLD were lots of fun, though extremely implausible.

As David Schecter writes in his liner notes:

Obviously, the scientific accuracy of the titular beast wasn't the point of the motion picture, nor was the film's title a model of exactitude, because the fluid-sucking horrors never really challenge anything, although it's postulated that if not destroyed, they might one day seriously menace the entire planet.

What makes a film like this so enjoyable is the credible acting and script. Schecter rightfully credits a good script by Pat Fiedler (her picture is included in the liner notes foldout), who writes dialogue and situations that are very believable, with Gail MacKenzie (convincingly played by the beautiful Audrey Dalton - shown in picture at right) a no-nonsense type of woman, and Lt. Commander John "Twill" Twillinger (played by a somewhat bloated though equally convincing Tim Holt) as the military hero who saves the day, but not in the usual macho way like so many of today's sci-fi hunks.

Unfortunately, in this case, I believe that the score by Heinz Roemheld isn't particularly memorable. His years spent at Universal scoring sci-fi films perhaps made him less than inspired to compose something really different. Like so many of these scores, Roemheld uses lots of punching brass outbursts and repeated patterns to accompany the action. This type of scoring was more effectively employed in such films as CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (Herman Stein, Henry Mancini, Milton Rosen, Hans Salter, Robert Emmett Dolan), TARANTULA (Herman Stein, Henry Mancini), or even a film that Roemheld worked on titled, THE MOLE PEOPLE. All of these scores were released on CDs by Monstrous Movie Music, who has made it their mission to re-record these 1950s scores as accurately as possible to the originals.

In the case of THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD it is the original MGM soundtrack not a re-recording and the sound quality is quite good for a recording from over 50 years ago.

Most of the cues are quite brief.

This is demonstrated in the extremely short "Fanfare" (0:16) and "Main Title Title" (1:25), with mostly brass and strings introducing a rhythmic downward theme which is jagged and dissonant and not particularly memorable but introduces the film's story about giant mollusks. Most of the many cues (33 of them!) on this soundtrack don't have much of great melodic interest but are meant to accompany the action cues.

Probably the most appealing is Roemheld's lovely love theme, which is actually from a song titled, "Full of Love." This theme is heard at several points in the score, especially in a pleasant instrumental dance version on track 22 ("Mexico, Pt. 2" - 3:07). "Full of Love" is also included on two of the Bonus Tracks: the first one with harmonica and orchestra (track 34, 1:57) and the other a nicely sung version by an unidentified studio singer, with words by the prolific and future Oscar-winning lyricists, Marilyn and Alan Bergman (track 35 - 2:19).

As with all the MMM CDs, David Schecter's liner notes are lengthy, witty and very informative. The accordion type of foldout design is a bit awkward to handle but it is definitely worth the effort because the notes are really worth reading. Also included are a few film stills, some nice pictures of Heinz Roemheld and the strikingly beautiful actress, Audrey Dalton.

Though this isn't in the top category of '50s sci-fi fun flicks, it manages to adequately do its job. Schecter's excellent liner notes and the art layout by Teresa Hogenson are especially worthy of praise.

Another recommended CD release in the worthwhile series from Monstrous Movie Music .

And don't miss that final cue of the Bonus Tracks. It's quite a Hit!

-- Roger L. Hall, 24 May 2011

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