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 Posted:   Dec 6, 2012 - 12:14 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

WARNING! This is an article-length post.

I made this for personal research, but thought it might be interesting to share here on the forum.

I'm on an eternal quest to see everything John Williams ever scored, but much of the TV material, in particular, is really hard to find. See this thread for more general musings on the quest:

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=86871&forumID=1&archive=0

However, I was finally able to see all the episodes of KRAFT SUSPENSE THEATER (1963-1965) that John Williams scored, and below follows a walkthrough of said episodes – 18 in total. Williams was not the only high-profile composer working on the show. Other luminaries included Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Lalo Schifrin and Pete Rugolo. And of course a whole lot of musical tracking, as was customary at the time. Like most anthology shows, however, it was never released on VHS or DVD, and the music tracks seem to be lost.

In general, the quality of the episodes vary. I was surprised by how many of them focus on domestic settings, courtroom drama and crime investigation. There is rarely "action" and outdoors adventure. Most of it is psychological, relying on character interactions.

At some point, I will probably try to rip some of the Williams tracks that stand out, where there's very little sound effects and dialogue. That would be the closest I ever get in terms of a "soundtrack", I think. Zooba has actually done a few already, but I want to focus even more on the dialogue/sound-free sequences, making them as musically worthwhile as possible.

-----------------

Season 1

Episode 1 & 2: The Case Against Paul Ryker, Part 1 & 2

I haven't seen this 2-part pilot episode, but a few years later (1968) they used the material for the feature film presentation SERGEANT RYKER, and that I have seen. See this previous thread for more about film and score:

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=81123&forumID=1&archive=0

Episode 3: The End of the World, Baby

Set in the Riviera, a love triangle drama occurs as both mother and daughter fall in love with the same man. Williams either tracks or uses the Ryker theme for much of this episode. Other noteworthy moments include some funky source music (for a pool and party sequence, respectively), as well as some very dramatic climax/murder music.

Episode 4: A Hero for Our Times

High-ranking bureaucrat Lloyd Bridges is witness to a murder in the adjacent building while visiting his mistress. The striking thing here is the sultry jazz sax, almost film noir-like theme. There's also a fair bit of jagged brass for the suspense scenes as well as some jazzy source music in a restaurant scene. For the most part, there's a lot of rather discrete dialogue music.

Episode 5: Are there any More Out There Like You?

After a hit-and-run accident, a high-ranking politician tries to find out if it was his daughter or her friends that drove the car. Love the opening tamtam music that reminded me a bit of the Leonard Bernstein-like opening of DADDY-O. There's also a cute jazz rendition of "Jingle Bells" used as source music in a hotel – hope this is Williams' arrangement. Music in this episode is rather sparse, and usually used for segues (intros and outros).

Episode 6: One Step Down

Wife of absent doctor Leslie Nielsen is about to have an affair at a motel when the guy keels over and dies, probably from alcoholism. She's torn between telling the truth or hiding it. The interesting thing here is that the score is written almost exclusively for strings – very Bernard Herrmann-style, whether used in a motif style or pizzicato.

Episode 7: The Machine that Played God

A girl accidentally gets her husband killed while driving up the wrong freeway ramp, and doubts her own innocence after taking a lie detector test. For the most part, it's mostly rather non-descript string writing for a few key moments – basically runs up and down the scale. Again rather sparse.

Episode 8: The Long, Lost Life of Edward Smalley

Soldier Edward Smalley (Richard Crenna) accidentally kills his commanding officer during WW2, and needs to stand court martial while he ponders his own guilt. Robert Altman wrote and directed. The main thing, musically, is a brass motif that sounds like a precursor to the suspenseful brass motif from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, in addition to a beautiful use of vibraphone in a dream sequence.

Episode 9: The Hunt

Unlucky traveller James Caan's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. He gets tangled up in the twisted ways of hillbilly sherriff Mickey Rooney and his gang, who like to hunt prisoners for sport. Finally some outdoors adventure in this show! Again there are some interesting and dramatic brass motifs, but the striking thing is the atonal piano plunkings for when Caan rummages through the sheriff's office. Very avantgarde!

Episode 10: The Name of the Game

A brilliant 'architect' knows the name of the game while playing the dice in Las Vegas, and enters into a collaboration with millionaire Pat Hingle, not knowing that his love interest is in to hussle him. In this Sidney Pollack-directed episode, the music is very sparse. Mostly jazzy source cues in the casino, plus a brief "love" theme for the architect and his deceitful mistress.

Episode 11: The Deep End

A bit confusing storyline, but a private investigator tries to find out if the drowning of a woman working at a construction company was accidental or a murder. He's hired by the woman's sister, played by a young and gorgeous Ellen Burstyn. There's some source music again, and a reappearance of the Ryker theme (during a meeting at the elevator), but the really cool thing is an almost JAWS-like ostinato for when the murderer attacks and drowns the victims, rising from below – 11 years before he wrote JAWS!

Episode 14: Leviathan Five

A group of scientists get trapped in an underground facility and make an arrangement of who's going to live and who's going to die. They face their moral dilemmas in a court of law. David Giler of ALIEN fame wrote the episode, and it seems to have some of the 'isolated people' aspects that the famous sci fi film had. Very cleverly and smart written. There seems to be a lot of tracked music here – the Ryker theme as well as the brass motif from "The Hunt", plus some original suspense writing.

Episode 16: The Action of the Tiger

An American POW escapes from a German Stalag camp to deliver vital information to the French resistance. While on a train, he encounters the "help" from an undercover German officer (Telly Savalas). There is more action in this episode and some really intense suspense. Again, the Ryker theme appears (could this be Williams' recurring 'leitmotif' for the series?), some brass motifs and flourishes and a pretty cool percussion-only segment in the opening.

Episode 18: The Threatening Eye

A psycho woman with a hilarious French-Canadian accent tries to hussle a man out of money, killing his wife in the process. There are some wild string harmonies a la "One Step Down" here, with some occasional dramatic brass.

Episode 20: Knight's Gambit

A man named Knight is hired to investigate the corruption charges of a retired (and alchoholic) politician vacationing in Mallorca, falls in love with his wife and needs to choose sides as the mafia people who payed the politician off arrive on the island. The storyline is a bit confusing at times, and also a bit boring. There are some swingin' cocktail/pop source music for the festivities at the steamboat, a super-sweet soap opera-type love theme and some wild suspense/action music, relying on a descending riff.

Episode 21: Once Upon a Savage Night

I haven't seen this episode either, but I've seen the film version which was made (similar to SERGEANT RYKER) called NIGHTMARE IN CHICAGO (1964), directed by Robert Altman. You can read more about the film and score in this thread:

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=85885&forumID=1&archive=0

Episode 27: The Robrioz Ring

Set in some pittoresque coastal village at the west coast, Mario Robrioz (Robert Loggia) tries to get back the ring his mother pawned, wooing the vacationing woman who bought it. This episode feels very dated in terms of sex stereotypes, especially the woman who constantly apologizes to Robrioz, even though he is the transgressor. There is some wonderful pastoral writing for woodwinds, a few highpitched soap opera strings, a little bit of source music (piano), and lots of music with little dialogue. Should be possible to rip some really good tracks from this one.

Season 2

Episode 1: The World I Want

An elderly man wants to change his will and give everything to his niece, since his own wife is a psycho. The wife, in turn, resorts to some pretty drastic measures. The title of the episode is the voiceover story the niece is writing. This is a very bad episode, with lots of overacting and a ridiculous "German" accent. The best thing about it is Leonard Nimoy as the lawyer who changes the will. However, there's some really nice flute writing for the niece, a reappearance of the CE3K string motif for the chase sequences as well as some "standard" TV suspense music.

Episode 15: Four Into Zero

Four guys plan to heist a train, steal some money plates and forge a million dollars while on board the train. Their wives become suspicious. Williams' score is quite monothematic; there's the main theme (which I've heard somewhere before, I can't place it....sounds a bit CE3Kish) is arranged according to setting -- a western/"train"-like arrangement, one for the city and a love theme version of sorts. There's also some very dramatic, staccato writing for the climax sequence. Pretty cool music (as you can hear from zooba's clip above).

--------------

I tried to see if there were any other episodes scored by Williams, but I couldn't find any. Whenever the credit reads "Kraft theme by John Williams", he didn't score it (it was either tracked or scored by other composers), and that was the credit for the others throughout the two seasons of this show. If anyone knows something I don't (Jeff Eldridge?), I'd love some info, though.

One last thing – did Williams write anything (new) for the spin-off/replacement(?) show KRAFT MYSTERY THEATER?

 
 Posted:   Dec 6, 2012 - 6:57 PM   
 By:   thx99   (Member)

Excellent post, Thor!! cool

Two notes:

  • Williams also scored "Four Into Zero" (season 2, episode 15) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0622141/

  • Themes composed by Williams for the earlier TV series Wagon Train pop up in various Suspense Theatre episodes, in arrangements that differ from the originals. For example, in "A Truce to Terror", when the main character stops in at a bar for a drink, a jazzy arrangement of the song "Golden West" from the Wagon Train episode "The Jenny Tannen Story" can be heard in the background. And the song "Tomorrow" from the same Wagon Train episode plays in "The Trains of Silence" during a scene featuring Jeffrey Hunter and Tippi Hedren in a hotel lounge.

  •  
     
     Posted:   Dec 7, 2012 - 12:16 AM   
     By:   zooba   (Member)

    Here's 8 minutes of music from Johnny Williams Kraft Suspense Theater score for the episode "FOUR INTO ZERO":

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA9Ad-d4MJ8

     
     
     Posted:   Dec 7, 2012 - 2:08 AM   
     By:   Thor   (Member)

    Excellent post, Thor!! cool

    Two notes:

  • Williams also scored "Four Into Zero" (season 2, episode 15) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0622141/

  • Themes composed by Williams for the earlier TV series Wagon Train pop up in various Suspense Theatre episodes, in arrangements that differ from the originals. For example, in "A Truce to Terror", when the main character stops in at a bar for a drink, a jazzy arrangement of the song "Golden West" from the Wagon Train episode "The Jenny Tannen Story" can be heard in the background. And the song "Tomorrow" from the same Wagon Train episode plays in "The Trains of Silence" during a scene featuring Jeffrey Hunter and Tippi Hedren in a hotel lounge.

    Thank you for that! I'll try to seek out "Four Into Zero" and add it to the list.

    I will be making a similar thread on WAGON TRAIN shortly, with comments on each individual episode he did (that I can find). But I wasn't aware that some of the music was used in KST.

  •  
     Posted:   Dec 7, 2012 - 7:33 AM   
     By:   thx99   (Member)

    I will be making a similar thread on WAGON TRAIN shortly, with comments on each individual episode he did (that I can find). But I wasn't aware that some of the music was used in KST.

    "Tomorrow" also makes an appearance in another series partially-scored by Williams, Bachelor Father, in either "A Phone for Kelly" or "Bentley and the Kleptomaniac" (I'd have to double-check). In the scene, Bentley Gregg (John Forsythe) puts on a record to set the mood with his dinner date, and an instrumental rendition of "Tomorrow" can be heard.

     
     
     Posted:   Dec 7, 2012 - 7:48 AM   
     By:   Thor   (Member)

    That's cool with the cameos here and there. BACHELOR FATHER is a series I've yet to check out properly (even though there are a few episodes on youtube). It's a bit tough to see those old American sitcoms, Williams music or not. But hopefully, I'll work my way through it at some point just as I worked my way through GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

     
     
     Posted:   Dec 9, 2012 - 1:40 PM   
     By:   Thor   (Member)

    OK, I've added "Four Into Zero" to the list above.

     
     Posted:   Dec 9, 2012 - 6:14 PM   
     By:   Jeff Eldridge   (Member)

    As I mentioned in another thread, KRAFT MYSTERY came before KRAFT SUSPENSE; it wasn't a spinoff.

    "Tomorrow" shows up in lots of Universal/Revue shows of the period, not just in shows/episodes scored by Williams.

     
     
     Posted:   Jun 1, 2013 - 11:36 AM   
     By:   KonstantinosZ   (Member)

    I was under the impression that the "Once upon a Savage night" episode -that was reworked to "Nightmare in Chicago"- was unaired, but now - reading the liner notes in Nightwatch too and seeing other lists here in the internet - i understand it did air!

    I can't understand where did i read that it was unaired!

     
     
     Posted:   Jun 1, 2013 - 1:28 PM   
     By:   Thor   (Member)

    I was under the impression that the "Once upon a Savage night" episode -that was reworked to "Nightmare in Chicago"- was unaired, but now - reading the liner notes in Nightwatch too and seeing other lists here in the internet - i understand it did air!

    I can't understand where did i read that it was unaired!


    Maybe you confused it with NIGHTWATCH? I know several people (well, 'several' being relative in this narrow niche) who do.

     
     
     Posted:   Jul 4, 2013 - 12:05 PM   
     By:   KonstantinosZ   (Member)

    Ok.
    Now I got it why I thought it was unaired. (although i'm still not sure if it did air or not).
    You yourself write in the first post, that he scored 18 episodes.
    I guess you got the information from the FSM guide which says that he scored 16 episodes in Season 1, and 2 episodes in Season 2.
    But with "Once upon a Savage Night" that's 19 in total! (17 in season 1)!
    Unless the first 2 episodes about Ryker are taken for 1.
    So, what's is it?

    Did it air as a Kraft Suspense Theatre episode?

    (by the way: I saw the episode online with commercials. So maybe that means that it did air?)

     
     
     Posted:   Jul 4, 2013 - 12:08 PM   
     By:   Thor   (Member)

    Some of it is from the FSM guide, some of it was edited when I made this thread (or the "jungle" one) by Jeff Eldridge.

    Yeah, as you can see from the list above, I count the "Ryker" episode as one, 2-part episode. To my (and Jeff's) knowledge, there are no more Williams-scored episodes beyond the ones listed here.

     
     
     Posted:   Jul 4, 2013 - 12:12 PM   
     By:   KonstantinosZ   (Member)

    To my (and Jeff's) knowledge, there are no more Williams-scored episodes beyond the ones listed here.

    Yeah, I know.
    But i was wondering, when he wrote the guide if he counted the 2 first episodes as one, or if he didn't count the "once upon a Savage night", to get the figure 18.

     
     
     Posted:   Jul 4, 2013 - 12:14 PM   
     By:   Thor   (Member)

    To my (and Jeff's) knowledge, there are no more Williams-scored episodes beyond the ones listed here.

    Yeah, I know.
    But i was wondering, when he wrote the guide if he counted the 2 first episodes as one, or if he didn't count the "once upon a Savage night", to get the figure 18.


    Ah, OK. Well, I can't speak for Jeff, but as he himself has said -- there is a lot of information that has surfaced since that was written in the 90's. I crave for an updated, edited version of it, but I'm not sure he wants to do one. By now, I have a lot of information myself (and so do you), so together we can create the ultimate JW Buyer's Guide for the early stuff.

     
     
     Posted:   Sep 6, 2014 - 9:26 AM   
     By:   KonstantinosZ   (Member)

    Ok, i watched the Williams scored episodes (except episode 20. I'm gonna watch it now) and I have some observations.

    First of all: what you call The Ryker theme is not the Ryker theme.
    This theme is fully developed and varied in episode 3 (in my opinion the 2nd best score of all these episodes) and I assume they took it from there and used it in a few places in the TVmovie of Ryker.
    I too haven't seen the original 2 episodes, so I'm not sure if it is used there, but I'm 100% certain that it's a theme originally scored for episode 3 where it fits like a glove.
    So, if the theme is indeed used in the TV episodes of Ryker, i would assume that Williams scored episode 3 first.

    Now, some later episodes also used tracked music. The things I noticed were these:

    ep11 uses music from ep3
    ep14 uses music from ep3, 6, 9, 8
    ep16 uses music from ep3, 9
    ep18 uses music from ep6

    I think these episodes don't use any original music at all, but I'm not entirely sure.
    I wouldn't believe that Williams composed some new music for these episodes, and the rest was tracked, but that the whole score is tracked from various episodes.


    So, it seems Williams scored much less episodes than we thought, and all the others used tracked music.
    Although i thought at first, that maybe he didn't have time to score them, then I thought, why didn't they use another composer? anyway..

    of all the episodes, I think the BEST score is for the last episode of season 1!
    Trully magnificent overall work.
    And generally the music of this series should be released!!

     
     Posted:   Sep 6, 2014 - 10:50 AM   
     By:   Jeff Eldridge   (Member)

    of all the episodes, I think the BEST score is for the last episode of season 1!
    Trully magnificent overall work.
    And generally the music of this series should be released!!


    The last episode of Season 1 was "A Cruel and Unusual Night," which I believe was tracked. But if by "last episode" you mean the last one with an original score ("The Robrioz Ring"), then I agree, that contains some truly outstanding music. Other standouts from the first season include "The Hunt" and "One Step Down."

    During this time frame Williams also scored three episodes of Chysler Theatre, the Gilligan's Island pilot and The Killers (originally scheduled to be the first made-for-TV movie, but released to theaters instead).

     
     
     Posted:   Sep 6, 2014 - 11:35 AM   
     By:   KonstantinosZ   (Member)

    of all the episodes, I think the BEST score is for the last episode of season 1!
    Trully magnificent overall work.
    And generally the music of this series should be released!!


    The last episode of Season 1 was "A Cruel and Unusual Night," which I believe was tracked. But if by "last episode" you mean the last one with an original score ("The Robrioz Ring"), then I agree, that contains some truly outstanding music. Other standouts from the first season include "The Hunt" and "One Step Down."

    During this time frame Williams also scored three episodes of Chysler Theatre, the Gilligan's Island pilot and The Killers (originally scheduled to be the first made-for-TV movie, but released to theaters instead).


    oh, yes, I'm sorry I should have clarified.
    I meant the last episode of season 1 of the John Williams scored episodes.

    And after that I really liked the music of episode 3 as I said.
    The main theme was excellently developed and used in various ways...
    (perhaps Williams saw that it was a very good and flexible theme that's why he used it again 2-3 times)

    i also remember very good chase music from episode 1 of season 2 that reminded me of Close Encounters but I have to check that.
    edit: Oh, i see Thor already mentioned that!

     
     Posted:   Sep 12, 2014 - 1:02 PM   
     By:   Krakatoa   (Member)

    Thanks so much for all this great information!

    It is fun to compare this theme with the other Johnny Williams 1960's TV themes.

     
     
     Posted:   Sep 13, 2014 - 10:30 AM   
     By:   Kev McGann   (Member)

    bump

     
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