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February 5, 2001:
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On the Beach/The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1959/1969)
Music by Ernest Gold
On the Beach/The Secret of Santa Vittoria On the Beach/The Secret of Santa Vittoria On the Beach/The Secret of Santa Vittoria
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $19.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: June 2002
Catalog #: Vol. 5, No. 7
# of Discs: 1

FSM tackles a film composer gravely unrepresented on CD with a doubleheader by Ernest Gold: On the Beach (1959) and The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969), both films directed by Stanley Kramer, with whom Gold shared his most fruitful collaboration.

On the Beach is an "event" picture dealing with the deadly aftermath of a nuclear war: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins and Fred Astaire star among the last survivors of humanity, waiting for a radioactive cloud to engulf them on the Southern coast of Australia. The film was the first to depict the serious consequences of nuclear war and cemented Kramer's reputation as a "message" filmmaker.

On the Beach was Ernest Gold's first major picture after toiling on "B" movies for over a decade, and he responded with a gorgeous, symphonic score. He used as his main theme (per Kramer's wishes) the traditional Australian song "Waltzing Matilda," but developed it into multiple, ingenious variations -- everything from an anthem for humanity, to a love theme, to a dirge for the end of the world. The composer wrote two love themes for the film's romantic subplots, and adventuresome, Herrmannesque scoring for a submarine mission to the dead coast of California.

Ten years after On the Beach, Kramer and Gold collaborated on The Secret of Santa Vittoria, a period comedy starring Anthony Quinn in which a rustic Italian village hides a million bottles of wine from the German army during the closing days of World War II. Gold's score is a melodic slice of "Italiana," complete with a love theme (performed in Italian and English by Sergio Franchi), joyous celebration cues, suspenseful Nazi march, and mammoth setpiece (for the hiding of the wine).

FSM's CD premiere features the stereo LP configurations of both On the Beach (for which the complete session tapes are lost) and The Secret of Santa Vittoria (for which the original soundtrack exists only in mono and would not fit on the CD; the stereo LP is a re-recording faithful to the film orchestrations). The Santa Vittoria portion adds a previously unreleased instrumental version of the main theme. The illustrated 24-page booklet includes detailed liner notes and rare color photographs from On the Beach (a black and white movie).

Ernest Gold Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Ernest Gold (1921-1999) was born in Vienna and moved to the U.S. in 1938 to escape Hitler. He orchestrated for George Antheil and scored dozens of B-movies in the 1940s and '50s, before his score for On the Beach led to significant feature scores of the 1960s including Exodus and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. He was renowned for the high quality and sophistication of his symphonic writing. IMDB

Comments (6):Log in or register to post your own comments

We (I) typed one of the On the Beach track titles incorrectly. It should be "Australian Summer Night." Sorry, Ernest!


We (I) typed one of the On the Beach track titles incorrectly. It should be "Australian Summer Night." Sorry, Ernest!

Now you tell us! :)

We (I) typed one of the On the Beach track titles incorrectly. It should be "Australian Summer Night." Sorry, Ernest!


What would life be like without proof readers? :D :p :D

And I suppose it would be bad form at this late date to point out that the guy on the right in the picture on page 5 of the liner booklet for WHERE EAGLES DARE/OPERATION CROSSBOW is NOT Brian G. Hutton. He's buried somewhere in LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL and doesn't look much like this Paul Mazursky lookalike.

Great buy at 15 bucks, I love this one - 'Beach' is good, but 'Santa' is the
kicker for me - a really great, sleeper italo-tribute, like a long lost Nino
Rota score, but in a good way, not a temp track ripoff.
Charming stuff, and even the movie is worth seeing (always a helpful bonus).

Personally, since I heard it first, Chris Gordon's ON THE BEACH is THE last word
on that topic, one of my all time favorite scores - may be blasphemy to some, but
I think the world is big enough for both scores.

Love Ernest Gold. Wish he'd been able to write more original music for On the Beach. Even though he was unwillingly saddled with Waltzing Matilda, he makes very effective use of it, but overall I too give the edge to the latter score (accompanying film of which is not fit to be in the same room with the original, however). I also think very highly of the original novel.

Christopher Gordon's score for the remake is actually a candidate for my favorite score of all time (no joke)...I think Goldsmith, or Rozsa, or Newman, or Bernstein, or Friedhofer would've been proud to write such an amazing score.

And in regards to a recent thread about Gordon...I like Moby Dick a hell of a lot but he *definitely* topped it with On the Beach. This score should be worshipped as a masterpiece but it only is by a privileged few.


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