The Cincinnati Kid:
Lalo Schifrin Film Scores Vol. 1, 1964–1968
This 5CD set presents a quintet of 1960s Lalo Schifrin feature film scores from M-G-M, along with some noteworthy bonus tracks. The 28-page booklet accompanying this release includes: complete track listings; film stills, behind-the-scenes photographs and original LP cover art all whipped up into a eye-popping package by FSM art director Joe Sikoryak; and an extensive essay about Lalo Schifrin’s work on these projects by film music authority Jon Burlingame.
The following online notes written by Alexander Kaplan and Lukas Kendall (please use the menu at right to navigate between the films) supplement those in the booklet by providing detailed analysis of each track as well as information about recording dates and tape sources. These notes are also available in PDF format for easier printing.
Rhino! (1964) was Schifrin’s first Hollywood score, for an African safari adventure starring Robert Culp and Harry Guardino.
Once a Thief (1965) was a film noir directed by Ralph Nelson and starring Alain Delon. FSM presents the contents of Schifrin’s 1965 Verve LP, Once a Thief and Other Themes, along with the previously unreleased original soundtrack.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965) may be Schifrin’s best-known M-G-M score from the 1960s. Disc 3 features the contents of the MGM Records album as well as the complete original soundtrack.
The Venetian Affair (1967) was a Cold War thriller starring The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s Robert Vaughn, with a moody and unusual score featuring cimbalom. Disc 4 also includes the contents of the MGM Records LP for Sol Madrid (see below).
Sol Madrid (1968) starred the other lead from The Man From U.N.C.L.E., David McCallum, as an undercover narcotics agent on assignment in Mexico. Disc 5 presents Schifrin’s complete original soundtrack to Sol Madrid along with a short program of “Lalo Schifrin at M-G-M” bonus tracks:
- 24. Theme From Medical Center
- In 1969, Schifrin scored the M-G-M TV movie UMC (an acronym for “University Medical Center”), which served as the pilot for the long-running series Medical Center (1969–1976). The first season of Medical Center used no music for the opening credits and Schifrin’s UMC theme for the end titles. For the second season, Schifrin composed a new, mod-flavored theme in which the melody emerges from an electronic wail as an ambulance speeds toward the hospital. In a 1987 interview with Jon Burlingame, Schifrin revelead, “I see an ambulance coming, and I thought, why not do the siren so that the sound becomes [a musical] pitch? So I did it with a big Moog synthesizer.” The composer recorded this extended version of the theme on September 18, 1970, for release as a single; it became the featured track on his 1970 LP collection, Medical Center and Other Great Themes (MGM Records SE-4742).
- 25. The Haunting (Inspired by the M-G-M Motion Picture The Haunting)
- Schifrin composed this subtly Latin theme (with wordless chorus), “inspired” by Robert Wise’s 1963 M-G-M horror film The Haunting, for a 1963 MGM Records single (K13163). Completely unrelated to Humphrey Searle’s score for that film, the recording (made in New York on July 2, 1963) also appeared on the aforementioned Medical Center and Other Great Themes LP. This particular master comes from the MGM Records album for The Prize, in which “The Haunting” figures as one of the B-side tracks supplementing the Jerry Goldsmith selections from that film. The only stereo master to Schifrin’s “The Haunting” appears to be in “electronic” stereo.
- 26. Venice After Dark (The Venetian Affair, single recording)
- On October 19, 1966, Schifrin recorded two tracks from The Venetian Affair for release as a single on MGM Records (K-13670). This extended version of the opening cue in the film (“Venice After Dark,” disc 4, track 1) is the B-side from the single, which appears to have been mixed only in monaural sound. The first-generation master presented here features a light stereo reverb to enhance listenability.
- 27. Our Venetian Affair (The Venetian Affair, single recording)
- The A-side to Schifrin’s The Venetian Affair single showcased this choral version of the film’s end title song (with lyrics by Hal Winn).
- 28. Main Title (The Mask of Sheba)
- On March 9, 1970, NBC aired The Mask of Sheba as a Monday Night at the Movies presentation. Writer-producer Sam Rolfe, a veteran of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. intended it as a pilot (for a series called Quest) but the network failed to pick it up. Eric Braeden stars as a proto–Indiana Jones adventurer leading a team of international archaeologists who, in the opener, search for a priceless gold mask in Ethiopia. Schifrin provided an enjoyable score (recorded on January 29, 1970) and this rousing title theme combines heraldic fanfares with a mod, rock-flavored bridge. The soundtrack survives only in monaural sound, here given a light stereo reverb.
- 29. A New Hope/Earth II Theme (Earth II)
- Like The Mask of Sheba, the TV movie Earth II (originially broadcast on November 28, 1971) served as a pilot for a show that never made it to series. Writer-producers Allan Balter and William Read Woodfield (both veterans of Mission: Impossible) attemtped to capture the futuristic realism of 2001: A Space Odyssey; not coincidentally, Earth II starred one of the actors from that film, Gary Lockwood, alongside Anthony Franciosa and Mariette Hartley. The plot concerned a futuristic space station (“Earth II”) attempting to establish itself as a sovereign nation in orbit (the pilot movie contains more political machinations than pure science fiction). Recorded on March 16 and 18, 1971, Schifrin’s score features this memorable main title theme that captures the optimism and futurism of the show with a symphonic-mod fusion, featuring innovative use of synthesizer. —