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Ice Station Zebra (1968)
Music by Michel Legrand
Ice Station Zebra Ice Station Zebra
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $19.95
Limited #: 10000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: February 2003
Catalog #: Vol. 6, No. 2
# of Discs: 1

Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music

Ice Station Zebra (1968) is a Cold War thriller following a U.S. submarine and its mysterious British passenger on a top-secret mission to the North Pole. Based on a novel by Alistair MacLean, the film features fine performances by Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Ernest Borgnine and an all-male supporting cast. The combination of realistic military protocol and high-adventure espionage—as well as groundbreaking special effects and production design—won the film many admirers, among them the late Howard Hughes.

Michel Legrand was best-known for pop-based scores like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Thomas Crown Affair, but was no less creative and dynamic in the symphonic Hollywood idiom (The Three Musketeers). His score for Ice Station Zebra is at once epic yet also offbeat, with powerful main themes dressed in an intricate web of mystery and suspense. The film is first and foremost a military story, but in Legrand's hands it becomes almost like a Cold War ballet, with a polished, artistic sheen to its danger. Legrand himself provided the terrific orchestrations and conducted the 75-piece orchestra in a five-channel stereo recording.

Ice Station Zebra was released on LP at the time of the film, a 30:14 program reissued on CD by Pendulum Entertainment Group in 1997 (now out-of-print). FSM's premiere release of the complete score runs 79:20 (including deleted cues), is resequenced into film order, and remixed from the original master elements for significantly improved sound. It is the definitive presentation of the Ice Station Zebra soundtrack.

Michel Legrand Scores on FSM
About the Composer

French composer Michel Legrand (b. 1932) is a heralded composer, songwriter and performer whose film projects range from seminal "new wave" films of the 1950s and '60s to Hollywood projects like The Thomas Crown Affair and Ice Station Zebra, capable of everything from traditional symphonic scores to offbeat pop and classical approaches. He was particularly tuned into the pop Zeitgeist in the late 1960s and early '70s, and often performed (piano and voice) on his soundtracks. He continues to stay active as a composer and performer for film, records and concerts. IMDB

Comments (24):Log in or register to post your own comments
First off, I don't care for Legrand's music for films that much, however having said that, I jumped at the chance to get this CD. The music is inventive, experimental, beautifully orchestrated and exciting. The recording quality is superb. The track titled Entr' Acte was used for years as the theme to The Million Dollar Movie shown weekday afternoons when I was growing up. It brings back great memories. Highly recommended even, if like me, you don't normally like Legrand.

Interesting take.

I happen to LOVE Legrand, both his film music and non-film music (the French new wave stuff is the best).

I saw this bloated, overly drawn out movie recently, and I thought that much of the music was, in the context of the film, over the top and completely inappropriate.

Especially the grandiose, romantic music when the submarine surfaces a few times. I guess I'd feel romantic too if a giant cylinder was headed toward me.

Maybe this music works well on its own - I've never found the LP - but I thought it really stuck out in movie. Stuck out, so to speak.

I'm with Mark on this one. I like a lot of M. Legrand's film music though find his seminal score to The Thomas Crown Affair somewhat questionnable.

As for the subject film, I accept that it is far from perfect, enjoyable if not very good (the story in the novel is far, far superior) but one of the best things about it is M. Legrand's score. So what if the theme for the submarine is romantic ... we landlubbers are often told that seafarers love their ships/boats ...

... and for the atmospheric underwater sequences, the score is simply wonderful. That pinging sound is so effective!

I enjoyed the album score (re-recorded) greatly; I couldn't believe just how much better the score became with FSM's superb release.

Edit: apologies ... I had always thought the original vinyl album was a re-recording but Mr. Kendall states otherwise. The FSM CD release simply sounds so much better!

It's not a score to play regularly but find the time to listen to it all-through, preferably in the evening, turn the lights out so all you have are the twinkling lights of your hi-fi display, whatever and relax. It's a wonderful listening experience.

I find that really good scores by composers I like tend not to call attention to themselves. I really felt that ISZ DOES call attention to itself in parts.

Now, check out some of the French New Wave films that Legrand scored early in his career- if you can find them.

There is a companion disc to the Legrand Cinema box set that is focused exclusively on this sub-genre. Most or all of the films are represented on the box set, but the single disc features more music from each of them.

As for Thomas Crown, that whole movie is all about style - it's like a 1968 Playboy Cutty Sark ad come to life. Legrand's music is a part of that style.

I do agree that the music sticks out (and I find this happens with a number of Legrand's "straight" dramatic scores) in the film--for me the film is a great guilty pleasure. But the score is a tremendous experience on its own outside the film. Unfortunately I think the prevailing notion recently is that no one should notice the music in a movie which is why film music has gotten so boring lately.

I am very found of this score. Just so there is no confusion: the original MGM Records releases was in fact the original soundtrack, albeit quite abridged. FSM's CD is the complete score.


I guess a problem with a post like this is whether we are reviewing the music on CD or the music as it is used in the film (or both). Since this is a comments section for the FSM CDs, then I think it should probably only reflect the music as presented on CD. I also agree that the music did not fit the film all that well in spots. Nevertheless, I think the score on CD is fantastic and should be judged in the context of music on CD only for these posts. Of course maybe that's just me.

Looking at other aspects of a score may be better served as a regular board topic. The problem may be that the CD comments also appear in the general board and may be indistinguishable from a regular post. Since this is a new thing on the website, there's bound to be growing pains. Maybe any type of post is welcome for the FSM CD comments. Perhaps Lukas might want to chime in on this and let us know what he had in mind.

I have learned that trying to steer these conversations onto one topic or another is like trying to stop the ocean. As long as nothing breaks the few rules we have -- no politics/religion, no bootlegs, a general respect for one another -- let's see where it goes.


This was always one of my favorite scores, I loved it that FSM put it out.

Scuzi 4 Going Slightly Off-Topic (but it's all Jeff's Fabulous Fault ;))Department:

Quite an astute assessment there, Meester Bee, and one we usually wholeheartedly subscribe to.

Mind you, there are specific exceptions to that general rule. Fer instance, we were profoundly surprised at his muscular main title (and subsequent exciting flourishes) for

which, against all odds, remains our favorite of his. Your take on that? ... :)

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Track List
Click on each musician name for more credits

Leader (Conductor):
Michel Legrand

Israel Baker, Harry Bluestone, Henry Arthur Brown, Herman Clebanoff, James Getzoff, Thelma Hanau (Beach), Anatol Kaminsky, Jerome Kasin, George Kast, Bernard Kundell, Alfred Lustgarten, Joy Lyle (Sharp), Alexander Murray, Lou Raderman, Sally Raderman (aka Sarah Kreindler), Ambrose Russo, Sidney Sharp, Jack Shulman, Joseph Stepansky, Gerald Vinci, Heimann Weinstine, Gertrude Weiss (Schrager)

Myer Bello, Alvin Dinkin, Cecil Figelski, Allan Harshman, Myra Kestenbaum, Virginia Majewski, Reuben Marcus, Robert Ostrowsky

Justin DiTullio, Raphael "Ray" Kramer, Lucien Laporte, Frederick R. Seykora, Eleanor Slatkin, Gloria Strassner

Milton Kestenbaum, Abraham Luboff, Peter A. Mercurio, Keith "Red" Mitchell

Louise M. DiTullio (Dissman), Sylvia Ruderman, June Russo

Norman Benno, William Criss, Arnold Koblentz

Dominick Fera, John Neufeld, Hugo Raimondi

Charles A. Gould, Norman H. Herzberg, Jack Marsh

French Horn:
John W. "Jack" Cave, Vincent N. DeRosa, Arthur Frantz, William A. Hinshaw, Arthur Maebe, Jr., Richard E. Perissi, Harry Schmidt, Gene Claude Sherry

Emanuel "Manny" Klein, Uan Rasey, George Werth, James C. Zito

Randall Miller, Richard Noel, George M. Roberts

John T. "Tommy" Johnson

Artie Kane

Catherine Gotthoffer (Johnk), Dorothy S. Remsen

Larry Bunker, Frank L. Carlson, Sheldon "Shelly" Manne, Emil Radocchia (Richards)

Orchestra Manager:
James C. Whelan

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