It’s fair to say that Jerry Goldsmith’s score to Lionheart is considerably more remembered than the film for which it was written. Directed by his good friend and longtime collaborator Franklin J. Schaffner, Lionheart was a troubled production that underwent significant cuts after Goldsmith scored the film. This resulted in most of the score being cut and manipulated (often sped up, sometimes slowed down) for the final theatrical cut. On at least four occasions, cues were omitted entirely (“Bondage,” “The Black Prince,” “The Future” and “Final Fight”), while at other times they would be dialed out for no apparent reason, such as the lengthy “Robert and Blanche,” which plays for only half a minute in the picture.
Journalist Tim Greiving, who wrote the liner notes to Varèse Sarabande’s new Deluxe Edition of the score, offered some informed speculation on The Goldsmith Odyssey podcast that Schaffner probably did not have final cut on his film, and therefore was not responsible for the terrible treatment of his friend’s music in the finished product. It is hard to imagine that the director would have opted to remove the three cues “Robert and Blanche,” “Bondage” and “The Black Prince” in particular, as they are all instrumental in establishing thematic material for characters and relationships in the film. When restored to picture, each of these three fit their respective scene perfectly with no additional editing, clearly indicating that they were not removed merely as a consequence of failing to fit the sequences after the movie was altered.
“Robert and Blanche” plays in the film for only 35 seconds, beginning on a shot of the moon and then underscoring Blanche’s dream sequence where she sees a vision of King Richard and his crusaders, banners held high, galloping along a beach and accompanied by King Richard’s fanfare-like theme on synths. The cue in the movie ends as Blanche awakens just after a hint of Robert’s theme accompanies a shot of his spurs appearing in the foreground, and the characters’ subsequent first scene together plays without any musical accompaniment.
As restored to the film, the full length of Goldsmith’s almost four-minute cue perfectly hits every turn of the scene. Robert’s theme first returns, tying the vision of his spurs in Blanche’s dream to her seeing them again in real life upon awakening. Blanche’s theme plays delicately as the two characters regard each other for the first time. Her melody is briefly interrupted by hints of the playful theme for her brother Michael, which sound as he wakes up as well, and a bit too eagerly denies the theft in which he recently took part. A particularly lovely rendition of Blanche’s melody plays as Robert dismounts and examines her injured ankle, and the melody swells again for a shot of them traversing the landscape as a party of three. Michael’s mischievous theme then returns for the subsequent sequence of he and Blanche looting a farm for supplies. The cue ultimately ends on a skillful string sustain as the film returns to another shot of the moon, bookending the full cue as intended, with it deftly tying together the events of a single day and the forging of a new relationship.
The subsequent two cues in question (intended to appear back-to-back in the movie) fared even worse, being not only excised entirely, but also omitted from all versions of the soundtrack album until their premiere on this month’s Deluxe Edition, thanks to Douglass Fake of Intrada saving a dupe tape of the recording sessions for reference purposes. Alas, we do not have these in the same sound quality as the rest of the score, but when restored to picture, they make a huge difference as they introduce a new character theme and accompany the introduction of the film’s primary antagonist, The Black Prince, played by Gabriel Byrne. “Bondage” is intended for a scene of Blanche doing a tarot card reading as our protagonists shelter from a storm in a secluded abbey. The evil Black Prince himself appears in the very next scene, spied by Robert from above after he enters the abbey.