The Power

From 1937 to 1963, not a year went by in which Miklós Rózsa did not score one or more (sometimes several more) films. But with the completion of The V.I.P.s, Rózsa was ready to lay aside his Hollywood career and devote himself full-time to his growing catalog of concert works. With ne’er a backward glance, he completed (or at least started) four major orchestral scores (Notturno Ungherese, the Sinfonia Concertante and concerti for piano and cello) as well as his second choral motet, The Vanities of Life. Yet just as he was ready to start work on the last movement of the cello concerto, he received what he referred to his in autobiography as “The Call” from his friend and fellow Hungarian expatriate, producer George Pal, calling in a promise the composer had made to score one of his pictures “someday.” That “someday” had arrived and the picture was The Power (1968).

Given the five-year break from film work and the intervening focus on the concert half of his “double life,” it is not surprising that the composer brought renewed enthusiasm, creativity and imagination to Pal’s film. The music for The Power is a virtual “concerto for orchestra” in which Rózsa paints with complex instrumental colors and dances with vigorous rhythms. Its striking combination of well-honed skills developed over decades of film-scoring experience and the fresh perspective brought by his recent immersion in concert work resulted in a score quite unlike Rózsa’s music for the preceding epics.

Rózsa’s longtime orchestrator and fellow Hungarian, Eugene Zador, had retired from film work with The V.I.P.s, so veteran orchestrator David Tamkin handled The Power, with Bill Stafford arranging three jazz source cues (tracks 27–29). Rózsa’s great musicianship and artistic voice were such that it would take a highly trained ear to tell the difference (if there is any) between a Zador-orchestrated cue and a Tamkin-orchestrated cue—although both musicians surely assisted Rózsa in their ability to prepare full orchestrations from his sketches on a deadline.

Until now, this pivotal score has been known to exist (apart from the film) only in the form of a proposed soundtrack LP master created by Jesse Kaye but ultimately never issued by MGM Records. With a tape from the composer’s own library as the most likely source, film music historian Tony Thomas produced two unauthorized issues of a 30-minute album sequence, first on LP in 1978, and then on CD in 1994. As the original scoring masters could not be found and were presumed lost, FSM used this same ¼″ stereo master to release the first authorized CD of The Power in 2005 (FSM Vol. 8, No. 2), coupled with Russell Garcia’s score to another George Pal production, Atlantis: The Lost Continent. Interested readers should refer to the booklet from that CD release for more information on The Power and its score.

The original plan for this box set involved using monaural acetates (stored at USC) to reconstruct the complete score to The Power—until a last-ditch search for elements at Warner Bros. turned up a delightful surprise: the complete 35mm three-track stereo scoring masters in the studio vaults, apparently recently discovered and added to the studio’s computer inventory. (The cimbalom that pervades Rózsa’s score was more often than not recorded on a “fourth track” of a separate strip of monaural 35mm film, synched with a three-track 35mm for the orchestra—even this turned up, as every last piece of film was found.) The result is this stunning CD of the entire score in glorious stereo, which finally does justice to the composer’s musical invention and kaleidoscopic orchestrations.

1. Prelude 1M1
Rózsa’s manic opening cue complements The Power’s pulsating title card while shuttling through the score’s principal ideas: an angular rising brass fanfare, the connotations of which remain a mystery until the film’s conclusion; a bouncing diminished motive characterized by alternating steps and leaps; and the score’s most prevalent melody, the “Gypsy theme,” a hypnotic tune for cimbalom (recorded as a separate overlay) that culminates in a series of rising fifths. This exotic idea is Rózsa’s musical evocation of Adam Hart and “the Power” itself. The theme’s introduction is matched to a cutaway image of the cimbalom being played on screen.
2. Endurance Test 1M2
Government supervisor Arthur Nordlund (Michael Rennie) arrives at the San Marino laboratory and observes as Prof. Tanner (George Hamilton) performs an endurance test on a student volunteer. A disturbing escalation of rising clusters and trills underscores Tanner projecting a concentrated beam of energy onto the forehead of his test subject, until the student can no longer withstand the pain.
3. First Manifestation 2M1
Prof. Hallson (Arthur O’Connell) is intent on proving that one of the seven scientists in his research group possesses dangerous psychokinetic abilities and arranges a test. Tanner is doubtful but becomes a believer when “someone” psychically rotates a sheet of paper stuck on an upright pencil. Rózsa underscores the first manifestation of the Power with the Gypsy theme, accompanied by whirling textures that mimic the spinning paper.
Hallson Dies 3M1
The force associated with the cimbalom theme turns deadly when Hallson is assaulted in his office by the unseen Power. The Gypsy theme returns with symphonic accentuation.
4. Death in the Centrifuge 3M2
Hallson spins in an out-of-control flight simulator while Tanner attempts to shut down the machine. Rózsa punches up the sequence with frenzied sixteenth notes and an octatonic trumpet line derived from similar material in the main title. The cue reaches an exclamatory climax as the machine stops and we see Hallson’s corpse, his eyes and tongue bulging out of his head. The opening 0:18 of “Death in the Centrifuge” has been restored for this box set; the suspenseful string and cimbalom material accompanies Tanner and his lover/colleague Prof. Lansing (Suzanne Pleshette) discovering the name “Adam Hart” written on a piece of paper in Hallson’s office.
Recognition 3M3
The diminished motive sounds ominously when Mrs. Hallson (Yvonne De Carlo) is brought in to identify her husband.
5. The Bird 4M1
Tanner is framed for the death of Hallson. The disgraced professor wanders down a city street and stops to look through the window of a toyshop. The Gypsy theme sounds when a toy bird seemingly comes to life (via stop-motion animation), winking and squirting water at Tanner.
Toy Soldiers 4M2
Tanner steps into the shop and observes as a battalion of mobile toy soldiers fire their little muskets at him. A quaint march for the toys gives way to the cimbalom theme as the professor is bewildered.
6. The Merry-Go-Round 4M3/5M1A
The Power continues to take hold of Tanner; when a “Walk/Don’t Walk” sign warns him with “Don’t Run,” he flees into a funhouse. The professor’s subsequent hallucinatory spell affords Rózsa the opportunity for one of the score’s most violent cues, a demented, dissonant waltz that spirals out of control while Tanner unsuccessfully attempts to collect his wits. The cue further develops the frantic octatonic writing from “Death in the Centrifuge” (track 4) as he clings for dear life to a carousel horse. The Gypsy theme resurfaces when the merry-go-round stops and Tanner collapses.
7. Desert Agony 6M2
Tanner travels into the desert to visit Hallson’s hometown and find out more about his colleague’s mysterious old friend, Adam Hart. A suspicious gas station attendant, Bruce (Aldo Ray), offers Tanner a ride to Hart’s shack but winds up assaulting the professor and leaving him stranded in the middle of the desert. Tanner wanders the scorching landscape to the accompaniment of a miserable, descending variation on the “Prelude” fanfare. The material intensifies as he finally arrives at a grove of trees, where inquisitive winds sound for Bruce gleefully driving past a sign that reveals the location to be an aerial gunnery range. A subsequent scene of Tanner narrowly surviving a barrage of airstrike missiles is unscored.
8. Shadow in the Darkness 6M3
The descending development of the “Prelude” fanfare is reprised for the aftermath of the airstrike. The scene transitions to Bruce’s house at night, where Rózsa develops the fanfare menacingly amidst grunting, rhythmic material as Tanner sneaks in through the window and approaches a sleeping Bruce. Tanner proceeds to interrogate Bruce about Adam Hart after the cue ends.
9. Viva L’Amour 6M4/7M1
This source cue underscores Tanner’s visit with Mrs. Hallson, who has mysteriously been deprived of some of her memories. The relaxed Spanish-flavored cue was written for guitar duo; its presentation here is the full-length recording of the piece.
10. Nocturnal Visit 7M2
Tanner retreats to Lansing’s apartment. Rózsa’s foreboding cue marks his arrival with undulating, low-register clarinet and bassoon.
Attack 7M3
Tanner is ambushed by another colleague, a knife-wielding Prof. Melnicker (Nehemiah Persoff). Rózsa unleashes a ferocious assault from the bottom of the orchestra: low-end, odd-meter piano hammers away with flute and xylophone as Tanner overcomes Melnicker.
11. Hallgató 8M1 Alternate
Tanner, Lansing and their new ally Melnicker hide in a crowded hotel lobby where a Hungarian-flavored source piece is performed by an onscreen trio of violin, cello and cimbalom. The Gypsy theme plays teasingly when Tanner spots a stand of newspapers, all of which bear the headline, “Don’t Run!” (recalling the possessed traffic sign). He is relieved to see that the full headline actually reads, “Mayor Tells Candidate: Don’t Run!”
12. The Power Csárdás 8M1A
A Hungarian dance tune is performed by the trio at the hotel. Tanner is disturbed when he sees the cimbalom being played (suggesting that he has been aware of the instrument’s threatening presence in the score throughout the film). The csardas continues as Tanner hustles himself and his colleagues into a party at the hotel.
13. The Elevator 9M1
After Melnicker is killed by the Power, Tanner decides to interrogate Arthur Nordlund. The Gypsy theme sounds when the Power suddenly takes hold of Nordlund in the garage of his apartment building. Tanner and Lansing arrive to see the government agent collapse inside a Power-possessed elevator that proceeds to whisk him upward. Furious imitative material underscores Tanner and Lansing running upstairs to intercept Nordlund; Tanner reaches the top of the elevator shaft and as he uses a cable to lower himself toward the now-stationary elevator, the score mimics his descent with a plummeting motive. The “Prelude” fanfare is threateningly developed over the Gypsy theme’s persistent bouncing open fifth when the elevator suddenly begins to rise and threatens to crush Tanner against the shaft’s ceiling. Tanner breaks into the elevator in the nick of time and revives Nordlund, to a reading of the Gypsy theme.
14. Disappointment 10M1
The low woodwind writing from “Nocturnal Visit” (track 10) is reprised as Tanner visits the house of yet another colleague, Prof. Van Zandt (Richard Carlson).
Pursuit 10M2
After he is denied access to Van Zandt, Tanner is nearly mowed down by a car driven by an unseen foe Tanner suspects is Adam Hart. The ensuing car chase is underscored with fleeting statements of the Gypsy theme as Tanner is overcome by another spell. Chattering brass and mallet percussion accompany a statement of the “Prelude” fanfare when Tanner drives his car off a bridge.
15. Babble Pit 11M1
Tanner suspects that Prof. Talbot Scott (Earl Holliman) is Adam Hart and faces him down in an empty auditorium (the think tank’s “babble pit”). As Tanner sneaks up on Scott, Rózsa follows suit with tentative brass writing, slowly building tension out of his tritone-focused suspense material. When Tanner reveals himself, Scott pleads for his life; he proceeds to knock out the protagonist and tries to escape but the police arrive. Frantic ascending material surrounds the “Prelude” fanfare as Scott retreats to the auditorium’s stage, where he finds a gun. This box set features the full-length recording of “Babble Pit,” including the diminished motive and the plummeting idea from “The Elevator” (track 14) for Tanner’s confrontation with Scott.
The Revolver 11M2
The Gypsy theme takes hold of Scott as he opens fire on the police and is in turn shot dead. This version of the cue features the Gypsy theme voiced on woodwinds rather than the cimbalom used in the film version.
16. Dejected 12M1
Tanner wanders down an empty laboratory hallway to a murky reprisal of the “Prelude” fanfare’s variation from “Desert Agony” (track 7). The material takes a fateful turn when he picks up one of his old journals and reads a passage that explains, “It is the vulnerability of the heart that links pain to death itself.” The diminished motive plays suspensefully as he proceeds down the hall to find Lansing awaiting him.
17. Adam Hart 12M2
The elusive Adam Hart is revealed to be Arthur Nordlund. Rózsa matches the creeping cimbalom theme to a cutaway of a performance on the instrument when Hart presents himself to Tanner and Lansing; a pounding heartbeat is laid over this material in the film.
Transformation 12M3/12M3A
Hart paralyzes Tanner and the cue builds intensity with rising chromaticism under the film’s effects-laden climax. Tanner envisions himself freezing, then burning, then falling, and Rózsa plays up the wild imagery with grandiose statements of the Gypsy theme dressed with cold mallets and growling brass until Tanner passes out.
18. The Killer Killed 12M4
The seemingly broken Tanner fixes his gaze on Adam Hart and we learn that Tanner possesses the Power as well—and in greater measure than Hart. Rózsa underlines this revelation by recapitulating the rising fanfare from the “Prelude,” which has been Tanner’s theme all along. The theme plays over an unraveling bass line and rises sequentially as the villain’s heart threatens to pound out of his chest. Hart falls dead, acknowledged with a rapid-fire descending piano line and low-end string writing.
The End 12M5
Rózsa gently reprises the “Prelude” fanfare as Tanner discusses his newfound potential with Lansing.
End Cast 12M6
A full-blooded rendition of the Gypsy theme plays through the end credits.

Source Music

19. Gypsy Eyes (Theme From The Power) 8M1
This is a “concert” arrangement of the cimbalom melody, here voiced on solo violin, recorded as an alternate to “Hallgató” (track 11). Although this version of the theme does not appear in the film, it will be familiar from FSM’s previous Power CD.
20. Andante Cantabile 2M2
The middle section from the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s first string quartet emanates from a record player in Lansing’s apartment while she and Tanner enjoy a cozy evening together.
21. Fun House 4M3
This unused, garish circus waltz was written for the sequence in which Tanner suffers from his Power-induced spell in the fun house.
22. Saguaro Serenade 5M2
Rozsa composed a collection of country source cues for the sequence in which Tanner travels into the desert to research Adam Hart. This cue for fiddle, guitar and bass plays in a gas station/café where Bruce’s wife (Barbara Nichols) hits on Tanner.
23. The Old Folks 5M3
This unused piece for harmonica, guitar and bass was meant to play as Tanner questions Hallson’s parents about Adam Hart.
24. Cactus Waltz 5M3A
Bruce pulls up outside the Hallsons’ home in his jeep and offers to take Tanner to see Adam Hart’s shack; this country waltz is heard on Bruce’s jeep radio.
25. Desert Gaiety 6M1
After Bruce knocks Tanner out of the jeep, he pulls the vehicle around to inspect the unconscious professor. Rózsa’s final country cue plays on the radio as Bruce admires his own handiwork.
26. Grover’s Rock 8M2
Tanner and his colleagues hide out at a hotel party, at which this funky bit of late ’60s rock ’n’ roll (composed and arranged by M-G-M’s Harold Gelman) is played by a small onscreen combo led by two electric guitars and keyboard.
27. The Willow 8M3
This smooth jazz band arrangement of Rózsa’s theme from The V.I.P.s plays at the same party; Tanner attempts to keep Melnicker awake by fixing him up with Sylvia (Beverly Powers), a sexy party girl.
28. The Power Mower 8M4
Tanner suffers from another Power-spell at the hotel party. As he dizzily observes couples dancing to a peppy rock number, the cimbalom theme clashes against the pop and underlines his disorientation.
29. Sylvia’s Strip 8M5
This sleazy piece of jazz plays on a phonograph as Sylvia attempts to entice a seemingly sleeping Melnicker with a provocative dance. When she plants a kiss on his lips and he fails to respond, she realizes that he is actually dead and shrieks.


30. Hungarian Dance #4
31. Hungarian Dance #1
Rózsa recorded two source cues prior to filming (on May 10, 1967), most likely for the hotel lobby trio. Although they stylistically resemble Rózsa’s finished score, they are actually two dances (from a set of 21) by Johannes Brahms, probably arranged by Rózsa. They were replaced by Rózsa’s original compositions for the finished film. —