A Land Flowing With Milk and Honey
This week heralds the long-awaited arrival of Tadlow’s complete recording of Ernest Gold‘s score for EXODUS (1960). The Oscar-winning score has been a favorite of mine since my early days of Oscar-related film score discoveries. The sound quality of the score in the film and on subsequent issues of the soundtrack, while vibrantly conducted, has suffered from poor sound quality. Tadlow’s recording will remedy that problem, I’m sure.
Based on Leon Uris’s bestselling novel, EXODUS stars Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint and recounts the events that led to the foundation of the State of Israel. The film made movie history when director Otto Preminger hired blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and openly credited him for scripting the film, effectively breaking the Hollywood Blacklist. (Actor/producer Kirk Douglas also hired Trumbo to script SPARTACUS that same year, in turn openly crediting the blacklisted writer.) Today the film is more well-remembered for Ernest Gold’s popular main theme.[audio:exodus.mp3]
Gold said he spent 18 days on the famous EXODUS theme trying to “make it really work right.” Gold thought the “Theme from Exodus” was “too serious and too longhair for popular appeal.” But its instrumental version has been covered by artists such as Ferrante & Teicher (which went to #2 on the charts), Mantovani, and Peter Nero. While Pat Boone penned lyrics to the theme, calling it “This Land Is Mine,” and recorded it, along with versions by Andy Williams and Connie Francis. The theme is still sampled in today’s music by rappers like Ice-T and Nas.
Though Gold struck Oscar and literal “gold” with the “Theme from Exodus,” he may have lived to regret it. When his marriage to Marni Nixon dissolved, it was rumored that as part of the settlement, he had to turn over all of his rights to the theme to her.
The “Theme from Exodus” went on to win Song of the Year at the 1961 Grammys (the only instrumental theme to win that award), and the album won for Best Soundtrack Album. The theme drove the soundtrack to the top of the Billboard charts, remaining at Number One for 14 weeks. While the previous year’s ON THE BEACH put Gold on the map, EXODUS rightly sent him into film music superstardom. If the video below is any indication, Tadlow’s new recording will be worth 49-year journey it has taken to hear the complete score.