Mission:Impossible/Lalo Schifrin/Part No. 1

June 1, 2006


In 1966 Lalo was quite active in both television and films. In addition to Mission: Impossible he scored the Dean Martin film Murderer's Row, Doomsday Flight a made for TV film, T.H.E. Cat a television series, and Way… Way Out for Hollywood. 168 episodes were filmed between 1966-1973 during which time the show was nominated for 17 emmy and golden globe awards with 8 wins including a grammy to Lalo in 1968 for his unique score. The Bruce Geller creation in addition to the cast of Peter Graves, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain (wife of Martin), Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus also featured such notables as Leonard Nimoy, Sam Elliott, Lynda Day-George, Lesley Ann Warren, and Barbara Anderson. The theme released as a single in 1968 was on the Billboard Top 100 chart for 14 weeks in 1968. The theme, like Dragnet or Perry Mason is synonymous with Mission Impossible and has carried over to a second tv series and now three movies. The theme has been used in countless sound bites, commercials, and is quite popular on telephone answering machines, making Mr. Schifrin a lot of money.

Recorded on October 4-7 in 1967 the orchestra featured a star studded lineup of jazz musicians such as the likes of Ray Brown, George Roberts, Ronnie Lang, Mike Melvoin, and Vincent De Rosa. In addition to the infamous main theme, "The Plot" was also recorded and has ended up being used almost as much as the main Mission: Impossible theme! Featuring the brass carrying the melody with harmony being provided by the harpsichord this theme actually did not originate from this television series but a series called Jericho. Available on the Film Score Monthly label FSM Vol. 8 No. 6, "The Upbeat and Underground" track while not copied note for note is lets say a variation on a theme of "The Plot." On this Dot LP the five main characters Jim, Rollin, Cinnamon, Barney, and Willy all had themes or leitmotifs written for them. Cinnamon's theme called "The Lady Was Made To Be Loved" was not written by Lalo but by the series creator Bruce Geller along with help from Jack Urbont. It is a nice romantic song featuring the alto sax of Bud Shank and written close enough in style to what Schfirin might have written to blend in nicely to the album. "Operation Charm" is something that reminds me of the style of Nelson Riddle with the muted trumpets harmonizing with the orchestra and the piano solo featuring Lalo Schifrin. "The Sniper" is a quicker tempo with just a hint of "The Plot" theme played by the strings but it quickly moves into a showpiece for Bill Plummer on Sitar an instrument quite in vogue during this time period. It is also playing along with a neat harpsichord solo by Lalo Schfirin. The beginning of "Barney Does It All" is quite reminiscent of the same style of music featured in Bullitt, as is "Mission Accomplished" with the exception that it ends as the album began with the Mission Impossible main title. The overall feel of the album is the 60's with that light jazzy percussion emphasized style of music. Through in a little sitar and harpsichord and you have some classic Lalo Schfirin from this time era. As noted by the creator Bruce Geller "when the main title of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE was made, it was built around the music, not scored afterwards." Usually of course it is the other way around! Even some of the other sequences have been handled the same way-the music dictating the editing.


Dot DLP 25831 is the recording that is referred to in this article.  However, the music has been reissued on Hip-O Records HIPD-40021 and also MCA MCD 80069 with two additional tracks.  I would recommend that you try and find any of these recordings as they are an excellent starting point to the wonderful world of Mission Impossible music. 

The next recording of note is The Best Of Mission Impossible GNP 8029 Crescendo records.  This will be discussed in part no. 2 as this recording is still available.



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