Damn The Defiant, Behold A Pale Horse/Parker and Jarre

June 10, 2007


As British sounding as if it were written by Vaughan Williams the proud and majestic main theme from Damn The Defiant by Clifton Parker is the highlight of this 152nd release from Film Score Monthly. Originally titled H.M.S. Defiant the 1962 film directed by Lewis “Alfie” Gilbert starred Sir Alec Guinness, Alex Quayle, and Dirk Bogarde. The film tells the historical story of one ship during the late 18th century and its struggles during the Spithead Mutiny and finally the battle with the French. This is not a film that one thinks of when the word mutiny comes up. Hornblower,Billy Budd,Mutiny on the Bounty, and even Caine Mutiny, are all titles that one thinks of before this film and yet it is a well acted film about the horrors of sailing in the British navy. Some of the practices that the British did during this time frame were as horrific as slavery.

If the name of the film evokes stare eyes from you the composer will likely do the same. Even some soundtrack collectors would be hard pressed to name 5 films that Clifton Parker scored. Until the release of this FSM CD the other available recording is the Chandos 10279 release, a compilation of 9 of his films. Other than a Colpix lp of this recording and a couple of disney lp releases there has been little else. The main title ( “Damn the Defiant”), its not really, but labelled as such, is the best of the best in terms of a good old fashion sea chanty. Apparently there were some liberties taken in what went where in putting together the album (done by Jack Lewis) but Lukas has managed to sort through everything and explain exactly what music is with what scene. To set the record straight the actual main theme is on track 3 (“Midnight on the Defiant”) a very coronation like theme appearing between two underscore motifs. Both themes are repeated in “The Mutineers”, and “Meeting at Rochefort”. A romantic cue of sorts appears in “Sailing With the Tide” as Captain Crawford says goodbye to his wife. There are also two additional themes found in “Unrest Among the Crew” and “The Defiant Reaches Corsica”. The overall length of the material is a scant 28 minutes and really less than that when you consider that some of the cues are merely repeats of other cues. While short in length, the available material is an excellent example of how well ‘sea’ music can and should be written. The conducting by Muir Mathieson, a very respected conductor of soundtrack material, does nothing but enhance the material even more!

Behold A Pale Horse(1964), directed by Oscar winning director Fred Zinnemann and starring Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif, and Anthony Quinn told the story of the bandit Artiguez (Peck) and the unrelenting Vinolas (Quinn) who will stop at nothing to catch him during the Spanish Civil War time frame. Time has not been kind to the psychological thriller and it has been mostly a forgotten film.

Maurice Jarre approached the majority of this score with a delicate nature using spanish guitar, percussion and flute for the main theme used in many of the tracks. It is a memorable march theme which will be remembered by this reviewer as similiar in style to the theme from Grand Prix, another Jarre score. The issue that comes up with this soundtrack is the constant repeating of the theme over and over and over again something that seems to be a trademark with scores of Jarre. There is a small amount underscore material but alas very little on this soundtrack.

The price of admission on this offering is the Parker material, some of the finer seafaring music written. It alone is worth the price and perhaps in time the Jarre material will grow upon you a bit.

Golden Score Rating for Damn The Defiant (****1/2)

Golden Score Rating for Behold A Pale Horse (*1/2)

Produced by Lukas Kendall

FSM Vol. 10 No. 4

Track listing

1. Damn the Defiant! Main Title (03:05)

2. Vizard Theme (02:01)

3. Midnight on the Defiant (02:54)

4. Sailing With the Tide (01:55)

5. Unrest Among the Crew (02:12)

6. The Defiant Reaches Corsica (03:00)

7. Meeting at Rochefort (02:33)

8. The Mutineers (02:17)

9. Aboard the Defiant (01:58)

10. Crawford at Vizard’s Deathbed (02:18)

11. The French Retreat (02:00)

12. Damn the Defiant! End Title (01:13)

(1-12 from “Damn the Defiant! by Clifton Parker, 1962)

13. Main Title (02:20)

14. Paco Leaving Spain (02:45)

15. Paco at the Frontier (03:06)

16. Paco Arrives in Pau (02:06)

17. Spanish Street (02:22)

18. Manuel’s Decision (01:45)

19. Manuel and Girl in Cafe (02:56)

20. Manuel Crossing Pyrenees (03:03)

21. Manuel in San Martin (03:06)

22. Father Francisco in Hospital (01:51)

23. Father Francisco’s Conscience Struggle (02:50)

24. Manuel Studies Map (02:30)

25. Exile March (02:40)

26. Spain Regained (03:08)

(13-26 from “Behold a Pale Horse” by Maurice Jarre, 1964)

Total Duration: 01:03:54


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