The Valley Of Gwangi/Moross

March 25, 2010

Re-released as digital only download on 03/16/10

Moross spent much of his early career in Hollywood as an orchestrator working on such films as Our Town and North Star (Copland), The Best Years of Our Lives, Joan of Arc, and The Bishop’s Wife (Friedhofer), Since You Went Away (Steiner) and many others. Friedhofer gave Moross a free hand with his orchestrations so it is pretty easy to hear his sound in certain parts of The Best Years of Our Lives, Hugo’s Oscar winning score. While you can’t hear his sound in the Copland pieces Our Town was his first orchestrating assignment and they remained good friends over the years. With the exception of his Oscar nominated Big Country, War Lords, Huckleberry Finn, and The Cardinal only small parts of his remaining scores have been recorded thanks to Silva Screen. This digital only release of the 1995 Silva SSD 1049 CD includes Sharkfighters, Rachel, Rachel, The Valley of Gwangi, Five Finger Exercise, Mountain Road, War Lord, Wagon Train, and Huckleberry Finn, a nice introduction to this sadly neglected composer.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960) is a wonderful bright and bubbly theme that has that Moross sound. One might think it’s almost an extension of his Big Country score if you’re only familiar with the main theme. The four tracks included are a good representation of the complete score which is available on Film Score Monthly FSMCD Vol. 6 No.9.

Five Finger Exercise (1962) is a radical departure and sounds like it could have come from a modern video game with its swarming strings, deep bass, and science fiction sound. Though a short 5+ minutes it makes the listener wanting for more.

The main theme from Wagon Train, popular television in the 50’s and 60’s will almost bring a tear to your eye, another pure Americana piece.

War Lord is another available as a complete release on Varese VSD 5536. This compilation offers the listener 11+ minutes of the score. It is written as one would expect to hear, a slightly knightly baroque sound filled work with well thought out orchestration. Moross also wrote classical works and this work shows some of that influence.

Parts of “The Sharkfighter Overture” sound like a Broadway musical in the style of West Side Story. Other sections sound like a travel soundtrack. It is filled with Polynesian rhythms and harmony, dissonant brass chords, and music to remind one of beautiful white sandy beaches. In reality it was a film about the military developing a repellant to prevent sharks from attacking. Starring Victor Mature and Karen Steele this is one of the forgettable efforts from Hollywood except for the music. The Broadway influence certainly came from the fact that Jerome was also very involved in dance music for the stage.

Rachel, Rachel and The Mountain Road are both fine examples of his Americana style with Rachel offering some delicate style music. I love the beginning with the flute and oboe leading before the romantic strings takeover. Mountain offers more of that scenic western open range with mountains and blue sky another suite which is written in the style of The Big Country.

While the score to The Valley of Gwangi still has that Moross flavor it also has to have that science fiction sound as the plot of the film involves a tale of a cowboy who captures a dinosaur and puts it in a Mexican circus which is which is why the film has become a midnight madness cult picture.

This download is a wonderful way to introduce you to Moross beyond his classic Big Country. With the huge amount of releases over the past several years we can only hope that some of his material will be included in the future. Recommended.

Track listing:

1. Prelude (03:59)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

2. Huck’s Escape (03:10)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

3. The Mississippi (03:15)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

4. Flight and Finale (03:58)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

5. Romanza (from the concert suite Music for the Flicks) (05:27)

Five Finger Exercise

6. Theme (03:08)

Wagon Train

7. Prelude & Main Title (04:18)

The War Lord

8. What Of the Future? / Vengeance & Death / Finale (07:22)

The War Lord

9. Overture (11:22)

The Sharkfighters

10. Americana Miniature (Japonica Street / Shadow Pictures / A Walk in the Country / End Titles) (06:02)

Rachel, Rachel

11. Overture (Main Title / The Men / The Airplane / Destroying The Airbase) (06:22)

The Mountain Road

12. The Landscape / The Forbidden Valley / Pterodactyl Attack (05:15)

The Valley Of Gwangi

13. Capture of Gwangi / Gwangi Enchained (05:58)

The Valley Of Gwangi

14. Night in the Valley / Gwangi at the Cathedral / Death of Gwangi / Finale (07:31)

The Valley Of Gwangi

Total Duration: 01:17:07


2 Responses to “The Valley Of Gwangi/Moross”

  1. Hi! Just wanna say I like your posting.
    I think it’s interesting..
    Surely, i will read your next postings.Keep up the good work!!

    a.e. (“,)

    • sdtom Says:

      thanks so much for reading. I originally started writing as brain therapy for a stroke I had. While I’ve never fully recovered I’ve improved.


      “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation” Herbert Spencer

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