Destination Moon/Stevens

November 22, 2012

One of the bonuses when you buy a MMM release are the liner notes that explain everything about the movie, composer, actors, and the soundtrack itself. It’s a short story(20 pages in this case) filled with anything you need to know and it is done with a witty sarcasm so in the end we realize that these films will never reach a top 100 list but are just plain good fun. Hopefully, one day David Schecter will take all of his fabulous liner notes, put them together and release a book. Each chapter in the book could be a film soundtrack he’s transferred to CD and I’m sure that his following would be very interested.


I first became acquainted with Leith Stevens (1909-1970) through old time radio programs such as “Escape,” “Suspense,” and “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.” Later on it was his work on television programs “Mission Impossible,” “The Odd Couple,” and “Mannix.” And yes I did get him mixed up with Morton Stevens, another television writer whose big hit was “Hawaii Five-O.” And yes I did manage to get the films “Rocketship X-M” mixed up with “Destination Moon” but now that I have the release of the soundtrack material it rings loud and clear in my head.


The main title which I’ve included as an audio clip destination moon main title begins with a loud staccato streak repeated four more times with harmony coming in the way of a three note motif from the lower register of the orchestra.  This is a prelude to a haunting and disturbing melody which is used somewhat sparingly throughout the score. It is a theme that could have been written for a film noir picture as it offers a yearning style and frankly would have sounded much better than some of the Monogram ‘B’ pictures I’ve watched lately. Other highlights include “Let’s Start Again,” a quiet serene underscore that seems upon repeated listens to spell impending doom. Tracks 5-8 are Woody Woodpecker cartoon tracks written by Clarence Wheeler and quite typical sounding with special effects coming from the percussion section and brass. It might seem out of place but if you’ve seen the movie you’ll quickly understand the relevance. Other underscore includes an all too brief “Harmonica Solo,” several effective danger motifs considering the size of the orchestra in tracks such as “Building Montage.”


This original soundtrack from 1950 is a mono archival recording and as a result don’t expect to hear glorious sound from your surround sound speaker system. Ray Faiola did a fine job in “cleaning it up” and making it a pleasant listening experience but you’ll hear a bit of crackle and pop which is unavoidable if you also want to avoid the shrill compressed feeling that in my opinion sounds worse. One of the things that this reviewer has done is to listen to these types of recordings through a single older style speaker. I was able to find a wooden enclosure three way 10 inch speaker for $10.00 that will enhance the sound of the recording. Also keep in mind that this is a 1000 unit limited edition recording and it will sell out at some point so it is better to act sooner rather than later. 




Track listing

1. Main Title (01:43)
2. The Blockhouse (01:07)
3. Let’s Start Again (01:41)
4. Barnes Inc. (01:15)
5. Introducing Woody* (00:35)
6. Woody Shoots Gun* (01:07)
7. Woody’s Rocket* (01:32)
8. Woody Come Home* (00:55)
9. Let’s Get to Work (00:44)
10. Building Montage (02:13)
11. Planning the Trip (02:00)
12. Dead Serious (00:09)
13. Goodbye (02:01)
14. Countdown (01:02)
15. On the Trip (01:06)
16. The Harmonica Solo (00:29)
17. Out in Space (02:06)
18. Adrift in Space (02:00)
19. The Rescue (01:55)
20. They’re Safe (02:12)
21. Preparing to Land (01:28)
22. Landing on the Moon (00:10)
23. We’re on the Moon (00:30)
24. On the Moon (04:18)
25. Fun on the Moon (00:58)
26. Adventure on the Moon (00:35)
27. Cargraves Takes a Picture (02:11)
28. Bad News (02:33)
29. Lightening Ship (02:32)
30. It Looks Hopeless (01:47)
31. The Dilemma (02:37)
32. Sweeney’s Sacrifice (03:22)
33. Escape from the Moon (02:56)
34. End Title (01:35)

Bonus Track

35. Harmonic Glissando (01:09)

Total Duration: 00:56:33



One Response to “Destination Moon/Stevens”

  1. Arnie Says:

    Thanks for all of the details—this was like my favorite film to watch when I was little. This is interesting what i just discovered while listening to some classical music yesterday on the radio WFMT—Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op.70. there is a segment of a recurring theme in this piece that is amazingly and uncannily like the repeating theme in Destination Moon. I had to do a double take when i heard it, thinking it was a segment of Destination Moon that was taken from this classical piece. It starts around 9 minutes into the piece and the closest part is at the 10 min:30 sec and again at 11 min:20 sec. You got to wonder if Leith Stevens was familiar with it.

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