Invasion of the Body Snatchers/Carmen Dragon
September 7, 2015
LIMITED EDITION OF 2000 UNITS
I’m old enough to remember this film as a nine year old, going to a local theater on my bicycle with my cousin and seeing this. I was afraid to go to sleep that night for fear of turning into one of those robots. Along with Psycho, which came a few years later, these were the two films that really scared me. It wasn’t about some sort of monster running around swallowing people whole but something in my mind that could have been real. It starred Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones, and King Donovan. All would end up in the new media, television and have long successful careers. Director Don Siegel went on to work with Clint Eastwood on several pictures and Walter Wanger, former CEO of Paramount, did much to help Allied Artists, formerly Monogram Pictures, to establish themselves as a B+ picture company. The film had a budget of $300,000 putting it well under a typical Hollywood A film but considerably over what Monogram, PRC, or Republic would have allotted.
For those who are reading this and haven’t seen the film it involves an invisible outer space invasion of earth in the form of giant plant pods growing and eventually taking over human bodies turning them into what we might call drones today. The term in the 50’s was known as pod people. The two stars, McCarthy and Wynter fight to the very end to convince people that this changeover is taking place.
Carmen Dragon, the composer, arranger, and conductor of the score, was the last one he did for Hollywood as he turned his attention completely to doing pop classics with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and became an international celebrity. The “Main Title,” (clip enclosed) which begins with a long prelude consisting of edgy brass motifs and long timpani rolls settles into a tense moment with the strings. This goes into the second track immediately without pause “No Bananas Today,” a somber one with the strings dictating that this is going to be a serious film. The third track is the love theme “Here Comes My Love” which is heard throughout the film as the relationship develops between Miles and Becky. The fifth track “Where Are You… Don’t Worry About Me” opens with a recurring motif, a chord from the lower keys on the piano. It is repeated two more times on the track and you’ll hear it on other tracks. It is quite prevalent on “Shadows in the Night/Hysteria.” “If I Should Die” sounds like other 50’s type science fiction soundtracks with the dissonant chords and loud attention getting brass motifs. While you’ll hear some similar sounding material as you’ve heard before the overall material is a lot more polished. Yes the music is still non tonal except for the love theme with unusual cords mixed with brass chords that sound jagged and distorted but the arrangements and playing have an overall smoothness about them. The orchestra seems well rehearsed and if a suite of tracks were created for symphony orchestra I would want to listen to it. The additional source tracks show the versatility of styles of music that Dragon is capable of producing: big band, sweet music, and vocals.
As explained in the finely written liner notes it is rare that a copy of the music only existed on a reel to reel tape which allowed this recording to happen. It must have been stored in a good environment as the mono quality of the material is quite acceptable. That also goes for the liner notes by Jeff Bond who is as knowledgeable as Tom Weaver. Add this to your collection if you’re a fan of the film (you probably already have) or you want a fine example of science fiction music. It will likely be the only example of Carmen Dragon that you have in your collection.
- Main Title 1:57
- No Bananas Today 0:55
- Here Comes My Love 1:50
- Somebody Stole My Man 2:12
- Where Are You?/Don’t Worry About Me 4:15
- Tell Me Who: 3:17
- If I Should Die 2:09
- Shadows in the Night/Hysteria 1:40
- The Voices 1:29
- I’m Taking You to My House/They Won’t Believe Me 4:17
- Suddenly 2:51
- Wilma/The Devils Workshop/Get Help/Yell for Help 7:24
- No More Tears/Waiting For You 5:44
- Out of the Sky/No Choice
- Open the Door 1:38
- They’re Over There 3:10
- No! Never! 2:26 Source Music
- Crazy Rhythm 2:07
- Shall We Dance (I’m in Love With Kathy) 2:12
- I’m in Love With the World 2:27
- Total Album Time: 58:20