Music of the cinema
Interview with John Barry - 1992
Our guest today on music of the cinema has been the recipient of no more… none other... let me do it again.
Our guest today on music of the cinema has been the recipient of five academy awards: two academy awards for song and score for born free, academy award for best score the lion in winter, for best score out of Africa and for best score last year, Dances With Wolves. One writer/critic has said, 'his music is meant to be heard, not seen. His inventiveness or orchestral colours and infectious rhythms’...
One writer/critic has said of his music, his music is meant to be heard not seen. His inventiveness for orchestral colours and infectious rhythms his gift for melody majestically sweeping or deceptively simple his ability to paint indelible pictures conjure up images that run the gamut and above all he has complete mastery of the orchestra.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome to music of the cinema, John Barry.
Music of the cinema is privileged to have as our guest today John Barry who has been the recipient of five academy awards for Born Free, The Lion In Winter, Out Of Africa and Dances With Wolves. One writer/critic has deemed Mr. Barry’s music is meant to be heard and not seen. He’s also written his inventiveness for orchestral colours and infectious rhythms his gift for melody majestically sweeping or deceptively simple his ability to paint indelible pictures conjure up images that run the gamut and above all John Barry has complete mastery of the orchestra.
It's our privilege and pleasure on music of the cinema to welcome John Barry, welcome John.
Thank you, I’m very privileged to be here. Who wrote that, incidentally? I have to send him a bottle of champagne!
I’ll give you his name after taping. Secondly or again a congratulations for winning last year the Academy Award for Dances With Wolves, and I think you are the only, I’m not, I assume you’re still what we consider a British subject.
Yes, I am.
Under the crown you are the only British subject that has received five Academy Awards?
I believe that’s so, yes.
That’s very significant I’d like to ask you about Dances With Wolves - and it was your fifth Academy Award. You collaborated with Kevin Costner; and obviously that was a creative and commercial success and knowing how you are or how you feel seeing a movie before you commit to it, I’m jut curious in Dances With Wolves, where did you come on board with that project?
They, Jim Wilson, who co-produced it with Kevin, sent me a screenplay last January. I read the screenplay I liked it very much and I called Jim and told him that I did and then Kevin called me back and said well why not next week come out to Los Angeles and we’ll show you just some footage. We’ve just gotten back, we’re just starting cutting working on an assembly of all the material, but we can show you 20 minutes, half-an-hour of just assorted stuff. So I went to LA and they showed 20 minutes, half an hour, no particular sequence just little bits and pieces here and there. And I was very impressed by the visual look, by the performance level and the whole feel of the piece. And said yes I would like to be involved. Two weeks later they sent me four hours on video, I came back to New York, they sent me four hours of just totally an assembly of everything they’d shot.
So it wasn't necessarily in narrative sequence?
It pretty much was but it wasn't trimmed, it wasn't edited it was just everything they'd shot put together and that then gave me the opportunity to sit down and start to write thematic material. I knew even from the script that there was going to be a lot of music. I didn't know how much but I knew obviously from the script that it was going to be a large score.
The overriding theme throughout the movie has this almost reverential quality to it in the French horn melody.
Right. It’s, well, I mean people talk about it being a Western and strangely I never kind of thought of it as quote, a Western. I always thought of it as a story that took place in the West. And it was this story of this one man, a good man and an honourable man.
And that’s the way I went with it. Very much based on his character – the way he saw things, the way he reacted. I mean that must have been in that period of time almost like a moon landing. You know, getting on a horse and riding out on that to that terrain must have been one incredible adventure.
That was a very long score
It wound up an hour and thirty-five minutes
You use French horn a lot
Eight, eight of them.
And I’m glad to hear that. I have a partial, a partiality towards horn and I think it lends itself well to film music.
It’s on the nose if you like, I mean for the West it's on the nose.
Yeah, there's a spacious quality to it.
There’s majesty and magnificence to those eight guys playing and then sometimes of course when you mix them with four trombones as well to give it the core and certain lower ranges, it has a thrust and a force that's undeniable.
Another thing John, you have a great facility of mixing and using a lot of different kinds of percussive effects and we can get in a little later to when you feel that it's important to just have sound effects by music and I think its interesting you’re, you feel very obligated to do your own orchestrations and that is not always the case.
Well I do have, I do have, I do work with an orchestrator. But my, when I worked in England I never used an orchestrator for 95% of the time. Occasionally I’d use an orchestrator but in America it's the way you know and since I've been working in America I have used two orchestrators, Al Woodbury, who, unfortunately died a couple of years ago and then Greg McRitchie who re-orchestrated this for me. But it’s my, my scores totally, everything is indicated.
Do you use a 9 staff?
It depends on the cue, sometimes 24. I mean it depends on whatever I need to explain what I want. It’s there but I don’t have to go through the whole score for 120-piece orchestra and just for the sake of time, but in terms of details there isn’t a single instrument or note that isn’t indicated.
How much lead-time did you have with ‘Wolves’? Was this a collaborative effort with the producers?
Kevin and I got on very well. I think we had absolutely the same idea, the same response, as to what the score would be which would be big, romantic, dramatic, a traditional Western score of a different nature.
It's very expansive, the score had a, and I just I keep coming back to this, I think there was a reverence to the music apart 'from the fact that it had a majestic expansive feel but here, was, a real reverence to that theme
I think that the Indians, the Lakota Indians I mean they, their respect for land there, I respect for I mean did you know that the Lakota never had never used the word animal. There is not one word in their language to say, oh, that is an animal. We’re all the same you know. I mean, they didn't have that definition. And the way they conserve the land, the way they only kill to eat the necessary amount, they never overkill. I mean ecologically they were so far ahead of any group of people on the face of the earth. And the reverence even in the buffalo hunt, for instance – things which never came out in the movie, there were certain warriors were chosen to hunt to bring food back for the elderly, who could no longer hunt, and that was like the accolade of-the tribe to be chosen to be that group of warriors so there was, they in their own way, I think had, they were, there was a kind of religiosity of their way of life which I hope I captured because I certainly felt it the more I learned about them the more I talked to Michael Blake about the whole lot of back, back information as I say that never wound up in the film but wound up in a subtle way I guess in terms of...
The large cues were scored for how large of an orchestra? It sounds like a fairly large orchestra.
It’s about 95 and then in some cues we then added a 24 piece female choir. Twelve sopranos,
There are voices, I think, in the opening.
Yes, in the suicide cue and then ultimately in the buffalo hunt we added voices finally. It just added a strangeness that I liked. I love voices, I love the idea, what they do.
So then your association with that was a good one.
It was a very happy one. I wrote about twenty minutes of themes, just thematic material which I then recorded in NY here in the studio with just piano, multi-track piano, flute and percussion. Then I took those themes to Kevin and played them and he liked all of them except the original, actually, the original wolf theme that I wrote. He didn’t think it was appropriate so I wrote what we now have in the movie. But for the most part...
How often does that happen, John, where you write something and the producer or the director think, I know that for The Chase there was a couple versions of the theme the one that was used in the movie seemed to be a little more ominous and frightening and also used harmonica which you used very effectively but then the alternate version was a little more up tempo and had kind of a snare drum propulsion to it and I’m just as to what ….
Well, we'll never know.
Both versions are interesting and that's one of my favourite scores.
The version on the album was the first version that I wrote for the movie...
That ended up in the movie...
No, that did not end up in the movie. And that was the version that actually when the movie opened up in Washington that was still in the movie and then Kevin had this thing about the buffalo. He, something bugged so we went the other way and what wound up in the movie was a little of what we had and then some of what Kevin wanted. It was a kind of mix and there’s very mixed feelings. I truly by the end of the movie did not know which I liked better. I know Michael Blake liked the original one preferable to the latter one. Kevin liked the latter one. I think Jim Wilson, I don't know what side he came down on. But, he was, both worked and it just depends.
Sometimes you win. Totally, but it was...
It was the only thing that we had. It wasn't an argument it was just another point of view as to how he wanted it.
Richard Lester with The Knack. You scored the music for that and he was very opinionated and dead set on what he wanted, but you won to make along story short and then he liked it.
He said at the end that you’ve done everything that I wouldn’t have done, but it worked. So I took that as a compliment.
You, I suppose any film composer, has worked with producers and directors that he maybe would wish were a little more knowledgeable musically, but you were lucky enough to work with Bryan Forbes and Sam Spiegel and these guys were pretty on the mark about what they wanted.
Very much so. Bryan had a very sensitive ear to music. Sam had -great taste in just about everything he did. He was a rogue but he had great taste.
The problem people I’ve always found is... Dick Lester used to play clarinet I think he would had loved to have been… I think that was his first ambition and when you get a director who at one time wanted to be a musician, or wanted to be a composer that's when the light starts to flash for me, because they, always seem to think they know more than they do know, they always try' to get to deep and I just say look tell me about the drama of the picture just don't start telling me about the music, tell me what is the feel we want - that is what I am here to do.
Or they put music in until you arrive on the scene, and then say I want your music to sound like what I picked out of the library.
Yes and I mean I did Robin and Marian for Dick Lester. He had two scores previously, I won't mention the name of the composer, a very good composer and this composer had written two scores for the movie and both of them had been thrown out and then l came in and I was asked – it was like the quickest thing it was like, do it quick - we have three weeks. I wrote it in the Beverly Hills hotel without the aid of Mr. Lester. He was in London preparing another movie and Columbia, I played them some things and, they said that's it go ahead and do it and, I did it. And I couldn’t get anything out of Dick, any indication. I then had dinner with James Goldman who wrote the screenplay. And I told Dick and said it’s really helped me a lot and he was like Oh my God you talked to the writer that's the worst thing you could do and I said well I’m sorry Dick, but the pressure is on here I’ve got to do this whole thing quite literally from seeing the movie to going in to the studio in three weeks, and I hate that kind of non-time. But and I still don’t think, I quite frankly don’t think that Dick liked the score for Robin and Marian, quite frankly.
Well, speaking of non-time, you had a very quick introduction to film music with Dr. No in 1962, when somebody who you owe a large debt to at United Artists asked, I guess it was Cubby Broccoli and Saltzman, to consider you to do the main title. They had what is it, ‘Don’t Sit Under The Mango Tree’, or something by the original composer and they were very upset with that, said this will not do, and your name came into being. How quick did you have to come up with that theme – 72 hours or something?
It was no time at all. And I’d been, I’d had several successful instrumental records in England with my own group and orchestra.
The John Barry Seven, right. So this was the reason that Noel Rogers who was the head of United Artists music asked me to get involved and I received a phone call on a Friday evening from him and I was just getting started in film music so you know I was willing to write anything that moved on celluloid. I mean that was my frame of reference at that time. And so he said they made this movie Dr. No and its Ian Fleming’s James Bond and I didn't know anything about it really. So he said this other gentleman had been asked to write the score but it wasn't working out and they needed a main theme very quickly and he said can you meet us Saturday morning at out office and he'll play you what he's written. So I them met and I said to Noel, I said, I can't do anything with what he's written. So I said whether you just let me
Monty Norman, yes. So he said you go ahead and do something. Monty Norman’s...and I said well what about him what’s he going to feel as the composer and then Noel put it to him and he said, I remember his words, I’m not proud, he said. So I went home and I worked that weekend and booked the orchestra and we were in the studio on the Wednesday. And I never saw any film, the only think I knew about James Bond was a cartoon strip that had been in one of the English dailies, I think it was the Daily Mail or the Daily Express. And that's all I know I knew about it and I was given the timing by Maurice binder who designed the titles it was like 2 minutes 14 or whatever it was and I went away and wrote that, and recorded it. And I was looking to the record sales at that time. I was paid two hundred pounds for my work on that and then the movie opened at the pavilion at Piccadilly and I went to see it on Sunday afternoon and stood in line and the thing is all over the movie. So I then called Noel and he said I’ve been waiting for this phone call I knew this was going to happen. So he said look if this is a success they're going to be making more and you'll be involved in the others and I said OK fine and that was the introduction to the James Bond situation.
We mentioned the JB7 here.
1957, this was a great time John, this was a great time.
And actually maybe we should allude to some of that quickly I know that you had a lot of experience with various popular artists of that day. Adam Faith of course which we'll talk about in a moment, Bobby Shafto and I don't know if you were with Freddie Mercury or not was he?
No I don't remember that.
But they had wonderful names
Lance Fortune and of course Johnny Prendy none other than John Barry so that name is as good as those. The Soho time.
Yeah I had lived in a room above a restaurant called … Madame ran it but it’s not as half as seedy as it sounds. But 4 pound ten a week bed and breakfast and it was things were starting to happen. I had come out the army and I started doing big band arrangements for Ted Heath and that was a very slow process and the big band were dying you know it was like the end of that era. So I formed my own group with 3 gentleman I had been in the army with and 3 local musicians from up north and put together this group, and we had the first bass guitar ever in England, which was a German bass which I imported.
Was this Vic Flick?
No Vic Flick he wasn't the bass guitar he was the ordinary guitar. A guy named Fred Kirk actually played the bass guitar and we were the first kind of English amplified group.
You were the first fusion group.
Yeah, we played jazz, we played rhythm and blues, rock and roll whatever.
You were before your time.
We were trying to earn a living is what we were trying to do. We were trying to be professional musicians and we were from the North of England and it wasn’t until the Beatles when that happened that the whole thing spread out of London but prior to that it was totally London based, the music business was totally London-based. And so anybody coming from the North of England …. I mean it was only 200 miles away, my home town of York, but it was like a lifetime at that time in terms of where the centre of things was.
This was York
York, England where I was born and educated.
With a Francis
Francis Jackson who was master of music, who I studied with.
Your father had a chain of cinemas
At 14 we got disenchanted with school
Now what school, were you in public or private which is opposite
It’s opposite. I was in English public which is American private. It was St. Peters school, which is the oldest school in England. Guy Fawkes went there I mean it was really… I mean we went
They probably did not have a large love of cinema
They did not love. I took piano lessons there and it was frowned upon, cinema, concerts, music - it was not a place for the arts and they figured anyone who wanted to do that was slightly off key. But, and it was a strict, strict school when people talk about working hard I, used to go from 9 in the morning until 9 at night, seven days a week. Sunday was the only day I had off and the fact that I was a Catholic, I didn’t go on Sunday, but If I had been in the church of England I would have had to have gone to church there, chapel on Sunday morning. So that was the kind of discipline it was, so you can imagine, how glad I was to get out of that.
And so watched numerous movies
I watched movies from 5 years old. I mean, I was brought up watching movies.
And besides studying with Dr. Jackson, you also studied with Bill Russo, Stan Kenton which just had a reunion in California about 2 weeks ago.
The Stan Kenton group was all there.
Oh wonderful, was Bill there?
I am not sure
That was later when I went into the army. I was in the military band and I went to Egypt for a year and then we were shipped to Cypress and I had 16 months in Cypress and at that time, you couldn't get any, when you lived in England, you couldn't get any dollars, it was very tight banking situation and when, I was in Cypress I was stationed in a little town called Larnaca, and there was this guy who had one of these shops that sell ashtrays and things with maps on them.
Yes and he said, do you want any American dollars and I’d seen in Downbeat magazine that Bill had retired from the Kenton band and was living in Chicago and was giving lessons so I said yes so I used to go in once a week, with my army pay, buy the dollars, put the cash in an envelope and sent them to Bill in Chicago, and I studied for sixteen months with Bill Russo.
Did you consequently meet him anywhere?
Later on when I was in LA, much later on in the about
And he would call you his prize-winning student.
75-76 - that was the first time I ever met him.
It was funny yeah, and we both got terribly drunk for whatever reason.
Another one of your films John that interests me is from l966, Dutchman.
This was from a play by Leroy Jones and was directed by Stanley Kubrick’s film editor.
Right and it was a short film.
Right one hour, black and white
And it dealt with some racial tension and suppression and a little bit of psychotic behaviour but here was no music originally scored for it
He said I have done this movie and I don't want any music for it and I’d like you to take a look at it there something wrong somewhere I need something and I don't know what it is. I saw it and I said you need three pieces of music a beginning a middle and an end and it was the same piece of music actually there was no development it just this maniacal kind of percussive piece that I wrote for it.
It was more sound effect
Absolutely yes it was rhythmic sound effect textural strident piece, very strident piece
Lots of percussion and some xylophone.
And it just did the right thing on three occasions and a strange thing happened several years later when I was getting involved with doing a movie with Peter O'Toole which he was obligated to do for Joe Levine, it was originally called the Ski Bum.
They shot part of it upstate at the Concorde hotel.
I don't think this ever got shot. They were supposed to go on location in Switzerland and at the last minute Peter O'Toole said I hate this script this is the worst script I have ever read I don't want to do it. And Martin Poll, who was the producer, had optioned the right to Lion In Winter so he whipped out the Lion In Winter and said Peter how about this? Peter liked it and said I think its terrific why don’t we do this instead of doing the Ski Bum which is a slightly different choice and he said yes lets go to LA and talk to Katie Hepburn. And Marty Poll said to me, we don’t have a director and I said when you go to LA why don't you take in a movie called Dutchman? It’s got nothing to do with this at all except that it’s about aggression and it’s about two people goading each other. And I had read the script for Lion In Winter and I said I think Tony could do this terrifically. So off went Marty Poll and Peter O’Toole to LA to meet with Katie Hepburn and took a copy of Dutchman with them. And they showed Katie this director’s work and that was how Tony got the job on Lion In Winter.
That’s interesting. Now Lion In Winter is from 1968 and dimensionally it’s a very large score and you had some on that by Denis Stevens who was the artistic director of the Monte Verde... the voices of the Monte Verde Academy - very interesting.
Well he had, there was a gentleman who worked because he lived in NY at the time he was like the head of the organization but there was a gentleman called Edgar Fleet and I wanted texts. And so I went to Edgar and I said look this is what I want to say, I don't know the Latin texts but I know what I want the main title to say in Latin. I know what that day of darkness and all this kind of thing and I went through the main scenes where I wanted music and told him what I wanted those texts to be and he had this terrific knowledge of Latin texts, so he came to me one evening with yards and yards of the stuff, reading them and translating them and telling me what they meant and I selected the texts that I liked. I then set them rhythmically just to get the rhythm of the Latin text and he said yes you've got it, the ear is right for the Latin and then I went away and set it all to music.
The vocal portion of that score have been equated with Stravinsky’s symphony of songs and Oedipus Rex and I think could be equated with a little bit of Carmina Burama and...
That was the obvious, for the main title theme, the obvious inspiration Carmina Burama.
It is a beautiful score. It’s at one point or at once has a real medieval feeling but also at the same time had this kind of whole tone impressionistic structure and that's very interesting
It was a nice mix, I liked it. But what it was, the most important about the score for me was, the script touched on it briefly, the head of the English royal family was still the Pope. And I wanted that to be said musically because this is what was driving him nuts. It was subliminal but it had that catholic weight of those voices and those texts coming at you ongoing really created what if it had just been a normal kind of symphonic score that would not have been there. I love to try to and find something outside of the picture, almost, and try and find some way to bring some added element or emphasise an element that isn’t touched upon.
You just alluded to the fact that you are concerned sometimes with internal and subjective music that deals with the emotion of the characters rather than maybe a particular physical action and that’s very interesting because I think you have also previously professed a fondness for Alex North and his music and Alex does the same thing and there aren’t a lot of film composers who choose to go that route.
It’s the only way. Just harking back to ‘Dances’, for instance, just to write an hour and half of music, oh we've got a big scene here that's just doesn't work for me but to put myself in Dunbar’s saddle and to try and imagine what that must have been like for him that's the whole way I did the movie. Constantly put myself in his place what was it was like, what it must have been like to see that landscape, to find the skeletons and the arrowhead to see the buffalos for the first time that is all internally from him and the music totally sprang from that it wasn't oh we've got a big scene I am going to write big music I don’t know how to do that really unless it comes from some kind of soul of the man and his observation and his response to it. I don’t know how to do it otherwise.
In 1967 I think it was the fifth Bond film You Only Live Twice, part of that score was the Space March and here again this was a real effective use, I think, of repetition it very ominous almost like a dirge and it has this same 5 note theme constantly all the way through first with the strings and then you embellish it to 10 notes and its from trumpets passed onto the tubas and then it comes back to strings I think that's a real effective piece.
I love repetition, there is something about it that intrigues me.
Now that's in vogue, this was 20 years ago. Now we would call that minimalist
A picture that might have been a little out of character, I’m not sure, in 1979 was the Black Hole for Walt Disney. You, lo and behold, wrote a Star Warsian type of heroic march for that.
That was a difficult movie to become involved with...
I didn't warm to the cast. That's all I can really say. I found it really impersonal. That was probably the most physical score I ever wrote, actually looking at stuff and saying l have to write big stuff and not being able to find the soul in the people.
That wasn't a typical John Barry score and the movie flopped. It came off as a kind of scary black-hearted …
It didn’t find the right level, it was almost too serious and actually I think Charles Champion said the score was too serious for the picture, was one of the criticisms.
Well, the picture was pretty bleak.
It was a very confused picture
No one knew if it was a children's picture
Yeah I know you have these it didn't have a clean cut to it at all and characters didn't help either there was no one to latch on to, to say there is a point of view. It was not a satisfying piece for me to work on.
Now some movies that well another movie that you worked on that also was not a success but critically somewhat of a. success now I love the movie and its one of my favourite score. The chase. The Chase was from 1966 and that had very impressive credentials. We had …
Lilly Hellmann did the screenplay and Arthur Penn directed it, and it was from a play by Foote and we had these Jane Fonda, Robert Redford and Robert Duvall - all unknowns then and Marlon Brando and it was a very effective scores it one of my favourite scores...
A lot of people, a lot of Americans thought the move was I think the word Bill Russo said, he’d seen it and he said he liked the score, but he thought the movie was very mean spirited. And I heard that word more applied to that and it was strange it was one of the few movies that was actually shown in Russia to depict the American way of life. It was strange they enlightened on that.
That movie has stayed with me, all these years. I still have filmic memory images, memory of some images from that movie and you effectively used the harmonica in that and you use the harmonica a lot and I think here again that's an under-utilised instrument.
It’s a wonderful instrument. It’s very effective and it’s a very touching instrument if you get it right.
Now there were two versions of that opening theme. I know because I have both recorded versions. The one where the opening main title was a little up-tempo and it had the same snare drum underneath and the one that’s used in the movie that’s a little slower and a little more …
Yes, exactly. I was going to say dramatic.
I can’t remember the first one that you mentioned - I don’t know how that came about.
No harmonica, same theme a little more in tempo and underneath it was a driving snare drum.
And where did that appear.
I have that on a CD. One of these underground, no it’s a commercial CD, I’ll try to remember where it is where it’s from.
It’s from a Sony collection I think.
Out of Africa is from 1985, and here again we have this big expansive opening theme that certainly portrayed the landscape and the loneliness and the bucolic feeling.
Again it was her story, you see, it wasn't Africa. Sidney Pollack when I first me with him he said when I first got a rough cut of the film I laid in every score from every movie that had ever been made about Africa and none of it worked.
So these are metaphorically, they represent and I think Dances did too, isolation and loneliness and overcoming odds.
In a strange country in a strange landscape. Absolutely the same kind of problem.
And the music typifies that
And we only used one cue in the whole of Out Of Africa that had any drums in it and that was then the tribe of Messiah passed her. We kept it totally away from African music in terms of the score.
Lots of French horns
Lots of French horns, lots of strings, lots of voices.
That’s right and not a lot of woodwinds as I recall. You have some pastel things there by the woodwinds but they don’t predominate.
You are fond of this ninth chord?
Which one is that?
You used it in Out of Africa with a flatted or lowered sixth and you used it in Body Heat also. You see I teach music theory so I go to the piano and I figure out these things, now why does John like that 9th chord with the flatted 6th at that point?
Raised 5th actually
Raised 5th actually, right
But it’s a beautiful, score and you won an Oscar for it.
Let’s talk about Body Heat for a moment. That was 1981 - how was it working with Larry Kasden? I know he wrote the screenplay.
It was the first screenplay he wrote and the first movie he directed and I read the screenplay which I liked very much and again we were very in tune with what...it was like an old Warner Bros film noire and
They tried to get that... very visceral kind of score...
Right, its, I like that score a lot. I still like the movie a lot when I look at that I think it holds terribly strong.
Where was that recorded was that recorded in LA?
In LA yes, Ronny Lang was the alto sax player, we did it at the old CBS studio there, Dan Wallin was the engineer. Good sound in the studio.
Your scores have the ability to shift quickly from a jazz idiom to symphonic and it’s nice the way they can interplay and a solo instrument can weave through all that, in this case the alto sax.
The classic score in that area is, I think, Alex North's score, for A Streetcar Named Desire, just a wonderful vision, that's one of my favourite all time scores.
He actually, I think, if I can be so bold, maybe introduced the jazz idioms to film scores.
I don’t know that he actually did, but he did it in a way that to me was with a class and a style that no one had done previously.
It would be nice if they would re-release that on CD. I don’t think it is.
I think it is.
Oh is it?
I think it is, I might be wrong. I know they put it out as an album a few years ago.
It was an Angel album and it’s a great score
What do you considered after all of this, how many scores 64?
About 80 I guess
80 scores, my goodness, my goodness. After all these 80 scores in some
I was going to say 25, what do you consider, your breakthrough score now I am not talking about particularly where the audience recognized you as a household name but what did John Barry consider his breakthrough score where he know said to himself I think this is it as far as what I want to say as a film composer.
Whew, God, that's difficult, that's really difficult because every step of the way back I started off in the popular music vein doing like the Bond movies and then when Bryan Forbes asked me to do Séance On A Wet Afternoon, at that particular point in my career that legitimised me for want of a better word people said oh he can do a serious score that was the first serious score that l did and it was totally away from what I was known for. So in terms of the industry that was the 5th or 6th movie I did that though it was a small black and white movie, in terms of the industry that meant probably more to me than any other picture funny enough in terms of people saying he knows how to score a movie in a different way.
That was a wonderful very delicate movie and a fine film score but you had the ability to work on these
Oh well, then Zulu finally came through after that which was a big adventure score with Mike Caine and Stan Baker. And you know I had the good luck to be in England in the 60s when all these things were happening there, like Hollywood came to England in the 60s. Sam Spiegel was there, Carl Foreman was there, American money was there, all the James Bond movies were being financed by United Artists. So in England, instead of me having to go to Hollywood, which I always thought I would ultimately have to do, Hollywood came to London and I happened to be there at that time.
That was the beginning of the international consortium of picture making.
Yeah, because the thing that was attractive to producers was that here were tax allowances against productions that the government allowed that attracted American moviemakers.
I think it was in the early 70s, John, you were involved in a project called Billy Liar.
Well we did it in London, it was the first musical that Michael Crawford had ever done.
Who just wrapped up …
Phantom of the Opera and Mike and I have been close friends. I am godfather to one of his daughters. I bought the rights with another gentleman and Mike was dying to do it and so we did it and we ran for 2 1/2 years at the Drury Lane theatre, very successfully. It was never brought to America. I don’t know why. Goddard recorded the soundtrack album for us, he produced the soundtrack album for us
CBS, right and we are know doing it again we're doing a revival we start rehearsal on the 29th of July in London. We have new boy called Jonathan Morris who is just wonderful. It is a very difficult play to cast because you need a person on stage who looks 17, 18 years old, adolescent, who can sing and dance, has great comedic quality and can really act.. and be very touching. And those people don't grow on trees and he's on stage nearly 95% of the play. So we've been thinking of bringing it back but we could never find anybody who could measure up. We finally, the beginning of this year, we found this young English actor called Jonathan Morris who is just magnificent and I think we'll be hearing a lot and we also want next year to bring it to Broadway, that's the plan.
When was it running in the West End?
Late 73 and ….
Well, I wish you luck with that. We’ll look forward to seeing that on the great white way. What else can you tell us about on music of the cinema?
I have bought the rights to John Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie myself which I am doing as a movie. I am writing all the music first. It’s a strange kind of structure it’s episodic and there will be probably 16 episodes and all directed by a different director ad that's in the works at the moment.
In terms of an actual movie score I am going to do a movie called The Year Of The Comet which William Goldman is his first screenplay since Butch Cassidy and Peter Yates is directing and I’ll start work. They’re shooting at the moment in England, Scotland and the south of France and I'll start work in the beginning of October on that. It's a wonderful piece. Goldman has this wonderful way of injecting a freshness into a seemingly an old fashioned story but he gives a freshness.
Is Peter Yates Australian?
No he is English. I did The Deep for Peter, he’s English, but it’s a terrific romp it’s going to be fun to do.
Well we wish you every success and we thank you so much for coming by and sharing with us on music of the cinema.
I thank you very much, Glenn, baby.
We've been talking with John Barry I am your host Glenn Wooddell
Beat Girl was just released on CD. Its a great score, for those of us that know it can take you back real quickly into the late 50s and 60s and I can remember, I must have been a freshman or sophomore in High School and almost sneaking off to see the English films that epitomized teenage, decadent teenage life
English beatniks, they were the frustrated James Deans of England.
And this was a project with Adam Faith and lo and behold his career was kind of limping along, a song took off and he happened to be in the movie and they then had you compose all of the score – this was for 1959-60?
The first song was banned in America. It was, I took, it was called ‘Made You’ and in England, Made You doesn’t mean anything so you get these BBC announcers and now we have the Top Ten hit called ‘Made You’, and then Fabian recorded it in America and it was instantly banned. I was one of the first banned people – it was very funny!
It’s a very fresh album even today
It’s got a lot of vitality to it
Yes it does a lot of energy and there is so much today that's been refitted with sound of the 50s and 60s. It was great hearing it and I may have seen Beat Girl.
Well over here I think it’s called Living For Kicks, in America I think they changed the title, in America, Living for and I think Living For Kicks...
And you worked with Tommy Steele
Tommy Steele. I started with Tommy Steele my first professional job was at the Palace theatre Blackpool with Tommy Steele in the summer show, and then I worked on a couple of movies
And he was a big star?
Huge! I mean Tommy Steele in England he was bigger if not big as Elvis Presley in England and Europe and I toured Scandinavia with him and it was unbelievable.
Well when they do a retrospective of your work we know that Beat Girl will stand up in the forefront as an icon of the 50s and 60s.