Dimitri Tiomkin's score for the epic film Land of the Pharahos has been released on CD by Film Score Monthly as a 3,000 unit limited edition set. Here is the official press release:
One of the greatest epic scores of the 1950s comes to CD in complete form: Dimitri Tiomkin's Land of the Pharaohs (1955), for Howard Hawks's mammoth spectacle set in ancient Egypt.
The composer, in a press interview at the time (transcribed to illustrate his Russian accent), explained the film's story:
gung build pyramid. Needs harchitect. Harchitect say OK, I gung build
pyramid... if you sat my pippel free. Lots pippel dyink, all over the
picture... Pharaoh say OK, I sat your pippel free, you build nice cozy
pyramid. Harchitect say OK... Pharaoh don't understand why big chariots
all over the place. Pippel dyink. Harchitect a fine man. All this
hoppen long time ago."
addition, there is a delightfully campy romantic plot in which a sexpot
princess (played by a young Joan Collins) acheives her quest to become
Queen of Egypt -- but with a deliciously dark twist.
film remains a curious blend of jaw-dropping spectacle and drawing-room
scheming, with the international cast also including Jack Hawkins,
Alexis Minotis, James Robertson Justice and Sydney Chaplin. Perhaps
Hawks himself best summed up his creative dilemma in making the
picture: "I don't know how a pharaoh talks."
But the music! Tiomkin:
you think top producer spend more moneys on music for picture than for
A picture? Music can help picture. I should know. I work mostly in
medium mediocre pictures... I have spashil script. Not regular script.
Spashil script. Script don't sayink 'Close-up on Tootsie' only, scripts
I got sayink 'Close-up on Tootsie, she very sad.' That way, I can write
the good music... Work to within third of second. Third of second
important. Third of second enough time to go boom-de-boom. Boom-de-boom
Boom-de-boom only begins to describe the greatness of the Land of the Pharaohs
soundtrack. Huge choral setpieces dominate the first half of the film,
as the Egyptians perform songs to honor their dead and to accompany
their decades-long endeavor to construct the great Pyramid; in the
second, Tiomkin accompanies the romance and treachery of Collins's
villainous princess including several action scenes.
it is emblematic of Tiomkin that at the most unexpected moments -- such
as the main title -- he goes "small" instead of big, with his beautiful
melodies carried by solo instruments. In other scenes, Tiomkin seems to
be setting a musical freight train underneath dialogue, churning with
the emotional undercurrents of the drama.
The score to Land of the Pharaohs
was conceived almost like that for a silent film, in that the music
virtually never ceases. The complete score (presented over FSM's 2CD
set, with alternate and additional selections closing disc 2) has been
painstakingly assembled from the monaural mixdowns saved in the Warner
Bros. vaults. (Although recorded in stereo, the score survives only in
mono; however, the use of separate tracks for percussion, chorus and
other solos has allowed several passages to be reconstructed in stereo
-- including huge set pieces like "Pharaoh's Procession.")