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 Posted:   Aug 10, 2013 - 11:01 AM   
 By:   GoodMusician86   (Member)

I was hoping someone might be able to elaborate a bit on this set for me and how it was produced.

I know the liner notes mention it was sourced from the original 35mm source elements (which in some cases were damaged) but I find that it has more in common with the presentation of 'Family Plot' than to, say, 'STAR WARS.'

I say this because for at least the predominance of the music, the strings are monaural in the left channel (a common practice when working with mono instrument group downmixes).

I know that there were many tracks that were damaged and elements lost, but am I correct in my assumption that many of the tracks are a "created" stereo field utilizing these instrument groups? Or perhaps even it was just the strings that had this problem?

I also notice that the 5.1 DVD release of the film utilizes near IDENTICAL mixes of the tracks and wondered if the production may have been working from the same sources/elements or even with the remastering?

One of my other questions was in regards to the original LP vs the release. Several of the tracks on the FSM release are available on the LP in their original stereo mixes but instead, the "created" mix is opted for. Examples are when "Lisolette and Harlee" meet early in the film and "Something For Susan" (which ALSO seems to be a layering of two different takes of the same track with the LP presenting the film mix and FSM including a layer of another take??). I wondered if perhaps the LP masters were damaged too and had to be avoided in some cases?

And lastly, one error I noticed with the sets presentation is the placement of "Susan and Doug" as an extra. It is said in the liner notes that this cue is an "album" version of a track and is "not used" in the film. The full scene in question (just before the 'Let There Be Light' scene) is on the deleted scenes and matches this recording...exactly... and the film uses at least the opening measures of this recording, although due to the full scene being cut down, most of the track DOES technically, go unused, but does not, as far as I can tell, constitute an omitted or album version of a cue.

Any answers would be greatly appreciated! This is one of my FAVOURITE John Williams scores and the more I listen, the more I learn about it, and the more I'm fascinated by the development of these old scores and how they're rebuilt... like...reconstructing Rome with ruins.

PS: Kinda sad all the FABULOUS source music recorded and available couldn't fit on the CD but I understand! I hope we can get it one day :-)

Thanks again!

 Posted:   Aug 15, 2013 - 4:06 PM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

I can hear 'The More I See You,' played as a trumpet solo - but ever so briefly - as we leave the foyer with a shot of the scenic elevator rising at the end of the scene. This was originally sung by Dick Haymes and used in Carnival In Costa Rica.

It is far from certain that is the piece being played instrumentally in the movie because it cuts very quickly in the shot. Perhaps it was done so as not to have to acknowledge the piece as having been used in the film?

Oh, and by the way, The Towering Inferno LP would seem to be one of those rare occasions when the soundtrack was not a rerecording as was the usual practice. Why - who knows?

It was also noticeable that the Trapped Lovers cue is truncated in the film towards the end when the Robert Wagner character (Dan Bigelow) dramatically walks over the edge of the floor. The LP version is fuller and unabridged. I certainly wish the score would be reissued.

 Posted:   Aug 17, 2013 - 5:31 PM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

I've bumped this because I've just had another look at the main title on the DvD and there are a couple of things I've noticed that I'd missed umpteen times before.

First, I think the majority of the music on the original LP is pulled from the film itself. There are, however, a number of aspects relating to the main title sequence that make me think the version in the movie is not quite the same as the version on the LP. It may very well be that they are one and the same but with different overlays making them sound slightly different at various points.

Another thing is that during the helicopter ride there's a shot seen latterly in the main title sequence which is supposedly a locked down view by the camera as seen from the left side of the cockpit looking forward. It's the shot immediately following the dedication. The music accompanies the footage but there are no titles for the duration of the shot as the viewpoint is one of nap of the earth type flying over the elevated rooftops of a section of San Francisco. What I'd noticed this time is that the Jetranger helicopter's interior appears to me to be 'matted' in. That is to say, the original footage appears to have been shot without any interior trimmings but that on reflection, someone designing the sequence thought that some trimming to suggest a first person viewpoint should be in there. What is so unusual is that you'd normally just set up the camera in the cabin and shoot the imagery as required with the window posts made visible for good measure. But I'm thinking that it was a decision done in post because the very next shot is of Paul Newman and the chopper pilot as seen from an exterior POV. They'd simply omitted any footage of the body of the helicopter set against the skyscraper 'background' is my guess. The entire title is mainly of the exterior of the JD (Jim Duncan) liveried helicopter but the entry point for the first character in the movie has been very carefully reappraised. First the 'dedication' and then a departure from the purely external views capturing the introduction of Paul Newman (Doug Roberts), the architect, who is 'revealed' to be the passenger on the left side for the ride. So what I'm saying is that the exterior views characterising the bulk of the main title had to be structured in such a way as to ease in the Doug Roberts character towards the very end and that because all the footage for the main title had already been assembled without that interior viewpoint, a sleight of hand approach enabled the insertion of the 'human element' to start the story on the right foot. That means no expense was spared in bringing that main title to life and getting the story started as seamlessly as possible right after the titles are done.

What makes me think this? The views of the passing skyscrapers are dynamic whereas the Jetranger's forward interior trimmings have a very 'static photo' sort of look to them. If I'm wrong then I'm wrong. For those interested, it puts emphasis on optical effects techniques pressed into service to iron out discrepancies needing a small alteration to make them right.

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2013 - 12:29 AM   
 By:   Browny   (Member)

Read my post in this thread.. it should answer your questions:

 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 1:04 PM   
 By:   GoodMusician86   (Member)

Interesting thoughts on the Main Title sequence. I know that the TV version was actually the full extended version. In the DVD/Blu Ray release it fades in, where as the Deleted scene shows how it would have played authentically.

As for the Main Title, I can tell you that the version on the LP is a different take--perhaps an early flubbed take? Some of the instrumentation heard in it is either mixed out of or not performed for the final film take. Also, the final film version is an edit of multiple takes but does not appear to be this one.

You can also hear prominently early in the performance a rather obvious violin section dissonance/bad note where as the FSM/ Film version does not have it.

I've been more curious though about the rest of the score.

As for the source music, the FSM booklet lists a few songs which the only one that is a truly different adaptation of is the one before the Scenic Elevator ride. That one I've confirmed is what they say it is (Can't recall the name off hand and not around my notes) but it takes a little while to get to where it's recognizable. PS: love that cue.

I've also noticed that the FILM uses some cues which are not on the FSM set or are cut down. Once such instance is "Climbing the Pipes" I think the cue was. The film has extra gong/bowings but the album only has maybe....4... every other one.

PS: Gonna read your notes now! Thank you for pointing them out to me! I just finished doing a score study myself so I'll compare and comment onthem too. Maybe we can compare notes heh

 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 1:45 PM   
 By:   GoodMusician86   (Member)

I just spent a long time writing a response and break down of my notes and yours and....I got logged out and lost it...UGH!

Anyway, What I wanted you to see is that the BluRay/ DVD 5.1 mix has many tracks NOT on the FMS set. These tracks are mixed into the new 5.1 either in a 'created stereo' just like FSM had for most of the set OR as MONO music. This would indicate many of the missing elements are now found.

All the source music you list in your break down I agree upon.

One question I do have is "The Promenade Room" seems to be different in the 5.1 mix to the extended TV version. Both have the 'ragged ending.' Did Williams record more than one cue for this?

Also, the 'Leaked' headset radio, was that source Written by Williams too?

Here are my notes on the rest of the score:
(I used all my cue titles. I couldn't find any information on authentic cue names. You seem to know some, can you share them or slate numbers?)

"Something For Susan"
I disagree that this track is a layering of the later cue "More For Susan." Unless perhaps it's the isolated the Sax/Vibraphone because it's almost the same as 'Something For Susan' but with minor performance changes in these instruments... like an alternate take.

"Lisolette and Harlee"
The mix heard in the film is pretty similar although the cymbal and rim shot a little quieter (although the mono music mix heard in the original MONO mix has it at varying volumes.
ps: the extended cut seems to be the version William's scored as the source would fit the full sequence if synced correctly.

***Oddly the FSM chose not to use the LP Album for this so they 'created' the stereo and is therefore mixed differently.***

"The Flame Ignites"
A mostly unused cue, the original mono mix doesn't even use it at all but the DVD mix uses a version (omitting the wood block) for about a second and a half as the now infamous OJ Simpson looks at the readout screen.

The film doesn't have the 'wood block' which could be either an alternate mix or a different take. Do you know which?

"Harlee Dressing"
There are TWO takes of this. The 5.1 DVD mix utilizes both to achieve the total effect. The Center channel has a singular glissando on preceding the beat, where as the front channel has a glissando on the beat. The version on the FSM edit utilizes the front channel take and repeats it, artificially, attempting to replicate the center channel and looping it a third time for some unknown reason. I don't consider the FSM take authentic, only the two isolated takes (center/ front) which seems to verify the difference in string performance between the 5.1 mix and the FSM mix.

Also I remember reading that the ending isn't used, but it is, they just split the full scene by a quick shot of the crowd outside. The scene is longer as well, but the music doesn't seem continue into the extra length

"Susan and Doug *USED!"
In the FSM set they state that this cue is NOT heard in the film and is an album arrangement. This is completely false. In fact, I was able to line up the music exactly with the DVD mix and it played almost it's full length (in the extended cut). In the original cut of the film, you only hear part, but it is CLEARLY this track (as heard on the album too. Same take, same mix).

"The More I See You "The Promenade Room" (Source)"
Oddly enough, the 5.1 DVD release presents it in MONO only. It's heard partially in the center channel, echoing in the rear channels, and in the front channel you hear it only in the left (mono) with a slight echo in the right. Never (unlike the other source cues) does the mix pull apart the instrument groups, which, if not for that interview, I'd believe meant the source was lost in all but a mono down mix. This is an instrumental arrangement of the Harry Warren song "The More I See You."

Oddly enough, the TV extended cut's mono mix uses a different cue (or at least a different take of the ending) I don't recognize the melody so I couldn't say ....
Do you know which it was?

"Going Back for Angela"
Presented only in the film (presumably one of the 'incidental' lost cues,) this cue is short and has very little development but presents a good amount of tension for this short sequence.
**This is heard in the 5.1 as a mono down mix throughout. This may mean that a MONO downmix source is available for it now***

"All Downhill"
A second piece missing from any set (another 'incidental' lost cue), this one sounds almost like it could go to Star Wars Episode II in some of the dark/tense moments heh!
***It is presented in the 5.1 mix as a mono down mix... perhaps there is a surviving element??***

"Down the Pipes"
This is one of those cues people thought were used in ET? lol It is the same technique though as used in the opening of ET. The oddity with this though is that the album presents a greatly diminished version of the cue. You have the flute and low string intro then the film cuts to silence for a few seconds until the reveal of the chasm where the 'wails' of the gong begin.

Careful listening to the 5.1 mix, you can hear that the two parts (flute/cello and gong) are not recorded separately in that a slight fade after the cello/flute part includes a little of the beginning of the gong(ie: they cut part of the cue up until the reveal of the chasm). Then, the actual reveal of the chasm has a slight fade in where you can clearly hear the end of what came before it (unused) in that gap of silence. At first I thought maybe the album was this missing music and the first gong-wail is, but the other two actually are edits from later in the cut. You can also hear at the end of the cue before the cut away to the next scene there is a slight fade out of ANOTHER Gong wail.

Solo Flute - Flute/Cello - Gong Wail 1 (album/ fade out and omitted in film) - missing music (possibly 2 gong wails?) - (Omitted Gong fades in) - Gong Wail 2* (Heard only in film) - Gong Wail 3* (Album/Film) - Gong Wail 4* (Heard only in film) - Gong Wail 5* (Album/Film) - (Omitted Gong Quick Fade out)

So this means there is more to this cue that was not released and edited out?

Here are my thoughts on the "Kiss of Death":

"The Unconscious Man (Deleted Scene)"
The music, however, almost reminds me of something that would more appropriately go in the next scene as the Fireman see one of their own fall down the elevator shaft on fire before repelling. The cue fades out in this scene with a rather open and cold string cord which could have led into the fanfare of "Successful Repel." I say all this because some scenes were obviously included in William's cut and he scored them, but for about half the deleted scenes, they were NOT included in his cut and they are mostly unnecessary scenes (which would have been trimmed early in production) These were then re-inserted for the Television cut to extend the play time due to breaking the film into two acts. This scene doesn't really need this cue and the style which William's writes the intro (a bright and surprising call to attention) is out of tone with the scene as they pull the man from the smoke. It starts kinda late and ends early...there's still stuff going on so its odd for it not to be scored too. It would more appropriately underscore a 'surprise' than a "oh look what we found" moment. This is all speculation however.

"Successful Repel"
Mostly unused in the film (or perhaps only a small piece for the actual 'landing' was written) this cue as heard in the film has tracked music from 'Lisolette's Decent' and then a new and brief reprise of the Fireman/Heroic theme. Only available in a mono film mix. (NOTE: Listen for the horns to play the melody to 'When You're All Alone' from HOOK in this lol)

"Hanging in There"
You say this wasn't found, but it's on the FSM set and spoken of in the liner notes as for the safe landing of the elevator (and I synced it up and it worked pretty well)...

Presented only in the film's mix (again as a 'created' stereo) this cue is omitted from the FSM set. A short cue utilizing a repeating Main Title/ Hero ostinato in the vibraphones and a final string swell as the realization that to save the people in the promenade room might be a one way trip. (Interesting note: the TV cut omits Steve McQueen's 'Shit!' line lol)
**This must have been found in the same condition as most of the FSM source as it was used in the 5.1 mix with isolated instrument groups***

PS: I had NO idea about the Architect's Dream! I'll have to check that heh

I'd love your thoughts on this :-D Thanks!

 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 8:03 PM   
 By:   Krakatoa   (Member)

So pleasing to see all the ongoing enthusiasm for "The Towering Inferno" and detailed discussions about the cues and how brilliantly the music works. Such a great score for all the reasons mentioned!

 Posted:   Aug 29, 2013 - 10:42 PM   
 By:   GoodMusician86   (Member)

I wasn't even alive yet lol... Born 1986 lol... But Towering Inferno is one of those films I will love forever. I cannot... the movie. The score is so evocative and fun and scary...and the actors, oh the actors! And the peril... I still get upset when the Scenic Elevator gets stuck or during the "trapped lovers" scene or when Harlee is handed the cat... ugh... the feels lol

This is one of my favourite all time scores and so it's one of those ones I've wanted to spend a lot of time on. I've synced up a lot of the music to scenes in the film (I use to have them on Youtube and I'd share the links but I had to take them down :-/ but I love this films score.

I had the most fortunate chance when I was younger to go to a flea market and find a store with an unopened LP of the Towering Inferno album and I managed to get a near flawless transfer. It has such great sound to it and to hear the orchestra as recorded/intended is wonderful.

I'm of course thankful to FSM for producing the set they did mind you... It's just one of those scores that I could just turn on and listen to almost any time. Between all the glorious source/band music to the great tender scoring to the harrowing survival, it's hard not to adore this score.

I know Williams scoring pretty well, and I've done many studies of his work, so I can usually glint quite a bit of information from very little heh but I have SO many questions with this one heh

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 7:46 AM   
 By:   Krakatoa   (Member)

I cannot... the movie. The score is so evocative and fun and scary...and the actors, oh the actors!

"The Towering Inferno" is Quite the theatrical experience. The Oscar winning Cinematography by Fred Koenekamp is another crucial factor that makes it work. The Cinemark movie chain in the US has had a string of weekly classic movie screenings for some time now. Perhaps "The Towering Inferno" might one day be in that mix.

As noted here, it is downright amazing how Williams transforms a helicopter ride into a flight of the Greatest Mythological Importance! And imbedded in that five minute piece is the "rescue" motif that will dominate the last act - perfection and Movie Music Magic!

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 9:14 AM   
 By:   GoodMusician86   (Member)

I still can't imagine what Irwin Allen had intended! No music during that? Seems so ...counter intuitive... I imagine it would have been a shorter sequence but still!

One thing I think is most fascinating about the score is how...expertly....expertly spotted it is. For a film of it's size, length, and scope... it could have been wall to wall music... and that would be unnecessary... now granted, there are spots like the 'Helicopter Explosion' where I feel like having cut the music during the actual crash DIDN'T do the film a service (but with how much sound was vying for attention in the original mono mix, I can guess the music had to be cut out because it would simply be unheard)... but the fact that so much of it is... silent....real... sfx driven... It heightens so much. It's like being led blindly through a haunted house...and only occasionally someone turns on a little light to help you understand how to feel and how people feel... otherwise... you have NO idea and that's terrifying... even now when I watch it I'm on the edge... and If it ever comes to a theatre near me, I'm GOING!

part of this sense I think is the performances too... had they been bad or poor, the music may have been more necessary... or had it not been filmed with a sense of realism (heightened, but still realism) then it may have NEEDED music...

I love film scores, don't get me wrong. Star Wars Episode I is another one of my favourite film scores (among other 'operatic' wall to wall music film scores like 'HOOK') but I really do miss the days when the film and sounds were allowed to speak on their own too.

I wrote the score for a Jurassic Park fan film and the director didn't really give me many directions on music or spot the film with me so I was left spotting it myself and I purposely chose to let the SFX speak some of the time. In the early half of the film, right after the first action sequence in the film had climaxed, there was this gorgeous pan to the right of a lake with the woods in the background in late-afternoon light and my original thought was "Music!" and then I said "No, let the forest speak." So, since I did the SFX too, I mixed the forest a bit louder, added in distant animal sounds, light water sounds, stuff like that... and this 4-5 second shot (a long shot really) as pure sfx. Then at the cut away I had the music come in heh

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 10:42 AM   
 By:   Mike_H   (Member)

I wasn't even alive yet lol... Born 1986 lol... But Towering Inferno is one of those films I will love forever. I cannot... the movie. The score is so evocative and fun and scary...and the actors, oh the actors! And the peril... I still get upset when the Scenic Elevator gets stuck or during the "trapped lovers" scene or when Harlee is handed the cat... ugh... the feels lol

I think we're the same person! Right down to the birth year! big grin

I can't remember the first time I watched the movie..probably when I was 7 or 8. But I fell completely in love with it and watched it on loop for many years. It's the main reason I got hooked onto film scores and why I ended up becoming a musician/composer. VHS, laserdisc, recorded off of AMC, DVD, you name it-- I had multiple copies, haha.

One of my favorite moments is when I gathered a group of friends together a few years ago and we watched the movie. It was like watching it for the first time. They were completely taken in by it and on the edge of their seats. The special effects are still #1. You can't beat the matte paintings, the model work, and the stunt work. My god, the stunt work! That widescreen exterior shot of Bigelow running through the room consumed in flames is still the most harrowing stunt scene I've ever scene committed to film. The music, the cinematography, it IS spectacle at it's best. Seeing it in 70mm on the big screen would be a dream come true.

One of my favorite cues that I don't believe is on the FSM CD is when Robert Vaughn and Bill Holden check the exit doors and find that the one is blocked by concrete. It's a rather low-key suspense cue with a very 70's mysterioso flute moment. I love that kind of scoring.

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 10:59 AM   
 By:   GoodMusician86   (Member)

I had called that one "All Downhill" because Robert Vaughn had said they should take the stairs and that they would be "all downhill" and it's kinda a play on that idea anyway because that is another big turning point and from there it really does all go downhill heh

And you're correct, it is missing from the FSM set. If I understood the notes Browny made on the score in another thread, it was missing from the sessions. It reminds me of some of the ominous stuff from Episode II honestly heh

I need to expose my friends to this! Maybe if it's coming out to a theatre, I can convince them to go with me heh...

I heard that the TV extended cut was split into two parts and that the 2nd part had a shortened "Main Title" recording... never been able to find copies of it to confirm that. You said you had a VHS of it? was it just the DVD transfer, not the TV version?

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 11:23 AM   
 By:   Krakatoa   (Member)

I have wondered if John Williams is one of the wisest collaborators ever known in the business based on this: for the first and the third of the three appearances of the name "Irwin Allen" in "The Towering Inferno" Main Title credits there is a distinct cymbal Crash when his name flashes up. Classy, well-deserved on this project, Smart...and it fits the rhythm of the goings on!

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 11:36 AM   
 By:   Krakatoa   (Member)

One of my favorite cues that I don't believe is on the FSM CD is when Robert Vaughn and Bill Holden check the exit doors and find that the one is blocked by concrete. It's a rather low-key suspense cue with a very 70's mysterioso flute moment. I love that kind of scoring.

There was a time when I thought I was the only human being obsessed with the Johnny Williams music for "Lost in Space" and have since learned that is Not the case and there are a few moments in "The Towering Inferno" which have a wonderful "Lost in Space" vibe. In the "Planting the Charges" eight minute sequence there is one moment where one might be Fairly certain that the Robot is about to put in an appearance based on what the woodwinds are up to.

That whole pop vibe in certain cues in "The Towering Inferno" is just wonderful. It is all Williams but it does have this then-contemporary flourish or mood here and there, like the one you mention, that is just delightful.

I've always wondered if Alfred Newman's terrific "Airport" score was a kind of template for the approach that Williams took for "Earthquake" and "The Towering Inferno".

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 11:37 AM   
 By:   GoodMusician86   (Member)

Could be wrong but it was my impression those were added in to sync with Irwin Allen's name. But you are right, they do fit against the music rather well!

And in Jurassic Park, he does something similar where the shift from FILM to Credits is heard and the music almost plays at the pace of the credits (although that may have been in response to the music).

It's also obvious from the slight omission that the credits were meant to start a few seconds later than they do (the fade out starts a few seconds earlier). one of many micro edits to the film

I've never studied Airport and in fact only saw it just once, but It's something I've been meaning to check out

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 11:41 AM   
 By:   Krakatoa   (Member)

Could be wrong but it was my impression those were added in to sync with Irwin Allen's name. But you are right, they do fit against the music rather well!

Yes, isn't the first Crash missing from recordings of the Main Title?

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 11:44 AM   
 By:   Krakatoa   (Member)

I've never studied Airport and in fact only saw it just once, but It's something I've been meaning to check out.

The "Airport" Main Title brings up (brilliantly, of course) the notion of a busy teeming airport hub and the "Earthquake" Main Title (so Williams was quoted in the album liner notes) is intended to bring out the notion of a busy teeming metropolitan city.

The thirty minute "Airport" re-recorded album is endlessly listenable with a Wonderful Love Theme. Not that an Alfred Newman score (especially his last Oscar nominated one) needs affirmation.

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 11:55 AM   
 By:   GoodMusician86   (Member)

It is. I have wondered if it wasn't a mixing choice, where they pull the cymbal out but I don't think there was one there at all.

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 12:03 PM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

So er...what's the problem with re-releasing this great score? Everthing else has been re-released, some a couple of times.

 Posted:   Aug 30, 2013 - 12:04 PM   
 By:   Krakatoa   (Member)

It is. I have wondered if it wasn't a mixing choice, where they pull the cymbal out but I don't think there was one there at all.

Perhaps one good Crash deserved another!

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