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Land of the Pharaohs (1955)
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Land of the Pharaohs Land of the Pharaohs
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $24.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: January 2008
Catalog #: Vol. 10, No. 17
# of Discs: 2

Pharaoh Decrees: You Must Hear Land of the Pharaohs!

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:

"Pharaoh 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."

In 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.

The 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:

"Why 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 important sometimes."

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.

But 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.")

All this hoppon long time ago!

Dimitri Tiomkin Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Russian composer Dimitri Tiomkin (1894-1979) was larger-than-life both for his showman-like personality and mammoth symphonic scores for epics like Land of the Pharaohs, Giant and The Fall of the Roman Empire. But his sense of theatricality also told him when to go "small" as well as "large," as in the ballad "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling" from High Noon. He wrote everything from the western staple "Rawhide" to the hysterical theremin horror score for The Thing From Another World. He had a knack for melody, for knowing his audience and wearing his heart on his sleeve. IMDB

Comments (6):Log in or register to post your own comments
Tiomkin was PERFECTLY cast in this movie.

So buy it now while it is on sale!

Loooong time favorite. One of FSM's happiest releases for me.

"The Pharaoh's Procession" alone is worth the cost the 2-cd set. A wonderful score made even better by the unique sound of the 1950's Warner Bros. orchestra.

Absolutely a perfect match of composer to film! This is grand, exciting Hollywood stuf!! Couldn't agree with you more. :)

my favorite Tiomkin score - among many other great ones

He was perfectly cast in it all right.

But not just because of the 'big Hollywood' angle. I recall thinking when I first heard Gerhardt's take on the Dalai Lama's funeral procession in 'Lost Horizon', 'This sounds Egyptian' .... it could be a Pharaoh's funeral, the bells, the orientalisms, but also the quick descending intervals that denote Africa in everything from 'White Witch Doctor' to 'Zulu'.

My old mate Carl Jung used to say that Egypt was better approached via the Hamitic rather than the Semitic mindset, and he's right (i.e., the feel of Egypt in her greatest era was African, not Arabic) and it needs that sort of approach musically. That's what he gives it.

I'm sure Hawks and those in the loop made the same connection in casting this film. It's the best evocation of Egypt in any movie score, not sliding down the Arabic, or the Aida traps, but going for its own feel. And never corny.

Avoid the obvious. De Bosio's 'Moses the Lawgiver' is the most VISUALLY accurate depiction, and not one person in that production ever wears that silly square-head dishcloth that everybody thinks is Egyptian in movies, but which is really a misinterpretation of a Pharaoh's lion's mane headdress. And in LotPs you have the MUSICALLY best evocation, because Tiomkin avoids the vampy kitsch sand-dances and goes for the big African feel, which hits the spot.

Track List
Click on each musician name for more credits

Leader (Conductor):
Dmitri Tiomkin

Israel Baker, Rocco Barbieri, Victor Bay, David Berman, Dave Crocov, Baldassare Ferlazzo, Noumi / Naomi Fischer, Jacques Gasselin, Howard W. Griffin, Rene C. Hemery, Henry Hill, William Hymanson, Sascha Jacobsen, Anatol Kaminsky, George Kast, Murray Kellner, Arcady Konchester, Joseph Livoti, Dan Lube, Hillard Lubie, Lilly Mahler, Marshall Moss, Alexander Murray, Jack Pepper, Jerome Joseph Reisler, Sam Ross, John Santulis, Waldemar Seliger, Eudice Shapiro-Kast, Peter Sniadoff, Harry Solloway, Heimann Weinstine, Hans Wippler, Harry Zagon, Tibor Zelig

Norman Botnick, Andre Brummer, Donald A. Cole, Joseph DiFiore, Phillip Goldberg, William Hymanson, Maurice Keltz, Robert Ostrowsky, Michel Perriere, Jack (Jacques) Ray, Milton Thomas

Margaret Aue-Van Wyck, Naoum Benditzky, Ennio Bolognini, Virgil Gates, Ossip Giskin, Elizabeth Greenschpoon, Armand Kaproff, Kolia Levienne, Fernand Lhoest, Irving Lipschultz, Alexander Reisman, Katherine F. Shreves, Eleanor Slatkin

John Bambridge, Jr., Arthur Bernstein, Paul Gregory, Richard F. Kelley, Sr., Henry Lewis, Jr., Peter A. Mercurio, Joseph Mondragon, Arthur Pabst, William Riporkin, Kenneth Winstead

Haakon Bergh, Robert Bladet, James Briggs, George Drexler, Aaron Gershunoff, Richard Linden, Roland F. Moritz, Mischa Patchook, Leonard V. Posella

Alex Duvoir, Arnold Koblentz, Liliane Lhoest Covington, H. Vincent Schipilitti, Gordon Schoneberg

English Horn:
Lloyd R. Rathbun

Richard H. Anderson, Joe Casillas, Henry Emerson, Teddy Krise, Mitchell Lurie, Percy Nichols, Les Robinson

Charles S. Graver, Norman H. Herzberg, Kenneth Edgar Lowman, Jack Marsh, Frederick Moritz, Ray Nowlin

French Horn:
Alfred Brain, Leon Donfray, Arthur Frantz, William A. Hinshaw, Wendell Hoss, George W. Hyde, Sinclair Lott, Irving Rosenthal, Barbara W. Shik, Tibor Shik

Kenneth Apperson, John M. Best, Morris Boltuch, Russell Brown, Clayton Cash, Robert Divall, Robert H. Fleming, Robert Fowler, Alex R. Golden, Robert A. Gotthoffer, A. A. Harris, Sidney Lazar, Harley Pitts, Lester Remsen, Jerry Rosen, Silvio Savant, Pincus "Pinky" Savitt, Larry Sullivan, Norman Williams

Hoyt Bohannon, Charles Campbell, Louis Castellucci, Daniel D. Cerilly, Charles Cowpland, George Faye, Randall Miller, Andreas "Andy" Mitchell, Richard Noel, Frank Sullivan, Seymour "Cy" Zeldin

Baritone Horn:
Louis Castellucci, Harley Pitts

John Bambridge, Jr.

Emanuel Bay, Eugene Feher, David Klatzkin, Max Rabinowitsh, Raymond Turner

Hilmer "Tiny" Timbrell

Helen Bliss (Hutchison), Stanley Chaloupka, Irma Louise Clow, Marcy / Marcia Johnstone, Denzil (Gail) Laughton, Kathryn M. Thompson Penney, Charlotte Tinsley

Spyros Stamos

George Beebe, John T. Boudreau, Charles Calkins, Lou Erickson, W. Frank Horscroft, Preston Lodwick, Cameron Maus, Lee Joe Perrin, Spyros Stamos, Graham Stevenson

Orchestra Manager:
Victor Aller

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