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Cleopatra Jones/Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1973/1975)
Music by Dominic Frontiere, J.J. Johnson, Joe Simon
Cleopatra Jones/Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold Cleopatra Jones/Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold Cleopatra Jones/Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $19.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: April 2010
Catalog #: Vol. 13, No. 6
# of Discs: 2

Cleopatra Jones was one of the most memorable characters to emerge from the 1970s “blaxploitation” genre. Played by six-foot-two Tamara Dobson, she was a female African-American version of James Bond, starring in two adventures for Warner Bros. where she battled villainess drug lords in Los Angeles and Hong Kong, respectively.

The original Cleopatra Jones (1973) introduced the character as an international secret agent stamping out the narcotics trade. She runs afoul of “Mommy” (Shelley Winters), a lesbian kingpin who targets her L.A. inner-city charity, the B&S House, for retribution. Cleo returns home to fight Mommy’s henchmen and corrupt white cops; Bernie Casey co-stars as her love interest.

The soundtrack to Cleopatra Jones (released on Warner Bros. Records) was a collaborative effort of two R&B artists from the Spring Records label, Joe Simon and Millie Jackson, and score composer J.J. Johnson (himself collaborating with Carl Brandt). Simon’s “Theme From Cleopatra Jones” kicked off the LP and film with a groovy ode to Cleo’s prowess, while two of Jackson’s performances, “Love Doctor” and “It Hurts So Good,” were taken from her concurrent record album for Spring. Combined with two additional (and previously unreleased) source cues by Roger Kellaway (sung by Pattie Brooks), the Cleopatra Jones soundtrack is a minor-masterpiece of the “symphonic funk” fusion that identified the genre.

Cleo returned in Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975) for a blending of “blaxploitation” with the burgeoning kung fu genre. Shot in Hong Kong (and a co-production between Warner Bros. and Run Run Shaw), Cleo teams with a local secret agent (Tien-Ni, billed as “Tanny”) to battle a drug kingpin known as the “Dragon Lady” (Stella Stevens).

Unlike most of the “blaxploitation” films, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold did not involve an African-American recording artist—although you wouldn’t know that by listening. Veteran composer Dominic Frontiere provided a pulsating, funky score with exotic instrumentation for the Far East setting (and martial arts action) in the best tradition of Lalo Schifrin’s seminal Enter the Dragon, as well as a groovy title song, “Playing With Fire.”

This 2CD set is feast of Cleopatra Jones tracks: Disc one features the Warner Bros. Records album program to Cleopatra Jones followed by a new program of solely the dramatic score by J.J. Johnson and Carl Brandt (including several previously unreleased cues). Disc two features the complete Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold score by Dominic Frontiere, as well as bonus tracks of instrumental and alternate-lyrics versions of the main title. Disc two closes with additional selections from the first film: extended versions of the Joe Simon title song, as well as the aforementioned Roger Kellaway source cues.

The entire 2CD set is in excellent stereo sound, with liner notes by Scott Bettencourt. Complete track-by-track commentary can be found, for free, online at our website (presented here for space reasons). 

Dominic Frontiere Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Dominic Frontiere (b. 1931) started working in Hollywood in the early 1950s as an arranger and orchestrator at 20th Century Fox. He was also a familiar figure on the West Coast jazz scene, eventually forming his own sextet. He began composing music for movies and television in the early '60s, making his first mark with the science fiction anthology series The Outer Limits. Frontiere became a mainstay of the United Artists music department during the mid-'60s and a familiar name in the composer credits for such ABC-TV series as The Rat Patrol and Twelve O’Clock High. Feature film credits include Billie, Popi, Hang 'Em High and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. He was the head of Paramount's music department during the 1970s. IMDB

J.J. Johnson Scores on FSM
About the Composer

J.J. Johnson (1924-2001) was an influential jazz trombonist whose solo career also encompassed Bebop and Third Stream (a mix of classical music and jazz improvisation). In 1961 he recorded a rare vinyl disc with the André Previn Trio. In 1970, Quincy Jones invited him to Hollywood where he scored such films as Cleopatra Jones and Willie Dynamite, as well as TV series such as Starsky & Hutch, The Mod Squad and The Six Million Dollar Man. He resumed his performing career in 1987. IMBD

Joe Simon Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Joe Simon (b. 1943) is a chart-topping, Grammy Award-winning, soul and R&B artist. His early 70s hits, “Drowning In the Sea of Love” and “Power of Love,” both reached #11 on the Hot 100 and achieved gold record status. Simon's success escalated with his writing/producing the theme tune for Cleopatra Jones in 1973.Since the early 80s he has devoted his career primarily to gospel music.

Comments (64):Log in or register to post your own comments

Film Score Monthly presents these two scores by Joe Simon, J. J. Johnson and Dominic Frontiere (2CD)


What a year for FSM so far, and it's only April!

And each CD comes with a free pair of burgundy bellbottom courduroy pants. Solid!

I know a certain someone who's going to pee himself with joy when he sees this. Yeah I know, TMI. :)

Frontiere funk? I'm there!

Frontiere funk? I'm there![/endquote]

My thoughts exactly :D

Damn straight, Allardyce! Good thing I had another pair of clean shorts. Funktastic!!!!!

Right on!

I've picked samples from this new release at random - and so far I've yet to find one that I don't like! :)

Update: Even the source music is listenable. :)

I never imagined this would be a FSM release...

blows my mind to see it! Thanks LK & the FSM team!

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Track List
Click on each musician name for more credits
For more specific musician lists for the scores on this album, go here:
Cleopatra Jones
Cleopatra Jones And The Casino Of Gold

Leader (Conductor):
Dominic Frontiere, James L. Johnson

Murray Adler, Alex L. Beller, Arnold Belnick, Herman Clebanoff, Assa Drori, Baldassare Ferlazzo, David Frisina, Janice Gower, Howard W. Griffin, William Hymanson, Anatol Kaminsky, Nathan Kaproff, Marvin Limonick, Joseph Livoti, Yoko Matsuda, Stanley Plummer, Lou Raderman, Jerome Joseph Reisler, Christopher Reutinger, Linda Rose, Nathan Ross, Sam Ross, Sheldon Sanov, Joseph Stepansky, Robert "Bob" Sushel, Gerald Vinci, Tibor Zelig

Rollice Dale, Cecil Figelski, William Hymanson, Myra Kestenbaum, Louis Kievman, Yukiko Kurakata (Kamei), Alex Neiman, Robert Ostrowsky, David Schwartz

Joseph DiTullio, Christine Ermacoff, Marie Fera, Anne Goodman (Karam), Kathleen Hougesen (Lustgarten), Armand Kaproff, Edgar Lustgarten, Kurt Reher, David H. Speltz, Gloria Strassner

Bob Tricarico

Gene Cipriano, Justin Gordon, Plas Johnson, Harry Klee, Ronald Langinger (aka Ronny Lang), Jerome Richardson, Wilbur Schwartz, Joseph Soldo

French Horn:
James A. Decker, Vincent N. DeRosa, Arthur Maebe, Jr., Alan I. Robinson

Albert Aarons, Robert O. "Bobby" Bryant, Conte Candoli, Marion "Buddy" Childers

Milton Bernhart, Hoyt Bohannon, Richard "Dick" Nash, Richard Noel, Barrett O'Hara, Chauncey Welsch

John T. "Tommy" Johnson

Pete Jolly (Ceragloli)

Artie Kane, Ian R. Underwood

Michael J. Anthony, Dennis Budimir, Joseph Robert Gibbons, Thomas "Tommy" Tedesco

Fender (electric) Bass:
Charles L. Domanico, Charles W. Rainey

Denzil (Gail) Laughton

Larry Bunker, Victor Feldman, John P. Guerin, Milton Holland, Emil Radocchia (Richards)

Milton Holland, Joe Porcaro, Emil Radocchia (Richards)

Carl Edwin Brandt, James L. Johnson

Orchestra Manager:
Kurt E. Wolff

Dan Franklin, Joel Franklin (Guzy), Arthur W. Grier, Alvin Sanders, Bill Williams (aka George Davenport)

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