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David Amram: The Manchurian Candidate: The Complete Film Soundtrack

When director John Frankenheimer decided on a non-Hollywood composer to score The Manchurian Candidate, he selected the precocious David Amram, who had backgrounded the director’s 1959 Emmy Award-winning TV production of Henry James’ The Turn of The Screw.

It was an auspicious choice. Indeed, Amram’s brilliant writing is an exemplar of innovative film scoring. Recorded in Los Angeles with such studio stalwarts as saxophonists Paul Horn, Harold Land and Jack Nimitz and trumpeters Carmel Jones and Joe Gordon, the music sounds as fresh today as it did in 1962 when the film was first released.

In scoring the adaptation of Richard Condon’s political psychodrama, Amram used a broad stylistic compass. For “Unrequited Love,” Copland-esque strings, a moody sax, an ominous bass clarinet and unsettling bongos underpin the doomed romance between Laurence Harvey and Leslie Parish. In “Slightly Manchurian Blues,” Harold Land sails through an aptly augmented blues, while in “Cantina Latina, Korea, 1952,” Amram’s haunting French horn leads to a tumultuous jam. Also included are tracks cut from the final release such as “Dare to Dream,” a poignant theme for the Sinatra-Janet Leigh love affair which more than stands on its own.

Originally Published