With the release of Dimitri Tiomkin’s epic score for Land of the Pharaohs on compact disc—part of Film Score Monthly’s Golden Age Classics series—the original Warner Bros. master recordings from 1954 and 1955 can be heard for the first time. Studio-archived monaural mixes were digitally mastered for this two-disc set containing one hour and forty-five minutes of music. Among the bonus tracks are unreleased instrumental and vocal versions of the main theme.
Milton Luban, an actor and screenwriter, reviewed the film, which dramatized the building of the pyramids in Egypt, for the Hollywood Reporter. Following the review’s headline, “Land of the Pharaohs a Stupendous Spectacle,” ran a subhead that is a composer’s dream: “Production, Music Stars of Gigantic Howard Hawks Film.” (At the time, a passing mention in a review’s final paragraph was the most composers could hope for—an all-too-common occurrence that no doubt later inspired the title of Henry Mancini’s autobiography, Did They Mention the Music?) In the opening paragraph, Luban raves about the wall-to-wall underscore, declaring that it certainly must be counted among the stars of the picture: “In fact, it is doubtful if this Warner Bros. CinemaScope epic would be nearly as exciting without the tremendous symphonic background created by Tiomkin. As in Lost Horizons [sic], it is almost impossible to separate the story from the music.” Now, with this CD, the listener can separate the music from the film and appreciate the subtleties of the score and orchestrations. This limited-edition soundtrack (FSMCD Vol. 10, No. 17), produced by Lukas Kendall, is available exclusively from Screen Archives Entertainment. Only 3,000 will be sold. A half-dozen tracks can be previewed on the Screen Archives site. For more information: www.screenarchives.com