Elmer Bernstein

The Great Escape [Original Motion Picture Score]

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Elmer Bernstein's music for John Sturges' movie The Great Escape proved to be one of the most enduring of all action film soundtracks, rivaling his earlier work on Sturges' The Magnificent Seven in quality if not popularity. The main title theme was never used in a cigarette ad campaign the way The Magnificent Seven's was, but it was one of the most memorable and widely heard marches written for a movie, and was so familiar (and so closely attached to the film in the minds of even casual listeners and viewers) that it became an essential ingredient of a Monty Python sketch a decade or so later. The rest of the score is surprisingly rich in both musical and dramatic content, beautifully capturing elements of the action and the characters -- Bernstein devised leitmotifs associated with characters such as Ives the Mole and Blythe the Forger that vividly recall them for the listener who has seen the movie, and it is easy to listen to this music on two levels at once, as superb music in its own right and also as evocative of the panorama of the film itself.

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