Leith Stevens

War of the Worlds/When Worlds Collide

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In his own time, Leith Stevens was probably best known as a film composer for his work on The Wild One, which got an actual commercial release in 1954. But he also wrote a considerable body of music for science fiction movies -- if not quite front-line titles (such as the revered Forbidden Planet), then handsomely mounted releases, starting with Destination Moon in 1950 (music that later got tracked into a several other films down the line), and continuing with Paramount's boldly conceived War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide. The score for the 1953 War of the Worlds is represented by several interesting but short music tracks that set mood without much development, and a compelling finale that justifies the listening. It's all interesting, despite the presence of what amounts to a sound effect representing the Martian heat ray at the denouement of one short musical segment. Much more compelling is his music for When Worlds Collide (1951), which has a definite dramatic and musical arc to its overall direction, and demonstrates good musical development as well as strong ensemble virtuosity. The sound quality is surprisingly good in what amounts to a quasi-legal release of 50-year-old movie tracks, and the package will be appreciated by fans of either movie as well as serious soundtrack aficionados.

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