Favourite Soundtracks No.2: ‘The Mercenaries’

London

The_Mercenaries

Good gracious, it’s been ages since we had un peu de musica on this site. Here’s the only film soundtrack that the great French jazz composer Jacques Loussier ever wrote (to my knowledge at least) for a film version of Wilbur Smith’s ‘The Dark of the Sun’, a tough drama about a diamond smuggling trip into the Congo that goes horribly wrong when a group of mercenaries and a drunk doctor set off on a train to break the bank and relieve the town. There’s a terrifically brutal fight with a Bad German at the end.

The opening title sequence is superb; soundtracks involving trains tend to pull the stops out and work well with their imagery because they have the built-in tempo of wheels on rails, as Loussier shows here. The accompanying images showed pistons, wheels grinding, steam and oil…

5 comments on “Favourite Soundtracks No.2: ‘The Mercenaries’”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    I particularly like the end of that piece where the train appears to be shrieking to a stop, all wheels grating and steam filling the picture (I assume). Don’t know the film of the book but should look it up. See if the library has a copy. It’s the husband’s b-day this weekend and perhaps he’d enjoy watching that.

  2. Paul Graham says:

    Groovy, as all the cool kids are saying…Ok maybe not. Is that a Tom Chantrell poster Admin?

  3. admin says:

    No, the poster is by Frank McCarthy, famed for his off-kilter angles in action posters and his excellent paintings of the American wild west.

  4. chazza says:

    A superlative piece of music! Still remember the film which was very brutal (and still is having bought the reissue) even if the original was cut by the censors. Is there any interest nowadays in providing films with decent original soundtrack scores? Think my favourite is the final music to John Barry’s “Walkabout” with the Housman voiceover which still brings tears to my eyes!

  5. Helen Martin says:

    Did like the poster in spite of the impossible to maintain angles, which probably add to the tension of the scene. All copies of the book are checked out so it is still an appreciated story, but they don’t have the film.

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