THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964)
Music composed by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter.
Orchestrations by Alfonso D'Artega.
Produced by David Schecter and Kathleen Mayne.
Digital editing and mastering: Ray Faiola.
Layout: Gina Vivona.
Liner notes: David Schecter.
46 Tracks (Playing Time = 54:39)
Limited Edition of 1,000
Monstrous Movie Music, MMM-1969
For fans of the popular 1954 novel, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the film based on his book made ten years later was perhaps the most successful of several made, including the lackluster film THE OMEGA MAN, and the more recent I AM LEGEND, with impressive special effects but way over-the-top in its use of sprinting and jumping zombies who might win medals in the Olympics for their agility.
Unfortunately, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH was filmed in Rome with an all Italian cast except for the very accomplished actor, Vincent Price. The low budget of this production is evident throughout with some bad dubbing of the actor's voices adding to it, but Price does an admirable job of making his character believable against the rather limp looking vampires he must fight off. The film is still fun to watch if you aren't too critical about the details.
left to right: Paul Sawtell conducting;
Victor Young with Bert Shefter in 1948
(Pictures from Monstrous Movie Music CD)
The score for this 1964 is a very good one. The soundtrack was shared by the two composers who often worked together, Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter. They had worked together on such similar small budget films as:
IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE and KRONOS and THE COSMIC MAN.
I recommend reading the excellent CD notes in the 20 page booklet, filled with detailed information about this soundtrack and also biographies of the two composers. There are also pages from the original orchestral score to the film. Even with the low budget, the composers were fortunate to employ a 41-piece orchestra who add a great deal of needed emphasis to the film.
This is how it is described in the CD booklet:
As is almost always the case with movies having tight budgets or schedules, Sawtell and Shefter were forced to re-use a fe cues in the climax that they had written for earlier in the motion picture. The movie's most prominent theme was a substantial part of the "Main Title" from 1959's RETURN OF THE FLY.
But I'm not of the opinion that repeating a theme is a bad thing if it has some legs to it and "Main Title" (track2, 1:36) does have that quality of running through the race of soundtrack cues. The opening "Prologue" (1:29) also has a somber mysterious quality to it that nicely sets of the bleakness depicted in the film's screenplay. That theme reminded me of Bernard Herrmann's wonderful end title theme for THE TWILIGHT ZONE television series from 1959.
As Schecter mention in his notes, what is rather humorously called "Vampire Bop" (track 10) may not have been composed by either Sawtell or Shefter. This jazzy up tempo cue adds a needed bit of contrast to the mostly slow cues featured in the rest of the score. The cue is heard whenever Vincent Price plays a record in his fortified house. Too bad they couldn't use the Ravel or Rachmaninoff music as Matheson mentions in his novel.
I agree that the Bonus Tracks (tracks 42-46) with undubbed voices sound better than those featured in the soundtrack itself and this is a very good addition to have included.
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH is another in a long line of high quality CD releases from Monstrous Movie Music and well worth adding to your soundtrack collection.
-- Reviewed by Roger Hall, 1 December 2012
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