*Read John Williams’ biography here
Based on a 1927 short story by Ernest Hemingway, The Killers is a 1964 film where two professional hit men try to find out who hired them and why when their contract victim didn’t try to run away from them. Directed by Don Siegel it stars Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes, Angie Dickinson and Ronald Regan in his final film role.
The Killers was supposed to be a made-for-TV movie, one of the first to do so, but it was decided it was too violent so the film was released to cinemas instead
The main title theme (in the clip below) contains cues that were taken from Henry Mancini’s Touch of Evil (Mancini also wrote a composition for a love scene in The Killers).
Williams’ music for this film is a gritty jazz style, but I don’t think it’s a touch on his later scores. Another of his movies I haven’t seen, but the music doesn’t encourage me to watch it. There are a few elements that characterise the era (for example the trumpets and their repetitive use of the mute to give a “wah” sound). The movie does showcase what has become a particular skill of Williams’, and that is to leave race scenes unscored until the pivotal dramatic moment, instead leaving the car engines alone to provide the sound.
The music definitely evokes the thriller/crime genre, but I don’t find it aesthetically pleasing. I guess not all scores have to be lovely to listen to, but I definitely prefer them that way. What do you think…should scores be aesthetically pleasing while evoking the scene?