The Appointment

LP: None
CD: FSM Vol 6, No. 11
Music by John Barry & Don Walker,
Michele Legrand and Stu Phillips


cover art for The Appointment

The Movie

Never saw the film, and since I don't have neither Cable nor TiVo, I doubt that I ever will. But as I read Lukas Kendall's liner notes on the CD, it looks like I haven't missed anything. Omar Sharif falls in love and marries Anouk Aimée, but somehow gets it in his head that she's a high-priced hooker. He becomes obsessed with proving it by getting through to her via her madam—which is where the movie's title comes from. Sidney Lumet directed, and his movies are usually very good. But Lumet admitted that he made the movie only because he wanted to work with the cinematographer, even though the script was a dog. So what we got was a beautifully photographed bad movie. Great...

The Music

The CD was released as a curiosity, and as a rare opportunity to feature different scores for the same film. Michele Legrand was the first composer and he wrote a full score. The movie screened badly. Execs decided to cut the film's length down, threw out the score and hired John Barry to give it a "hip" sound. This was during a period when Barry sometimes took an assignment, wrote the main melodies and then handed off the rest of the work to someone else (e.g. Ken Thorne with Murphy's War and They Might Be Giants). In this case he did so with Don Walker, and so they share credit for the music.

The Barry version didn't test well either, though it least it saw a foreign (non-US) theatrical release. The studio, MGM, decided to recut it, substantially reshape the film, and threw out the score again. This time they hired Stu Phillips, who was and is most famous for his tv work (I think he would be most widely recognized for The Cosby Show), hoping he would give it a hip, contemporary sound. This version of the film ran on television. And none of the music was released on LP or any other medium until Film Score Monthly released it as one of their "Silver Age Classics."

Lukas Kendall, in his liner notes, talks about both Legrand's and Barry & Walker's having a similar viewpoint—this is an opera. The music has a single theme (as does the movie—obsession), and the music repeats the theme in various ways and in various arrangements throughout the film. Kendall, who produced the CD for FSM, presented 20 minutes of Legand's music in two suites, explaining that because of the single theme, presenting the Legrand score in its entirety would be monotonous.

As Kendall points out, Legrand and Barry & Walker's music is very similar in tone—simple, downbeat and fragile. Phillips did go for something more contemporary—it starts with the song "Solo e Triste," a vocal that sounds like something from Seals and Crofts. "Carla/Help Me" is soft and touching, "Partly Sunny" bright and bouncy. Blending all this music into a single soundtrack album took a lot of courage.

Movie music is meant to support the film, and it is meant to be married to images on screen. The fact that many soundtracks are enjoyable listening experiences on their own is a pleasant byproduct. I don't think that happens here. Even when listening to an album, most movie music is more effective when the listener is familiar with what the music was written for and is trying to do. Since The Appointment is such an obscure movie, it is very difficult to determine what each piece of music was meant for. So for pure listening pleasure—I don't see myself playing this album for fun. But I found it very interesting listening for the reasons Kendall et al intended—as an experience at hearing three film composers' music for (arguably) the same film. And at that it excels.

Release Notes

Not surprisingly, The Appointment never got a soundtrack release until Film Score Monthly produced it as one of their "Silver Age Classics." FSM offers numerous other CDs of obscure titles, including Barry's Deadfall and Monte Walsh. Barry did release a single called "The Appointment" on a couple of compilations(Grand Prix 20 and Ready When You Are, JB), and a piece titled "Next Time" on The Film Music of John Barry. Nic Raine covers it on his compilation The Classic John Barry, Vol 2 and on Silva's Collection (disc 2) .

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