Film scores

Soundtrack review: The president’s analyst (Lalo Schifrin – 1967)

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“The president’s analyst” is a 1967 satirical comedy starring James Coburn. The film’s themes were ethics and security concerns and from what I read it’s a mix of comedy and science fiction. It would be interesting to see the serious James Coburn in a film like this. Here the enemy is the phone company and its desire to control everyone. The score was written by Lalo Schifrin and it’s part of a release by Quarter Records, together with “Man on a swing”.

The opening is grandiose and fun. It’s a smooth big band number with just enough twists and suspense to make it even cooler. This is a proper opening and somehow the composer tells me without words what the general tone of the movie will be. I hear the comedic parts, I hear the more tense parts and I hear some vocals in the background that I would instantly associate with the 1960s.

Mr. Schifrin takes the satire part even more seriously with “Hey me”, a cue which sows a surprisingly light face of this usually very serious composer. I’m not sold on the female voice grooving “Joy to the world” in the background but I can see the appeal of such a silly cue to some listeners. It all depends of the mood you listen to this score in.

Even the more action oriented pieces like the military sounding “The long walk” have a wink in the corner of their eye. This and the parade sounding “The nest” could feature on old military comedies scores. I have to admit that hearing this latter cue I thought more on the army of elephants in Disney’s “The jungle book” then anything else.

As the score progresses, the general tone and mood don’t change very much. Of course there are the occasional lush jazzy inserts or even suspenseful motifs but they don’t last very long and most of the cues from “The president’s analyst” are agitated and jumpy. There’s a lot of fast percussion and plucked strings sounds in what builds up like a smoke and mirrors kind of scores which tries to dazzle you and make you dizzy.

And yet even if I found them silly in the beginning the female voices shrieking or chanting in the background slowly grow on me. They still make me laugh but they fit very well in some moments. I still can’t take this score very seriously but I think this is what Lalo Schifrin wanted me to feel.

Towards the end the score takes a different turn and there are some James Bond like moments starting with “Stinger 1,2,3”. I had to double check and see if I wasn’t actually listening to another Barry James Bond score when I heard “Sidney’s flight” and “Fast boat to Moscow”. The ending is no longer silly and I am actually enjoying it.

“The president’s analyst” is an interesting score for a Schifrin fan. By no means memorable or anything I would listen to again, it does have moments which fans of the genre will appreciate.

Cue rating: 76 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 33

Album excellence: 15%

Highlights:

Paramount Seal & Opening

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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