Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Remembering the Battle of Britain ............ part 4 a film and two music scores

Now there is always a story even behind the most straightforward of events.

Battle of Britain Theme, 1969
So here prompted by a photograph of the record of the Battle of Britain Theme by Ron Goodwin is a tale of two scores.

They were both written for the 1969 film the Battle of Britain.

The first had been composed by Sir William Walton but according to one source was not really liked by the American producers, who instead commissioned Ron Goodwin.*

This in turn led to a spat where Sir Lawrence Oliver threatened to take his name from the credits if Sir William’s composition was not used and eventually a compromise was reached.

A section of the rejected music was used but it was Mr Goodwin’s score that supported the film and will be the one David has on his piece of vinyl.

Sadly I don’t think you will be able to hear the record when David exhibits it as part of his Battle of Britain and Blitz exhibition at the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery so in the interests of historical accuracy I have included links to extracts from both which long ago were posted on You Tube.

I doubt that there can be anyone who hasn’t seen the film given that its a staple of the TV schedules and I expect get a showing as we enter the period which was the climax of the battle 75 years ago.
I remember seeing it at the cinema and of course have seen it over the years since on the television.

But like all of these things what sticks in my mind is not just the film or the score but an event that must have happened some months before the film was completed, and I suppose was the closest I have ever come to being a film extra.

We were heading back south across London Bridge in the summer of 1968 in the early hours of the morning.

A.R.P. First Aid Box, 1939
And as you would expect there were few people about save a handful pedestrians standing looking out towards the Tower of London and the docks behind it.

What had caught their interest and drew us in was a powerful red glare topped by a plume of smoke directly to the north of Tower Bridge.

We stopped, gawped for a few minutes and having exchanged the sort of comments you do in these situations with total strangers carried on home to Eltham.

I can’t remember if I even checked in the papers the following day for a report of a dockland fire, and it would be a full year and a bit later that I put together the connection between that red glow and the blitz sequences in the film which in all probability was part of the filming.

I might of course be wrong but it is the highlight of watching the film to spot the red glow and recount once again the tale of the night we crossed London Bridge.

Now I I will refrain from asking David to include the story in the exhibition and instead remind you of the new event which will shortly be installed in the Lodge.

Picture; Battle of Britain Theme, 1969 from the collection of David Harrop

*Battle of Britain (film), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Britain_(film)#Musical_score

**Battle of Britain March Ron Goodwin  High Quality You Tube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jynq4lEwbew

**Battle of Britain Battle in the Air Sir William Walton, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feJsR1Kgibc

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