Music By Lalo Schifrin Soundtrack Album Review
Music Box Records/24 Tracks/Disc Time: 69:50
“Whoever Owns Them Can Rule The World”
The film “Golden Needles” is a pretty much forgotten film that had what you’d call a very whacky premise of a golden statue that is very valuable for well, all the wrong reasons. Add to this various different factions are after the statue that include the likes of Joe Don Baker (“Walking Tall”), Elizabeth Ashley (“Dragnet”), Burgess Meredith (“Batman”, “Rocky”), Jim Kelly (“Enter The Dragon”) and Ann Southern (“A Letter To Three Wives”), the film’s Hong Kong setting which was beautifully shot by Director Robert Clouse (“Enter The Dragon”), add alot of martial arts chop sukey fighting and of course, the great reveal of the film in which the statue itself was pretty much a MacGuffin for it contains: golden needles that hold extraordinary and unique properties, which if inserted in the right positions in a man, he will gain super sexual prowess and dies if placed incorrectly. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Well, other than an MGM Limited Edition DVD-R that is still available, the film is really obscure and isn’t fondly remembered.
The one memorable thing about it is the work of jazz and composing legend Lalo Schifrin, who was coming off his most memorable score ever written in Bruce Lee’s final film “Enter The Dragon”, which was also directed by Robert Clouse, who was really smart to bring in Lalo to score this film. Schifrin was already amongst Hollywood best and elite composers of his era when he wrote the score to this film with film such as “The Cincinnatti Kid”, “Bullitt”, “Kelly’s Heroes”, “THX 1138” (George Lucas’ Directorial Debut) and “The Fox” along side a great recording career a part of Verve Records successful catalog of musicians that included Quincy Jones, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie.
After the brief and exotic “The Golden Statue” that quickly establishes the film’s Asian setting, Schifrin kicks it into some funky jazz in the “Golden Needles (Main Title)” that mixes some the Oriential material along with some percussion driven material that is hard charging thematically. Schifrin emphasizes the plots majestic MacGuffin (The Golden Needles) with some moody and ethnic material in the tracks “Acupuncture #1”, and “Acupuncture #2”, continues the mystic of what the characters in the film are after while mixing in some of Schifrin’s trademark suspense material highlighted by “Fortune Teller/Snake Shop/Snakes”, “Winters’ Mansion/Winters/It’s Time” which features a sinister theme for harpischord, “Antique Shop/Health Club” that features the same growling brass featured in “Fortune Teller”. If you were expecting some of what Schifrin did for “Enter The Dragon”, you do get some really nice action material that is quite similar to his grand work, but not quite up to that level. The tracks “Airports/Street Fight”, “Empty Hangers/Attack On Kwan/Chinese Cemetery”,”Health Club/Fight”, “Heavies Approach/Harbor”, “Harbor Chase/Crowds/Conclusion”, the lengthest track on this album and score that is building of tension with percussion pounding away before going for a full tilt action assault which is alot of fun. Schifrin also infuses his romantic jazz material as he briefly did in “Enter The Dragon” that is very classy and always refreshing to hear highlighted by “Felicity”, “Mongolian Supper”, and “Chinese Paintings” that also compliment Schifrin’s harpischord based love theme (“Love Theme” and “Golden Needles Of Love”) which are very romantic and classical in their own inspired way.
Music Box Records’ 50th release is a rather interesting score that does feature Lalo at this best continuing where he left off on “Enter The Dragon”, but it doesn’t quite have the magic of that score. There are really good moments here and there in this one and you could almost say since the film shouldn’t be taken seriously, Schifrin did find a straightforward comedic ground that shows off his versitility as the great composer that he is. Themes and melodies abound which is really lacking in today’s scores and even this score despite being a little bland could make these films better today. “Golden Needles” is a fun score at times that really shows Schifrin having fun with the material as best he can despite being given very little to work with on screen. A true testament of the magic that Lalo Schifrin brings to films and the great musician that he will forever be. A marginal, but affectionate thumbs up for “Golden Needles”