German Music in The Guns of Navarone

Talking about the myriad German musical sound-tracks featured in the movies has obviously stirred some thoughts amongst Tomahawk Film’s gallant and much valued band of customer-friends in various far-flung outposts around the globe. One in particular, Dan, kindly dropped me an e-mail via our Tomahawk Films WW-II German Archive website to ask us about a certain musical track that has long captivated him…

It was one of the on-screen songs that featured in the 1961 British-American movie ‘The Guns of Navarone’ staring Gregory Peck, David Niven & Anthony Quinn, being the celluloid version of Alistair MacLean’s stirring 1957 novel of the same name…

Directed by J. Lee Thompson, the movie tells the story of an Allied team of highly trained Commandos sent on a daring mission to destroy an impregnable German fortification whose long-range guns threaten all Allied naval shipping operating in the Aegean Sea and thereby preventing the launch of any rescue attempts of some 2,000 British & Commonwealth troops stranded behind enemy lines..!

Reading Dan’s description of the particular song he was hoping to identify, which comes some way into the film, and describing it as a slow melody, I immediately ventured, (thinking it to be an originally-penned tune), that it might have been either something from Ms Lale Andersen, the evocative voice behind the famous & much-loved ‘Lili Marleen’ or, failing that, an offering from Ms Zarah Leander, who was very much a favourite of Germany’s Berlin-based war-time Ufa newsreel producers and who had a very distinctive & wonderfully intense, smoky voice.

However Dan says he has acquired a copy of each of our albums featuring those two superb artistes and though they now happily reside in his collection of Tomahawk Films CDs and get a regular airing, he could not identify this particular song from the Guns of Navarone movie on either of our two archival album offerings…

However, I have managed to do a bit of ‘rummaging’ and, according to official The Guns of Navarone Music Cue Sheets, (again not having seen this film on UK television in an absolute age..though you’d think that with all of the TV repeats lined up for this current Festive period, it’d be in there somewhere), I now realise that this might just be another case of a song specifically written for the movie, as with the aforementioned ‘Battle of Britain March’  as written by Ron Goodwin for the 1969 movie, which I referred to in a previous Blog.

Nevertheless I can see that there are two ‘German named’ songs credited ‘Treu Sein’ and ‘Das Sundenlied’  but neither of which have any resonance for me, (either as a fellow collector & enthusiast, nor as a producer); so I wonder if they might not possibly be an ‘in-house joke’ or, as I actually suspect, another ‘movie confection’ as both songs are credited as lyrics by Alfred Perry and melody by Dimitri Tiomkin,  who are jointly credited for the creation of much of the original music score throughout the rest of the film itself.

In addition, where there should be an artiste name listed as the performer for these two songs, the word ‘Uncredited’ is inserted… which is a little odd as when an original or historical song is used in a TV documentary or movie sound-track and the artiste is unknown, then I usually expect to see either the word ‘Anon’ or ‘Traditional’  utilised..certainly not ‘Uncredited’…

So sadly Dan may be looking at, or rather listening to, another ‘post-war soldier song’  based on an original score, but cleverly written specifically with a particular scene in the movie in mind and with a professional, but unknown studio-singer merely scheduled in to perform just that number(s) alone and so not meriting an artiste’s movie credit in the terms of her contract… a bit harsh when she probably put her heart & soul into the recording..!

However others may know differently and so if there are any readers out there who may have some more information and so be in a position to be able to shed some further light on any of these ‘German songs’ heard in The Guns of Navarone’… and perhaps even offer a singer’s name, (if actually known), then, both Dan and I would be delighted to hear, thank you…

Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2012

Battle of Britain Movie Soundtrack…

One of the regular questions, (or perhaps that should be requests), Tomahawk Films receive from our customers is: “do we have the fantastic ‘Battle of Britain’ opening track as featured in the 1969, Guy Hamilton-directed movie?”…and those self-same customers are always amazed or shocked, (usually in equal number), to learn that this ‘original march’, is actually nothing to do with the  pre-1945 Luftwaffe and was in fact a superb piece of modern composition by the English musical film-score composer Ron Goodwin, who actually penned this march especially for the movie…

Far from being performed by an original  Luftwaffe Musikkorps, (for if you think about it, the Luftwaffe actually lost the Battle of Britain, so why would Hitler want a march to celebrate getting his backside kicked by ‘The Few’), this stirring march is in fact a perfect replication of a war-time German air force band; but just goes to show how talented a musician & composer Mr Goodwin was, for he was able to listen to, and professionally deconstruct, Luftwaffe music as created by the legendary Head of Luftwaffe music Musikinspizient Prof. Husadel and then actually write & create, from scratch, a stunning piece of military marching music that the majority now think was a Luftwaffe war-time original!.

Incidentally, the upside of  this ‘modern’ Battle of Britain March is that it is a fantastic way of discerning if the dealer you are buying ‘original’ German war-time music from actually ‘knows his stuff’ or is merely one of the many pirates. There are a number of American companies and individuals offering their ‘Luftwaffe musik’ and who proudly include this piece as The Battle of Britain Marsch, without the faintest idea that it is not an original German, but a post-war British composition.. so you can certainly play ‘spot the faker’ with this one.!

We do actually have a fantastic 4-minute research copy of the late Mr Goodwin’s track in our Archive and we contacted his estate to see if we could acquire the distribution rights to it, to be told the copyright was now owned by EMI. Sadly they have not responded to our polite request to promote it as an ‘interest piece’, so as it stands we can do nothing with this track without the correct permissions, (and I am not actually sure how we would market just a single track anyhow!)

However I am delighted to say that  if you are after one of the truly defining Luftwaffe tracks of the 1935-45 era, the superb Bomben auf Engeland, is on Tomahawk’s Musik der Luftwaffe CD, along with a number of other stirring & evocative Luftwaffe marches &  korpslieder).

This stunning piece of military music was composed by Norbert Schultze for the 1939 Tobis film ‘Feuertaufe’ (Baptism of Fire) which documented German air operations in the Polish campaign and was produced by a serving Luftwaffe pilot, the pre-war film director Hans Bertram..!

On its completion the documentary was shown to Hitler who was so ecstatic he ordered it to go on immediate release, but wanted a different tune from Pruessens Gloria (initially the movie’s final stirring track), and ordered a musical back-drop to reflect his next target: Britain..!

Hitler’s Navy had their signature tune: ‘Wir fahren gegen Engeland’ (on Tomahawk’s CD Musik der Kriegsmarine), and now The Fuehrer wanted his mighty Luftwaffe to also have their very own marching song,  thus Bomben auf Engeland became the new ending for this fantastic piece of Luftwaffe propaganda-documentary film-making and another German military-song legend was born… not long before Hitler’s Air Arm would face its first defeat… and at the hands of the Royal Air Force!

Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2012