We start our look at the work of John Williams, as part of #Johnuary, with his first big original score. It was for a very cool movie, The Poseidon Adventure, from the ‘Master of Disaster’, producer Irwin Allen.

This is one of those epic 70s disaster films that stars a plethora of big names including Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Roddy Mcdowell, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters and Leslie Nielson. A big film that needed a big score.

Here is the main theme…

And here is a playlist of the full soundtrack.

  • The main theme is very impressive. Some of the uses of discords really give a sense of fear. Like a monster lurking in the deep
  • The opening titles track utilises some very unorthodox weird strings bits which are a great technique to indicate impending doom
  • The track ‘To Love’ is a very interesting one. Just a fun upbeat tune. It didn’t sound like John Williams but as far as I can tell it is still composed by him
  • ‘The Big Wave’ – There is some great use of cymbals and drums in particular to indicate a wave crashing
  • ‘Raising the Christmas Tree’ has some particularly powerful moments
  • ‘Death’s Door’ has a very disconcerting high pitched noise the whole way through. I assume that’s on purpose. If so, it’s a very brave and clever technique and I assume only really works best when viewed with the film
  • ‘The Barber Shop’, ‘Hold Your Breath’ – Great titles of these tracks
  • The end titles really does have some hugely rousing stuff in it.

For John Williams’ earliest work for a big hollywood blockbuster this is very impressive stuff. There aren’t really any hugely memorable motifs or riffs but what we have here is a very theatrical and extremely powerful score for a big dramatic disaster film. A great taste of things to come.