MIGHTIEST ADVENTURER OF THEM ALL!
American International Pictures had begun making a cottage industry by picking up foreign-made films at reasonable prices and then releasing them in the United States, mostly with the original foreign scores replaced by brand new American ones. Such was the case with 1962’s Marco Polo, a multi-cultural production directed by Hugo Fregonese and starring American Rory Calhoun, along with Yoko Tani and a large cast of multi-cultural players. Shot in Cinemascope and color, the film was not exactly unerring in its historical accuracy. In this Marco Polo, Marco Polo is a womanizing bon vivant, vagabond and rake who has to leave Venice because of circumstances of his own making (you get the drift). A title card then tells us that Marco was an inventor and discoverer who is about to set off to discover many things, including spaghetti. Along the way, he has many wonderful adventures and occasionally says pithy things like, “A song is an emblem of a gay heart.” It’s all painted in very broad strokes with tongue firmly in cheek, and it’s a lot of fun in a Saturday matinee way.
The original Italian version’s score was by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. For the US version, American International went to their go-to composer, the great Les Baxter. Baxter turned in a wonderful score, chockfull of great melodies, including an addictive main theme that repeats itself many times throughout the score. It was Baxter channeling Rimsky-Korsakov and other movie adventure scores and the result was a colorful, robust, and fun score that really helped give the film a sense of style, adventure, and fun.
Baxter had already made a name for himself with his 1950s exotica recordings, as well as several chart-topping instrumentals. Prior to Marco Polo, he’d already done Goliath And The Barbarians, House of Usher, Goliath And The Dragon, Black Sunday, Goliath And The Vampires, The Pit And The Pendulum, Erik the Conqueror, and Master Of The World for AIP, and he would go on to score many, many other films for them. For anyone who grew up going to these films, it was like American International and Les Baxter went hand in hand.
This is the world premiere release of the Les Baxter score to Marco Polo – none of it has ever been available before. The complete score tapes were housed in the MGM vaults – they were, of course, mono, and in very good condition, and contained all the music that Baxter wrote for the film. In the last few years, Les Baxter have been something of a Baxter renaissance, with a surprising number of Baxter soundtracks released on CD. We’re really pleased to present a virtually unknown Baxter score and one of his most delightful. - Kritzerland
1. Main Title / The Beginning
2. Marco Polo Takes A Hike / Ciu-Lin / The Great Wall Of China
3. Rescuing A Damsel In Distress / The Princess
4. The Monastery Of 100 Buddhists / Cuday The Rebel / To Peking
5. The Ceremony / Food Fight / Marco In Jail
6. Released / Meeting Khan
7. Take A Wife, Please / The Private Confessional
8. Marco and the Princess
9. The Princess’ Chamber / The Amulet / The Kiss
10. Treacherous Companions / Follow The Green Lanterns
11. Brief Encounter / Marco In Hiding / Mongka Siezes The Throne
12. Marco’s Plan / Inventing Fireworks / Ciu-Lin Finds Marco
13. Princess In Danger / Blades Of Death
14. End Of Mongka / I Did It All For Her / Marco And The Princess Reunited
15. The Princess Bride and End Credits