Limited to 1000.
Pressure Point, starring Sidney Poitier and Bobby Darin practically burned a hole in movie screens in 1962, a year in which a handful of films were pushing many envelopes that had never been pushed, and none of them pushed the envelope harder and further than Pressure Point. The film was produced by Stanley Kramer and Kramer was noted for bringing very difficult subject matter to the screen and doing so unflinchingly, and for 1962 Pressure Point was extremely difficult subject matter and the resultant film was extremely unflinching in its horrifying portrayal of bigotry and hatred and childhood trauma.
The film, based on a true case history, begins in the present day when a prison psychiatrist (played by a young Peter Falk) comes to his boss (played by Sidney Poitier) and tells him that he wants off the case he’s been handling – he simply cannot deal with it anymore. Poitier sits him down and begins to recount a similarly difficult case back when he was first beginning, in the 1940s during World War II. Briefly, an inmate, in prison for sedition, is brought to Poitier because he’s having nightmares and is unable to sleep. The minute he walks in the room and sees he has to talk to an African-American psychiatrist he begins to laugh. The character is a bigoted, hateful, American Nazi, who especially hates Jews and Blacks. Throughout the film, in bizarre and surrealistic flashbacks, we learn what made him the way he is.
Pressure Point was directed by Hubert Cornfield, a director with only a handful of films to his name, but each of them is the product of a director with a very unique vision and visual style. In Pressure Point, he keeps the main drama, the duologues between Poitier and Darin, simple and straightforward. But the flashback sequences, which show Darin’s childhood traumas, are bravura filmmaking – stylized, expressionistic, and scary, almost like an episode of The Twilight Zone at its finest. Poitier and Darin both give brilliant performances in the film, but the film was perhaps a little too much for audiences of 1962, and it disappeared fairly quickly – a few years later and both actors would probably have been nominated for Academy Awards (Darin was nominated for a Golden Globe for Pressure Point).
To score the film, Kramer turned to his frequent composing partner, Ernest Gold. For Kramer, Gold had already scored The Defiant Ones, On The Beach, and Inherit The Wind, and would go on to score It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Judgment at Nuremburg, Ship of Fools, and The Secret Of Santa Vittoria, as well as the Kramer-produced John Cassavetes-directed A Child Is Waiting. In addition to many other wonderful scores, Gold won the Academy Award for his amazing score for Exodus. He remains one of the great Golden Age film composers, although, today, an underrated one.
Gold, a wonderfully melodic composer, took a very different approach to scoring Pressure Point. His score is as surreal and weird as the film is – and it’s a phenomenal piece of work, breathtaking in its ability to set the mood and especially underscore the sick mind of the Bobby Darin character. In fact, the score, too, would be right at home in an episode of The Twilight Zone – if one is a fan of that show’s scores by Herrmann, Goldsmith, and Van Cleave, then this is very much in that mode. It’s jazzy, nightmarish, crazy music and though 1962 was a year filled with some of the greatest scores ever written, it stands tall with the best of them – even though the film and the score are today almost virtually unknown.
This world premiere release features every note of music written for the film, and the CD has been mastered from Mr. Gold’s personal tapes, which sounded fantastic in their original mono.
1. Main Title/I’m Off The Case
2. I Remember As If It Were Yesterday
3. A Psychopathic Personality/Slipping Down The Drain
4. Uncovering Childhood Memories
5. Daddy Issues
6. Imaginary Playmate
7. Smart Student/Mommy Issues/Gory Fantasies
8. Raw Liver
10. Laugh and You Won’t Hear Us Coming/Spreading Hate
12. Breakthrough/The Mentality of a Storm Trooper
13. Clever Liar/I Wanted To Help You/The End of the Story