Music Album Review: ‘Superman: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’

(C) 1978, 2000 Warner Bros. Records & Rhino Entertainment Company

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Hi, there, Constant Reader!

Well, here we are on the first day of July 2020, and in my corner of Florida all is tranquil at home on a hot early summer afternoon. Presently, the temperature outside is a sizzling 94˚F; with humidity at 56% and a westerly breeze of 11 mph, the heat index is 107˚F. That’s hot, so I’m glad that I don’t have to be traipsing out there on this partly sunny afternoon.

So, yeah. Right now I’m just chilling here at my desk and listening to the digital edition of Superman: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on my Amazon Music app, which I purchased late last year so I don’t have to play my Superman The Movie: 40th Anniversary Remastered Edition CDs too often.

(C) 2000 Warner Bros. Records and Rhino Entertainment Company

This album was released as a 2-CD set on February 15, 2000 by Warner Bros. Records and Rhino Entertainment under the Warner Archives label. Produced by the late Nick Redman and soundtrack restoration maven Michael Matessino, this incarnation of Superman: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was the first commercial release of composer John Williams’ complete score for the 1978 feature film based on the iconic DC Comics character.

Digitally remastered in “RhinoPhonic Authentic Sound” and carefully restored for this album, Superman: The Movie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features John Williams’ complete score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, rearranged to match the chronology of Richard Donner’s film.

Furthermore, producers Matessino and Redman include alternate versions of various cues, including the more familiar concert hall arrangement of Main Title March (Theme From “Superman”), an unused version of The Planet Krypton, and several different takes on Can You Read My Mind, including the track The Flying Sequence/Can You Read My Mind (the LSO/Margot Kidder vocal) as heard in the ’78 album and a 1970s-style instrumental/voiceover mix which was recorded but not used in the finished version of Superman: The Movie.

The reverse side of the album’s slipcover. (C) 2000 Warner Bros. Records & Rhino Entertainment Company.

Track List

Disc One

(C) 2000 Warner Bros. Records & Rhino Entertainment Company

No. Title      Length
1. “Prelude and Main Title March**” 5:30
2. “The Planet Krypton**” 6:40
3. “Destruction of Krypton**” 7:52
4. “Star Ship Escapes*” 2:21
5. “The Trip to Earth” 2:29
6. “Growing Up**” 2:35
7. “Death of Jonathan Kent*” 3:24
8. “Leaving Home” 4:52
9. “The Fortress of Solitude**” 9:18
10. “Welcome to Metropolis*” 2:12
11. “Lex Luthor’s Lair**” 4:48
12. “The Big Rescue*” 5:55
13. “Super Crime Fighter**” 3:20
14. “Super Rescues**” 2:14
15. “Luthor’s Luau (Source)*” 2:48
16. “The Planet Krypton (Alternate)**” 4:25
17. “Main Title March (Alternate)”

Disc Two
No. Title Length
1. “Superman March (Alternate)**” 3:49
2. “The March of the Villains” 3:36
3. “The Terrace*” 1:34
4. “The Flying Sequence” 8:14
5. “Lois and Clark*” 0:50
6. “Crime of the Century*” 3:24
7. “Sonic Greeting*” 2:22
8. “Misguided Missiles and Kryptonite*” 3:27
9. “Chasing Rockets**” 4:55
10. “Superfeats**” 4:53
11. “Super Dam and Finding Lois**” 5:11
12. “Turning Back the World” 2:07
13. “Finale and End Title March**” 5:42
14. “Love Theme from Superman” 5:06
15. “Can You Read My Mind (Alternate)*” 2:58
16. “The Flying Sequence / Can You Read My Mind” 8:10
17. “Can You Read My Mind (Alternate Instrumental)*” 2:57
18. “Theme from Superman (Concert Version)” 4:24
* Previously unreleased selection
** Contains previously unreleased material

Even though it seems inevitable that John Williams would compose the score to the first (and best) of the modern era’s Superman films, he wasn’t director Richard Donner’s first choice for the gig. Originally, Academy Award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith was hired – he had worked with Donner in 1976’s The Omen.

However, Goldsmith ran into scheduling problems, so Alexander and Ilya Salkind approached Williams, who had just won his third Best Score Oscar for Star Wars to compose the music for their film. After reading the screenplay and noticing that the movie was full of tongue-in-cheek humor and comic book-style heroics, he agreed to serve as his friend Goldsmith’s replacement.

Because Superman was made in Shepperton Studios in London, Maestro Williams teamed up again with the London Symphony Orchestra, the same ensemble with which he had recorded the Star Wars score a year and a half earlier. Inspired by the then-40-year-old Superman character’s iconography and the need to give the film a score that matched the epic scale that the Salkinds and director Richard Donner were aiming for, Williams composed some of his best-known (and most popular!) film themes, including:

  • Prelude and Main Title March
  • The Planet Krypton
  • The Trip to Earth
  • Growing Up
  • Leaving Home
  • The Big Rescue
  • The Flying Sequence
  • The March of the Villains
  • Love Theme from “Superman”
  • Chasing Rockets
  • Finale and End Title March

For nearly 20 years, this was my favorite version of the Superman score as composed and conducted by Maestro Williams. Until I bought the 3-CD Superman The Movie: 40th Anniversary Remastered Edition set, I considered this to be the ultimate recording of one of my most listened to non-Star Wars film scores composed by the man that many consider the Dean of Modern Film Music.

And even though I do think that the 2019 Limited Edition 40th Anniversary album from La La Land Records is the best edition I own, the Warner Archives/Rhino Records album from 2000 is the one I listen to regularly, especially when I’m at my PC and can listen to it on my Amazon Music app without having to play my 20-year-old CDs or break out the newer La La Land Records set.

This version of Superman: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is, incidentally, easier to buy and less expensive than the newer version, plus it’s still available on Amazon Music as a digital album. So if you are in the mood to hear the soaring and thrilling themes that made 1978 audiences believe a man could fly, check it out. Maybe you, like me, will say the music is super, man.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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