The music of THE MOLE PEOPLE

One of the finest assets of The Mole People is its musical score, composed by Heinz Roemheld, Hans J. Salter, and Herman Stein, and orchestrated by Universal’s main man, David Tamkin.  One advantage Universal had when using more than one composer in a film was that their scores often had a much wider variety of musical material than if they had been written under such severe time constraints by a single composer.  While Universal’s composers would sometimes offer variations of another composer’s theme, more often than not they would go off in their own musical directions. 

In an era when many of Universal’s scores were laden with cues written for earlier Universal pictures (a process known as tracking or stocking), The Mole People’s entire score was original.  This is surprising considering the film’s low-budget, as this benefit wasn’t even afforded many of the studio’s more celebrated efforts like Creature From The Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man.  In addition, the music budget was padded even further by the cost of a rehearsal drummer for the dancing girls and a coach for the lute player.

Heinz Roemheld wrote about 30 minutes of the 46-minute score, with Hans Salter adding about 12 minutes, and the remaining 4 minutes being contributed by Herman Stein.  The score is highlighted by an exotic touch to the music, Roemheld’s memorable Mole People theme, and some wonderfully descriptive music written for the many sequences with little dialogue.  The fact that such a brilliant score could be written for such an inconsequential movie offers ample evidence that these composers were at the top of their game regardless of the quality of the film they were working for. 

Joseph Gershenson, whose credit as music supervisor was the sole music credit in The Mole People (and in many other Universal-International films of this era), was not a composer, but he ran Universal’s music department from 1950 until 1969 and received the film credit for most of the studio’s collaborative musical efforts.  Just as Bud Westmore often received credit for the work done by others working in his department.  Gershenson was an excellent administrator and conductor, and above all, a superb judge of talent, giving aspiring composers like Henry Mancini and Herman Stein the opportunities they so richly deserved.  Along with part- or full-time help from Irving Gertz, William Lava, Heinz Roemheld, Milton Rosen, Hans Salter, and Frank Skinner, Gershenson assembled one of the finest teams of composers anywhere in Hollywood.


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