Could be I’m the only one who “owns” this dark, little big soundtrack?

Anyway, here it is, as I’ve transferred it from German TV, fortunately broadcasted in its original version with German subtitles.

It’s a pity that no one could tell me up to this day who the painfully passionate soprano sax player was in the opening theme which I’ve called “The Big Combo Theme”.

This particular track in my playlist is a bit longer because it includes also the 2nd scene from the movie with some crisp lines, delivered by cops.

I’ve also transferred the extremely brutal ear-drum-torture scene where once again jazz sounds were abused for such kind of hurtful procedure (it’s now #4 in the playlist).

Credits go to Shorty Rogers & Shelly Manne who gave Cornel Wilde’s ears that barbaric beating.

Thanks to YouTuber BegoneJonah for the comment which hinted me to this scene:

I once spoke to David Raksin about it on the phone. This music was never recorded or commercially released. He was going for a “cheap, corny” sound. He told me about a fellow in L.A. who was supposedly doing a transcription from his notes for a band performance of it, but that never happened. P.S. – The deafening “crazy” drum solo in the torture scene is called “The Most Goes West,” according to Raksin.


01 – The Big Combo (opening credits) 2:34 Hollywood Big Band & Orchestra, probably Charlie Barnet (or Georgie Auld?) on soprano sax;
02 – Rita 0:46 Hollywood Big Band & Orchestra
03 – Who Runs The World And Why? 2:10 Richard Conte (monologue)
04 – The Most Goes West a.k.a. Ear Drum Torture 2:47 Shorty Rogers & Shelly Manne
05 – The Chase 0:41 Hollywood Big Band & Orchestra
06 – Got Him! (end credits) 0:34 Hollywood Big Band & Orchestra

Feel free to read along Richard Conte’s cynical monologue (3rd track, entitled “Who Runs The World And Why”), copied & slightly edited by yours truly:


Mr. Brown: How do you feel now, Bennie?
Bennie Smith: Lost. – I feel terrible, Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown: You kept fighting, Bennie. You got heart.
Bennie Smith: Lost three of my teeth, too.

Mr. Brown: So you lost. Next time you’ll win. I’ll show you how. Take a look at Joe McClure here. He used to be my boss. – Now I’m his. What’s the difference between me and him? We breathe the same air, sleep in the same hotel. He used to own it!!! [yelling into McClure’s sound magnifier that is in his ear] – Now it belongs to me. We eat the same steaks, drink the same bourbon. – Look: Same manicure, [lifting and pointing at McClure’s hand] same cufflinks. But there’s only one difference. We don’t get the same girls. Why? Because women know the difference. They got instinct. First is first, and second is nobody.

Bennie Smith: The best man won tonight, Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown: You looked better than Martinez. Wonder you threw it away. – You step in the ring and shake hands with him. – You wanna be his friend, and you wanna fight him. – No, Bennie, no. [someone coming in] – Shut the door!

Mr. Brown: Now, Bennie, who runs the world? Have you any idea?
Bennie Smith: Not me, Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown: That’s right, not you. But a funny thing: They’re not so much different from you, but they’ve got something. They’ve got it, and they use it. I’ve got it; [pointing to McClure] he hasn’t. – So, what is it, Bennie? What makes the difference…? Hate! Hate is the word, Bennie! Hate the man that tries to beat you. – Kill him, Bennie! Kill him! – Hate him till you see red, and you’ll come out winning the big money. [very softly now] And the girls will come tumbling after. You’ll have to shut off your phone and lock the door to get a night’s rest.

Mr. Brown: Get on your feet, Bennie. [all of a sudden hitting Bennie in the face].
Bennie Smith: What’d you do that for, Mr. Brown?
Mr. Brown: You should have hit me back. – You haven’t got the hate. [to McClure]: Tear up Bennie’s contract. He’s no good to me anymore.

— Here’s the film in full length and in the correct speed (updated on January 15, 2015):

Learn more about “The Big Combo” (1955) on IMDB

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