Music is an important element in many crime films and television series. A great theme can add an extra dimension to any story. Sometimes the music lingers longer in the memory than the film or tv show itself (an example is the score for the 1967 version of Casino Royale), but when all the elements come together perfectly, the result is superb.
In the movie world, I think of Roy Budd’s theme for Get Carter and John Barry’s haunting score for Body Heat as quite unbeatable. The mood of each film is set by the opening moments, in which the main theme creates a sense of unresolved tension and menace – on Jack Carter’s train ride to Newcastle in Get Carter, and the sinuous credits that precede our introduction to Ned Racine in Body Heat.
In the tv world, one of the best themes ever written was composed by Laurie Johnson, who wrote the music for The Avengers. It’s a great tune, which I loved as a boy and still much admire. Now a box set of Johnson’s work, including his masterpiece, and many other pieces of music written for the series (including ‘Return of the Cybernauts’ – not the easiest story to set to music) has been made available. Three CDs for under a fiver on Amazon can’t be bad.
Of course, as with so many box sets, some items are included which will not feature in anyone’s list of favourites. Johnson is a professional who has turned out a lot of good material in the course of a long career (other well-remembered crime themes of his include The Professionals) but I think most people will regard The Avengers as his greatest achievement.