12 O'Clock High Rips Off Star Trek Theme?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Flork, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. Flork

    Flork Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Just caught the beginning of this episode of the TV series based on the Gregory Peck movie. It sure sounds like they're using part of the Star Trek theme at the beginning and throughout. By the way, this episode guest stars Gary Lockwood. The music is credited to Dominic Frontiere and Lionel Newman.

     
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  2. Flork

    Flork Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Listen starting at 44:12. It almost sounds like it was literally lifted from Star Trek.
     
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  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    According to IMDb, this episode aired in April of 1965.

    Star Trek’s first pilot wasn’t scored until January of 1965. You can bet that this 12 O’Clock High episode, if it even had an original score (as a late season episode, chances are good that it was tracked), was scored before a note was written for Star Trek.

    It was certainly seen 18 months before many would have watched Star Trek on NBC.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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  4. Flork

    Flork Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I might be looking at the calendar wrong, but January comes before April on mine.

    The fact that the episode wasn't aired for general consumption until some later point doesn't mean it wasn't seen -- or heard -- by anyone prior, or that the actual music wasn't written at a much earlier date. In fact, according to IMDB (which admittedly may not be correct since it's user generated), The Cage was aired for NBC executives in February of 1965, two months before V for Vendetta.

    Now, whether this episode recycled earlier incidental music is a good point, and I haven't seen the series enough to know. According to IMDB, V for Vendetta was the 29th episode for the season, so it certainly could have.

    I've heard rumors, too, that the Star Trek theme is just a pastiche of Beyond the Blue Horizon. And there's some western I saw that also seemed to use elements of the Star Trek theme, and it came out before either 12 O'Clock High or Star Trek. I can't remember what it was though.
     
  5. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    I've been watching 12 O'Clock High and know the theme you're talking about without listening to it...it sounds near-exactly like the Trek fanfare. I've never seen the film, but the show was using it from the get-go, and it started airing in Fall of '64.

    The question you should be asking is if Trek ripped off 12 O'Clock High.
     
  6. Tim Walker

    Tim Walker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    According to Wikipedia, 12 O'Clock High appeared in 1964.

    Robert Lansing and Gary Lockwood would eventually appear in TOS episodes.
     
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  7. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    But April is an airdate, not when the episode score was recorded. And, seriously, does anyone think Dominic Frontiere or Lionel Newman would crib music from some unaired TV pilot, especially for such a quick throwaway moment?

    Edit: FYI the film Twelve O'Clock High was scored by Lionel Newman, and he's listed as the music supervisor for the show, so it's likely Frontiere scored the actual episodes.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
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  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You know what? Mine, too.

    But that doesn't come close to refuting what @Harvey said (emphasis mine, in bold).

    Yep. The passage is very, very similar to the ST fanfare. Nice find.

    At this point, I'm not remotely sold on the premise that a rip-off was involved. For one thing, the 12 O'Clock High music is used to end a passage of music, whereas the ST fanfare begins one; so the application is entirely different, which at least supports the idea of independent conception and coincidence. For another, this is the first I've heard of this, and I'd expect an actual rip-off to have been uncovered long ago. Third, the bar to show plagiarism is pretty high for good reason. Still, very interesting.
     
  9. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    This is also not the first time it's been mentioned. The Talk section of the Wikipedia entry for the show has contained a note about this for going on 6 years.
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Ah. Just a brief note of a personal opinion, based on what the user can hear, with no citations, and no follow-up.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Twelve_O'Clock_High_(TV_series)
     
  11. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    12 O'Clock High had been using that bit of music for the whole season (and would continue to for the whole series, I've heard it in late Season 3 episodes). I'd have to rewatch entire early episodes to determine exactly when it first appeared.

    I was trying to figure out what it tied into in the main theme, and I think it's supposed to be a gentler version of the fanfare in the opening credits, which starts right after the announcer says "12 O'Clock High," (approx. 1:40 in the video above) and continues after he says "A QM Production."

    Whether or not there was any deliberate cribbing on the Trek end, I will note that Roddenberry had been a bomber pilot in WWII, and his previous series was a war show, so it's likely that he was watching 12 O'Clock High.
     
  12. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    January 1965 when "The Cage" was scored comes before April 1965 when "V for Vendetta" was aired, but April 1965 when "V for Vendetta" was aired is 17 months before September 1966 when the general public - and all except for a few persons at Desilu and NBC - first saw and heard any Star Trek!
     
  13. Flork

    Flork Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    If it predates Star Trek, then that's certainly the case. All things being equal, it sounds the most plausible answer.

    A further question might be, though, when was the Star Trek theme, even in nascent form, created. In other words, might Courage have written that piece of music years before Star Trek and simply not used it but perhaps played it somewhere, where it was heard by Frontiere or Newman.

    Though an episode might be scored in, say, 1965, that doesn't mean the composer didn't crib something he wrote years earlier (or "borrowed" something from a tune heard in passing).

    For instance, part of the Bond theme comes from the baseline of another song written years earlier.

    Composers do this all the time. For instance, one can hear strains of Jerry Goldsmith's Klingon theme in his score four years earlier for The Wind and the Lion:

     
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  14. Flork

    Flork Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    The main score to the 1949 film doesn't seem to contain it, though I haven't heard all of the incidental music yet:



    It appears the 12 O'Clock high TV episodes are on youtube. If I have time, I may just watch them for when that little bit first shows up.
     
  15. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    As I've attempted to indicate, "V for Vendetta" is irrelevant. It's far from the first time that music was used on the show. I don't know if this is the first time, but found an example that makes the point...from the fifth episode of the series, aired October 23, 1964:



    42:25-43:00.

    That's a far less likely answer than that something written no earlier than January 1965 was influenced by a TV show that was on the air at that time; or that the similarity was a complete coincidence. There's no point in continuing to assume that Trek was first here.
     
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  16. Flork

    Flork Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Except that we don't have the answer either way. Occam's Razor, it's more likely that Courage took it from 12 O'Clock High, but we don't know.
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Nope.
     
  18. Flork

    Flork Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    It's tough locating online the specific date when Courage composed the theme. Memory Alpha says 1964 but other sites list it as late as 1966. And to complicate matters further, not only did Courage do a lot of arrangement and conducting for other composers (such as John Williams), some have accused Courage of lifting the theme from 1951's Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N., which obviously predates both Twelve O'Clock High and Star Trek:

    http://1701news.com/node/1142/did-alexander-courage-steal-star-trek-theme.html

    Listening to the theme, I can hear a few strains of the Star Trek fanfare in it, though not as purely as in the case of Twelve O'Clock High.



    Courage himself makes no reference to either Hornblower of Twelve O'Clock when discussing how he composed the theme but does note Beyond the Blue Horizon:

     
  19. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I hope someone can help me with this, although I admit it's off-topic. I was watching a Civil War or Western movie once, it was from the late 1940s or early 50s, and a battle scene used the exact theme from The Adventures of Superman, the cue you'd always hear when George Reeves was flying to the rescue near the end of an episode.

    Does anybody know what movie that was? There's no doubt the TV show borrowed the theme from the movie.
     
  20. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Houston, we have a problem...
    There was an article - some years back - on this subject and they mention that the basic fanfare of the theme is very similar to some classical pieces going back 150-200 years so...

    It's not at all unusual for a composer to be influenced by previous works. It's one of the issues that copyright/patent law doesn't handle very effectively (see the whole mess surrounding Men at Work's "Down Under").

    The old concept of 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' isn't very popular with lawyers...