John Williams on highlights of his cinematic scores. With the fifth 'Indiana Jones' movie about to hit theaters, the composer recalls, 'I just thought, if Harrison Ford can do it, I can do it'

When the New York Philharmonic honored the work of the film composer John Williams this past spring, the director Steven Spielberg introduced a clip of the opening scenes of '' Raiders of the Lost Ark '' - without the music.

The effect, he noted apologetically, was something out of the French new wave.

The clip was played again, this time with the orchestra joining in. Like magic, the adventuresome spirit of the movie was restored.

One recent Friday, the rigged archaeologist at the heart of that film [played by Harrison Ford] will return for the fifth entry in the franchise, '' Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.'' He'll be accompanied, as ever, by Wiilams's indispensable music.

The composer, who turned 91 this year, had said it would be his final film score. Speaking during a video call more recently, he walked back his retirement plans. '' If they do an ''Indiana Jones 6,' I'm on board.

Ahead of the new film's opening, Williams shared his thoughts - with contributions from others closely connected to his work - on milestone moments in an extraordinary career. 


'' How To Steal A Million ''

William made some of his earliest contributions to movie music playing piano for the scores of '' Breakfast at Tiffany's'' and '' West Side Story,'' among others.

Under the name Johnny Williams, he gradually transitioned, as he put it, '' from the piano bench to the writing desk,'' composing several light, jazzy scores for comedies.

'' How to steal a Million,'' an art-heist caper starring Audrey Hepburn, was an early high point. '' It was the first film I ever did for a major, super talent director, in William Wyler,'' Williams said.

With moments of comedy and tongue-in-cheek suspense, that score was an early clue of ''just how versatile John Williams could be,'' said Mike Matessino, a producer of numerous Williams soundtracks.

Many years later - long after his name had become synonymous with the sound of the cinematic blockbuster - Williams would channel his earlier, funnier work into the jazz-inflected score of ''Catch Me if You Can.''

That mode ''had been residing there in the intervening decades, waiting to come howling to the surface,'' Williams said.

'' It was the easiest thing in the world for me to do, and I was giggling while I was doing it.''

 The World Students Society thanks author Darryn King.


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