NOT EVEN NOMINATED, PART NINE
THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC: 1988
By Scott Bettencourt
THE REAL NOMINEES:
THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST - John Williams
DANGEROUS LIAISONS - George Fenton
GORILLAS IN THE MIST - Maurice Jarre
THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR - Dave Grusin (the winner)
RAIN MAN - Hans Zimmer
BEETLEJUICE - Danny Elfman
Tim Burton's second feature was an even bigger hit than his debut film,
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and if Pee-Wee pegged Danny Elfman
as a composer fit for offbeat comedy, Beetlejuice made it clear
that he was the master of the genre. The filmmakers reportedly didn't even
bother using a temp track, knowing that nothing they found could truly
fit such a story. Elfman was rapidly developing his own compositional voice,
his Beetlejuice score owing less to his beloved Rota and Herrmann
than his Pee-Wee music did. Miraculously, he seemed to find the
right tone for each outrageous scene without letting his score become exhaustingly
busy, and his main theme is one of his most indelible compositions. Months
after the film's release, Geffen released a score CD/LP which also included
the Harry Belafonte songs, "Day-O" and "Jump in Line," which were featured
so memorably in the film. (Beetlejuice received 1 Oscar nomination)
TEQUILA SUNRISE - Dave Grusin
Grusin's charming score for The Milagro Beanfield War was one
of his finest efforts, and both a surprising Best Score nominee (the film
received no other nominations) and an even more surprising winner, especially
since the score never received a full soundtrack release (though cassette
tapes of score selections were sent to Academy voters). Grusin's biggest
hit of the year was Robert Towne's star-studded romantic noir Tequila
Sunrise, but it was not one of the composer's best efforts. As with
his score for Three Days of the Condor, Grusin's lightly jazzy approach
often worked against the story's tension, though even Grusin can hardly
be faulted for failing to find a satisfying accompaniment for Mel Gibson
and Michelle Pfeiffer's hot tub love scene, an instance of cable movie-style
sex which a filmmaker like Towne (whose previous directorial effort, Personal
Best, had unusually fresh and realistic scenes of sexual intimacy)
should be ashamed to be associated with. (1 Oscar nomination)
TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM - Joe Jackson
Francis Coppola had wanted to do a biopic on the pioneering car maker
Preston Tucker for many years, and after Apocalypse Now was finally
released he worked with Leonard Bernstein and Comden & Green to write
a musical film based on the story, but ended up transferring his musical
ambitions to the film One From the Heart. When he finally made Tucker,
six years later, the songs were gone, but music was still an important
element, and Joe Jackson, the pop singer/songwriter, acclaimed for his
Jumpin' Jive album, wrote a lively period score, one of his few
works for the screen. (Five years earlier, he wrote the original score
for James Bridges' Mike's Murder, but it was dropped when the film
was significantly reshot and recut after bad preview screenings, replaced
with a more traditional John Barry score. Jackson's songs can still be
heard in the film, and his song soundtrack was released at the time of
the film's original, aborted release. Coincidentally, it has been rumored
that John Williams wrote a rejected score for Tucker, but I have
yet to uncover any information that would confirm this and am extremely
skeptical of the story) Though not quite up to the standards of Coppola's
70s masterpieces, Tucker is one of the director's most sheerly entertaining
films, a stunning display of visual virtuosity with typically superb photography
by Vittorio Storaro, gorgeous design by Dean Tavoularis, and an outstanding
cast including Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Christian Slater, Nina Siezmasko
and Corin Nemec as the Tuckers; Dean Stockwell in a marvelously spooky
cameo as Howard Hughes; and Martin Landau in a wonderful supporting role
which earned him his first Oscar nomination and helped turn his career
around. (3 Oscar nominations)
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT - Alan Silvestri
This dazzling Robert Zemeckis-directed mixture of live action and animation,
teaming 40s detective Bob Hoskins with a gallery of classic Hollywood animated
characters (and a few new ones) was the most demanding composing assignment
Silvestri had faced up to that time and he met the demands superbly, providing
outstanding cartoon music for the opening Roger Rabbit toon (look for action
producer Joel Silver as the director in the film's second scene), a melancholy
trumpet theme for Hoskins' character, and an energetic but never exhausting
orchestral cornucopia. It is arguably Silvestri's finest achievement, and
I'm still amazed that his score not only didn't win but wasn't even nominated
(to this date he has only been nominated once, for 1994's Forrest Gump).
The film itself is a remarkable achievement, both as an entertainment and
as a technical breakthrough, and if Spielberg's name had been listed as
director instead of Zemeckis' it might have earned the Best Picture nomination
it deserved -- it's better that at least three of the films that were nominated
(come on -- Working Girl?). The original Disney soundtrack CD (out
of print for many years but re-released in 2002) was a fine selection of
cues but an expanded edition would be richly deserved. (6 Oscar nominations)
WILLOW - James Horner
Coming five years after Krull, this was Horner's second sojourn
into big budget, large scale fantasy adventure and his second film for
director Ron Howard, as well as his only work for producer George Lucas.
The film, though not a big hit, was certainly a bigger success than the
much reviled but still enjoyable Krull. Horner's score was not quite
as inspired as his work on that earlier fantasy, falling into his frequent
habit of cribbing from classical composers, but his score was lively and
varied, and his main title theme for the baby "Elora Danan" was outstanding.
As 1988 was pretty much the last gasp of the LP era, it's fitting that
the Willow soundtrack seemed to be designed for CD, including over
73 minutes of Horner's score (frankly, it's impressive they were able to
physically cram so much music onto the LP). (2 Oscar nominations)
FIVE MORE OUTSTANDING SCORES OF 1988
CHERRY 2000 - Basil Poledouris
This sci-fi romantic adventure was filmed in 1986 but received only
the most limited of releases in 1988 before going to video. The plot involved
a man venturing into the futuristic badlands to find replacement parts
for his lover, a beautiful sex robot, but he ends up falling for a "real"
woman played by Melanie Griffith (any film that involves a robot sex doll
but casts Melanie Griffith as the real woman clearly is in trouble from
the get-go). Director Steven de Jarnatt went on to make the terrific Miracle
Mile, which has never received the attention it deserves. Varese Sarabande
originally announced the soundtrack as a regular release but ended up distributing
it only through their CD Club and it quickly became a valuable rarity,
and with good reason -- the score is one of Poledouris' most engaging,
balancing a John Barry-ish love theme with delightful adventure music that's
like a cross between his RoboCop score and Morricone Western music.
I'm not saying the album is really worth paying four digits for, but if
the score ever gets a more affordable release it's well worth snapping
DEAD RINGERS - Howard Shore
Shore's gift for writing music that gets under the skin of a film was
never more in evidence than here, his fourth film for David Cronenberg
and the director's finest, the culmination of the strongest period in his
career which included The Dead Zone and The Fly, films that
managed to combine Cronenberg's usual biological obsessions with a rare
emotional power. Jeremy Irons' superlative performance was the anchor of
the film (shockingly, he wasn't even nominated for an Oscar -- the award
going to Dustin Hoffman's showy but dull work in Rain Man -- but
when he did win two years later for Reversal of Fortune he thanked
Cronenberg in his acceptance speech), but the film owes much of its impact
to the technical elements, including the seamless visual effects, Peter
Suschitzy's masterful cinematography (which helped give the film its Kubrick-ean
ambience) and Shore's remarkably subtle music, highlighted by a gently
heartbreaking main theme. No soundtrack was released at the time (the film
garnered mostly outstanding reviews but understandably small boxoffice),
but four years later Silva released a wonderful compilation featuring 27
minutes of the Ringers score as well as generous helpings of Shore's
music for The Brood and Scanners, neither of which had been
DIE HARD - Michael Kamen
Kamen's first collaboration with producer Joel Silver, one year earlier,
was Lethal Weapon, and in the following 15 years Kamen wrote or
contributed to nine feature scores for the producer, not even counting
the aborted score for Fair Game, the rejected one for Assassins,
and his supervision of his proteges Edward Shearmur and Chris Boardman
on their scores for the two Tales From the Crypt features. Die
Hard is Kamen's finest work for the producer (and, along with The
Matrix, Silver's finest film), a mixture of original music and deft
interpolations ("Ode to Joy," "Singin' in the Rain," "Winter Wonderland")
that masterfully supports the film's combination of humor and suspense
and featuring terrific action cues, especially the "Assault on the Tower."
The use of tracked in cues from Horner's Aliens and John Scott's
Man on Fire for the film's final sequence, though distracting for
the film music aficionado, does not detract from Kamen's achievement. Kamen
returned for the two sequels, the underrated Die Hard 2 and the
hugely disappointing Die Hard With a Vengeance, but the scores weren't
as satisfying as the original -- Die Hard 2's use of Sibelius' Finlandia
lacked the subtlety of the original's "Ode to Joy," and the score for Die
Hard With a Vengeance was hugely rewritten at the eleventh hour, the
final version featuring a jarring use of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
(I've always wondered if the song was meant to evoke Detective John McClain's
return to his New York police beat or director John McTiernan's return
to the Die Hard series).
RAMBO III - Jerry Goldsmith
Goldsmith's score for the final film in the Rambo trilogy, which
sent Sylvester Stallone's Vietnam vet superhero to Afghanistan to help
the natives fight the Soviet invaders, was in many ways a more ambitious
work than his earlier scores in the series, with slower action cues and
a more thoughtful tone. Apparently his approach was a little too thoughtful
for the producers, who tracked in Goldsmith cues from the Rambo: First
Blood Part II score for the action scenes, and the original soundtrack
release was a mix of songs and score cues. Fortunately, Intrada procured
the rights to do a full score release and produced a terrific 76-minute
album of Goldsmith's score which allowed the composer's full original conception
to be heard for the first time.
A SUMMER STORY - Georges Delerue
The surprise success of A Room With a View presumably inspired
this adaptation of a John Galsworthy story which was like a Merchant-Ivory
film without Merchant or Ivory, with Maurice star James Wilby as
a turn-of-the-century English lawyer torn between career and his love for
farm girl Imogen Stubbs. The film was a pleasant and scenic but ultimately
forgettable romance, but the most memorable element was Delerue's typically
lovely score. The pastoral period setting and the romantic storyline allowed
him to display his melodic strengths and, luckily for collectors, Virgin
released a LP/CD of the score which, though predictably is long out of
print, is still worth hunting for.
THE REST OF THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC
Burt Bacharach returned to familiar territory with ARTHUR
2: ON THE ROCKS, but none of his sequel music had the impact of his
popular score for the original film.
John Barry wrote a typically elegant and brooding score for the
romantic noir MASQUERADE, and it was nearly his final score as he
spent many months recuperating from a ruptured esophagus. He also scored
the little seen indie drama A KILLING AFFAIR (aka My Sister's
Elmer Bernstein brought his usual craft and artistry to THE
GOOD MOTHER, writing a restrained and effective score for this largely
forgotten, TV-scaled drama, directed by Leonard Nimoy and starring Diane
Keaton and Liam Neeson. He also began a brief Irish period in his career
with his score for the film of the acclaimed play DA, and scored
one final film for director George Roy Hill, the Chevy Chase comedy FUNNY
Peter Best reworked his original music for the inevitable CROCODILE
DUNDEE 2, but his repetitive score failed to give the listless sequel
the energy it desperately needed.
Bruce Broughton scored the silly but engrossing juvenile adventure
film THE RESCUE, giving it a stirring main theme as well as Goldsmith-style
faux-Asian cues. His first score for director Peter Hyams, THE PRESIDIO,
featured a pleasantly insinuating main theme as well as terrific action
cues, while his music for the romantic thriller LAST RITES balanced
an Italianate theme with exciting action music, but the film went straight
Carter Burwell moved away from thrillers and Coen Brothers projects
with IT TAKES TWO, whose filmmakers took the Risky Business
approach and tried (and failed) to give this youth comedy a more evocative
style than is normally expected from the genre.
John Carpenter wrote an atypically funky score for his cult sci-fi
comedy THEY LIVE.
Paul Chihara wrote a charming score for the underrated romantic
comedy CROSSING DELANCEY, which also featured songs by The Roches.
Michel Colombier's broad comedy score for THE COUCH TRIP
was performed by the Canadian Brass. He also scored the James Ellroy adaptation
COP, which if nothing else presents perhaps the purest distillation
of the James Woods persona.
Bill Conti wrote a jaunty score for the unsatisfying River Phoenix
vehicle A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON, replacing Elmer Bernstein's
original score (which was retained for European prints). Conti's replacement
score for THE BIG BLUE was, surprisingly, not all that stylistically
different from Eric Serra's original score (which also was used on prints
shown outside the U.S.), using a pop approach rather than the symphonic
sound one might expect from an aquatic romance. He wrote a twangy, intimate
score for Costa-Gavras' white supremacist thriller BETRAYED which
sounded nothing like his usual work, though the film could have used a
more assertive score, and reunited with his most frequent collaborator,
John Avildsen, for the teen pregnancy comedy FOR KEEPS?
Michael Convertino scored what is arguably the greatest romantic
comedy of the 1980s, BULL DURHAM, but the film was dominated by
songs and Convertino's music only even becomes noticeable in the last few
Mychael Danna began his career as a film composer (long before
most of us in the U.S. heard of him) with his first Atom Egoyan project,
FAMILY VIEWING, as well as a true crime drama, MURDER ONE,
starring Henry Thomas.
BILOXI BLUES was Georges Delerue's third film for director
Mike Nichols, but there was very little scoring in the release version
-- was a longer score dialed out? Since Elmer Bernstein's working relationship
with Ivan Reitman had ended, Reitman hired Delerue to score his comedy
TWINS, but ended up replacing much of Delerue's typically delicate
score with new music by Randy Edelman. He wrote effectively restrained
suspense music for the old-fashioned thriller THE HOUSE ON CARROLL STREET,
and displayed his trademark light touch on MEMORIES OF ME and BEACHES,
but though the latter was one of his biggest boxoffice hits, the Bette
Midler songs (especially "Wind Beneath My Wings") received the bulk of
the attention with the soundtrack album proving to be a bestseller. He
was an odd choice to score Chris Columbus' Elvis comedy HEARTBREAK HOTEL,
and his music, though charming as ever, was not an easy fit.
Pino Donaggio gave the Agatha Christie adaptation APPOINTMENT
WITH DEATH a jaunty main theme, but his music couldn't compare with
previous Poirot scores like Bennett's Murder on the Orient Express
and Rota's Death on the Nile. He wrote a delicate score for the
family drama ZELLY AND ME (featuring David Lynch in a rare acting
role), the kind of movie Georges Delerue would normally be hired for, and
scored the kids comedy GOING BANANAS and the Matt Dillon-Andrew
McCarthy vehicle (those were the days) KANSAS.
Randy Edelman's comeback began with his energetic score for a
largely forgotten Ivan Reitman production, FEDS.
Richard Einhorn wrote a fresh orchestral thriller score for the
little seen SISTER, SISTER, (whose director went on to make Gods
and Monsters) making one wish he'd write more works for the screen.
A change in studio kept Danny Elfman from using any of his popular
Pee Wee's Big Adventure themes for the followup, BIG TOP PEE-WEE,
and his score was typically charming (with an especially delightful pastiche
cue for a jungle sequence) but lacked Adventure's classic melodies.
His funky score for MIDNIGHT RUN was effective but virtually unrecognizable
as an Elfman score, while his HOT TO TROT music was atypically forgettable.
The success of Beetlejuice made him a predictable choice to score
SCROOGED, and he brought the film his usual craft but was unable
to do much for Richard Donner's awkward blend of sentiment and slapstick.
George Fenton wrote one of his most enjoyable scores for Neil
Jordan's failed ghost comedy HIGH SPIRITS, giving the film a lush
and energetic sound with the help of ace orchestrator Christopher Palmer.
He wrote an effective score for the period drama A HANDFUL OF DUST
highlighted by a striking main theme, and one of his source cues was recently
used in the film Seabiscuit, while another period score, WHITE
MISCHIEF, was largely dull and forgettable like the film itself.
Brad Fiedel wrote a disappointingly drab score for the Oscar-winning
drama THE ACCUSED (not that lighter music would have fit the subject
matter), and replaced Charles Bernstein on Wes Craven's voodoo drama THE
SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW.
Mike Figgis scored and directed his first feature, the stylish
English noir STORMY MONDAY, and his atmospheric and laid-back jazz
score proved to be typical of the composer's style.
Along with the inevitable POLICE ACADEMY 5: ASSIGNMENT MIAMI,
Robert Folk had a more prestigious assignment with the rural drama
MILES FROM HOME, which was Gary Sinise's feature directorial debut.
Charles Fox's score for SHORT CIRCUIT 2 wasn't as inventive
as David Shire's work for the original film, but it did feature an unusually
catchy end title theme.
David Michael Frank scored vehicles for two action stars, HERO
AND THE TERROR (with Chuck Norris) and ABOVE THE LAW, the first
film starring Steven Seagal.
For his score to THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, Peter Gabriel
eschewed the usual symphonic-liturgical style of Biblical epics and sought
inspiration in the authentic music of the Middle East, though at times
his approach sounded distractingly modern in the context of the film.
Philip Glass scored the followup to Koyaanisqatsi, POWAQQATSI,
and his music was pleasingly varied but still failed to give a satisfying
dramatic shape to this non-narrative collection of beautifully rendered
Jerry Goldsmith's score for RENT-A-COP featured some energetic
action cues but overall it's one of his cheesiest scores of the decade,
with a weak main theme (though the Intrada score CD is highly enjoyable
despite the score's flaws).
Miles Goodman wrote possibly his finest score for the con man
comedy DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, an unusually deft work which reteamed
him with Little Shop of Horrors director Frank Oz.
Gerald Gouriet wrote a charming orchestral score for the Shirley
MacLaine vehicle MADAME SOUSATZKA, his music nicely counterpointing
the piano solos which figure into the plot.
Dave Grusin wrote a discreetly emotional score for the family
drama CLARA'S HEART, which introduced Neil Patrick Harris.
Herbie Hancock followed up his Round Midnight Oscar by
co-scoring (with Michael Kamen) ACTION JACKSON, an attempt at reviving
the blaxploitation genre, and while his music had some pleasantly campy
moments it lacked the classic qualities of those original 70s scores. He
also scored the relatively more prestigious gang drama COLORS.
Michael Hoenig wrote an effective but unmemorable synth score
for the underrated remake of THE BLOB (which is one of the rarest
score CDs of its era), with one cue featuring pleasant echoes of Goldsmith's
Lee Holdridge scored two largely forgotten comedies, the twins-farce
BIG BUSINESS and the May-December romance A TIGER'S TALE.
James Horner provided a typical 48 Hrs. style urban action
score for RED HEAT, though the opening and closing sections feature
elaborate faux-Russian symphonic/choral cues (I could swear the choir is
singing the word "philosophy" over and over again). He also wrote a synth
ensemble score for the psychic comedy VIBES, his music lacking the
necessary sense of lightness and fun. His score for COCOON: THE RETURN
was, not surprisingly, an effective but uninspired rehash of his themes
for the original, while his music for the animated dinosaur film THE
LAND BEFORE TIME was lush and symphonic, though it featured some of
his usual cribbing from classical sources.
James Newton Howard wrote effective, small ensemble scores for
two indie dramas, PROMISED LAND (the first of five films for director
Michael Hoffman) and FIVE CORNERS. Despite the musically promising
milieu, his music for the Vietnam War police thriller OFF-LIMITS
failed to make much of an impression, while he also had one of his first
big-budget assignments with the decades spanning romantic drama EVERYBODY'S
Mark Isham tried hard but was a poor choice to score the underrated
Afghan/Soviet war film THE BEAST, his low-key music lacking the
high drama and excitement a Goldsmith might have brought to the project.
He worked in more suitable territory with Alan Rudolph's Paris-set period
drama THE MODERNS, for which he wrote music in his trademark dreamy
Chaz Jankel's score for the stylish, underrated remake of D.O.A.
mixed an emotional orchestral theme with more abrasive, rock-oriented variations.
Maurice Jarre's best score of the year was not the Oscar nominated
Gorillas in the Mist but his lively, Latin-themed score for the
flop Paul Mazursky comedy MOON OVER PARADOR. Jarre wrote a rather
dull synth ensemble score for the romantic drama JULIA AND JULIA,
but though the film is largely forgotten today it predicted two movie trends
-- the plot involved a woman living in two parallel realities, and the
film was shot on high-definition video. He wrote a similarly uninspired
score for the equally dull Vietnam vet drama DISTANT THUNDER.
Trevor Jones scored the year's most controversial Best Picture
nominee, MISSISSIPPI BURNING, his pounding score lacking a light
touch (as fitting an Alan Parker film), while he wrote a more intimate
score for the drama DOMINICK AND EUGENE featuring a guitar based
Frank LaLoggia composed the music for his own low-budget ghost
story LADY IN WHITE, his score evoking Elmer Bernstien's musical
depictions of childhood.
Henry Mancini wrote a typically charming score for the revisionist
Sherlock Holmes comedy WITHOUT A CLUE, and collaborated with Blake
Edwards for the umpteenth time for the Hollywood Western comedy SUNSET.
Anthony Marinelli and Brian Banks replaced James Horner
on the "Brat Pack Western" YOUNG GUNS, and their anachronistic score
added little to the film.
Ennio Morricone wrote a grand and romantic score for A TIME
OF DESTINY, and six years later one of his cues was used prominently
as the trailer music for Wyatt Earp. He also scored his only film
for Roman Polanski, the Harrison Ford thriller FRANTIC, giving it
a typically distinctive main theme and a Morricone-ean sense of dread.
Stanley Myers' score for the drug abuse drama THE BOOST
was surprisingly cheesy for this talented composer, while his score for
the failed dark comedy STARS AND BARS was largely forgettable, replacing
a lively, rejected Elmer Bernstein effort (which was released on an out-of-print
Varese Club CD). He also worked with frequent collaborator Nicolas Roeg
on an especially odd Dennis Potter adaptation, TRACK 29, and scored
a completely forgotten Pierce Brosnan vehicle, TAFFIN, whose poster
had the most hilariously generic taglines I've ever seen.
Ira Newborn reprised his wonderful Police Squad! theme
(itself a parody of the M Squad theme) for the bigscreen followup,
THE NAKED GUN: FROM THE FILES OF POLICE SQUAD, and found a consistently
apt parodistic tone though the film was much broader than the original
Thomas Newman scored one of the most thankless comedies of his
career, the John Hughes scripted THE GREAT OUTDOORS, which surprisingly
enough gave Annette Bening her first movie role, as well as a typically
offbeat indie comedy, THE PRINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA, starring Keanu
Alex North wrote one of his final scores for THE PENITENT,
a little seen religious drama which gave him a rare (for the 80s) opportunity
to show the breadth of his composing talent with its typically rich and
moving score. Though Varese Sarabande had hoped to do a soundtrack, within
a few years the score's tapes were lost.
Basil Poledouris wrote an atypically forgettable, synth-based
score for the thriller SPELLBINDER, and a similarly unmemorable
work for the boxing drama SPLIT DECISIONS.
Joe Renzetti provided rather dull, unmelodic scores for the first
CHILD'S PLAY film and the final Poltergeist movie, POLTERGEIST
J. Peter Robinson was a last minute replacement when Maurice
Jarre's score for the dreadful COCKTAIL was rejected, and Robinson's
music seemed designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, with the songs
(including "Kokomo") garnering the bulk of the attention.
Bruce Rowland reworked his popular Man From Snowy River
score for the sequel, RETURN TO SNOWY RIVER, while giving the music
a somewhat anachronistic pop sound.
Lalo Schifrin scored the final Dirty Harry film, THE DEAD
POOL (he scored all but one of the series) and gave the project his
usual professionalism and distinctive sound but it was the least memorable
score of the series.
John Scott's score for the outdoor thriller SHOOT TO KILL
was highlighted by a marvelous end title cue, available in a terrific rerecording
on the Scott-conducted Varese CD Screen Themes. He wrote a satisfyingly
old-fashioned score for THE DECEIVERS, a disappointing collaboration
between Nicholas Meyer and the Merchant-Ivory team (the rare Merchant-Ivory
production not scored by Richard Robbins), and the music was heard to better
advantage on the CD than in the movie, where much of it was dialed out.
Jonathan Sheffer wrote a memorable main theme for the offbeat
indie drama IN A SHALLOW GRAVE, showing a promise that his later
scores have yet to fulfill.
David Shire wrote one of his last major studio scores (for now)
for George Romero's underrated thriller MONKEY
SHINES, providing a lyrical main theme and clever percussive music
for the film's tragic heroine, a monkey named Ella. His score for one of
the era's spate of body switching comedies, VICE VERSA, was less
Howard Shore wrote an atypically forgettable comedy score for
the unamusing Richard Pryor vehicle MOVING, but had his first blockbuster
hit with BIG, giving the Tom Hanks comedy a sprightly score including
a bittersweet romantic theme, adaptations of the classic "Heart and Soul,"
and pleasingly spooky music for the fortune telling machine.
In one of the most dramatic examples of Alan Silvestri's apparent
inability to turn down a job, he scored the dreadful, McDonalds-inspired
E.T. ripoff MAC AND ME, and his score was professional as
always though his main theme sounded a bit like Robert O. Ragland's theme
song from Grizzly. He brought his usual energy to MY STEPMOTHER
IS AN ALIEN (with future Buffy star Alyson Hannigan as the stepdaughter)
but as with so many Silvestri projects, the film was unworthy of his talents.
Carly Simon received the "Music By" credit for the film WORKING
GIRL, winning the Oscar for the song "Let The River Run," but Rob
Mounsey was credited with the "Score."
Bruce Smeaton's score for director Fred Schepisi's gripping,
Oscar-nominated docudrama A CRY IN THE DARK (the film that introduced
the phrase "a dingo ate my baby") used an odd, not especially successful
jazzy approach, and proved to be the last film (so far) that Smeaton would
score for the director.
Ace music editor Curt Sobel was hired to write the replacement
score when Jerry Goldsmith's electronic score for ALIEN NATION was
thrown out, but Sobel's contribution was surprisingly forgettable, taking
little instrumental advantage of the promising milieu.
Ernest Troost scored the zombie-cop comedy DEAD HEAT as
well as the Patrick Swayze indie drama TIGER WARSAW.
In his first American assignment, Gabriel Yared wrote a distinctly
un-Hollywoodish score for the rehab drama CLEAN AND SOBER.
Christopher Young's score for HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II
retained his terrific main theme from the original film but added a heavier,
more thunderous symphonic sound. Young's score for the period drama HAUNTED
SUMMER was an unusually undramatic effort for the composer, his music
providing vague atmosphere but all too little tension. His score for the
Vietnam adventure BAT-21 was an effective mix of Horner-ish percussive
action and more intimate, melodic dramatic material, but his contribution
was no help to the disastrous Whoopi Goldberg vehicle THE TELEPHONE.
A WORLD APART was the first of several Africa-themed scores for
Hans Zimmer, and Mrs. Barry Levinson's fondness for the score helped
the composer win the career-making job of scoring Rain Man.
ALIEN NATION - Jerry Goldsmith
THE BIG BLUE - Eric Serra
COCKTAIL - Maurice Jarre
A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON - Elmer Bernstein
THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW - Charles Bernstein
STARS AND BARS - Elmer Bernstein
YOUNG GUNS - James Horner
These are all the score discs from 1988 movies produced
around the time of their films' release (titles with an asterisk received
only an LP release at the time, though some were much later released on
The Accidental Tourist, Bad Dreams*, BAT-21, The Beast, Beetlejuice,
Betrayed, Big Top Pee-Wee, The Blob, Child's Play, Cocoon: The Return,
Critters 2, Crossing Delancey, D.O.A., Dangerous Liaisons, Dead Heat*,
The Deceivers, Dominick and Eugene, Eight Men Out, Feds, Five Corners,
Frantic, Gorillas in the Mist, A Handful of Dust, Haunted Summer, Hellbound:
Hellraiser II, Hero and the Terror, High Spirits, In a Shallow Grave*,
Julia and Julia, The Land Before Time, Lady in White*, Madame Sousatzka,
Midnight Run, Mississippi Burning, The Moderns, Moon Over Parador, Off
Limits, Oliver & Company, Pascali's Island, Patty Hearst, Poltergeist
III, Powaqqatsi, Promised Land, Punchline, Rambo III, Red Heat, Rent-a-Cop,
Return to Snowy River, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Seventh Sign, Sister
Sister*, Stand and Deliver, Stormy Monday, A Summer Story, They Live, Tiger
Warsaw*, A Time of Destiny, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, White Mischief,
A World Apart, Zelly and Me
Virgin released Eric Serra's score CD to The Big Blue in the
U.S., even though American prints featured Bill Conti's replacement score.
Varese Sarabande's CD for Stewart Copeland's Talk Radio paired selections
(burdened with dialogue) with cues his earlier Oliver Stone collaboration
FROM: "Preston Neal Jones"
Even Nominated, 1987
A couple of other corrections to Not
Even Nominated Part Eight: the title song to Hope and Glory
evokes "I'll Be Seeing You," not "We'll Meet Again." Also, I wrote of a
proposed Denzel Washington remake of 1987's Man on Fire. That remake
is not only proposed but has actually been filmed -- directed by Tony Scott,
written by Brian Helgeland and reportedly to be scored by Harry Gregson-Williams,
the remake transposes the story from Europe to Mexico and stars Washington,
Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke, Giancarlo Gianinni, and the inevitable
Dakota Fanning as the imperiled girl.
I, too, have been enjoying your series. Keep up the good work!
Some addendums and comments, if you'll forgive me, on today's entry:
1.) Glad you mentioned author/composer Paul Bowles's contribution
to THE GLASS MENAGERIE. My first exposure to Bowles's music came in the
early 60's when Ernie Kovacs appropriated some of it for one of his TV
specials. The particular piece, "Music for a Farce," was originally composed
for TOO MUCH JOHNSON, an Orson Welles stage/film project in his pre-Hollywood
days. The score is available on CD, and is totally delightful, highly recommended
to those who appreciate John Barry's THE WRONG BOX, John Addison's TOM
JONES, or Laurence Rosenthal's HOTEL PARADISO.
2.) Immediately after mentioning ROBOCOP as "an unfortunate casualty
of the 30-minute rule," you might have said the same thing about Alex North's
THE DEAD. The Varese CD ends with Mr. Patterson's vocal of the song, but
not with North's underscoring of the film's climax, a great disappointment
to fans of the film and of North.
3.) After mentioning Mancini and Bowles on THE GLASS MENAGERIE,
it's a pity you didn't include Pete Seeger in connection with Burwell's
score to RAISING ARIZONA. The fact of the matter, hidden in the fine print
of the movie's credits, is that all the yodeling in the chase sequences
you wrote about hails from Seeger's wonderful "Goofing Off Suite," a 10"
Folkways LP which is still available on CD from the Smithsonian. Seeger's
Suite is a crazy quilt of everybody from Irving Berlin to Beethoven, Igor
Stravinsky and Edvard Grieg, the premise being that classical composers
have stolen from folk music for years so it's time for folk singers to
return the compliment. (Totally aside from film composers stealing from
both classical and folk musicians.)
4.) In your list of 1954 nominees, while it's true that conductor
Muir Mathiesen received the on-screen credit for the GENEVIEVE score, that
was only on the American prints. The original British prints accurately
credited the blacklisted composer and mouth organ virtuoso, Larry Adler.
Thanks again to reader Marc Levy for inspiring this series.
Previous articles in this series covering the years 1980,
can be accessed on the website.
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