NOT EVEN NOMINATED, PART SEVEN
THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC: 1986
By Scott Bettencourt
THE REAL NOMINEES
ALIENS - James Horner
HOOSIERS - Jerry Goldsmith
THE MISSION - Ennio Morricone
ROUND MIDNIGHT - Herbie Hancock (the winner)
STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME - Leonard Rosenman
AN AMERICAN TAIL - James Horner
Steven Spielberg's first feature length animated production, directed
by Secret of NIMH's Don Bluth, was one of the first animated hits
made outside the Disney studio, and its success proved to be a portent
of the revival of the animated musical officially begun three years later
by Disney's The Little Mermaid. Horner's score featured four original
songs, most famously the double Grammy winner "Somewhere Out There," though
the other songs have since been deservedly forgotten. Horner's score was
much better than the songs, giving the film much needed energy and warmth,
and it would prove to be the first of seven animated films Horner would
score, so many that by the time Balto came around in 1995 even some
Horner fans were hoping he'd lay off the cartoons for a while. The big
Oscar surprise was not just that American Tail missed a score nomination
(though "Somewhere Out There" was nominated, losing to Top Gun's
"Take My Breath Away"), but that Horner's Aliens was nominated instead.
Though highly effective in context, Aliens was one of the most derivative
scores in the Horner canon. (An American Tail received 1 Oscar nomination)
CRIMES OF THE HEART - Georges Delerue
This adaptation of Beth Henley's Pulitzer Prize winning play was a rare
piece of Oscar bait for Dino De Laurentiis' short lived production-and-distribution
company DEG, with Bruce Beresford (fresh off the boxoffice failure of King
David) directing three Oscar winners as three eccentric sisters --
Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton and Sissy Spacek. The film, while not a boxoffice
hit, was a pleasant entertainment (though the material was so light one
can only wonder what the Pulitzer runners-up were that year) and Delerue
was a predictable choice to score it, since in Hollywood his delicate sensibility
often landed him in "women's pictures" (Julia, Rich and Famous, Silkwood).
Delerue's work was typically lovely, with a variety of themes balancing
melancholy and lightheartedness, and Beresford would go on to use him on
four more projects -- it was on completion of the final one, Rich in
Love, that Delerue suffered his untimely death. (3 Oscar nominations)
THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE - Henry Mancini
This Disney feature (its title dumbed down from Basil of Baker Street)
was the studio's last animated film before Little Mermaid ushered
in a new era of boxoffice success for the form, and Detective's
directing team, Musker & Clements, would go on to direct Mermaid
and Aladdin (as well as the hugely disappointing Hercules).
The film was a delight, much superior to many of the studio's later, bigger
hits, and featured one of Mancini's last great scores, deftly supporting
the action (especially during the exciting finale) and buoyed by a delightful
main theme. It wasn't until the film was re-released in 1992 (and briefly
retitled The Adventures of the Great Mouse Detective) that the score
received its long deserved soundtrack release, from Varese Sarabande.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW - Richard Robbins
The score for this Merchant-Ivory production, by their regular composer
Richard Robbins, would probably be ineligible for an Oscar today because
of its prominent use of the aria "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's
Gianni Scicchi, but its use was so apt that many people today know
the music only as the "Room With a View theme." Robbins had yet
to develop the pleasant if predictable style, a soothing, classically tinged
minimalism, that has made many of his recent scores sound nearly identical,
and his music for this E.M. Forster based romantic comedy, the most sheerly
entertaining of their oeuvre, was discreet and utterly charming. (8 Oscar
SPACE CAMP - John Williams
John Williams' normally unerring sense of when to a bail on an imminent
flop (The Sentinel, Quintet, Meteor, Inchon, Heaven's Gate) failed
him for once with this project, but he wasn't the only one surprised by
this well photographed (by William Fraker) failure -- 20th Century Fox
allegedly believed it to be their potential smash hit of the summer of
86, and considered Aliens to be a poor second cousin. This juvenile
adventure about a group of young space camp students who (by a series of
events too inane to explain -- suffice to say it involves a lovable robot
granting a little boy's wish) are accidentally launched into orbit on the
space shuttle was directed by TV helmer Harry Winer, while its cast of
rising young stars (Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan) have not
risen all that much farther -- only Joaquin (then Leaf) Phoenix, as the
little boy, has blasted beyond the rest, potentially the finest actor of
his generation. Williams' score, his only feature work between The River
in '84 and The Witches of Eastwick in '87, was not one of his great
works but his immense professionalism was on display as always, with a
rousing end title march and properly weightless suspense cues for the scenes
of characters maneuvering outside the shuttle (for those of us who grew
up on movies like 2001 and Marooned, these scenes were a
welcome return of a sci-fi staple and were the highlight of the film).
RCA released the soundtrack LP, but the score's only CD release was from
SCC in Japan in 1992.
FIVE MORE OUTSTANDING SCORES OF 1986
BLUE VELVET - Angelo Badalamenti
David Lynch's first film after the boxoffice and critical failure of
Dune proved to be arguably his greatest film, a wonderfully inventive
and disturbing erotic mystery which is as deeply strange as any of Lynch's
films but most effective because it pretends to be a normal movie. This
was his first film with composer Badalamenti (who had scored a few 70s
films like Law & Disorder and Gordon's War under the
name Andy Badale), and Lynch hasn't done a project without him since, their
collaboration including six features and two TV series (the composer even
had a memorable cameo in Mulholland Drive, as a espresso drinking
mobster). Badalamenti's lushly brooding music was the perfect straight
faced complement to Lynch's gorgeously photographed nightmarescape, and
their song "Mysteries of Love" led to an entire album of original songs
Lynch-Badalamenti performed by Julee Cruise.
THE FLY - Howard Shore
After scoring The Brood and Videodrome, Howard Shore took
an unplanned break from scoring David Cronenberg films when the producers
of The Dead Zone refused to allow his hiring and signed on Michael
Kamen instead. With The Fly, Shore returned to the Cronenberg fold
and, understandably, has never left, as Shore's powerful symphonic score
(performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra) proved to be his breakthrough
work, its evocative and emotional main title just a foretaste of the musical
fireworks ahead. Cronenberg was at the peak of his talents -- in my opinion,
the 80s trilogy of Dead Zone, Fly and Dead Ringers constitute
his finest work, dramatically satisfying and emotionally rich -- and Shore's
music was an inextricable part of The Fly's power, combining with
Jeff Goldblum (robbed of an Oscar nomination) and Geena Davis' moving and
deeply felt performances to create an unusually devastating sci-fi horror
movie. Varese released the original LP and added three more cues for the
'NIGHT MOTHER - David Shire
Not every piece of Oscar bait ultimately gets remembered at nominations
time, and this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning Marsha Norman play
about a woman trying to keep her epileptic daughter from committing suicide
was barely released and ultimately forgotten. Sissy Spacek (as the daughter,
a role originated onstage by Kathy Bates) was nominated instead for Crimes
of the Heart (another Pulitzer winner -- apparently in 1986, to film
a Pulitzer play you needed Sissy Spacek) and Anne Bancroft was ignored
completely. The film never shook its theatrical origins but was very effective
on its own terms, especially in Spacek's wrenching performance, and David
Shire's gentle score provided subtle and moving support with a simple guitar
theme. The composer promo David Shire Film Music featured the main
title, with guitar performed by Tommy Tedesco, and Tedesco performed the
theme again on the Bay Cities CD David Shire at the Movies, accompanied
by Shire on the piano.
POLTERGIEST II: THE OTHER SIDE - Jerry Goldsmith
Apart from Craig T. Nelson's marvelous performance, this Spielberg-less
sequel to the 1982 horror smash was a disappointment in nearly every way,
but though Goldsmith's score failed to achieve the popularity of his work
on the first film, he gave it his customary care and professionalism, not
merely relying on material from the first score (like the inevitable "Carole
Anne's theme") but providing impressive new motifs, like the Indian theme
heard over the opening credits and the delicate theme for Grandma Freling.
The soundtrack LP/CD was one of the first from Intrada, and in 1993 they
were kind enough to release an expanded edition with an additional 23 minutes
of score (the original release was a well-sequenced 30 minute disc). Goldsmith,
understandably, was unavailable for 1988's inevitable Poltergeist III,
which introduced Lara Flynn Boyle and consisted largely of character walking
around fog-filled sets calling out each other's names.
THREE AMIGOS - Elmer Bernstein
Since he was not only John Landis' composer of choice during the 1980s
but also the man responsible for the scores to all four of the Magnificent
Seven films, Bernstein was the inevitable choice to score this amusing
homage (directed by Landis), to silent film Westerns and the Seven
series and his score was an utter delight, complemented by original songs
by Randy Newman (who wrote the script with Steve Martin and producer Lorne
Michaels, as well as providing the voice of the "singing bush," who croons
only songs in the public domain) including the title tune, which is one
of Newman's finest film songs, a wonderful pastiche yet a charming piece
in its own right. Warner Bros. Records released a soundtrack LP containing
the highlights of Bernstein's score, Newman's songs, and painless dialogue
extracts (the film, though no classic, is surprisingly amusing), but unfortunately
it has never seen a CD release.
THE REST OF THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC:
Director Stuart Gordon followed up his cult classic Re-Animator
with another H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, FROM BEYOND, and though
this film wasn't nearly as satisfying, Re-Animator composer Richard
Band's score was impressively lush and evocative.
John Barry was an exceptionally unlikely composer to score George
Lucas' ill-fated production of HOWARD THE DUCK, but his score was
surprisingly charming and lively, treating the film as if it were actually
good, as any composer must (though the film is not nearly as unwatchable
as its reputation would indicate); Sylvester Levay also received credit
for additional scoring. Barry's other, more prestigious score of the year
was for Francis Coppola's film PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, and Barry's
score was suitably gentle and romantic. Unfortunately, the soundtrack albums
for each film only featured one side of Barry music.
Charles Bernstein, briefly typecast in horror after the success
of A Nightmare on Elm Street, wrote similarly pulpy scores for APRIL
FOOL'S DAY and DEADLY FRIEND, though unfortunately the Varese
LP of the latter included only electronic cues and omitted the orchestral
Elmer Bernstein wrote his final score for director Ivan Reitman,
LEGAL EAGLES, giving it a catchy, jaunty main theme. He wrote a
moving score (partly based on Dies Irae) for the medieval drama
MARIE WARD, but though the film went unreleased in the U.S. Varese
released a score LP which later became a CD Club selection.
Australian composer Peter Best gave the surprise smash CROCODILE
DUNDEE an appealing, almost Morricone-ish main theme, but the rest
of his score was largely dull.
Bruce Broughton wrote a charming, melodic score for the juvenile
fantasy THE BOY WHO COULD FLY, and a largely forgettable effort
for Alan Alda's awkward movie-on-location comedy SWEET LIBERTY.
Geoffrey Burgon contributed an outstanding score to the offbeat
British drama TURTLE DIARY, his delicate score finding the perfect
balance of emotion and whimsy.
Fresh off the success of Blood Simple, Carter Burwell
was hired to score the underrated PSYCHO III and his offbeat score
owed nothing to his predecessors Herrmann and Goldsmith, featuring steel
drums as well as saxophone solos by David Sanborn.
After two projects involving other composers, John Carpenter
returned to regularly scoring his own films with BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE
CHINA, an engaging homage to Hong Kong action fantasies (years ahead
of its time) which has become a cult classic but upon its release was a
boxoffice flop. Unfortunately, this was one project where Carpenter would
have been wise to seek an outside composer, for though his score was serviceable,
the project could have used a musical voice with a bit more variety and
Gary Chang wrote weak synthesizer scores for two Cannon productions
-- John Frankenheimer's terrific film of Elmore Leonard's 52-PICKUP
(which deserved a much better score) and the Chuck Norris vehicle FIREWALKER
(which didn't). However, Frankenheimer was apparently quite satisfied with
Chang's score and went on to employ the composer for several more projects
until the director's untimely death.
Sidney Lumet hired his Prince of the City composer Paul Chihara
for the Jane Fonda vehicle THE MORNING AFTER, but unlike his
memorably bleak, noirish Prince music, Chihara never found the right
tone for this promising but disappointing romantic thriller.
Years before Hans Zimmer formed Media Ventures, a group of composers
collaborated on scores under the name Cinemascore (formed, I believe,
by Quincy Jones, though I'm not positive). This collective wrote the score
(or "Music Design," as the poster credit reads) for the enjoyable Schwarzenegger
action thriller RAW DEAL, and the participating composers included
Tom Bahler, Claude Gaudette, and ace orchestrator Chris Boardman, who would
later score Payback. The result was effective in context but understandably
lacked musical personality -- it was a (bad) idea ahead of its time.
Of his three scores for director Sidney Lumet, Broadway composer
Cy Coleman's music for the political thriller POWER was the
most effective, but with rare exceptions (namely Murder on the Orient
Express) Lumet was not a great director for composers and this score
was ultimately even more forgettable than the film (which featured one
of Richard Gere's finest performances, in a role originally intended for
Michel Colombier replaced John Barry on the effects-heavy Eddie
Murphy adventure THE GOLDEN CHILD and provided a pop-oriented score,
though a few Barry cues made their way into the movie (the soundtrack LP/CD
even featured one Barry score cue as well as a main title song co-written
by Barry). Colombier also scored the hit comedy RUTHLESS PEOPLE
and the less successful Tom Hanks farce THE MONEY PIT, which was
photographed by, of all people, The Godfather's Gordon Willis.
Bill Conti wrote a rousing orchestral thriller score for the
sleeper hit F/X, and provided a lush, serious score for the smash
hit sequel THE KARATE KID, PART II, which despite focusing more
on Pat Morita than on Ralph Macchio managed to substantially outgross its
predecessor. Conti also provided a rock guitar-based score to NOMADS,
an offbeat supernatural thriller which was John McTiernan's directorial
debut, and reunited with Gloria director John Cassavetes for the
disastrous Falk/Arkin reteaming BIG TROUBLE, a job which Cassavetes
took on only after original writer-director Andrew Bergman was replaced
early in the shoot.
Michael Convertino gave Best Picture nominee CHILDREN OF A
LESSER GOD an evocative though largely unmelodic score, highlighted
by a strikingly pretty main title cue.
Ry Cooder wrote an acoustic small ensemble score for the Ross
MacDonald adaptation BLUE CITY.
Georges Delerue's score for Oliver Stone's SALVADOR took
him into darker dramatic territory than most of his American projects,
and his exciting, emotional score fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunately,
his next collaboration with Stone, the multi-Oscar winner PLATOON,
was less copacetic, as Stone became enamored of Samuel Barber's Adagio
For Springs (already featured prominently in The Elephant Man)
and replaced most of Delerue's score with it, giving his film a needlessly
heavy musical hand.
Danny Elfman followed up his breakthrough work on Pee-Wee
with his score for the smash hit BACK TO SCHOOL, and though the
film was not a great scoring opportunity it allowed him to write in his
trademark sprightly style. On the other hand, his score for the slick but
dopey Emilio Estevez directorial debut WISDOM was barely recognizable
Before the creation of Media Ventures, Harold Faltermeyer was
the composer of choice for the Simpson-Bruckheimer empire, and he wrote
a suitably pop-symphonic score for their enormous hit TOP GUN, though
barely any of it was found on the smash hit soundtrack album.
Brad Fiedel scored the underrated 50s coming of age drama DESERT
BLOOM, and though his music was capable the project could have really
used an Elmer Bernstein. Fiedel also scored the action adventure LET'S
GET HARRY, the final film from Cool Hand Luke director Stuart
Rosenberg who used the DGA's approved "Alan Smithee" pseudonym in the final
Besides Poltergeist II, his Oscar nominated score for Hoosiers,
and his rejected score for Legend, Jerry Goldsmith reunited
with Psycho II director Richard Franklin for LINK, a cheesy
but enjoyable thriller which pitted Elisabeth Shue against an intelligent,
murderous ape. Goldsmith's circus music-inspired main theme evoked Gremlins,
while he provided a surprisingly lovely theme for Shue's character.
Miles Goodman's score for Ed Zwick's feature directorial debut
ABOUT LAST NIGHT was largely lost amidst the pop songs, but the
composer was nominated for a Golden Globe for his incidental music to the
wonderful musical remake of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, and went on
to become director Frank Oz's composer of choice for several years. Horrors'
songwriter Alan Menken was reportedly so irritated that Goodman received
the Globe nomination instead of himself that he resolved to write the incidental
music for his animated musicals, a decision which led to four scoring Oscars
In the mid-80s Dave Grusin began scoring fewer films, and his
only feature in 86 was the charming teen drama LUCAS.
Besides his Oscar nominated Aliens and Grammy-winning American
Tail, James Horner had three films released during the year.
The failed comedy OFF BEAT featured a distractingly inappropriate
steel-drum heavy score, while the drama WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK
featured a decent but unexceptional electronic score. The uneven but engrossing
adaptation of THE NAME OF THE ROSE was a flop in the U.S. but a
huge hit in Europe, and Horner's score was a disappointment, suitably restrained
but overall rather dull.
James Newton Howard burst onto the scoring scene with an impressive
number of projects, though his scores for the year would show little sign
of the impressive dramatic and compositional talent which continues to
grow to this day. His projects included the sports comedy WILD CATS,
the corporate comedy HEAD OFFICE (enlivened by Rick Moranis' uncanny
impression of producer Joel Silver), the failed romantic comedy NOBODY'S
FOOL (no relation to the later Paul Newman vehicle), the Lancaster-Douglas
reteaming TOUGH GUYS, and Hal Ashby's hugely disappointing final
film, 8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE, a poor filming of Lawrence Block's
terrific "Scudder" novel. (Gossipy footnote: around this time, Howard was
romantically involved with Fool and Die star Roseanna Arquette)
Mark Isham wrote an effectively moody score for Robert Harmon's
stylish thriller THE HITCHER, with his brooding main and end title
cues proving especially creepy.
Maurice Jarre's big orchestral score of the year was for TAI-PAN,
a James Clavell epic which returned the composer to familiar Shogun
territory, and the CD of his forthright, melodic score has become a collector's
item. He wrote an atmospheric, electronic ensemble score for Peter Weir's
THE MOSQUITO COAST, and scored the disastrous juvenile sci-fi fantasy
Fans of Trevor Jones' Dark Crystal score eagerly awaited
his second collaboration with Jim Henson, LABYRINTH, but the score
lacked Crystal's gorgeous orchestrations and haunting melodies,
and the David Bowie songs were no help either.
Michael Kamen wrote one of his most popular scores for the cult
favorite fantasy adventure HIGHLANDER, his full-bodied orchestral
score making a strong impression amidst the Queen songs. Kamen adapted
the classic Livingston & Evans song MONA LISA for Neil Jordan's
terrific romantic noir of the same name, while providing his own effectively
melancholy music. He also collaborated with George Harrison on the Asian-inflected
score for the notorious Sean & Madonna disaster SHANGHAI SURPRISE.
Patrick Leonard's score for the fact-based family crime drama
AT CLOSE RANGE was largely forgettable but did include a surprisingly
good Madonna song, "Live to Tell." Leonard also wrote a negligible score
for the Tom Hanks-Jackie Gleason comedy drama, NOTHING IN COMMON.
Sylvester Levay wrote a pop-synth action score for the Stallone
cop thriller COBRA, and was an unsatisfactory replacement for the
more appropriate Georges Delerue on the underrated Michael Keaton romantic
comedy drama TOUCH AND GO.
Henry Mancini scored two of regular collaborator Blake Edwards'
weakest efforts -- the Music Box reworking A FINE MESS (not
surprisingly, Ted Danson and Howie Mandel failed to become the Laurel &
Hardy of the 1980s) and the improvised family drama THAT'S LIFE.
Harry Manfredini provided exactly what was expected for the finest
film of the Jason series, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES,
and provided some lively cues for the minor hit HOUSE.
John Morris scored Gene Wilder's spookhouse comedy HAUNTED
HONEYMOON (the last feature Wilder directed, and the last film to star
his late wife Gilda Radner, though Morris and Wilder would later reunite
for a pair of mystery movies on A&E), and though the film was little
seen Page Cook named it one of the year's finest scores.
The music for the acclaimed British comedy-drama MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE
was an early collaboration between Stanley Myers and his protege
Hans Zimmer, with a bubbly main title theme evoking the setting.
Myers also contributed a dour score to the offbeat thriller THE LIGHTSHIP.
Ira Newborn was the composer for the lowest ebb in Brian DePalma's
career, the dreadful mob comedy WISE GUYS. He also wrote the score
for yet another John Hughes project, the smash hit FERRIS BUELLER'S
DAY OFF, but the songs garnered most of the attention (inexplicably,
there has never been a Ferris Bueller soundtrack).
David Newman had his first solo feature assignment, the Gremlins
ripoff CRITTERS (whose three sequels featured such future stars
as Angela Bassett and Leonardo DiCaprio), and his orchestral score was
warm and lively.
Thomas Newman wrote his only score for producer Joel Silver for
the action comedy JUMPIN' JACK FLASH, working in his usual quirky
urban vein for the film which was also Penny Marshall's directorial debut.
He also worked with another future A-list director, Ron Howard, on the
cross-cultural comedy GUNG HO.
Lennie Niehaus wrote an extremely sparse score for Clint Eastwood's
Marine Corps drama HEARTBREAK RIDGE, and an effectively restrained
score for Sondra Locke's little seen directorial debut, RATBOY.
Jack Nitzsche scored one of the year's biggest surprise hits,
STAND BY ME, but his sparse, discreet underscore went largely unnoticed
amidst all the classic period songs. He also reunited with frequent collaborator
director John Byrum for the dreadful slob comedy THE WHOOPEE BOYS.
Theatrical composer Stephen Oliver (Nicholas Nickleby)
wrote a rare film score, for the historical romance LADY JANE, and
though his score began with promising subtlety, overall it was forgettable
and disappointingly obvious.
Basil Poledouris wrote stirring military adventure music for
the minor hit IRON EAGLE (which managed to spawn two sequels), and
though the soundtrack album featured none of his score, it was a tribute
to Poledouris' gifts that during the finale when the young hero listens
to one his favorite tunes to inspire him in battle, the score quickly segued
from the rock song to Poledouris' expert scoring.
Forsaking his previous musical collaborators Tangerine Dream, Michael
Mann hired Michel Rubini (who co-scored The Hunger) and The
Reds to write the incidental music for his adaptation of Thomas Harris'
Red Dragon, MANHUNTER, and their contribution was effective
but was frequently overshadowed by the many pieces of found music, such
as the use of the Iron Butterfly classic "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" during the
Arthur B. Rubinstein took a break from high-tech action films
to write a lively score for THE BEST OF TIMES, an entertaining sports
comedy written by a pre-Bull Durham Ron Shelton, and scored the
barely released juvenile sci-fi adventure HYPER SAPIEN.
Philippe Sarde wrote his third (and final) score for Roman Polanski
(though Sarde's brother Alain produced the director's recent Oscar winner
The Pianist), giving the comical swashbuckler PIRATES a rousing
and lighthearted score that unfortunately failed to save the film from
boxoffice disaster. Sarde reteamed with Lovesick director Marshall
Brickman for the WarGames-style juvenile thriller THE MANHATTAN
PROJECT, and his lush score was enjoyable but reportedly reworked music
from one of his European scores. He also scored the Tom Hanks period romance
EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, which shockingly (considering its star)
went straight to video.
The John Carpenter scripted caper BLACK MOON RISING (starring
the always bitchin' Tommy Lee Jones) seemed an ideal project for Lalo
Schifrin, but his score was distressingly derivative of Arthur B. Rubinstein's
The decade later sequel to the 1976 remake of King Kong, KING
KONG LIVES, received only a fraction of the boxoffice of its predecessor,
yet John Scott gave the film one of his finest scores, an orchestral
triumph with a noble main theme, exciting action pieces, and a pleasing
homage to '76 Kong composer John Barry in the finale cue.
As an audience member in a recruited screening, I happened to see SHORT
CIRCUIT in rough cut form with a temp track, and later in its release
with a David Shire score, and though his music was charming it failed
to make the derivative sci-fi comedy (which was a modest hit and spawned
a sequel scored by Charles Fox) any more palatable.
Besides his outstanding music for The Fly, Howard Shore
scored the youthful romance FIRE WITH FIRE, and though none of his
score has ever been released on LP or CD, his main theme was one of the
few of his works to be released as sheet music.
Despite his memorable orchestral score for Back to the Future
in '85, Alan Silvestri's output in '86 was largely synthesizer driven.
He wrote an intriguing score for THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR (replacing
John Scott), but his score for THE DELTA FORCE had a depressingly
disco-ish quality, his music for the Randal Kleiser sci-fi kids' film FLIGHT
OF THE NAVIGATOR could have used more orchestral variety, and he failed
to make the forgettable Gere-Basinger thriller NO MERCY any more
Michael Small continued his long-running collaboration with director
Alan J. Pakula for the muddled thriller DREAM LOVER (starring Kirsty
McNichol!). Small worked in less typical (for him) territory on the Neil
Simon adaptation BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, whose warm, period flavored
score was unidentifiable as the work of the man who musically defined cinematic
paranoia in the 70s.
I suppose Tangerine Dream did the best job they could under the
circumstances, but no one will ever convince me that their LEGEND
score is in any way superior to Goldsmith's rejected music for that uneven
but visually staggering fairy tale (The recent DVD includes the longer,
Goldsmith-scored cut which is superior in every way).
Rod Temperton, one of the many composers Oscar nominated for
the Color Purple score, was the sole composer of Peter Hyams' buddy
cop comedy RUNNING SCARED, and his effective but anonymous score
would make no one forget about Hyams' earlier collaborations with the likes
of Barry, Goldsmith, Small and Shire.
Patrick Williams scored two "women's films" about marital infidelity
-- VIOLETS ARE BLUE (with Kevin Kline and Sissy Spacek), and JUST
BETWEEN FRIENDS, which featured solos by guitarist Earl Klugh.
BETTY BLUE, a French erotic drama from the director of Diva
with an unusual amount of nudity and graphic sex, was one of the first
Gabriel Yared scored films to make an impact in the U.S., and his relaxed,
almost jaunty main theme is one of his most memorable creations.
Christopher Young scored the misguided Tobe Hooper remake of
INVADERS FROM MARS, mixing traditional scoring with musique concrete,
but much of his more offbeat music was replaced by electronic music by
David Storrs. He also scored A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY'S
REVENGE (all eight Freddy films have had different composers), giving
it his own distinctive (if Goldsmith influenced) orchestral sound, as well
as the psychological thriller TORMENT and the teen horror film TRICK
THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR - John Scott
THE GOLDEN CHILD - John Barry
LEGEND - Jerry Goldsmith
TOUCH AND GO - Georges Delerue
These are all the score LPs from 1986 movies produced
around the time of their films' release (titles with an asterisk also received
a CD release around the same time):
Aliens*, An American Tail*, April Fool's Day, Betty Blue*, Big Trouble
in Little China, Blue City, Blue Velvet*, The Boy Who Could Fly* (re-recording),
Brighton Beach Memoirs, Children of a Lesser God*, The Clan of the Cave
Bear*, Crimes of the Heart*, Critters, Crocodile Dundee*, Deadly Friend
(electronic cues only), The Delta Force, F/X, 52-Pickup, Firewalker,
The Fly*, From Beyond, Hoosiers*, House, Jake Speed, Just Between Friends,
King Kong Lives, Labyrinth, Legal Eagles, Legend (Tangerine Dream score
released in the U.S., Goldsmith's score released as an import), Let's
Get Harry, The Manhattan Project, The Mission*, Mona Lisa (import),
The Mosquito Coast, The Name of the Rose (import), A Nightmare
on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge, No Mercy, Pirates*, Poltergeist
II: The Other Side*, Psycho III, Raw Deal, A Room With a View*, SpaceCamp,
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home*, Tai-Pan*, Three Amigos, Where the River
Runs Black*, Wisdom*
The soundtracks to Howard the Duck and Peggy Sue Got Married
featured score on one side and songs on the other.
PAGE COOK'S BEST AND WORST OF 1986
From Page Cook's year end wrap-up of 1986's scores in Films in Review
BEST SCORES OF THE YEAR
TIED FOR FIRST PLACE:
Crimes of the Heart - Georges Delerue
Haunted Honeymoon - John Morris
Marie Ward - Elmer Bernstein
The Mission - Ennio Morricone
Short Circuit - David Shire
2. King Kong Lives - John Scott
3. The Fly - Howard Shore
4. Space Camp - John Williams
5. The Praying Mantis - Stephen Cosgrove
Children of a Lesser God, Legal Eagles, Peggy Sue Got Married, A
Room With a View, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
No worst scores this year, but Cook did take a controversial (some might
even say sacrilegious) position by calling Goldsmith's rejected score for
Legend "saccharine" while terming Tangerine Dream's replacement
score "most apposite, often imaginative and always functional, if rarely
Stephen Cosgrove, composer of The Praying Mantis, was a Page
Cook favorite cited in many of his Best of the Year lists. He was also,
as far as I can determine, entirely a Page Cook creation, as was the film
The Praying Mantis. I have found no evidence that either Cosgrove
or Mantis existed.
In his wrap-up of 1972's scores, Cook wrote how Cosgrove was originally
hired to score the feature Death Be Not Proud (directed by Paul
Emery, adapted by Bertrand Gasciogne from a short story by Elliot Lytton)
but was replaced by Scott Lee Hart, whose score for the film Cook considered
to be the finest of the year.
Cook devoted thirteen paragraphs of his column to Death Be Not Proud,
its scores and its composers (as well the advice Cook gave to its makers
on a replacement composer), which makes it even more distressing that the
film, Emery, Gasciogne, Lytton, Hart and Cosgrove are all apparently completely
imaginary. In this case, the only possible explanation I can conceive of
is that, since Maurice Jarre's Pope Joan was the number 2 score
on the list and Cook was usually a Jarre hater, he was so appalled at the
thought of naming a Jarre composition the best of the year that he felt
the need to fantasize a better score just to take the sting off. If nothing
else, this incident confirms Page Cook as the Stephen Glass (or Jayson
Blair) of film music criticism/journalism.
FROM: "Randy Derchan"
SUBJECT: 1985 recollect.
Legend was released in the U.S. in the spring of 1986. And yes,
Cook was indeed a bit of an inconsistent Looney Tune (see above paragraph).
What happened to Legend? Also Page Cook was a bit of an inconsistent
FROM: "Mike Skerritt"
I've enjoyed your Not Even Nominated series tremendously,
and I was just curious to know whether it would stop after 1989 or continue
(hopefully) through the present.
Actually, if I remember the film correctly, Rain Man was a mathematical
savant, so he might be a better economist than you'd think. And I am planning
to continue the series past the eighties, though possibly not all the way
to the present -- I think it will be a while before anyone needs me to
write a look back at the scores of 2002 (but if I'm stuck for a column--).
I'm much more looking forward to extending the series backwards through
the seventies, but this will take a lot longer as I've seen much fewer
of the films in question, and many of the ones I have seen I haven't seen
in decades; right now I'm slowly making my way through the films of 1979
-- Escape From Alcatraz, The Frisco Kid (both actual Oscar finalists),
The Legacy, Quintet, An Almost Perfect Affair, and so forth.
If nothing else, you've plugged quite a few scores people may have
overlooked or forgotten about. And incidentally, I have about as much faith
in Page Cook as a critic as I do in Rain Man as an economist.
FROM: "Paul MacLean"
SUBJECT: Greystoke trivia
FROM: "Ron Pulliam"
Regarding John Scott's score for Greystoke, Ross Amico seems to
infer that the Elgar excerpts were "lifted" by the composer himself. In
actuality this was director Hugh Hudson's idea. The title sequence of the
film also credits the classical works as "Additional Music".
Greystoke has an interesting musical history. Hugh Hudson, having
been greatly impressed with the score for Altered States, implored John
Corigliano to score Greystoke. The composer was interested, but at that
point was deeply involved in writing The Ghosts of Versailles for the Met,
and could not take any time away from it to work on the film. (Hudson made
Corigliano promise he would score his next film, which of course turned
out to be Revolution.) At some point Vangelis was also involved with Greystoke;
whether or not he created any music for it is unclear. Hudson then decided
to try tracking the film with needle drops of classical selections (ala
Stanley Kubrick), among them works by Elgar and Holst (which explains the
use of "Mars" in the film's trailers). This approach proved unworkable.
Finally John Scott came-in to save the day with an original score
-- and an excellent one at that. Incidentally, the title sequence for the
film credited Norman Del Mar as conductor of the classical selections.
In fact, Del Mar's work was not ultimately used; John Scott wound-up re-recording
those selections heard in the finished film, his expertise in film conducting
enabling him to better synchronize the music with the timings and nuances
of the picture.
SUBJECT: Bettencourt's NOT EVEN NOMINATED, PART SIX (1985)
I never claimed to mention every single fox hunt cue in film score history
-- just the ones I'm familiar with. (And yes, I know that my boss Lukas
released the Untamed CD, but there are so many new CDs out these
days that I rarely have time to play most of them more than once, even
an adventure score by the great Franz Waxman. My loss, I know.)
I'm shocked, I tell you. SHOCKED!
Of all those wonderful references to superb fox hunt sequences,
there was no mention of "Untamed", the main title of which was entirely
a fox hunt!
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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