NOT EVEN NOMINATED, PART FIVE
THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC: 1984
By Scott Bettencourt
THE REAL NOMINEES:
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM - John Williams
THE NATURAL - Randy Newman
A PASSAGE TO INDIA - Maurice Jarre (the winner)
THE RIVER - John Williams
UNDER THE VOLCANO - Alex North
GHOSTBUSTERS - Elmer Bernstein
This lavishly produced supernatural comedy is still the highest grossing
film Bernstein ever scored, and thanks to a genuinely clever script (which
is actually a better evocation of H.P. Lovecraft's writings than most official
Lovecraft adaptations) and the great Bill Murray, it holds up as well nineteen
years later. The third of four films Bernstein scored for director Ivan
Reitman (not counting Reitman productions like Heavy Metal and Space
Hunter), the film utilized both Bernstein's skill with large scale
fantasy and his deftness with comedy -- even his beloved (and frequently
overused) ondes martenot was completely appropriate. However, Reitman
replaced Bernstein's music for one major sequence (when the ghosts are
let loose into the city) with a rock song, another sign of Reitman's excessive
interest in record sales which may have contributed to the eventual breakup
of their collaboration. The high-selling soundtrack album only featured
two Bernstein cues amidst all the songs, with no score album released to
this day. (Ghostbusters received 2 Oscar nominations)
GREMLINS - Jerry Goldsmith
One of Goldsmith's all-time highest grossers, this was the first feature
he scored for director Joe Dante and was dominated by the atypically goofy
"Gremlins Rag," essentially a reworking of his monster-on-the-wing theme
from the final Twilight Zone: the Movie segment. His theme for the
cuddly Gizmo skirted the edge of cloying, but his opening "Late For Work"
theme was charming and delightful, and Dante's direction encouraged Goldsmith's
eccentric streak, the composer even providing synthesized cat yowls in
one cue. Maddeningly (especially considering producer Steven Spielberg's
clout and professed love of soundtracks), the Gremlins soundtrack
LP was a "mini-disc" featuring only 15 minutes of music on each side and
only one side of score, omitting such highlights as the evocative Chinatown
opening and the exciting department store finale.
GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES - John Scott
Scott was always far too talented for the many B-movies he was saddled
with in the sixties and seventies, and I can't help wonder if when he was
scoring films like Trog and The People That Time Forgot that
he had any idea he'd go on to score an A-list, megabudget version of similar
material. This is still the highest profile film Scott has ever scored,
a lavish (though unsatisfying and wildly uneven -- original adapter Robert
Towne famously used his dog's name as a pseudonym and still received an
Oscar nomination for the script) -- reworking of Edgar Rice Burroughs'
Tarzan novels which was director Hugh Hudson's first film after Best Picture
winner Chariots of Fire. Scott rose to the occasion with one of
his finest scores, featuring a suitably noble main theme and a terrific
cue, "Dance of Death," for the scene where Tarzan/Greystoke goes apes**t
in public. (3 Oscar nominations)
THE KILLING FIELDS - Mike Oldfield
David Puttnam's productions of Midnight Express and Chariots
of Fire had won Oscars for their electronic scores, so it was a big
surprise that Oldfield's jagged, modern score for this Best Picture nominee
didn't even receive a nomination. Oldfield, most famous as the composer
of "Tubular Bells," wrote a score with some of the same visceral impact
of Moroder's Midnight Express but with less of a pop-oriented sensibility,
using harsh sounds to reinforce the film's impressive depiction of the
Khmer Rouge's reign of terror in Cambodia, while making little attempt
to evoke the Asian setting musically. When Puttnam and Fields director
Ronald Joffe collaborated next, the result was The Mission, whose
Ennio Morricone score was one of the most surprising Oscar non-winners
of all time. (7 Oscar nominations)
STARMAN - Jack Nitzsche
Though it was not a boxoffice hit, Starman received surprisingly
good reviews for a John Carpenter film, and the movie took an unusual,
"chick flick" approach to the classic alien-on-Earth story. The alien takes
the form of a handsome naked man, a clone of the heroine's late husband,
and after he impregnates her he tells her the child will grow up to be
a teacher -- sci-fi doesn't get any more Lifetime Television For Women
than this. This was the second Carpenter film which the director didn't
score himself, and Jack Nitzsche was fresh off his Oscar win for Officer
and a Gentleman's theme song "Up Where We Belong," and had also scored
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for Starman producer Michael
Douglas. Nitzsche's score was largely electronic, with a simple, breathy
sounding love theme (a bit too simple -- the end title repeats it incessantly
with no real musical development). Despite its musical limitations, the
score was well reviewed, with one mainstream critic even comparing its
emotional impact to the scores of Golden Age Hollywood. (1 Oscar nomination)
FIVE MORE OUTSTANDING SCORES OF 1984
BODY DOUBLE - Pino Donaggio
Just as Brian DePalma had essentially remade Psycho twice (as
Sisters and Dressed to Kill), he followed his Vertigo
reworking Obsession with yet another try, replacing acrophobia with
claustrophobia and forsaking the lush settings of Italy and New Orleans
for Hollywood's porn industry. Though Donaggio's music (not surprisingly)
didn't reach the orchestral peaks of Herrmann's Obsession and Vertigo,
his score for Body Double was one of his finest, bringing impressive
variety to DePalma's inane and implausible storyline. There was a lightly
romantic main theme for the main title sequence of Craig Wasson driving
home to his unfaithful girlfriend (which used Hitchcockian phony looking
rear projection), a rhythmic motif for the murderous "Indian" (whose true
identity is obvious from the moment he appears onscreen), and, most famously
of all, a hypnotic synth melody for Melanie Griffith's seductive dance,
music that reportedly became a staple of actual porn films. There is still
no official release of the film's score, though six cues were included
on the Milan compilation Donaggio - DePalma: Love and Menace.
THE COTTON CLUB - John Barry
Robert Evans and Francis Coppola's famously troubled musical drama about
the Harlem nightclub was, despite its flaws, a lavish and highly entertaining
film, and even though the club songs drew most of the attention, there
was still room for John Barry to write a first-rate orchestral score, romantic
as always and elegantly evoking the period. Though there were originally
plans for a two-disc soundtrack of the songs and score, the predicted failure
of the film led to merely a one-disc soundtrack album (later released on
CD but unfortunately unexpanded) featuring only two Barry cues.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA - Ennio Morricone
For Sergio Leone's final film, Morricone produced a suitably lovely
and elegiac score, one of his most beloved efforts -- nearly twenty years
later, fans are still outraged that a bureaucratic snafu led to it not
being submitted for Oscar consideration. The film was notoriously released
in the U.S. in a heavily butchered version with its running time reduced
by an hour and half and its structure made strictly chronological (the
recut was done by Police Academy editor Zach Staenberg, who 15 years
later would redeem himself with his Oscar winning work on The Matrix).
Only when the film was re-released in its original version (now available
on DVD) was its scope and power made clear. The Morricone soundtrack (expanded
in 1998) suffers from a sequencing problem -- the first three cues introduce
the three main themes and they're all wonderful (especially Deborah's theme)
but the rest of the album mostly plays like repetitions of those three
themes, though I don't know what sequencing of the album would improve
SUPERGIRL - Jerry Goldsmith
Though Goldsmith became an A-lister years before John Williams did,
Jaws and Star Wars put Williams securely at the top of the
Hollywood composer hierarchy, and there have been many times since when
it seemed like Goldsmith was stuck following in Williams' footsteps --
Star Trek instead of Star Wars, King Solomon's Mines
after Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dennis the Menace following
Home Alone, and so forth. The most obvious example of this trend
was the Salkinds' attempt to spin off their Superman franchise in
a new direction. David Odell's campy script pitted Helen Slater's Supergirl
against a would-be witch played by Faye Dunaway in full Mommie Dearest
mode, and the film lacked the genuinely epic feeling and striking visuals
of the 1978 Superman (Superman's cinematographer Geoffrey
Unsworth died before Superman's release, and designer John Barry
died only a few years later). Though Supergirl's essential silliness
and more limited scope didn't leave room for the kind of epic score that
Williams gave Superman, Goldsmith still gave the film (which is
a true guilty pleasure) his all, with a rousing Supergirl theme (reminiscent
of "Beautiful Dreamer"), a soaring love theme, and an especially dynamic
motif for the "Monster Tractor" sequence (like the recent Hulk,
Supergirl suffered from a lack of worthy adversaries for its superheroine).
The well sequenced Varese soundtrack (one of their earliest CD releases)
was expanded years later by Silva, and though the sound quality was disappointing,
the extra cues (including some alternates) demonstrated how much effort
and care Goldsmith had put into his work. But, not surprisingly (the film
was originally to be released by Warners but pawned off onto Tri-Star),
there was no Supergirl II.
2010 - David Shire
Genesis musician Tony Banks was originally signed to score this beautifully
mounted but wholly unnecessary sequel to the Kubrick-Clarke classic, but
the collaboration with writer-producer-director-cinematographer Peter Hyams
didn't work out and David Shire was hired. Shire contributed some of the
finest electronic film music ever written, climaxing with a triumphant
orchestral theme reminiscent of Goldsmith's Alien. Unfortunately,
Hyams ultimately dialed out much of Shire's work, but the A&M soundtrack
release (another early score CD) contained much of the omitted material.
THE REST OF THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC:
John Addison scored one of his final features which was also
the last feature starring vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, the barely-released
black comedy GRACE QUIGLEY.
James Bridges' L.A. drug thriller MIKE'S MURDER went through
a lengthy period of rewriting and reshooting after unsatisfactory test
screenings (the gruesome depiction of the titular murder was apparently
too strong for test audiences, and was omitted from the release version),
and one casualty was Joe Jackson's original score, replaced by a typically
elegant and effective John Barry score. Barry also wrote a delightfully
romantic score for the forgettable UNTIL SEPTEMBER, featuring several
main themes including a gentle main title cue and a warm love theme.
Exchanging the orchestral styling of Cujo for a more modest palette,
Charles Bernstein gave the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
a suitably spooky and jangling electronic score featuring a memorable main
Elmer's son Peter Bernstein scored the trashy Bo Derek romance
BOLERO, while his father conducted and received credit for scoring
the "Love Scenes."
Michael Boddicker's electronic score for THE ADVENTURES OF
BUCKAROO BANZAI: ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION featured a catchy end title
theme, but the overrated film's blend of sci-fi and comedy could have used
a more imaginative and orchestrally varied score.
After years of Emmy winning TV scores, Bruce Broughton scored
his first major studio feature. Unfortunately, that feature was the dismal
sci-fi comedy THE ICE PIRATES (one of the worst genre films of the
decade), and even a composer of Broughton's gifts was unable to make this
travesty any more palatable.
After Pino Donaggio's music was rejected, Dave Brubeck was hired
to score Cannon's Agatha Christie adaptation ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE,
and his reworking of his own classic jazz themes was strikingly inappropriate
for this small-scaled British mystery, resulting in one of the most distracting
and misconceived scores ever written.
Paul Chihara gave the underrated thriller IMPULSE a disarming
Americana main theme and effective suspense cues. He also scored Louis
Malle's misfired remake of Big Deal on Madonna Street, CRACKERS.
Broadway composer Cy Coleman wrote a distractingly jaunty score
for the Sidney Lumet comedy (three words you rarely see together) GARBO
Michel Colombier scored two films better remembered for their
songs -- PURPLE RAIN, whose song score won Prince an Oscar, and
AGAINST ALL ODDS (scored with Larry Carlton), featuring the
popular Phil Collins title tune.
Bill Conti wrote a retrained and effective score for the film
version of the hit play MASS APPEAL, and continued his typecasting
as the sports movie composer with the biopic THE BEAR and the surprise
smash THE KARATE KID, which featured a warm and sprightly main theme.
He also reteamed with Private Benjamin director Howard Zieff for
the remake of Preston Sturges' UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, which gave music
unusual prominence -- the protagonist (Dudley Moore) was a symphony conductor
and film composer.
James Horner's 48 Hrs. style percussive score for Walter Hill's
STREETS OF FIRE was rejected in mid-recording, and Hill's other
main musical collaborator Ry Cooder was brought into write a more
rock-ish score. Cooder also scored one of his most critically acclaimed
films, the Wim Wenders drama PARIS, TEXAS (which brought Dean Stockwell
out of premature retirement).
Carl Davis wrote his most accessible score for the true life
horse racing drama CHAMPIONS, featuring a stirring main theme with
some of the same appeal as Vangelis' Chariots of Fire.
Fittingly, George Delerue scored the final film of his most frequent
and famous collaborator, Francois Truffaut, CONFIDENTIALLY YOURS.
Delerue gave the black-and-white romantic mystery a charming main theme
but the rest of the score was subdued and nearly as forgettable as the
Loek Dikker scored what is arguably Paul Verhoeven's finest film,
the Dutch erotic thriller THE FOURTH MAN, giving the hallucinatory
story a wonderfully brooding and evocative score.
Klaus Doldinger's peppy score for THE NEVER ENDING STORY,
for Das Boot director Wolfgang Petersen, was augmented in the U.S.
with additional cues by Giorgio Moroder, including the oddly memorable
Harold Faltermeyer wrote his first two feature scores for the
newly joined producing team of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, who over
the next two decades would change the face of Hollywood filmmaking for
the worse. The romantic drama THIEF OF HEARTS (the directing debut
of Officer and a Gentleman writer Douglas Day Stewart) is largely
forgotten, but the enormous hit BEVERLY HILLS COP featured the composer's
most famous piece of music, the maddeningly catchy "Axel F."
Robert Folk scored Tom Hanks' first starring vehicle, BACHELOR
PARTY, as well as the first of the POLICE ACADEMY movies. He
also scored the Vietnam war romance (three more words you rarely see together)
Brad Fiedel wrote his signature score, THE TERMINATOR,
with driving action cues and a genuinely memorable main theme.
Ernest Gold's final feature, the adventure film SAFARI 3000,
received an extremely minimal release.
Besides Gremlins and Supergirl, Jerry Goldsmith
rejoined director Michael Crichton for RUNAWAY, which featured his
first all-electronic score (assisted by his son Joel). The score featured
thrilling action cues (especially "Lockons") and a main theme similar to
his later, Oscar-nominated Hoosiers. He also scored the dreadful
Steve Martin vehicle THE LONELY GUY, which, despite a catchy main
theme, proved again that comedy is not Goldsmith's strong suit. To add
insult to injury, the soundtrack was a "mini-disc" with even less music
than the Gremlins LP, featuring only two score cues and the Goldsmith
theme song (I know, this sounds like the old joke -- "Such terrible food.
And such small portions.").
Charles Gross wrote a restrained score for one of the year's
three high-profile farm dramas, COUNTRY, and the music, performed
by George Winston, Mark Isham and Michael Boddicker among others, was released
by Wyndham Hill.
Dave Grusin had an unusually prolific year with five films released.
His strongest work was for the underrated John LeCarre adaptation THE
LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL, finding a more appropriate tone for the spy thriller
than he did for Three Days of the Condor. He wrote a suitably delicate
score for the 40s romance RACING WITH THE MOON, and adapted his
own jazz pieces for the Streep-DeNiro drama FALLING IN LOVE. His
work on THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE was overshadowed by the prominent
use of Frank Sinatra's classic rendition of "Summer Wind," and he also
scored Rob Cohen's little seen comedy-thriller SCANDALOUS, an unusually
small scale assignment for the A-list composer.
Herbie Hancock wrote a sparse, harsh score for the Best Picture
nominee A SOLDIER'S STORY.
The campy adventure film SHEENA seemed like an ideal opportunity
for a rousing adventure score, but Richard Hartley's music was disappointingly
muted and repetitive.
Lee Holdridge wrote his most popular score for the hit comedy
SPLASH (a strong contender for "Outstanding Scores of the Year"),
highlighted by a genuinely moving love theme, "Love Came For Me." Henry
Mancini was unavailable for the Blake Edwards comedy MICKI & MAUDE
and Michel Legrand was originally hired but also became unavailable, so
Holdridge got the job, incorporating an original Legrand song.
Only two years after his breakthrough score for Star Trek II,
James Horner seemed to have lost interest in the series, as his
music for STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK was largely a rehash
of its predecessor, though he contributed a new Klingon theme and gave
it a terrific, slow rendition in the cue "Sunset on Genesis" (sadly, not
included on the soundtrack album). He also wrote a modest and delicate
score for the little seen drama THE STONE BOY.
Mark Isham followed up his Never Cry Wolf score with a
similarly effective and unusual score for the period romance MRS. SOFFEL,
the starkness of his music matching the film's wintry prison setting.
Maurice Jarre proved surprisingly adept at parody with his rambunctious
score for the Zuckers/Abrahams comedy TOP SECRET!, featuring a genuinely
stirring love theme. He also write a lively electronic score for the imaginative
John Kander wrote an extremely sparse score for the Oscar winner
PLACES IN THE HEART, whose period songs were produced by Howard
Mark Knopfler reunited with Local Hero director Bill Forsyth
for the underrated comedy COMFORT AND JOY, and also scored the downbeat
Irish romantic drama CAL.
Henry Mancini's only score of the year was for the largely forgotten
Paul Newman directed drama HARRY & SON (he scored four projects
Brian May reunited with a fellow Australian, Patrick director
Richard Franklin, for the uneven youth-oriented adventure CLOAK AND
DAGGER, doing well with the action but less successful at finding the
proper delicate tone for the juvenile element. He also wrote a big scale
light adventure score for THE TREASURE OF THE YANKEE ZEPHYR.
John Morris scored the hit Gene Wilder comedy THE WOMAN IN
RED, though the original Stevie Wonder songs (including Oscar winner
"I Just Called To Say I Love You") garnered all the attention. He also
scored the flop 30s gangster parody JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY, which was
Michael Keaton's first starring vehicle after his breakthrough role in
In his first year of feature scoring, Thomas Newman scored only
youth oriented films (a genre he was largely typecast in until Men Don't
Leave broke him out into more grownup terrain) -- the rebel teen drama
RECKLESS (written by Chris Columbus, and the directorial debut of
James Foley), the Randal Kleiser comedy GRANDVIEW U.S.A., and the
needs-no-further-description REVENGE OF THE NERDS.
Lennie Niehaus began his tenure as Clint Eastwood's in-house
composer, scoring two Eastwood productions -- the kinky cop-thriller TIGHTROPE,
and the Eastwood/Reynolds teaming CITY HEAT (which was originally
to be directed by Blake Edwards, and in that case presumably would have
had a Henry Mancini score).
Jack Nitzsche wrote an atypically traditional score for the Bill
Murray remake of THE RAZOR'S EDGE (conducted by Stanley Black),
but as with Starman, the composer's musical limitations were made
clear in a (admittedly lush) main theme that tended to repeat rather than
Alan Parker continued his trend of unusual scoring choices by hiring
rocker Peter Gabriel to score the Vietnam era drama BIRDY,
and Gabriel wrote an effective and unusual score, incorporating some of
his own pre-existing pieces.
Basil Poledouris wrote his third score for director John Milius,
the Soviet-invasion adventure RED DAWN, featuring a suitably stirring
main theme (which sounded like a cross between "Taps" and "Fanfare For
the Common Man") and energetic action cues. He also followed up his beloved
Conan score with CONAN THE DESTROYER which, though not quite
the musical feast of its predecessor, was lively and enjoyable, featuring
a new Conan theme. He also took two rare ventures into comedy, the Goldie
Hawn vehicle PROTOCOL and the college farce MAKING THE GRADE.
Leonard Rosenman scored one of his few features of the decade,
the Australian drama HEART OF THE STAG.
Craig Safan gave THE LAST STARFIGHTER what has proved
to be his most popular score, a lively orchestral work featuring an exciting
opening that sounds like an Elmer Bernstein take on the Indiana Jones
After a prolific 1983, Lalo Schifrin was represented only by
the James Garner comedy TANK.
David Shire worked with frequent collaborator director Paul Bogart
on the third and final Oh God comedy (yes, kids, they did make three
of them), OH GOD! YOU DEVIL.
Though it was not his first feature, ROMANCING THE STONE was
Alan Silvestri's first high profile film (as well as his first for
Robert Zemeckis), and though his rhythmic pop score was effective in context,
it showed little indication of the outstanding scores that would shortly
Fred Schepisi directed his first big budget American film, the sci-fi
drama ICEMAN, and his regular composer Bruce Smeaton wrote
a powerful score featuring a striking and elaborate main theme which perfectly
complemented the amazing performance by an unrecognizable John Lone as
the unfrozen caveman.
Michael Small wrote one of his few electronic scores for the
underrated family drama/thriller FIRSTBORN.
Fresh off the success of their Risky Business score, Tangerine
Dream reached a peak of Hollywood popularity, scoring the Stephen King
adaptation FIRESTARTER, the conspiracy thriller FLASHPOINT
(featuring a hilariously literal end title song -- not by Tangerine Dream
-- which recapitulates the plot "Guns of Navarone" style), and the well
reviewed indie drama HEARTBREAKERS.
The chameleonic Ken Thorne scored the Tom Selleck caper film
LASSITER in a period jazz style.
Having hired Queen to score his production of Flash Gordon, producer
Dino De Laurentiis took a similar tack by hiring Grammy winners Toto
to score the stunningly designed David Lynch adaptation of DUNE,
and their lively, pop symphonic score was an impressive try at challenging
Vangelis was an unusual choice to score the historically accurate
but dramatically unsatisfying film of THE BOUNTY (with a remarkable
cast -- Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, and
Laurence Olivier), and his brooding synth score was reasonably effective
but unlikely to challenge the memory of Bronislau Kaper's epic score for
the 1962 version.
Ken Wannberg wrote an exciting score for the time travel B-movie
THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT, with a driving, Goldsmith-esque main
theme and suitably propulsive action music.
Patrick Williams tied with Dave Grusin as the year's most prolific
composer, scoring mostly comedies -- the acclaimed Steve Martin vehicle
ALL OF ME, the Dudley Moore/Eddie Murphy flop BEST DEFENSE,
the Richard Dreyfuss/Susan Sarandon romance THE BUDDY SYSTEM, Jonathan
Demme's SWING SHIFT, and a drama, MARVIN & TIGHE, featuring
guitar solos by Earl Klugh.
Christopher Young reunited with the makers of Pranks for
THE POWER, with a main theme that sounded like Saint-Saens' "The
Aquarium" arranged by Bernard Herrmann. He also contributed a lighthearted
adventure score for the obscure HIGHPOINT.
MIKE'S MURDER (Joe Jackson)
ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE (Pino Donaggio)
STREETS OF FIRE (James Horner)
These are all the score LPs from 1984 movies produced
around the time of their films' release (titles with an asterisk also received
a CD release around the same time):
Birdy, Bolero, The Bostonians, Cal, Champions, Conan the Destroyer,
Country*, Dreamscape*, Dune*, Firestarter, Flashpoint, The Fourth Man,
Greystoke, Heartbreakers, Iceman, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom*,
The Killing Fields*, Lassiter, The Last Starfighter, Marvin and Tighe,
The Natural, The Neverending Story, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Once Upon
a Time in America*, Paris Texas, A Passage to India, The Philadelphia Experiment,
The Power, The Razor's Edge, The River, Runaway*, Sheena, Splash (re-recording),
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Starman*, Supergirl*, Top Secret,
2010*, Until September
Gremlins and The Terminator each had a soundtrack LP release
with score on one side and songs on the other.
In preparing these summaries of film music years, I realized
that I'd been leaving out an important perspective, that of the late critic
Page Cook. For many years, Page Cook's film music columns in Films in
Review (along with Royal S. Brown's reviews in High Fidelity)
were much pretty much the only regular film music criticism around, and
Cook would also sum up the year's best and worst in a yearly piece. (Cook's
summaries of the years 1980 through 1983 follow at the end of this column)
PAGE COOK'S BEST AND WORST OF 1984
TOP FIVE SCORES OF THE YEAR (in alphabetical order)
Fort Saganne - Philippe Sarde
Iceman - Bruce Smeaton
The Natural - Randy Newman
Red Dawn - Basil Poledouris
Under the Volcano - Alex North
HONORABLE MENTION: Champions, Gremlins, The Last Starfighter,
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, To Be Or Not to Be, The Woman in Red
WORST OF THE YEAR: The Bounty, Dreamscape, Dune ("an aural
imbroglio"), Falling in Love, Garbo Talks, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones
and the Temple of Doom, The Razor's Edge ("anachronistic and mosquito-brained
schizophrenic snippets"), and Supergirl ("out and out drivel").
FROM: "Joe Esrey"
SUBJECT: Chariots of Fire
For what it's worth, I too remember more about Chariots of Fire
than just the music and the shots of people running on the beach, despite
the fact I still haven't even seen most of the film yet. I'm amazed you
singled out this particular Best Picture winner as one people don't remember;
it's surely better-remembered than even some more recent BP recipients.
FROM: "Randy Derchan"
Hammett is often listed as a 1982 film, possibly because that was
the year it screened at film festivals, but I go by a film's L.A. release
and I believe it didn't open in L.A. until 1983. The film spent a long
time in post-production with a major chunk of the film rewritten and reshot,
with Towering Inferno cinematographer Joseph Biroc replaced by Point
Blank's Philip Lathrop for the new footage.
Chariots on fire? What? What are you guys talking about? Just kidding.
Just a note -- I think Hammet was 1982. I could be wrong. As far
as fond memories go, you brought back some bad ones as well. There were
quite a few stinkers among that crowd. I still want my money back on some
of those films. 1983 -- The year of Giorgio Moroder.
FROM: "Ian Smith"
SUBJECT: Re: NOT EVEN NOMINATED, PART FOUR
You're absolutely right. The Varese Brainstorm LP/CD was a re-recording.
Glad to see BRAINSTORM remembered. I think it's my favourite Horner
score, back from the early Horner days when his music still felt fresh
and original. If ever a Horner score deserved re-releasing as a complete
edition, this is it. I'd also like to point out that the old Varese Sarabande
album was a re-recording, I believe, by Horner himself, so the actual score
from the film has never been released on album. Correct me if I'm wrong--
MORE PAGE COOK
BEST SCORES OF THE YEAR
1. Carny - Alex North
2. Pilate's Easter - Edward David Zeliff
3. Tess - Philippe Sarde
4. The Awakening - Claude Bolling
5. The Final Countdown - John Scott
The Elephant Man, The Long Riders, Tom Horn
WORST SCORES OF THE YEAR
A Change of Seasons, The Competition, Flash Gordon, The Formula,
Heaven's Gate ("rarely has such musical drool saturated the screen"),
Inside Moves, Raise the Titanic, Resurrection ("mindless meandering"),
Seems Like Old Times, Somewhere in Time.
Eagle-eyed readers may be surprised at the inclusion of a film as obscure
as Pilate's Easter, by a composer as little known as Edward David
Zeliff. One of the main reasons that Cook was (and is) such a controversial
figure in the world of film music journalism is that he had an indefensible
tendency to write about films and composers that did not actually exist.
As far as I've been able to determine, this is one of those cases.
BEST SCORES OF THE YEAR
1. Eye of the Needle - Miklos Rozsa
2. Ghost Story - Philippe Sarde
3. History of the World Part 1 - John Morris
4. Dragonslayer - Alex North
5. Masada (TV) - Jerry Goldsmith, Morton Stevens
Heavy Metal, Jane Austen in Manhattan (Richard Robbins), Only
When I Laugh, Priest of Love (Joseph James), Whose Life Is It Anyway?.
WORST SCORES OF THE YEAR
Arthur ("coarse grovelings"), Body Heat ("odious drivel"),
Buddy Buddy ("witless baggage"), Endless Love ("slurpy sludge"),
Escape From New York, Lion of the Desert, Mommie Dearest, Neighbors
("obtrusive nonsense"), Prince of the City ("unrelated flotsam"),
Raiders of the Lost Ark ("the year's saddest excuse for a score"),
Rich and Famous, Southern Comfort, Taps, Tarzan the Ape Man, True Confessions.
Cook's annual "Bete Noir" award went to Dave Grusin for Absence of
Malice, On Golden Pond ("tinkling saccharinities") and Reds.
BEST SCORES OF THE YEAR
1. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - John Williams
2. Conan the Barbarian - Basil Poledouris
3. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid - Miklos Rozsa
4. Quest For Fire - Philippe Sarde
5. Poltergeist - Jerry Goldsmith
The Beastmaster, The Dark Crystal, Evil Under the Sun, Five Days
One Summer, Night Crossing, The Secret of NIMH, The Sword and the Sorcerer.
WORST SCORES OF THE YEAR
The Beast Within, Cat People, Deathtrap ("Baroque droolings"),
Firefox ("bird-brained galumphings"), Forbidden World, Gandhi,
An Officer and a Gentleman, Rocky III, Six Weeks, Star Trek II: The Wrath
of Khan ("hysterical hodgepodge"), Tempest ("sound doodlings"),
The Thing, Tron ("appropriately vile").
Another controversial aspect of Page Cook's writings was his inconsistency.
He might pan a score one year and then later, when the composer became
one of his favorites (Alex North, John Morris), the score would be referred
to as a classic. On a similar note, it's hard to fathom how Horner's Star
Trek II could be one of 1982's worst scores while just two years later
Star Trek III (which is largely reworkings of II's "hysterical hodgepodge")
should be one of 1984's better scores.
THE BEST SCORE OF THE YEAR
Under Fire - Jerry Goldsmith
Twilight Zone: The Movie
Blue Thunder, Cross Creek, Octopussy, WarGames
WORST OF THE YEAR:
Brainstorm, The Dresser, Gorky Park, Krull, The Osterman Weekend,
Return of the Jedi ("nonregenerative and overblown"), The Right
Stuff ("the year's most hideous major score"), Scarface, Silkwood
("solemnity via somnambulism"), Star 80, The Sting II, Sudden Impact,
The Year of Living Dangerously ("blatant horrors").
Thanks again to reader Marc Levy for inspiring this series.
Earlier columns in this series covering the years 1980,
are accessible on the website.