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NOT EVEN NOMINATED, PART THREE

THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC: 1982

By Scott Bettencourt

Parts One and Two of this series are accessible on the website. I would again like to thank Marc Levy for inspiring this series, and I'd also like to apologize for not being John Takis (whom Mr. Levy wanted to write these articles).


THE REAL NOMINEES

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - John Williams (the winner)
GANDHI - Ravi Shankar, George Fenton
AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN - Jack Nitzsche
POLTERGEIST - Jerry Goldsmith
SOPHIE'S CHOICE - Marvin Hamlisch


The "FINALISTS":

DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID - Miklos Rozsa

Reaching the end of his film scoring career, Rozsa's compositional gifts were as glorious as ever, but the classical symphonic sound of the Rozsa approach began to sound a little too old-fashioned to many producers in this era of Giorgio Moroder and Vangelis. For his final film, a black-and-white, noir-pastiche comedy in which private eye Steve Martin interacted with clips from vintage Hollywood mysteries, Rozsa was a brilliant choice of composer, treating the film with the same care and seriousness that he brought to the classic noirs of the 40s (some of the clips were even from films he'd originally scored) -- it was a wonderful swan song for the maestro.

FRANCES - John Barry

This underrated, wrenching portrayal of the troubled actress Frances Farmer was anchored by a superb performance by Jessica Lange in the lead -- if not for Meryl Streep's work in Sophie's Choice, Lange clearly would have won Best Actress, so that year the Academy gave her the consolation prize of a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in Tootsie. John Barry's typically elegant score provided the ideal musical support for her performance -- never getting in the way with undue melodrama, always finding exactly the right tone to underline Farmer's struggles and ambiguous fate. (Frances received 2 Oscar nominations)

MISSING - Vangelis

Following his Oscar winning, smash-hit-record score for Chariots of Fire (these days his music is just about the only thing people remember from that Best Picture winner), Vangelis scored this fact-based drama about the disappearance of an American activist in South America and the efforts of his wife and father to learn his whereabouts. Director Costa-Gavras' most famous political thriller, the Oscar winner Z, featured a tense and driving score by Mikis Theodorakis, but Vangelis's sparse and restrained score took a different approach, emphasizing the tragedy of the story with a lovely main theme, much superior to his catchy but distractingly anachronistic Chariots music. The Missing theme was released on the Polydor CD Vangelis/Themes. (4 Oscar nominations)

QUEST FOR FIRE - Philippe Sarde

20th Century Fox tried to sell this film as the new 2001 -- as if what people really loved about the Kubrick film was the "Dawn of Man" sequence. Jean-Jacques Annaud's film was only slightly less silly than the usual caveman movie, and it was hard not to mourn the lack of dinosaurs, whose anachronistic presence was the normal highlight of the genre, but Philippe Sarde's rousing symphonic score was a real treat, balancing robust action cues with a memorable love theme, helped by the adroit orchestrations of Peter Knight. There were rumors of a planned 2-LP soundtrack release, but in 21 years an expanded version has yet to materialize. The out-of-print CD is well worth tracking down. (1 Oscar nomination)

TOOTSIE - Dave Grusin

Grusin's peppy score for this Dustin Hoffman classic, his sixth score for director Sydney Pollack, may not be his most memorable work, but it helped maintain the energy level of this glossy, high concept comedy as well as featuring two original songs performed by Stephen Bishop -- "Tootsie" and the Oscar-nominated "It Might Be You," with lyrics by the Bergmans. Though the style of the music dates the film a little bit, it never gets in the way of the laughs unlike most of today's insistent, incessant comedy scores (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Down With Love, ad infinitum). (10 Oscar nominations)


FIVE MORE OUTSTANDING SCORES OF 1982:

CONAN THE BARBARIAN - Basil Poledouris

Poledouris' entry into large scale adventure scoring is still his most popular work, a musical banquet full of rousing melodies, including Conan's driving main theme, a poignant love theme ("Wifeing") for Valerian, rapturous music for the orgy, and an especially delightful melody for Conan's journey with Subotai, "Theology/Civilization." At the time of the film's release, MCA released a well sequenced LP of the score, which Varese Sarabande thankfully expanded for CD ten years later.

FIVE DAYS ONE SUMMER - Elmer Bernstein

This drama about a romantic triangle set against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps (filmed as Maiden, Maiden) has received surprisingly little attention, considering it starred Sean Connery and was the final film of acclaimed director Fred Zinnemann (who reportedly cut 15 minutes out of the film for its TV showings). Carl Davis wrote the original score which was replaced by a lovely, moving work by Elmer Bernstein, which unfortunately has never seen a LP or CD release.

MONSIGNOR - John Williams

This soap opera about the romantic, criminal, and ecclesiastical entanglements of a priest (Christopher Reeve) reunited producer Frank Yablans and director Frank Perry, who one year earlier had brought us the classic (for all the wrong reasons) Mommie Dearest, but the real mystery is why John Williams decided to join them. Though he failed to submit his score for Oscar consideration, his music for the film was as rich and varied as you would expect from the master, with a lively theme for the Italy sequences, an original choral cue ("Gloria") for the laughably staged scene where nun Genevieve Bujold discovers her lover is also a priest, and a brooding main theme that sounds like a cross between Rota's The Godfather and Morris' The Elephant Man. The score was released on LP but alas has yet to see a CD release.

THE SECRET OF N.I.M.H. - Jerry Goldsmith

Though it was Poltergeist that earned Goldsmith his Best Score nomination for 82, The Secret of N.I.M.H. is arguably his finest score of the year, a richly melodic and varied work and one of the greatest scores ever written for an animated feature (producer Don Bluth would never make anything nearly this good again). The light passages are charming without being cloying, and the dark sequences are suitably powerful. The cues for the finale, "Moving Day" and "The House Raising," comprise one of the greatest matches of music and image in the Goldsmith canon (though the Varese CD, unlike the original TER LP, inexplicably reverses the order of the cues and places them earlier in the score).

STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN - James Horner

Despite his claims not to be a film music aficionado, Horner's score for Battle Beyond the Stars was so reliant on other sci-fi scores -- including Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture -- that the appearance of his name on posters for Star Trek II seemed almost like a joke. Instead, he managed to write what is arguably his finest score for this, the greatest of all Star Trek films. His main theme, reminiscent of Bronislau Kaper's nautical scores (Mutiny on the Bounty, Lord Jim) was so heroic and rousing that one didn't even miss Goldsmith's Enterprise march (and ST:TMP is my favorite score of all time), and his action cues were explosively exciting, working perfectly in context despite the fact that the action consisted largely of shots of spaceships turning slowly. Though the influence of other composers was undeniably present, at age 29 this was an acceptable quality in an exceptionally promising composer -- now, at age 50, it's a bit less appealing.


THE REST OF THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC:

Burt Bacharach scored Ron Howard's first big studio film, the comedy NIGHT SHIFT, and provided it with a catchy title song as well as "That's What Friends Are For," which would swell in popularity over the years.

Garnering a bit less attention than Frances, the Canadian thriller MURDER BY PHONE (aka Bells) featured an effective if repetitive score by John Barry, assisted by Jonathan Elias.

Les Baxter scored his final feature film, THE BEAST WITHIN, and his old fashioned horror score was enjoyable on its own terms but didn't make the delightfully awful film any better.

Elmer Bernstein's score for the Chaim Potok adaptation THE CHOSEN gave the film a welcome dose of restrained emotion, and is one of far too many of the composer's scores to have never received any LP or CD release.

Ralph Burns wrote a charming score for Richard Benjamin's directorial debut, MY FAVORITE YEAR, highlighted by an old fashioned swashbuckling theme for the Peter O'Toole character, but his score for KISS ME GOODBYE (an American remake of Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands) never quite found the right balance for this unsuccessful comedy. He was also Oscar nominated for his musical adaptation of ANNIE.

Wendy Carlos made her only venture into mainstream, non-Kubrick cinema with the sci-fantasy TRON, giving her lively score an appropriate mix of orchestra and electronics, and the score has remained a fan favorite for two decades.

John Carpenter (with Alan Howarth) wrote one of his liveliest scores, for the underrated sequel-in-name-only HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, highlighted by a distinctive opening cue scored to match the clever title sequence.

Bill Conti had a diverse year highlighted by one of his all-time finest scores, for the Pulitzer Prize winning drama THAT CHAMPION SEASON. He also contributed an effective and varied orchestral score for the terrific, little seen cult-deprogramming drama SPLIT IMAGE (with outstanding performances by James Woods and Michael O'Keefe), and wrote an enjoyably pulpy jazz score for I, THE JURY. His biggest hit of the year was ROCKY III, but the composer had seemingly run out of things to say about the character, and admitted as much when he declined to score Rocky IV.

Ry Cooder scored his first film for a director other than Walter Hill, Tony Richardson's THE BORDER, which featured an unusually restrained performance from Jack Nicholson.

The overrated French import DIVA was dominated by Wilhelmina Fernandez' performance of the aria from "La Wally," but Vladimir Cosma's soundtrack album proved to be a big success, highlighted by his piano performance of his composition "Sentimental Walk."

Georges Delerue's work for THE ESCAPE ARTIST and A LITTLE SEX was as charming and effervescent as always, though even his talents were foiled by the gay cop comedy PARTNERS.

Klaus Doldinger's score for the acclaimed German import DAS BOOT was not exactly a scrupulous period score, but helped provide some welcome energy to this superbly crafted submarine thriller.

Pino Donaggio made a rare departure (at least in Hollywood) from thrillers with the teen drama TEX, but his distinctively European sensibilities were an awkward match for the American setting.

Charles Fox scored the Kenny Rogers vehicle SIX PACK and had a rare venture away from comedy with LOVE CHILD (for frequent collaborator Larry Peerce), a fact-based drama which provided Amy Madigan with her first major role.

Including the aforementioned Poltergeist and Secret of N.I.M.H., Jerry Goldsmith had a whopping six films released in 1982, all highlighting his trademark brand of bold symphonic action. His thrilling music for FIRST BLOOD, the first of the Rambo films, matched the film's scenic large-scale action scenes perfectly. His adeptness with Asian milieus was utilized again in the modern Samurai adventure THE CHALLENGE and the long-delayed Korean War epic INCHON, which gave him a second chance to write music for General Douglas MacArthur. His stirring score for the true-life Disney adventure NIGHT CROSSING was dominated by a propulsive main title theme that was a worthy successor to his classic Capricorn One.

Besides the mega-hit Tootsie, Dave Grusin scored a much less successful comedy starring an actor often confused with Dustin Hoffman -- AUTHOR! AUTHOR!, with Al Pacino.

Garnering much less attention than his lovely work for Sophie's Choice, Marvin Hamlisch continued his run as composer-of-choice for Neil Simon projects with the quickly forgotten I OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES.

John Harrison (who went on to direct the TV version of Dune) gave the Stephen King/George Romero horror anthology CREEPSHOW a lively B-movie score, highlighted by a catchy main title, though many sequences in the film use library music (a la Romero's Night of the Living Dead).

Richard Hazard received the scoring credit for the amusing if disappointing AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL, though the score consisted largely of cues from Bernstein's score from the original film as well as Stu Phillips' Battlestar Galactica.

Lee Holdridge wrote a full-bodied adventure score for the perennial cable favorite THE BEASTMASTER, though it was probably the extremely abbreviated scoring schedule that caused him to write a main theme distractingly similar to the aforementioned Galactica.

While Star Trek II proved to be James Horner's first smash and put him on the map, 48 HRS. was an even bigger hit and showed he wasn't limited to symphonic scoring, giving the action comedy a distinctively urban energy.

Maurice Jarre contributed a relatively sparse score (probably due to the influence of director Clint Eastwood) for the international thriller FIREFOX, and scored the surprise hit soap opera spoof YOUNG DOCTORS IN LOVE for first-time director Garry Marshall. He also scored the barely released Vietnam drama DON'T CRY, IT'S ONLY THUNDER, and reunited with Tin Drum director Volker Schlondorff for the Beirut-set journalistic drama CIRCLE OF DECEIT.

It is only the large amount of outstanding film music written in 1982 that kept me from listing Trevor Jones' THE DARK CRYSTAL in the "Five More Outstanding Scores" section. Twenty one years later, it's still his finest work (and finally available on CD) -- dramatic, lushly melodic and superbly orchestrated. Those who especially liked Crystal's more ethereal passages might also want to check out 1982's THE SENDER, a spooky thriller with an effective Jones score.

The snake thriller VENOM featured an effective suspense score by Michael Kamen, though Paramount's adline "See It Before The Lines Start" proved to be just a tad optimistic.

Tony-winning composer John Kander (Cabaret, Chicago) scored Robert Benton's plush mystery STILL OF THE NIGHT, but like the film itself his music had more class than thrills.

Artie Kane gave the failed Strangelove-style satire WRONG IS RIGHT a catchy comic march complete with a distinctive use of electronics.

Death on the Nile had benefited from the witty sparring (with Anthony Shaffer dialogue) of Maggie Smith, Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury, and its sequel EVIL UNDER THE SUN continued in that campy vein, helped by a lively score of Cole Porter tunes adapted by John Lanchbury.

The flat Hollywood comedy BEST FRIENDS was not ultimately a great scoring opportunity but allowed Michel Legrand to write one of his most acclaimed songs, the Oscar nominated "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" (a favorite of Sinatra's).

Michael J. Lewis' second score for Franklin J. Schaffner, the Luciano Pavarotti vehicle YES, GIORGIO, incorporated his own love theme as well as an Oscar-nominated John Williams song, "If We Were In Love."

Henry Mancini followed his Oscar winning song score for Blake Edwards' VICTOR/VICTORIA with a much lesser project for the director, the clip-job cash-in THE TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER.

Johnny Mandel scored two films for director Sidney Lumet, giving DEATHTRAP a full-blooded but uneven Addison-ish harpsichord score, and writing somber, brooding music for the Oscar nominated THE VERDICT (one cue sounded eerily like John Barry's The Lion in Winter, but I don't know if it was actually tracked in or just temp track influenced). He also scored his third film for director Hal Ashby, the Vegas comedy LOOKIN' TO GET OUT, but the film was one of the director's weakest and is best forgotten.

Harry Manfredini contributed his usual Jason motifs plus a trashy, pop-ish main theme to the 3D FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 (which Paramount actually screened for Oscar consideration), and a more serious score for Wes Craven's SWAMP THING.

Brian May wrote his finest and most popular score for the Mad Max sequel THE ROAD WARRIOR, supplying the necessary excitement as well as a memorable, elegiac main theme.

Dudley Moore's post-Arthur clout allowed him to not only play an (English-born) American politician in the tearjerker SIX WEEKS but to write the film's score as well, but his sentimental music was a far cry from the clever pastiche of Bedazzled.

Giorgio Moroder reunited with American Gigolo director Paul Schrader for the lavish, nonsensical remake of CAT PEOPLE, and his energetic score was highlighted by a catchy David Bowie song, "Putting Out Fire."

John Carpenter finally got to work with his musical idol, Ennio Morricone, on THE THING, but while the MCA LP (and later Varese CD) was full of original Morricone cues, only a few made it into the movie itself, especially a low, pulsing theme that sounded especially Carpenter-ish. Morricone also scored Bernardo Bertolucci's dull drama TRAGEDY OF A RIDICULOUS MAN, which lacked even the visual splendor that is normally the director's saving grace.

Jack Nitzsche scored the directorial debuts of two Oscar winning screenwriters -- CANNERY ROW, from The Sting's David S. Ward, and PERSONAL BEST from Chinatown's Robert Towne.

Basil Poledouris reunited with Blue Lagoon director (and USC classmate) Randal Kleiser for SUMMER LOVERS, but the film was mostly scored with songs (including the soon-to-be-ubiquitous "I'm So Excited") and Poledouris' contribution was limited to a few discreet synth cues.

Robert O. Ragland gave the Larry Cohen monster flick Q exactly the kind of robust B-movie symphony it needed.

Leonard Rosenman gave the groundbreaking (if much maligned) gay drama MAKING LOVE a restrained and serious score, with a main theme reminiscent of his music for Rebel Without a Cause (which itself may have helped inspire Herrmann's Marnie).

Along with his high profile score for Quest For Fire, two of Philippe Sarde's French films were released in the U.S. -- the downbeat romantic thriller BIRGIT HAAS MUST BE KILLED, and Bertrand Tavernier's acclaimed adaptation of Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280, COUP DE TORCHON.

Lalo Schifrin reworked his Oscar nominated Amityville Horror score for the underrated followup, AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION, as well as writing efficient suspense scores for two films beneath his talents -- A STRANGER IS WATCHING and THE SEDUCTION.

John Scott wrote an energetic synth sci-fi horror score for the disreputable INSEMINOID, which was also released in the U.S. as Horror Planet.

David Shire provided an adaptation score for one of the year's finest films, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, but his music was used only sparingly and director George Roy Hill replaced Shire's main title music with the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four."

Ken Thorne composed in a distinctly Japanese style for his score for the odd horror film THE HOUSE WHERE EVIL DWELLS, in which Americans living in a house in Japan are possessed by the ghosts of a Samurai romantic triangle.

Following Missing, Vangelis wrote arguably his finest score for BLADE RUNNER, a lush, moody and varied work that deftly complemented the film's extraordinary visuals. (Surprisingly, a briefly released "director's cut" -- not the approved edit later given a wide theatrical and video release -- included tracked-in cues from Planet of the Apes and Humanoids From the Deep, suggesting that director Ridley Scott was not always certain of his desired musical approach.)

Longtime music editor Ken Wannberg wrote an elegant suspense score for the Canadian spy thriller THE AMATEUR, as well as a somber work for the adventure MOTHER LODE, directed by and starring Charlton Heston.

Despite the distracting influence of Williams' Raiders of the Lost Ark theme, David Whitaker provided a lush and suitably swashbuckling score for THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, the debut film of one of the world's worst (and sadly, most prolific) directors, Albert Pyun.

Patrick Williams scored two Richard Pryor vehicles, the serio-comic SOME KIND OF HERO and Richard Donner's remake of THE TOY, as well as providing the incidental music for the underrated film version of THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS.

Stomu Yamashta, John Williams' collaborator for the most avant-garde parts of the Images score, wrote a less bizarre but still far from Hollywood-sounding score for Paul Mazursky's smug, lavish reworking of TEMPEST.

PRANKS (aka The Dorm That Dripped Blood) was Christopher Young's first feature score, and though the micro-budget film was hard to track down, Citadel released Young's jagged horror score on LP.


REJECTED:

FIVE DAYS ONE SUMMER (Carl Davis)


These are the score LPs from 1982 movies produced around the time of their films' release:

Blade Runner (re-recording), Cat People, Conan the Barbarian, Creepshow, The Dark Crystal, Das Boot, Diva, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, First Blood, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Inchon, Inseminoid, Monsignor, An Officer and a Gentleman, Poltergeist, Pranks, The Road Warrior, Rocky III, Six Pack, Sophie's Choice, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Swamp Thing, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Tempest, The Thing, Tootsie, Tron, Victor/Victoria.


FROM: "Ian Smith"
SUBJECT: Re: NOT EVEN NOMINATED, PART TWO
 
Nice trip down memory lane again. Were films better back then, or was it just the music?
 
I was surprised to read about some of Jerry Goldsmith's music for OUTLAND being replaced in the film. Makes me wonder if directors hire the right composer to get what they want. Goldsmith had a rough time of it in that period, considering what went on with ALIEN and, a few years after OUTLAND, with the American release of LEGEND. Is it the composer's fault if his score is deemed unsatisfactory, or some cues require replacement/editing, or should the director get his choice of composer right in the first place? Or at least let the composer know what is desired? Or does the film editor deserve some blame (as in the case of ALIEN, I believe)?


FROM: "Randy Derchan"

SUBJECT: 1981
 
I still have vivid memories of every one of the films you mentioned that came out in 1981. I can hardly remember anything that has been released this year. Some of the films, lots of thrillers and romantic comedies, hardly got noticed at the time, but I think today, if they were released, would have gotten much more critical attention. Incidentally, most of those films were made for adults, not 14 year-olds, like you have being made today. Things really have changed and it's not my imagination or me getting old. Martin Lawrence makes more movies every year than anyone else it seems. I'm working on a movie at work of his right now. He's not funny. I don't get it. I wish it were 1981 again. A dialed-down Goldsmith score is far better than an overloud Media Ventures wallpaper attempt or that horrid techo-rap sound that dominates our movies lately. Most of the big summer hits are all being scored by second-rate composers -- great for their careers, bad for us music connoisseurs. They really have nothing to say musically, except for copying the great composers of 1981.


FROM: "Robert van Deudekom"

Indeed a 'wonderful trip down memory lane', your 80's series! For a soundtrack collector in the Netherlands, those were hard times. I usually went by train to Brussels for some decent (but extremely expensive) soundtrack shopping. In the winter of '81, I returned home with not only a copy of Maurice Jarre's 'Lion of the desert', but also with the name & adress of Annemie, a Belgian girl I met at the infamous Africa Museum. Nowadays, I'm still not really impressed by Mr. Jarre's score for that Anthony Quinn-turkey, but Imke is still my wife (for no less then 19 years) and our 17 year old son buys his cd's - sadly no soundtracks - on the internet (I doubt if that will lead him to the girl of his dreams).

Keep on the good work!

P.S. Just realized that I wrote something you won't understand. But in Belgium the common diminutive of Annemie is Imke.


FROM: "David Corkum"

SUBJECT: Goldsmith in 1980
 
Hi there. Regarding the question of Jerry Goldsmith's output in 1980/81, I believe that Caboblanco was in fact done in 1979, between Players and Star Trek:TMP. That's according to an issue of Soundtrack magazine produced at the time. In 1980, he went from Star Trek to Masada, which he was on for almost half the year, and then did Inchon and The Final Conflict, all of which sat for some time before being released. A preview of Final Conflict was on TV in late 1980 with Goldsmith's score. And then 1981 produced in this order: The Salamander, Outland, Raggedy Man and Night Crossing. I've been keeping track of this stuff for many years, long before FSM made it easy, and this is the work order I recorded at the time.

Thanks! I hope you have more Goldsmith CDs in the pipeline!


Thank you, especially for the Goldsmith chronology (I try to keep track of such things myself). And yes, we do have more Goldsmith CDs in the pipeline -- Wint and Kidd foolishly buried the CDs alive in there rather than just shooting them in the head.

MailBag@filmscoremonthly.com


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