NOT EVEN NOMINATED, PART THREE
THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC: 1982
By Scott Bettencourt
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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"
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.