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By Scott Bettencourt


CRY FREEDOM - George Fenton, Jonas Gwangwa
EMPIRE OF THE SUN - John Williams
THE LAST EMPEROR - Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne, Cong Su (the winner)
THE UNTOUCHABLES - Ennio Morricone



Conti's working relationship with News writer-director James L. Brooks was reportedly a difficult one, as Brooks made the composer rewrite and rerecord cues repeatedly, varying the orchestrations and ultimately hiring Michael Gore to write some additional music (News co-star Albert Brooks was so impressed by Gore's contribution that he hired the composer for his own 1991 film Defending Your Life). Despite these problems, Conti's score is the best written for a James L. Brooks film, musically stronger than Zimmer's work on I'll Do Anything and As Good As It Gets, and featuring the warmth of Gore's Terms of Endearment but with less sappiness. Unfortunately, no Broadcast News soundtrack has ever been released, and not surprisingly Brooks and Conti never collaborated again. (Broadcast News received 7 Oscar nominations)


Until Ghost was released three years later, Fatal Attraction was the highest grossing film Jarre had ever scored, an exceptionally skillful thriller that managed to become a cultural phenomenon and earn major Oscar nominations (and not just for Glenn Close's career-changing role as the self-righteous stalker). The score was far from Jarre's finest work -- the suspense cues were effective but unimaginative (the score was one of many written during Jarre's unfortunate fixation on electronic ensembles, which produced several of his least musically inspired works) and the end title melody sounded like it belonged in a different movie, but in general the score worked and the combination of the film's popularity and Jarre's reputation (and his three Oscars) made it a plausible nominee. (6 Oscar nominations)


Mancini's final collaboration with director Paul Newman resulted in the kind of delicately emotional score that he was rarely given the opportunity to write. The film was a faithful rendition of the Tennesse Williams play, and the cast -- Joanne Woodward as Amanda, Karen Allen as Laura, James Naughton as the Gentlemen Caller -- had all played their roles together in a recent stage production, all except for John Malkovich as Tom (his role had been played onstage by John Sayles, of all people). Malkovich's performance was one of his greatest, from that long ago era when he actually seemed to care about screen acting, and Mancini's score as well was one of his finest, beautifully integrated into the proceedings and even incorporating a theme that Paul Bowles (more famous as the author of The Sheltering Sky) wrote for the original 40s stage production.


Alex North was a surprising choice for this fact-based Barry Levinson comedy-drama, but Levinson has always had impressively eclectic tastes in composers -- Randy Newman, Broughton, Zimmer, Morricone, Knopfler, Goldenthal, and Chris Young. The film was a major breakthrough for star Robin Williams -- it was the first blockbuster hit for him as well as for Levinson, and inexplicably garnered him his first Oscar nomination for essentially just doing his standup material on the big screen; his performances in The World According to Garp and especially Moscow on the Hudson were immensely superior. North's music lacked the dazzling inventiveness of scores like Dragonslayer and Under the Volcano, and garnered much less attention than the inevitable period songs (none of his cues were featured on the soundtrack album), but his warm, emotional music helped balance the film's mixture of comedy and drama. (1 Oscar nomination)

ROBOCOP - Basil Poledouris

If there was any project where Poledouris had a shot at achieving a John Williams level of fame, it was this one, for Paul Verhoeven's satirical sci-fi thriller was not only a boxoffice smash (though not Poledouris' biggest -- that was The Hunt For Red October) and a critical success, but Poledouris' exciting, emotional, perfectly pitched score gave the eponymous cyborg the kind of utterly apt and instantly memorable main theme that makes a composer a household name. Though Poledouris was unfortunately absent from the disappointing RoboCop 2, he returned for the third film in the series, deftly reworking his original themes while adding substantial new material. (The original RoboCop CD was deftly sequenced, omitting few cues, but the RoboCop 3 disc was an unfortunate casualty of the 30-minute rule and many terrific cues are missing.) (2 Oscar nominations)


THE DEAD - Alex North

North's score for John Huston's final film, a beautifully acted and impressively faithful adaptation of James Joyce's classic short story, would have been a shoo-in for a nomination only a few years before, but the controversy over Herbie Hancock winning the original score Oscar for Round Midnight the year before (a score dominated by pre-existing jazz pieces) inspired the Music Branch to tighten their rules so that original music must dominate a nominated score, and North's score was based partly on the Irish song "The Lass of Aughrim," which is also performed onscreen. North's score was remarkably delicate, emotionally supportive but never overwhelming the action (I use the word "action" loosely), and was a satisfying conclusion to his working relationship with Huston, which began in 1961 with The Misfits.


Timothy Dalton's first of two performances as James Bond was the occasion for the last of eleven Bond scores by John Barry, and though the film, like so many later entries in the series, was wildly uneven (actually, its hard to think of many Bond films that weren't wildly uneven), with a lame villain (a miscast Joe Don Baker, who delivers some of his lines as if Ed Wood were behind the camera -- supporting player Jeroen Krabbe could have been a classic Bond villain), an equally weak villain plot and a draggy pace, but there were some outstanding action scenes and the first half had an impressively Fleming-ish feel. Barry's work was adept as always, and instead of writing the usual song he wrote three, utilizing each one in the score -- the main title "The Living Daylights" became exciting action music, the end title "If There Was a Man" served as the love theme, and "Where Has Everybody Gone" was the theme for the assassin Necros. The Living Daylights was the first Bond score to receive a wide CD release simultaneously with its film (the original Octopussy CD disappeared quickly and became a collector's item), and in 1998 Ryko released a welcome expanded edition with nearly a half hour of additional music, including the pre-credits action music and an alternate, orchestral end title.

LIONHEART - Jerry Goldsmith

Many terrific Goldsmith scores were written for films that weren't big hits, but Lionheart, one of Goldsmith's finest scores of the 1980s and his final work for director Franklin J. Schaffner, who inspired the most consistently outstanding scores of any Goldsmith director (including Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, Islands of the Stream, and The Boys From Brazil), never even received a Los Angeles release, eventually showing up on cable and video. Goldsmith's score for this bland medieval adventure was a stronger work than his later, popular First Knight score (though purists may quibble at Lionheart's use of electronics), mainly due to its wonderful melodies, some of the finest of Goldsmith's later career, including a stirring and heroic theme for the young hero (Eric Stoltz) and a lovely, folkish melody for the character Mathilda. An unusual deal with the production company inspired Varese to release the complete score in two separate volumes rather than a two-disc set, a wise decision considering the film is pretty much known only by Goldsmith fans, though they later re-released the soundtrack as a one disc set combining the two volumes but omitting some cues for time reasons. Though the film was one of the director's lesser works (his final film, Welcome Home, scored by Henry Mancini, was equally forgettable), the rousing and satisfying score is a fitting farewell from Goldsmith to Schaffner.

THE MONSTER SQUAD - Bruce Broughton

One of Bruce Broughton's finest scores was written for a movie few people saw, which has yet to be released on DVD and which has never had a soundtrack album. For this warmly photographed cross between Our Gang and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Broughton provided a terrifically spooky main theme, gently charming music for the little girl Phoebe and her friend the Frankenstein Monster, and a variety of exciting action cues -- if you heard the score alone you'd be convinced the film was a classic. The film was directed by Fred Dekker and produced by Peter Hyams, and though Hyams made Broughton rework the final cue (where the military arrives in town) several times, he and Broughton ultimately got on so well that Hyams hired him for the next three films he directed.

PREDATOR - Alan Silvestri

John McTiernan's breakthrough film as an action director was far from the most original film ever made - basically, it's Rambo vs. Alien, or Aliens in the jungle - but the film is a B-movie delight improved immensely by Silvestri's energetic score, with a thrilling main theme pleasantly reminiscent of Lalo Schifrin's classic "The Plot" from Mission: Impossible. Silvestri's score gives the minimally plotted film relentless momentum, pausing only occasionally for his "Taps"-like requiem for Schwarzenegger's fallen comrades. While the Varese Predator 2 CD featured largely the same themes, it took 16 years for the original to get a legit soundtrack release, with a terrific complete score disc from the Varese Sarabande CD Club, plus the delightful addition of Elliot Goldenthal's arrangement of Alfred Newman's 20th Century Fox fanfare recorded for Alien 3.


Following his 1986 breakthrough with Blue Velvet, Angelo Badalamenti had a prolific year, writing romantic noir music for TOUGH GUYS DON'T DANCE, adapting Mahler and Wagner for WEEDS, and providing an eclectic horror score for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 3: DREAM WARRIORS.

John Barry wrote the incidental music for Richard Marquand's final film, the rock drama HEARTS OF FIRE (pairing Bob Dylan and Rupert Everett), but the film never received a U.S. release.

Elmer Bernstein wrote some lively, moving music for the awkward but well-intentioned anti-nuke drama AMAZING GRACE AND CHUCK, his music having even more impact on the soundtrack album. He could do nothing to save the notorious Bill Cosby vehicle LEONARD PART 6, which its star had wanted Cosby Show composer Stu Gardner to score.

Bruce Broughton wrote a lovely Americana score for the drama SQUARE DANCE, which gave Winona Ryder her first leading role, as well as a lighthearted family adventure score for HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS. Working in a less symphonic vein, he wrote a more electronic, urban score for BIG SHOTS and a pop-ish score for CROSS MY HEART, produced by Silverado director Lawrence Kasdan.

Carter Burwell wrote one of his most memorable scores for the Coen brothers' comedy, RAISING ARIZONA, accompanying the cartoonish proceedings with unusual orchestrations and prominent yodeling.

John Carpenter returned to low-budget filmmaking with his Nigel Kneale homage PRINCE OF DARKNESS, giving the film one of his best and most serious scores.

Bill Conti took a rare venture into sci-fi/fantasy with MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, and his score was big and energetic but owed a fair debt to John Williams' Star Wars. He was unfairly panned for his replacement score to A PRAYER FOR THE DYING, but his brooding music was actually preferable to John Scott's rejected score. Before Broadcast News, he scored a more conventional comedy, the Diane Keaton vehicle BABY BOOM, and the little seen caper movie HAPPY NEW YEAR (a remake of a Claude Lelouch film), which received an Oscar nomination for its makeup.

In perhaps his only sci-fi/horror project, Michael Convertino wrote an effective, unusual score for the cult favorite THE HIDDEN, with jangly action music and a haunting main theme.

Stewart Copeland was a last minute replacement to score Oliver Stone's WALL STREET when the director and Jerry Goldsmith couldn't see eye to eye, and his typically percussive score was one of his best efforts, highlighted by a montage cue ("Bud's Scam") that had echoes of the pony-tailed maestro.

Carmine Coppola's score for his son Francis' Vietnam-era drama GARDENS OF STONE had a distracting, old-fashioned quality, sounding at times like a tepid Alex North imitation.

Alexander Courage scored the disappointing final chapter in the Christopher Reeve Superman series, SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE, incorporating not only John Williams' classic themes from the original film but also two new Williams themes -- a love theme for Mariel Hemingway's character and a villain theme for Lex Luthor's new creation, Nuclear Man.

Georges Delerue scored the British drama THE LONELY PASSION OF JUDITH HEARNE, his final feature for director Jack Clayton, and its soundtrack CD has become one of Delerue's rarest. He scored the youth comedies MAID TO ORDER and THE PICK UP ARTIST, though the latter was augmented with additional music by Joel McNeely. He wrote lovely, romantic music for A MAN IN LOVE, a film which, like so many, did not deserve Delerue's great gifts. Some of his themes were also incorporated into the score for SUMMER HEAT, scored by music editor Richard Stone.

Pino Donaggio scored two films for Cannon, writing a lovely theme for Herbert Ross's DANCERS and a disappointingly unadventurous score for THE BARBARIANS.

The lazy but enjoyable comedy SUMMER SCHOOL is the only score by Danny Elfman that is completely unrepresented on LP or CD -- he never even included any of it in his Music For a Darkened Theater compilations.

Harold Faltermeyer gave BEVERLY HILLS COP 2 a lively score with surprising echoes of John Carpenter, and wrote a catchy main theme for the dismal THE RUNNING MAN. He was unable to recapture the Beverly Hills Cop magic with the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle FATAL BEAUTY, whose poster took pains to make clear that its title did not refer to its star.

Along with his outstanding, Oscar nominated score for Cry Freedom, George Fenton wrote a restrained score incorporating classical themes for the low-key drama 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD.

Brad Fiedel scored the well-reviewed romantic cop thriller THE BIG EASY, but his score received less attention than the New Orleans source music.

Robert Folk continued his typecasting as a comedy composer with the teen romance CAN'T BUY ME LOVE, the barely released STEWARDESS SCHOOL (whose score was reportedly far better than the film deserved) and the inevitable POLICE ACADEMY 4: CITIZENS ON PATROL.

Michael Gibbs wrote a lovely, evocative score for Bill Forsyth's little seen comedy-drama HOUSEKEEPING, and a more forgettable score for the trouble-plagued production of William Goldman's HEAT.

Philip Glass provided effective incidental music (minimalist, natch) for a few scenes in the Vietnam War drama HAMBURGER HILL.

Besides his wonderful score for the largely unreleased Lionheart, Jerry Goldsmith wrote his third feature score for Joe Dante, the sci-fi comedy INNERSPACE. Goldsmith's music was extremely lively and fun, though his musical depiction of the inside of the human body owed a little too much to his "V'ger" music from Star Trek -- The Motion Picture. His score for Walter Hill's EXTREME PREJUDICE had pleasant echoes of his Under Fire score and featured full bodied action cues with a thick layer of electronics, but Hill (whose regular composer Ry Cooder is rumored to have written a rejected score) and Goldsmith did not have an entirely happy working relationship -- Hill dialed out some Goldsmith cues that attempted to give the cold thriller some emotional underpinnings, and after Goldsmith wrote a spectacular, intricate nine-minute action cue for the Act Two finale, "The Plan," Hill re-edited the sequence severely and Goldsmith had to rescore it with seemingly improvised keyboard work.

James Horner applied his Cocoon formula to the similar BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, mixing orchestral sentiment and Big Band themes. His score for PROJECT X was effective but particularly derivative, with echoes of Goldsmith's The Blue Max and Khachaturian's Gayane Ballet Suite, which he'd already aped in Aliens and later in his Jack Ryan scores.

James Newton Howard scored two long since forgotten features, the kids' adventure RUSSKIES and the college beefcake comedy CAMPUS MAN.

Dick Hyman took a break from Woody Allen projects to write the score for the Oscar-winning MOONSTRUCK, mixing original cues with adaptations of Puccini.

Mark Isham and Alan Rudloph collaborated on a more mainstream film than usual, the romantic fantasy MADE IN HEAVEN, which prominently featured Neil Young's song "We've Never Danced" as performed by Martha Davis of the Motels.

Alaric Jans wrote a restrained chamber score for writer David Mamet's directorial debut, HOUSE OF GAMES.

Maurice Jarre's late 80s obsession with electronic ensemble music included dull scores for the hit thriller NO WAY OUT and the Oscar-nominated GABY: A TRUE STORY.

Trevor Jones wrote an effectively noirish score for the stylish but unsatisfying supernatural mystery ANGEL HEART, though disappointingly the soundtrack featured dialogue over many of the score cues (a problem all too common on soundtracks to Alan Parker movies).

Michael Kamen collaborated with Eric Clapton on the jazzy urban action score for LETHAL WEAPON, which secured his place as an A-list Hollywood composer after years of working in England. He scored his only film for Ridley Scott, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME, with his music partly based on the classic title song, but Scott dialed out some of his score and even tracked in a cue from Vangelis' Blade Runner. Kamen wrote a Herrmannesque suspense score for SUSPECT, a forgettable score for Chris Columbus' directing debut ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, and returned to his English roots with the British sex comedy RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO.

Wim Wenders' regular composer Jurgen Kneiper was a surprising choice to score the indie teen drama RIVER'S EDGE, and his tense score was effective though some found it too traditional for such an offbeat movie.

The worst composer casting of the year, possibly of the decade, was Mark Knopfler's hiring for THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Though Knopfler tried hard, writing a nice theme for Mandy Patinkin's vengeful swordfighter, the acclaimed fairy tale adventure, which already suffered from a cheap, bland look, desperately needed an old fashioned, symphonic swashbuckler score, which countless composers from John Williams to Laurie Johnson could have provided. Sixteen years later, Reiner's liner note remarks on the score are as inexplicable as ever -- "Given the unique requirements of the score, I realized that the list of composers who might fit the bill was going to be a short one. Mark Knopfler was the only one who made the list."

Sylvester Levay brought his usual pop-synth approach to the Whoopi Goldberg comedy-mystery BURGLAR and the surprise hit comedy MANNEQUIN, and supplied additional music for THREE O'CLOCK HIGH.

Michael Linn (who died in 1995)'s score for ALAN QUATERMAIN AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD was officially an adaptation of Goldsmith's score for its predecessor, King Solomon's Mines, but huge chunks of it were merely taken from Goldsmith's original recordings, allegedly without Goldsmith's knowledge or permission.

For EVIL DEAD 2, Joseph LoDuca got to work with a larger orchestra than on the first film, and his eclectic score was highlighted by an exciting opening cue.

Henry Mancini scored yet another Blake Edwards film, BLIND DATE, but the film was one of the director's worst and Mancini was unable to do much to help it.

Michael Cimino's regular composer David Mansfield wrote an atypically symphonic, even operatic score for the beautifully photographed crime drama THE SICILIAN.

Peter Martin wrote a pleasantly nostalgic score for John Boorman's Best Picture nominated WWII memoir HOPE AND GLORY, though his title song sounded distractingly like "I'll Be Seeing You."

Brian May returned to Road Warrior territory (more or less) with the post-apocalyptic adventure STEEL DAWN, and wrote a fairly generic adventure score for the Fred Dryer vehicle DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.

Stanley Kubrick worked with the closest thing to a full original score since he rejected Alex North's score for 2001 when he had Abigail Mead score FULL METAL JACKET, the young composer providing an effectively moody electronic soundscape. That the director should show Jacket's composer such rare respect should not be a surprise -- she's actually his daughter Vivian, who played Dr. Floyd's little girl (the one who wanted a bushbaby) in 2001.

John Morris wrote a lively pastiche score for SPACEBALLS, his penultimate feature for Mel Brooks, and worked in a more serious vein with his sparse score for the Depression drama IRONWEED. He also wrote the incidental music for the sleeper hit DIRTY DANCING, but the film's songs garnered most of the attention, especially the Oscar winner "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life."

Stanley Myers' score for the memorable Joe Orton biopic PRICK UP YOUR EARS deftly began with a deceptively jaunty main title. He also scored the comedy-drama WISH YOU WERE HERE, which introduced Emily Lloyd as a rambunctious teenager in 50s England, and another collaboration with director Nicolas Roeg, CASTAWAY.

Ira Newborn scored the comedy update of DRAGNET, naturally using the original Walter Schumann/Miklos Rozsa theme, as well as additional music by David Newman. He also worked with regular collaborator John Hughes on PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES, but as usual for a Hughes film the songs took precedence.

David Newman wrote his first score for director Danny DeVito, giving the slapstick dark comedy THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN a terrifically antic and fresh score, and gave the horror film THE KINDRED a lush and exciting score. He wrote one of his few thriller scores for the Burt Reynolds vehicle MALONE and scored the supernatural comedy MY DEMON LOVER, featuring additional music by Ed Alton who went on to write the theme for "The Single Guy" as well as many other TV projects.

Thomas Newman was still typecast in youth oriented films, though within that field he worked in a variety of genres -- the campy horror film THE LOST BOYS, the blue collar rock drama LIGHT OF DAY, and the adaptation of LESS THAN ZERO.

Jean-Claude Petit made his first big splash in U.S. cinemas with his lush score for the gorgeously photographed French drama JEAN DE FLORETTE and its sequel MANON OF THE SPRING, which featured harmonica solos by Toots Thielemans.

Besides his classic RoboCop score, Basil Poledouris wrote an energetic, electronic action score for the car thief thriller NO MAN'S LAND.

Fourteen years after O Lucky Man, Alan Price and director Lindsay Anderson worked together on an infinitely more conventional project, the geriatric drama THE WHALES OF AUGUST, for which Price contributed a charming orchestral score.

Richard Robbins wrote one of his best Merchant-Ivory scores for MAURICE, giving the E.M. Forster adaptation an especially lovely main theme.

Arthur B. Rubinstein provided exciting action cues for the surprise hit STAKEOUT, though his salsa-ish music introducing Madeleine Stowe's character was a bit heavy-handed.

Lalo Schifrin wrote an orchestral suspense score with a Russian flavor for the Frederick Forsyth adaptation THE FOURTH PROTOCOL.

John Scott wrote one of his most popular scores for a film almost no one has seen, the European kidnapping thriller MAN ON FIRE (which has inspired an upcoming Denzel Washington remake), and its sweeping main theme was used a year later in the epilogue for Die Hard. He also scored the Michael Caine espionage drama THE WHISTLE BLOWER.

Howard Shore scored two projects far removed from his work with David Cronenberg -- Robert Benton's period romantic comedy NADINE and Diane Keaton's offbeat documentary HEAVEN.

Apart from his beloved score for Predator, Alan Silvestri's output for 1987 was far less memorable, with forgettable scores for the comedies OVERBOARD, CRITICAL CONDITION, and the hit OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE.

Michael Small reunited with Postman Always Rings Twice director Bob Rafelson for the thriller BLACK WIDOW, but like too many Small scores, his suitably lush and brooding music has yet to see a soundtrack release. Small used John Williams' Jaws theme (of course) for the final (I hope) film in the series, JAWS THE REVENGE, and his energetic score was more inspired than Alan Parker's work on the previous entry but still couldn't compare to the classic Williams originals. He also worked with his regular collaborator, director Alan J. Pakula, on the little seen drama ORPHANS.

For his biggest American hit, the Steve Martin comedy ROXANNE, Fred Schepisi worked with his usual composer, Bruce Smeaton, but Smeaton's light jazz score was a disappointment.

Barbra Streisand wrote a very short score for her own self-produced starring vehicle, NUTS (directed by Martin Ritt), and her music was adequate but added little to this enjoyable, underrated drama.

Tangerine Dream had a prolific year in American cinema, scoring the revisionist vampire film NEAR DARK, the bayou drama SHY PEOPLE, and the teen comedy THREE O'CLOCK HIGH.

Gabriel Yared scored Robert Altman's disastrous film of the Christopher Durang play BEYOND THERAPY (set in NY, filmed in Paris), and it was one of the few soundtracks that Varese announced but never actually released (others that come to mind are Pumpkinhead, Whispers in the Dark, Mother's Boys and Wonder Boys).

Christopher Young wrote his breakthrough score for Clive Barker's HELLRAISER, a powerful symphonic work featuring a marvelous diabolical waltz main theme. He also wrote an evocative score for FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, reminiscent of Goldsmith's Psycho II.

Canadian composer Paul Zaza wrote a catchy main theme for his usual collaborator, Bob Clark, for the legal comedy-drama FROM THE HIP, which featured the first screen credit for future TV titan David E. Kelley.



These are all the score discs from 1987 movies produced around the time of their films' release:

Amazing Grace and Chuck, Angel Heart, The Barbarians, Batteries Not Included, The Bedroom Window (LP only), The Believers (LP only), Cry Freedom, Dancers, The Dead, 84 Charing Cross Road (LP only), Empire of the Sun, Evil Dead 2, Extreme Prejudice, Fatal Attraction, The Fourth Protocol, From the Hip (LP only), Full Metal Jacket, The Glass Menagerie, Hello Again (CD only), Hellraiser (CD only), The Hidden, Hope and Glory, Housekeeping, Jean de Florette, The Kindred (LP only),The Last Emperor, Lethal Weapon (LP only), Lionheart, The Living Daylights, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Manon of the Spring, Masters of the Universe, Maurice, Moonstruck, My Demon Lover (LP only), Near Dark, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors, No Man's Land, Nuts, Prick Up Your Ears (LP only), Prince of Darkness, The Princess Bride, RoboCop, Roxanne (CD only), The Running Man, Russkies (LP only), Shy People, The Sicilian, Surrender, Suspect, Three O'Clock High, Tough Guys Don't Dance (LP only), The Untouchables, Weeds, The Whales of August, The Witches of Eastwick, The Whistle Blower (LP only)

The soundtrack to Innerspace featured 25 minutes of Goldsmith score on one side and songs on the other; Varese released an LP/CD pairing Raising Arizona with Blood Simple, and another pairing Wall Street with Delerue's Salvador.


From Page Cook's year end wrap-up of 1987's scores in Films in Review magazine:


1. IRONWEED - John Morris/THE WHISTLE BLOWER - John Scott
2.  THE DEAD  - Alex North
4. THE KINDRED - David Newman
5. ROBOCOP - Basil Poledouris


The Boy Who Could Fly, The Glass Menagerie, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Lionheart, Man on Fire, Spaceballs ("for the love theme alone")


Broadcast News ("TV style drivel"), Fatal Attraction, Gothic ("manic drivel"), No Way Out, Nuts ("Howard Johnson trivialities"), The Princess Bride ("wholly inappropriate"), The Untouchables ("the year's most sublimely idiotic score")

FROM: "Paul MacLean"
SUBJECT: DEATH BE NOT PROUD actually was a real movie
While the thought of springing to Page Cook's defense makes me cringe, I have to report that there was in fact a film called DEATH BE NOT PROUD. I was very young, but in the 70s I saw a movie on TV with this same title. The film starred (as I recall) Robbie Benson, as a high school student with an inoperable brain tumor who was determined to graduate and go to Harvard. I think it was a TV movie however.

After seeing your comments on Page Cook's review of the film, I did a web search for this title, and found it was originally a book by John J. Gunther (not a short story by Elliot Lytton as Mr. Cook stated) and told the true story of Gunther's son's battle with terminal cancer. So yes, there was such a film, but whether or not it is the same movie Page Cook was talking about is unclear.

I remember nothing of the score though (scores didn't interest me at that age -- unless they were by Barry Gray!).

There was a TV movie called Death Be Not Proud in 1975, but it was no relation to the utterly fictitious 1972 feature of the same name, made by non-existent people, whose imaginary score Page Cook praised in his column.

FROM: "Mike Skerritt"

SUBJECT: Rain Man, the Economist?
Rain Man was a mathematical genius, but part of his condition and the initial thrust of the story was that he didn't understand the concept of money. As his brother said, "He just inherited $3 million and he doesn't understand the concept of money." In the scene with the calculator, he tells the doctor that a candy bar and a compact car both cost $100. So it was just a bit of a joke (but not a very good one, yuk yuk).
I haven't seen Rain Man in 15 years, so I'd forgotten he had no concept of money.

FROM: "Victor Field"

SUBJECT: The Year In Film Music 1986: "American Anthem?"

As you pointed out, Alan Silvestri's output in 1986 was mostly "composed and performed on the Synclavier Music System," as the credits at the time said -- but you overlooked that year's "American Anthem," where in amongst the songs from the likes of John "Did this man ever do anything not for a movie?" Parr and Graham Nash, Silvestri furnished a triumphant orchestral score which ties with the sight of Janet Jones in a leotard as the only thing about that misguided sports movie to work. Unfortunately the Atlantic soundtrack album only included two synth pieces he wrote for the movie (part of the plot involved Jones's determination to do her routine to a pop piece composed by her brother -- it's on the song-dominated album as "Julie's Theme"), but thanks to the process known as Holding Up A Tape Recorder To The Speakers Of The Set I've still got Silvestri's music for the final scene and half the end credits on tape. (What, like you've never done that?)

I forgot about American Anthem, which I've never seen. Mea culpa. And yes, I've taped scores off the TV. It's one of the ways I'm researching my long-promised, yet to be written series on Michael Crichton movies.

FROM: "John Archibald"

SUBJECT: Not Even Nominated
I really love your "Not Even Nominated" articles. They are so informative that they give a detailed view of film music for the particular year.
One suggestion: can you do a "Golden Age" year? Say, 1954? Or maybe 1951? (The year of QUO VADIS, which actually was nominated, along with 9 other titles, as I recall.) I don't know if this is feasible, but it would surely be interesting.
I also appreciate your references to Page Cook. I used to read Films in Review in the newsstand, just to see what he had to say about music. I never liked the rest of the magazine. And sometimes even Mr. Cook's observations left me mystified. But where else could you read about film music in those days? Apart from that, the only other outlet I had was to jaw with my friend, Myron Bronfeld, who seemed to know, or have access to, everything.
As it's going to take me months to research my planned 1979 survey, I doubt I'll live long enough to get to 1954, much less 1951. However, here's a rough outline of what "THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC: 1954" might look like:


GENEVIEVE - Muir Matheison
THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY - Dimitri Tiomkin (the winner)
ON THE WATERFRONT - Leonard Bernstein


DAY OF TRIUMPH - Daniele Amfitheatrof
DESIREE - Alex North
THE EGYPTIAN - Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann


THEM! - Bronislau Kaper


Addinsell: Beau Brummell; Alwyn: The Million Pound Note, A Personal Affair, The Constant Husband; Amfitheatrof: Human Desire, The Naked Jungle; Auric: Rififi, The Divided Heart, The Good Die Young, The Detective; Buttolph: Riding Shotgun, The City is Dark, The Bounty Hunter, Phantom of the Rue Morgue; Cigognini: Ulysses; Deutsch: The Long Long Trailer; Friedhofer: Vera Cruz; Harline: Black Widow, Broken Lance, Money From Home, Susan Slept Here; Herrmann: Garden of Evil, Prince of Players; Hollander: It Should Happen to You, Phffft, Sabrina; Kaper: Her Twelve Men, The Glass Slipper; Mockridge: Night People, Woman's World, River of No Return; Murray: Casanova's Big Night; North: Go Man Go; Rota: La Strada; Rozsa: Men of the Fighting Lady, Crest of the Wave; Salter: The Black Shield of Falworth, The Far Country, Johnny Dark, Naked Alibi; Smith: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; Stein: This Island Earth; Steiner: The Boy From Oklahoma, King Richard and the Crusaders, The Violent Men; Stevens: The Wild One; Sukman: Gog; Tiomkin: The Command, A Bullet is Waiting, The Adventures of Hajji Baba; Waxman: Demetrius and the Gladiators, Rear Window, This Is My Love; Webb: Dangerous Mission, Track of the Cat; Young: Flight Nurse, Johnny Guitar, Drum Beat, The Country Girl

Thanks again to reader Marc Levy for inspiring this series. Previous articles in this series covering the years 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986 can be accessed on the website.

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