I saw this film (in multiple sessions, since it was pretty long and demanding) a few weeks ago, the Warren Beatty film from 1981 about the rise and fall of communism in the US and Russia in the early 20th century.
My main problem with it is that all the political messages are presented through the lofty dialogue, which means that you really have to pay attention to get all the info. This has always been my least favourite approach to filmmaking, and it doesn't help if you're not up to speed on the historical and political ramifications that are presented. The drama kinda gets lost in the political mumbojumbo, IMO.
But the 3 hour+ film IS epic in scope (love the scenes in Russia, in particular), and it's pretty obvious that Beatty wanted to make a statement with it.
Jack Nicholson has a relatively small role as the author Eugene O'Neill, a possessive and slightly narcissistic character who has an affair with Diane Keaton's character (Beatty's wife). Nice role, one of the few times Nicholson has portrayed a person that actually existed in real life.
To be honest, I can't remember much of the score. There was some ragtime jazz and stuff, but I'm not sure where Sondheim ends and Grusin begins. Were the Sondheim bits culled from existing works or were they composed specifically for the film?
I think this is a marvelous film that is aging extremely gracefully. For the historically unitiated, Beatty brilliantly provides context via the witnesses as well as more conventional narrative devices while keeping the audience-friendly love story at the forefront. While watching it again recently I was floored by what a ballsy gamble it was for the early 80s and how bankrupt contemporary Hollywood is in comparison. Some of this year's Oscar contenders are very good but their scope is so small in comparison to what Reds and other, less successful, films of the time (Ragtime, say) were reaching for.
As for the music, Sondheim's romance theme is lovely (tho understated for a picture of this size). Grusin's work takes a back seat to it (by design I think).
The most rousing musical moment (which got a burst of applause at the theater I saw the movie) is the montage of the Russian revolution set to The Internationale that leads into intermission. (Getting a suburban Long Island audience to applaud such a thing is not the least of Beatty's accomplishments with Reds.)
There are several vocal versions of Sondheim's theme, "Goodbye For Now," including one by Barbra Streisand on her "Movie Album," but my favorite version is on the "Unsung Sondheim" CD that Bruce Kimmel produced.