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 Posted:   Mar 20, 2015 - 5:17 PM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

This is another entry in my "Complete Score Breakdown" series, focusing on the complete scores to films who've had abbreviated previous releases or have gone unreleased.

Today we are looking at A Perfect Murder (1998) by James Newton Howard.

This is one of the first JNH scores I've ever heard, and it transfixed me immediately. Watching the film, hearing the score, I was so taken with JNH's sophisticated, contemporary, stylish thriller score. I've since heard his other 90's thriller scores -- Just Cause, Eye for and Eye, The Juror, Primal Fear, The Trigger Effect, Stir of Echoes -- all very good scores, but none of them hold a candle to A Perfect Murder.

A remake of Dial M for Murder, the film starred Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortensen and it's one of my favorite thrillers, in no small part due to JNH's score. Vintage JNH hallmarks: eerie suspense, rhythmic propulsion utilizing electronics, icy strings leading the full orchestra, delicate piano passages, blazing action music, warm tender moments, and a couple of great themes -- plus, for this score, dreamlike and haunting and evocative female vocals!

The current release by Varese Sarabande features a paltry 30 minutes of music, released back in the days of the criminally short score releases (*shudder*). In researching the complete score (via viewing the film) I am surprised to find out that the film features 72 MINUTES OF COMPLETE SCORE!

THIS SCORE DESPERATELY NEEDS AN EXPANSION, VARESE SARABANDE!!!

This is truly one of those scores (like another much-needed JNH Varese expansion, Dreamcatcher) where the unreleased material elevates the work entirely and fleshes out themes, motifs and ideas while giving one a whole new appreciation for what JNH did. The current short Varese CD focuses primarily on the action and suspense material, leaving off a substantial amount of more tender moments and Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse drama. The CD also featured an abundance of cues with electronics, and in my opinion unfairly represented the score which is a very well-balanced diet of orchestra, solo instruments, and electronics. A complete score release would balance these elements out, doing great justice to the score.

CURRENT CD RELEASE RUNTIME: 30min18sec
COMPLETE SCORE RUNTIME: approx. 72min15sec
TOTAL UNRELEASED SCORE RUNTIME: approx. 42min

Complete Score track titles and track times (cue titles pulled from the USC Archives James Newton Howard Collection):

1. Main Title (2:55)
2. Stolen Moments (1:57)
3. Lovemaking (1:57)
4. Steven Calls (0:51)
5. Steven Hires David (6:07)
6. David Empties Suitcase (2:06)
7. Steven's Instructions Pt. 1 (1:50)
8. Steven's Instructions Pt. 2 (1:47)
9. David Waits for Emily (1:55)
10. Defacing Emily (1:15)
11. It's Too Late (2:58)
12. Steven Drives Away (0:47)
13. Break-in (3:15)
14. The Attack (1:48)
15. Steven Leaves Club (0:38)
16. Steven Covers Tracks (2:53)
17. Mask Comes Off (1:32)
18. David Returns Home (4:36)
19. Steven Tucks Her In (1:26)
20. Calling David / Redial (2:09)
21. So We Wait (1:37)
22. Emily's Key Doesn't Work (0:22)
23. Steven Surprises Emily (1:58)
24. Wiped Out (0:53)
25. Not a Single Key (2:01)
26. Emily Goes to Tenement (0:31)
27. Steven Gets Money (1:50)
28. Steven Turns It Around (6:00) -- exact cue tracked from Steven Hires David, not included in complete score runtime
29. David Catches Train (1:50)
30. Knock on the Door (0:41)
31. Steven Kills David (1:08)
32. Steven Returns Home (1:26)
33. Emily's Wedding Ring (1:37)
34. This Is Over (5:15)
35. What Happens If (1:15)
36. End Credits (2:45) -- featuring material written exclusively for the end credits, included in complete score runtime

Current CD Release track titles and track times:

1. Main Title (2:57)
2. Ever Been to Belize? (2:13)
3. That's Not Happiness to See Me (1:59)
4. It's Too Late (3:09)
5. Intruder (3:20)
6. The Attack (2:05)
7. He's In the Kitchen (2:55)
8. Safe Deposit Box (1:51)
9. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (6:09)
10. You Take Care (1:54)
11. What Happens If...? (1:51)

-----

If nothing else, I hope someone -- anyone -- from Varese Sarabande will read this and consider an expansion of the classic James Newton Howard thriller score A Perfect Murder.

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

Deputy Riley

smile

P.S. As a side bit of trivia, all the paintings and artwork for the character David were actually done by Viggo Mortensen, and his loft that he lives in in the film was borrowed from Dennis Hopper.





 
 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2015 - 6:25 AM   
 By:   jfallon   (Member)

Thanks for posting Deputy, HUGE fan of this score. Love his themes for this. He is king when scoring thrillers.

 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2015 - 7:11 AM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

Thanks for posting Deputy, HUGE fan of this score. Love his themes for this. He is king when scoring thrillers.

No problem sir! I completely agree, his thrillers are always sophisticated and exemplary models.

Thanks for posting, I was starting to think this would slip into the quicksand of lost threads with a zero reply factor. At least one post that's enthusiastic about the score makes the time and effort I put into writing my original post worth it! smile I sincerely wondered (for a long time now, in fact) if anyone else dug this score as much as I do. I never hear anyone talk about it and I think it is severely underrated. An expanded release would save this wonderful score from being lost in past score oblivion.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2015 - 7:50 AM   
 By:   jkannry   (Member)

Thanks for posting Deputy, HUGE fan of this score. Love his themes for this. He is king when scoring thrillers.

No problem sir! I completely agree, his thrillers are always sophisticated and exemplary models.

Thanks for posting, I was starting to think this would slip into the quicksand of lost threads with a zero reply factor. At least one post that's enthusiastic about the score makes the time and effort I put into writing my original post worth it! smile I sincerely wondered (for a long time now, in fact) if anyone else dug this score as much as I do. I never hear anyone talk about it and I think it is severely underrated. An expanded release would save this wonderful score from being lost in past score oblivion.

Varese owns it.

 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2015 - 10:12 AM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

Thanks for posting Deputy, HUGE fan of this score. Love his themes for this. He is king when scoring thrillers.

No problem sir! I completely agree, his thrillers are always sophisticated and exemplary models.

Thanks for posting, I was starting to think this would slip into the quicksand of lost threads with a zero reply factor. At least one post that's enthusiastic about the score makes the time and effort I put into writing my original post worth it! smile I sincerely wondered (for a long time now, in fact) if anyone else dug this score as much as I do. I never hear anyone talk about it and I think it is severely underrated. An expanded release would save this wonderful score from being lost in past score oblivion.

Varese owns it.


Yes, I am aware of that.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2015 - 10:20 AM   
 By:   BROMHEAD1   (Member)

I would buy the complete score in an instance.Great film as well.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2015 - 10:31 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

I own the Varese but would definitely upgrade to a deluxe version. Still some 90s gems to expand from JNH, Outbreak being at the top of the list for me. smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 21, 2015 - 12:16 PM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

I would buy the complete score in an instance.Great film as well.

Yeah! Love the movie. Michael Douglas at his most cold, calculating, and devious. Great star trio to lead the way and David Suchet was great as the detective. The movie looks great, too -- very slick and stylish, you could tell director Andrew Davis had a good time setting up camera angles and movements.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 22, 2015 - 9:53 AM   
 By:   varrick   (Member)

Awesome work! Could you do Just Cause next? smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 22, 2015 - 11:52 AM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

Awesome work! Could you do Just Cause next? smile

I don't remember being crazy about the cd, but I'll give it a try sometime!

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 22, 2015 - 8:16 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Shame on me for not noticing the music the one time I viewed this film, and it is scored by JNH, one of my favorite composers. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Need to see the film and pay more attention to the score in the future.

 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2015 - 9:16 AM   
 By:   Jason LeBlanc   (Member)

Slates and cue titles:

http://www.usc.edu/libraries/finding_aids/records/finding_aid.php?fa=0075

 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2015 - 11:14 AM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

Slates and cue titles:

http://www.usc.edu/libraries/finding_aids/records/finding_aid.php?fa=0075


Jason, did you even bother to read my original post, where I used the information found at the usc site (minus the slate numbers) and stated that I got my information from that site?

 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2015 - 11:41 AM   
 By:   Jason LeBlanc   (Member)

Ooops - I read the first post quickly and didn't see the slates, and stupidly assumed you didn't use the site. My apologies!

(But why not list the slates in the main post, for completeness sake?)

 
 Posted:   Mar 23, 2015 - 8:04 PM   
 By:   Shaun Rutherford   (Member)

Because nobody gives a shit about the slates?

 
 Posted:   Mar 26, 2015 - 10:28 AM   
 By:   First Breath   (Member)

Good memory from the cinema in the late 90s.

Great cue:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oXqd9sv9ak

 
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