Here is a return to the good old double-feature which some people will tell
you just isn't economically viable. Well it happened with Jerry Goldsmith's
Capricorn One / Outland, both of which had previously been
issued as single LPs, but this disc goes one further by combining two previously
never-fully-released-before soundtracks from the composer's back catalogue.
As with all Film Score Monthly releases, great care and attention has been
lavished in the production, with detailed notes putting everything in context,
a decent selection of stills, and most importantly of all, very good sound
The first half of the disc (tracks 1-17) comprises the score to a 1967 comedy
staring George C. Scott and Michael Sarrazin. The Film-Flam Man (released
in the UK as One Born Every Minute) was a comedy drama about the
relationship between an ageing con man and his young protégé.
The setting was small-town America, and the film, which was a box-office
failure, appears to have been one of several late 60's, early 70's films,
from The Skin Game to The Sting, to explore similar territory.
It was directed by Irvin Kershner, who apart from The Empire Strikes
Back, was one of Hollywood's most consistently disappointing film makers.
He would later work with Jerry Goldsmith again on 1974's S*P*Y*S.
The music is in a very folksy, country-blues idiom, with much use made of
harmonica and banjo, with often a lightweight, playful feel, set against
tracks of more pastoral, whimsical beauty. This is rather more carefree and
more lavishly orchestrated, but essentially in a similar vein to Goldsmith's
classic A Patch of Blue (1965). The country-fair, slapstick burlesque
writing is very evocative of American comedies of the period (It's A Mad,
Mad, Mad, Mad World by Ernst Gold comes to mind), and while less attractive
on disc than the more romantic writing, is inventively scored and arranged,
and full of witty touches.
A lot of work has gone into bringing this music to disc. Fortunately all
the master elements survived, allowing a new stereo mix to be created. Originally
the orchestra tracks and the 'tack piano' - actually a conventional piano
with the tape speeded-up - were recorded separately and edited together for
the film. Additionally the scoring calls for harp, guitars, marimba, assorted
wooden percussion and triangle. Synchronising the orchestra, banjo and harmonica
with the tape of the honky-tonk sounding piano had actually proved too difficult
for The Tribute to Jerry Goldsmith CD released in 1993, so that certain
parts of the score were omitted from that issue. Here, for the first time,
all the music has been assembled, and a fine job producer, mixer and editor
Douglass Fake has made of it too. This is a production to be celebrated,
with a very clear and well defined sound-stage offering a refined musical
The second half of the album (tracks 18-33) presents the music from A
Girl Named Sooner, a well loved TV Movie from 1975. The music has been
mastered from the only source available, first generation mono tapes. There
is some harshness, particularly to louder flute passages, but generally the
sound is very good, again with lots of detail. Making this a particularly
rewarding disc, this second score is another in a similar vein to A Patch
of Blue. Here the comedy is absent, leaving a gossamer filigree of Southern
wistfulness. Written the year after Papillon, there is something of
the character of the more poetic music from that score, while the instrumentation
is much the same as on The Flim-Flam Man, the 'tack piano' excepted.
Small hints of what was to come in Logan's Run (1976), can also be
spotted, though one caveat is that many of the tracks are very short, and
even within tracks, the scoring is often quite fragmented.
Melodically accomplished, and above all subtle, with a real sense
of musical texture and dynamics, this is an album all Goldsmith fans will
want to acquire, but which should particularly be music to the ears of those
who feel that today the composer's writing suffers from a surfeit of bombast.
I'm not one of them, but I can see the point; the scores here offering film
music from the days before composers were forced to compete with every
sound-effect being presented in deafening DTS.
Gary S. Dalkin
[This CD is available exclusively from the magazine and website
(www.filmscoremonthly.com) for $19.95 plus shipping: Film Score Monthly,
8503 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA90232. Phone: 310-253-9595; Fax:
310-253-9588; Lukas@filmscoremonthly.com ]