FSCT Playlist #6 – Nail ‘Em Up!

Given the topic of my “9 on the 9th” post this month, it should come as no surprise that most of last week’s playlist was spent listening to James Horner. For the Horner scores with no links, just click over to the “9 on the 9th” post for audio clips.

Like I said in the post, it was a pleasant few weeks in Horner’s company. But if I have to hear another Prokofiev quote, snare drum riff or danger motif, I’m going to pour hot wax in my ears.

  • ALL THE KING’S MEN (2006, James Horner)
  • TESTAMENT (1983, James Horner)
  • THE PELICAN BRIEF (1993, James Horner)—It’s not hard to notice the APOLLO 13 similarities.
    [audio:pelicanbrief.mp3]
  • METROPOLIS (1927, Gottfried Huppertz)—Review coming soon.
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011, Alan Silvestri)—Review coming soon.
  • BRAINSTORM (1983, James Horner)—Horner in early ’80s action mode.
  • COCOON (1985, James Horner)—Horner in early ’80s sweet mode. Probably more familiar now from the SUPER 8 trailer.
  • DEEP IMPACT (1998, James Horner)—An underrated Horner score that came close to making the list.
  • A BETTER LIFE (2011, Alexandre Desplat)—A Desplat score that will probably slip through the cracks this year but shouldn’t.
  • FIELD OF DREAMS (1989, James Horner)—The electronics sound dated when heard outside of the film.

  • GLORY (1989, James Horner)—For years I’ve treasured the score for GLORY. I love the movie and think the music adds a lot to the power of the film. I don’t think I’ve listened to it since I wrote my piece on IVAN THE TERRIBLE for FSMO years ago. I simply can’t listen to the score anymore without getting physically angry at Horner’s ripoff of Prokofiev’s IVAN theme. If he’d credited him, I might let it slide. Horner acknowledges Prokofiev’s influence on his music, but this complete ripoff in melody, rhythm and harmonic structure of Prokofiev’s music is shameful. So much good in the score is now ruined for me by his shameless plagiarism. I’m not sure I’ll ever listen to the score ever again. And that makes me unbelievably sad.
  • THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN (1985, James Horner)—Horner channels Elmer Bernstein and pulls it off admirably, though why Bernstein’s original score was rejected for a copy is beyond me.
  • SUPER 8 (2011, Michael Giacchino)
  • IRIS (2001, James Horner)
  • THE ROCKETEER (1991, James Horner)—Thoroughly enjoyable Horner score that almost made the list.
  • WILLOW (1988, James Horner)
  • STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982, James Horner)
  • SNEAKERS (1992, James Horner)—Charming theme (though I’m not a fan of the soprano sax sound) but dated.
  • STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984, James Horner)—Not as much fun as Khan, but arguably more complex and a tad more subtle…just a tad.
  • MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT (1994, Geoffrey Burgon)—I’m in the middle of reading Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers and needed some appropriate musical backdrop. The music is pleasant enough, if not particularly distinguished. Not on the level of Burgon’s Brideshead Revisited.
  • SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN (2011, Rachel Portman)—Can this woman not write lovely music?
  • WINNIE THE POOH (2011, Henry Jackman)—Review coming soon.

What scores were on your playlist last week?

7 comments

  1. I think you’re being a bit harsh on Horner. I mean, I know his stuff forwards and backwards, inside and out, and as such, I know the Horner pain of which you speak. Buuuut… Everyone lifts. Everyone. Horner has Goldsmith and Prokofiev; John Williams has Ralph Vaughan Williams and Stravinsky. Everyone else has Holst. Horner seems to have trouble with action cues, since those seem to be where he lifts from most liberally, but everything else is so good, so moving, that I forgive him.

    Also, I think your capsule review of Sneakers is unwarranted – it’s a wonderful score, and is still relevant! The cue ‘Cosmo…My Friend’ is stunning in the way it plays against Ben Kingsley’s soliloquy. Brilliant use of the alto sax (and Branford Marsalis).

    1. Yes, I’ll grant you that most everyone lifts somewhat. If Horner wants to lift from himself, have at it. Keep going with those snare drum riffs and danger motifs. To me, it’s lazy writing, but they’re usually effective within the context of the score. But that particular Prokofiev quote really sticks in my craw. If Prokofiev was alive, he would have made a mint taking Horner to court. Musicians have been fined for a whole lot less.

      As for SNEAKERS, my review is based on only hearing the score 3-4 times and a particular instrument I don’t normally care for. I still think the score sounds dated and ’90s, which I’m sure is appropriate. I’ve never seen the film. Perhaps I’d change my view if I heard it in context.

      All these caveats asides, I still enjoyed my tour through Horner territory far more than I expected. And I certainly won’t mind going back. For me, that’s saying something. :)

  2. I agree with you, he is lazy (but also incredibly prolific). But I’ll take him over Zimmer any day of the week, and twice on Sunday!

  3. I just got the exquisite blu-ray version of THE EGYPTIAN from FSM yesterday, so I listened to the Stromberg re-recording of this lush score before watching the film. I’m assuming that the new Varese 2-disc, complete score recording, due next week, uses the isolated score tracks found on this disc, so I’ve pre-ordered that gem. Newman and Herrmann blend so well!

    NOVECENTO (1900) – A new, region-2, Italian blu-ray release contains the 5-hour director’s cut for the 30th anniversary of the film. The grand Ennnio Morricone score CD made for a nice intermission break. Bernardo Bertolucci at his most excessive; the film has aged very well.

    CAMILLE 200 – Radley Metzger’s evocative, Eurotrash, erotic opus from the 60’S in a new extended-cut blu-ray is sweet. Piero Piccioni did the score and the CD is bachelor-pad nirvana.

    I also listened to PRIDE AND THE PASSION by George Antheil, and KINGS GO FORTH by Elmer Bernstein, on the new Kritzerland CD.

    1. I’m looking forward to my Blu-ray of THE EGYPTIAN and the Varese release of the score as well. (That will make three versions of that score in my collection. Oy, what we do for film music…)

  4. Honestly, other then those 7 notes in Andante sostenuto, that’s all Ivan the Terrible in common with Horner’s Glory theme. Horner made a whole new song out of an 8 second long section. I don’t know if that warrants plagiarism complaints (at least not your over-the-tio”I cannot ever listen to this song ever again!!” reaction)

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