From killers to killer hair, television fantasy vies with action films in this week’s “Lost in the Shuffle.”
MALONE (1987) – Malone Hugs Jo[audio:malone.mp3]
I’m not a fan of Burt Reynolds, but I do give him props for his lengthy career. His days as a box office draw had come to an end by the mid-80s and his performance as an ex-CIA hit-man in MALONE went unnoticed. While Burt’s career was on the downward slide, David Newman‘s was just beginning. His score for MALONE thankfully doesn’t rely heavily on the synths and drum patches that were so common in 80s film music, which keeps the music sounding remarkably fresh for a genre score like this one. This cue presents the tender love theme in the oboe and strings.
ONE LITTLE INDIAN (1973) – Outwit the Posse[audio:onelittleindian.mp3]
I was the same age as 11-year-old co-star Jodie Foster when this minor Disney live action effort was released, but I had already moved on past the Mouse House’s family fare to more exciting films like THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and THE STING. This Western stars James Garner as a cavalry soldier and his adventures with a camel and a little boy. Though I’ve never seen the film, I have no problem unequivocally stating that the best element of the film has to be Jerry Goldsmith‘s score. Goldsmith was going through a fertile creative period in the 70s and this film benefits from that creativity with a memorable main theme (here slowed down and sensitively played in the guitar with lovely countermelodies in the clarinet and oboe), fun orchestrations in the percussion (especially the guiro), and an energy and talent that is distinctly Goldsmith.
HELL TOUPEE (1986) – Toupee Shop/Change Your Life[audio:helltoupee.mp3]
I never watched any of the episodes of AMAZING STORIES, but I bless that show for giving major composers like David Shire more work. In this entry, a defense attorney is nervous when his client, a mild-mannered accountant, invests in a strange toupee and feels compelled to murder the first lawyer he sees. Listening to the rest of this brief score, I’m not sure whether the episode is meant to be horrifying or tongue in cheek. In this track, Shire combines orchestral forces and electronic elements with some creepy minor-key music, which I suppose makes sense when you’ve got a rug with murderous tendencies.
ATLANTIS: THE LOST CONTINENT (1961) – Rebellion and Murder/Search/Trumpets[audio:atlantislostcontinent.mp3]
Russell Garcia wrote a melodically rich score for George Pal’s THE TIME MACHINE in 1960. The following year, Pal brought Garcia back for his latest fantasy about the lost city of Atlantis. While not quite as memorable as the earlier score, there are treasures to be found under the sea. In this cue, which occurs late in the film, Garcia borrows from his own TIME MACHINE Morlocks’ music for some syncopated action music, followed by lush harp arpeggios and a brief statement of the beautiful main theme in the oboe.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978) – Main Title[audio:battlestargalactica.mp3]
In the wake of STAR WARS, studios were scrambling for sci-fi fare and Universal Studios quickly greenlit BATTLESTAR GALACTICA for television. I fondly remember this short-lived series from my high school years. I couldn’t tell you what any of the episodes were about, but I’ve never forgotten Stu Phillips‘s rousing main title theme. From its brass fanfare accompaniment to its soaring string theme, they just don’t write television music like this anymore. Phillips’s electronic KNIGHT RIDER music may be more popular with kids of the 80s, and Bear McCreary’s music for the recently shuttered BATTLESTAR GALACTICA has its rabid fans. But for eight months in 1978-1979, Phillips ruled the airwaves…at least in the Lochner household.