Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Love Theme From Roman Polanski's "Chinatown."

The score to Roman Polanski's movie "Chinatown" is quite beautiful and, amazingly, was written in only ten days. Robert Evans, the producer, threw away the original score that had been prepared for the film, called veteran Hollywood composer Jerry Goldsmith and asked him if he could do the entire score for the movie -- in ten days. Goldsmith did, and the result is a beautiful score, starting with the Love Theme (below).

Jerry Goldsmith has written the soundtracks for an astonishing number of films, just a few of which are listed below:

Air Force One
Basic Instinct
Boys from Brazil
Breakheart Pass
City Hall
Executive Decision
First Knight
In Harm's Way
L.A. Confidential
The Last Castle
Lillies of the Field
List of Adrian Messenger
Mr. Baseball
Not Without My Daughter
The Omen
Night Crossing
A Patch of Blue
Planet of the Apes
The Prize
The Russia House
The Sand Pebbles
Six Degrees of Separation
Sleeping With The Enemy
Wind And The Lion


  1. The real genius on the soundtrack of Chinatown is the great trumpet player Uan Rasey, who improvised and played his own solos, as usual. Everything else on the album is relatively ordinary.

  2. Jacob: The trumpet is spectacular, you are right. Thanks for providing the name of the trumpet player, who deserves our gratitude.

    I like the whole score, and (appropriately) love the Love Theme. I don't know how someone can create music to convey a doomed love affair, but that's what I hear. Cursed from the beginning, not a chance of a long-term success. Tragic love in every note.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment.

  3. I also love the whole score, and of course Jerry Goldsmith is a first-rate film composer, but sometimes it drives me crazy that nobody ever heard of Uan Rasey outside the Thirty Mile Zone. It's also really a testament to Robert Evans that he had the balls to reject the first score, ten days before deadline, and go for eternal glory with Jerry and Uan.

    I burned an mp3 of another version of the Love Theme, by Till Bronner, off his album Oceana, with the intention of sending it you, but I can't find an email address, so...

    If you email me at jacobfreeze at gmail dot com, I'll attach the mp3 to a reply. In some ways it just makes me appreciate the original even more, but Till Bronner also does something beautiful with the theme, IMHO. (I have to say the ending is sort of abrupt, just so you don't think I screwed up the recording.)

    Anyway, it's great to encounter another fan. I was thinking about this music two or three days ago, and when I followed your link from Open Left, there it was!

  4. You mentioned in your email that you're listening to Aaron Copland, and we must be on some kind of symmetrical event-loop, because one day later I was watching a very weird and rare Actors-Studio movie from 1961, "Something Wild," and this thing had a score by... Aaron Copland!

    In a way the movie is like some minimalist Italian existential drama, with Carol Baker ("Baby Doll") walking and walking and walking the very bleak cinema-verite streets of New York, with crazy skittering music by Aaron Copland, and it's also like a campy travesty of the same.

    There's even a great back-story about the director, Jack Garfein, married to Carol Baker and feuding with Elia Kazan, as described in the Village Voice, and there's even Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton) playing one heck of a floozy!

    And it's still terrible!

  5. Jacob: I have never heard of that movie, but I will track it down. Wow. 1961. It sounds wonderful -- in that horrible kind of way. Carol Baker -- wasn't she like the Tuesday Weld type? A little rough, blond, the B-movie bad girl? Edith Bunker!! It sounds like a riot.

    And yes, I like to post a "music" post, usually on Fridays, about some singer, group, composer -- modern, ancient, I don't care -- just some music I like, something of interest or maybe beauty. So Aaron Copland is probably next Friday, way high on my list. I love his work, so beautiful. Along with so many others. But I hadn't looked at the film score side of his work. Just like today, people have to earn a living and do their "good" work on the side.

  6. And thanks for the recording, it was beautiful. Loved the piano, too.

  7. I could not stop watching that movie! Ten or fifteen minutes of absolute nullity would go by, and just when I picked up the remote to turn it off... something freakish would occur, and I felt like my eyes were literally bugging out of my head! Tedium tedium tedium... and then suddenly Ralph Meeker is down on all fours and he's shaking himself like a big groggy dog!

    Or Caroll Baker gets a job at Woolworths and it's tedium tedium tedium... and then suddenly she's mobbed by the other cashiers! A poking, shoving, shrieking mob of cashiers! Who ever saw such a thing?

    And ten seconds later it's over, and tedium tedium tedium... and then Edith Bunker is tickling some bare-chested teenage boy with a feather duster, and pouring whiskey on his head!

    Something Wild! It isn't so much a movie as a crazy accident that befalls the viewer!

  8. BTW the pianist with Till Bronner is Jim Cox, who shows up in all sorts of strange venues, from Aerosmith (Just Push Play) to big-budget soundtracks (The Majestic).

  9. The thing is, there was such an explosion of creativity in film, music, art, politics, I guess coming out of the repression of the 50s. And yes, some of it went sideways, or seems laughable today. But the creativity was there. Compared to so much of the pre-packaged everything today. Summer shoot-em-up car-crash-and-gore movies designed to teach 14 year old boys to want to kill, and music designed to teach 14 year old girls to want to buy. But maybe that's always the bulk of what's produced -- pap -- and the work of value emerges over time, when everything else falls away. I'm going to find that movie and watch it.

    I saw a Robert Mitchum film recently, also maybe early 60s. I don't remember the name. Black and white, very dark. Great photography. He comes to NYC from the midwest, getting a divorce, meets a girl -- man, it was a brutal, dark picture of NYC. No wonder people thought it was a terrible place. But it was a really good movie, good for the period. Interesting. Somebody was making an effort. I'll find the name and post it here.

  10. Two for the Seesaw. The poster makes it look like it's a light romantic comedy, but it is dark dark dark. I really liked it. Shirley McLaine. Directed by Robert Wise. Very different film. Somebody forgot the cookie-cutter.