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Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar for Santaolalla & CD REVIEW: The Last Run

Congratulations to Gustavo Santaolalla who was awarded his second best score Oscar in a row for his music to Babel. This of course follows last year's triumph for Brokeback Mountain. Santaolalla of course also won the BAFTA recently in London.

The Last Run (plus Crosscurrent & The Scorpio Letters)
Music by Jerry Goldsmith and Dave Grusin
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.20 (USA)
34 Tracks 79:23 mins

The Last Run was a George C. Scott thriller from 1971, a pretty unremarkable film for which Jerry Goldsmith (as he so often did) provided an excellent score that was well represented on the re-recorded LP released at the time. As was often the case at the time, the album was produced in such a way as to make as rewarding a listening experience as possible, with the result that some of the cues differ somewhat from what you hear in the film. Not only this but there is actually more music on the album than in the film, including a vocal of the main theme, with lyrics by Mack David and Mike Curb, performed by Steve Lawrence
Goldsmith's score for this film has long been one of his unsung masterpieces, and a personal favourite. His lonely, fateful, but melodic main theme if often voiced by cimbalom or electric guitar, with a flowing harpsichord backing, though it is heard in a variety of arrangements throughout, all of them with something to offer. "Border crossing" is a funky piece of travel music that turns threatening at the end. "Spanish Coast" is a wonderful piece, initially for acoustic guitar, but then blossoming with orchestra. "Rickard escapes" is an exciting action cue, again with flowing harpsichord accompaniment. "Yo Te Amo" was actually written as a source piece, and very little of it is heard in the film, but here Goldsmith expands it into a lovely, lush number. "The Trap" completes the film's action sequences, commencing with flowing harpsichord again, but replaced by flute in the later stages. This is a great listen and if you haven't got the original album, or if you just want to update to CD, get a hold of your copy now.
Goldsmith strangely found film work hard to find in the early '70s and made a return to TV scoring. One such project he took on in 1971 was the thriller Crosscurrent (known in the UK as The Cable Car Murder). Not only was it a difficult time workwise, but also in his private life, with a result that his main theme for the film, a strange, rhythmic mover, is almost identical to that which he went on to compose for Escape From the Planet of the Apes. The whole score is under 12 minutes long, and this includes alternate versions of the tense action cue "Moose Chase." Throughout, Goldsmith only utilises piano, harpsichord, Yamaha organ, seven percussionists and three guitarists, but fans of the composer's unusual rhythms will find all 12 minutes riveting.
Would that the disc could have closed with more Goldsmith music for his TV assignments of this time, but instead we get Dave Grusin's score for the 1967 TV movie The Scorpion Letters, which shares the same director as Crosscurrent, Jerry Thorpe.
Grusin was writing music for The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. TV series at the time and his action music bears some resemblance for that which he wrote for the adventures of April Dancer. The score is based on two themes, the first a largely warm, romantic piece for flute; the second a propulsive theme, again flute-lead, for the film's detective hero, played by Alex Cord. These themes crop up throughout the 37-minute score, which is pretty routine and jazz-pop styled, as was the fad of the time.
As with all FSM releases, the disc is accompanied by a splendid booklet, with plenty of stills from the three productions, plus detailed notes and cue-by-cue guides courtesy of Lukas Kendall, Alexander Kaplan and Jon Burlingame.


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