Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Music by Elmer Bernstein
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1093 (US)
37 Tracks 52:38 mins

Airplane! is arguably the granddaddy of all the spoofs, undoubtedly one of the funniest movies ever made with so many laughs that you have to watch it many times to catch the gags you missed when you were busy laughing at the one before. It's always been a personal favourite and my late mother loved it to. When she had a spare evening it was often a toss-up between Airplane!, Pretty Woman or Dirty Dancing (she was a big Swayze fan, with Roadhouse another favourite).
But back to Airplane! Directed by David and Jerry Zucker, along with their friend Jim Abraham, the trio responsible for the creation of comedy troupe Kentucky Fried Theatre, and fresh from the success of their film Kentucky Fried Movie, the film is a perfect blend of great writing, direction, acting and yes, scoring too, with Elmer Bernstein, fresh from Animal House, the first of a succession of great comedy scores written by the composer in the 70s and 80s, playing things largely straight, with an adventurous main theme, fine dramatic writing and a great love theme. But it's not all straight, with Bernstein giving a comic spin to John Williams' Jaws theme before the titles, and great use of the Notre Dame Victory March in a finale, in which the aforementioned love theme, often enhanced by angelic female choir finds said choir hilariously struggling to hit the high notes.
All these years fans of the film and its composer have been dreaming about a proper soundtrack album (an LP was released back when the film came out, but it was disappointing for score fans in that Bernstein's music had to compete with dialogue and sound effects). Finally, La-La Land Records has done us all a huge favour by releasing the score proper, albeit in a limited edition of just 3000 copies, with numerous alternate takes featured as bonus tracks at the end of the disc, making this a really comprehensive package Although I would direct you to the label's website at where, if you are at all unfamiliar with the score, you can listen to samples, unfortunately they are already sold out, so you may have to scout around for a copy; but do persevere.
As with all the label's releases, a quality booklet accompanies the disc, with Dan Goldwasser's detailed notes on both film and score, with contributions from the filmmakers and orchestrator David Spear and mixer Dan Wallin reminiscing about the recording of the score.
Yet another title to cross off my wish list - film score collectors have never had it so good!


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