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Saturday, April 17, 2010


Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Music by Miles Goodman
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1127 (US)
18 Tracks 39:30 mins

The late Miles Goodman was especially adept at scoring comedies, which is why I am not as familiar with his music as perhaps I should be. But, for those in the know, his score for 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, based on the 1964 comedy Bedtime Story, which starred David Niven and Marlon Brando as a couple of con men on the French Riviera, is one of his finest efforts. This updating of the premise stars Steve Martin and Michael Caine, and is directed by Frank Oz. I did see the film many years ago, but can barely recall it or its score; but then few comedies make a lasting impression on me - I'm more a dramatic kind of guy!
A key feature of Goodman's score for the film is his use of jazzy Stephan Grappelli-like violin solos, courtesy of Jerry Goodman (no relation), former violinist of The Flock and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, whose delivery is so spot-on, you really would think you're listening to Grappelli. Goodman's work can be heard from the off in "Prologue/Dirty Rotten theme," which is something of a comic waltz, with also a circusy feel. The waltz theme continues into "Zurich/Ciao," where it reaches dizzying heights, before assuming comic sneakiness. The theme is subsequently heard at the heart of most tracks, either in suitably sneaky, of full-blown caperesque mode as the con artists go about their work.
There's also the "Ruprecht Tango," which should be self-explanatory; and some, by turns, tender and elegant romance in "The Bet/Dirty Rotten Rolls;" "From Here to Infirmity;" "Soap Queen;" "Janet Airport/Auf Weiderzen," the latter, as you can imagine, somewhat bittersweet; and "Coup De Grace;" as well as a big awe-filled cue "Miracle of Life," the moment enhanced by wordless choir.
Goodman also incorporates three standards from the American Songbook in his score: "Pick Yourself Up," "Puttin' on the Ritz," and "We're in the Money;" all of which give Jerry Goodman the opportunity to shine in swinging big band arrangements. And there's a tinkling music box-like rendition of "La Donna E Mobile," which is eventually taken up by orchestra for its conclusion; together with a brief very '80s quote of Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky."
The "End Credits" gives the composer a final chance to reprise all his major thematic material to end proceedings on a satisfyingly uplifting note.
Whilst comedy scores are not my normal choice of listening, I have to say that I was totally won over by this delightful offering, which is well worth resurrecting, and kudos to La-La Land for doing so.
Accompanying the disc is the usual high-quality booklet, featuring stills from the film, full musician credits, and Randall D. Larson's essay on the film, its composer and score, including cue-by-cue guide. Go to for samples and to order your copy of this limited edition of just 1200 units.


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