Category Archives: Film / Tv / Theater Review

Better Call My Cousin Vinny

I don’t care what your political persuasion is; the reference to one of my all-time favorite comedies gave me a chuckle. Where’s My Cousin Vinny and Mona Lisa Vito when you need them?

Courtesy of Bramhall’s World (New York Daily News, Feb.11, 2021)

Song of the Day #1843

Song of the Day: The Russia House (“Soundtrack Suite”), composed by Jerry Goldsmith, ends our four-day salute (within our Film Music February tribute) to one of the greats of the “art of the score.” This suite derives from the 1990 film based on the novel by John Le Carre (who died in December 2020), starring Sean Connery (who died in October 2020). Back in 2008, I highlighted the soaring love theme to this film (“Alone in the World” [mp3]—delivered with perfection by my sister-in-law, Joanne Barry, accompanied by jazz guitarists Jack Wilkins and my bro, Carl Barry). Interestingly, the main theme owed its origins to earlier work that Goldsmith had done for “Wall Street” (1987) and then, for “Alien Nation” (1988)—both times, rejected! This profoundly moving jazz-infused score, which features the virtuoso saxophonist Branford Marsalis throughout, is a testament to Goldsmith’s genius.

Song of the Day #1842

Song of the Day: Poltergeist (“Soundtrack Suite”) [YouTube link], composed by Jerry Goldsmith, continues our four-day salute to this great film score maestro. This suite, derived from his 1982 Oscar-nominated score to one of the best supernatural horror films, shows the enormous breadth of moods and motifs that Goldsmith typically delivered. The score lost out to one of the great triumphs of John Williams’s career (“E.T. the Extra Terrestrial“), but it’s with a little irony that it arose out of a collaboration with the director of that other film: Steven Spielberg.

Song of the Day #1841

Song of the Day: Gremlins 2 (“Soundtrack Suite”) [YouTube link] was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who was born on this date in 1929. Having composed the score to the original “Gremlins” (1984), he returned in 1990 to compose the score to its sequel, “Gremlins 2: The New Batch.” Opening with a bow to that classic “Merrie Melodies” cartoon theme [YouTube link], this soundtrack suite captures a “new batch” of cues, some macabre, some comedic, all perfectly integrated.

Song of the Day #1840

Song of the Day: Gremlins 1 (“Soundtrack Suite”) [YouTube link], composed by the late Jerry Goldsmith, features highlights from this 1984 comedy-horror hybrid. It embodies elements of both genres. Today begins a four-day celebration of the wonderful Goldsmith and his artistry. He has composed some of my all-time favorite scores, from “Alien,” “The Omen,” and “Planet of the Apes” to “Chinatown” and “L.A. Confidential.” Tomorrow marks the 92nd anniversary of Goldsmith’s birth.

Song of the Day #1839

Song of the Day: Jaws (“One Barrel Chase”) [YouTube link], composed by John Williams, begins with an echo of that ominous “shark” theme before bursting into the sounds of a seafaring adventure. This is one of the best cues from the Oscar-winning soundtrack to Steven Spielberg‘s suspenseful 1975 film (and it’s also one of my—and my sister’s [Ski!]—favorite movies!). Today is the Maestro’s 89th birthday and what better way to celebrate it than with a selection from one of his most iconic scores. Check out the scene that this music gallantly captures [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1838

Song of the Day: Mighty Joe Young (“Main Title”) [YouTube link], composed by Roy Webb, opens the original 1949 version of this classic fantasy film, created by the folks who brought us the original “King Kong” (including producer and writer Merriam C. Cooper and special effects Wiz, Willis O’Brien, and his protege, Ray Harryhausen). It even stars Robert Armstrong, who plays a character very much like Kong’s Carl Denham. At least this one has a happier ending for the ape! And here’s to a Mighty ending for the winning team in today’s Super Bowl LV.

Song of the Day #1836

Song of the Day: Airport 1975 (“Main Title”) [YouTube link], composed by John Cacavas, opens the second installment in the “Airport” film series, inspired by the original Arthur Hailey novel (and 1970 film). George Kennedy (as Joe Patroni) was the only actor to star in all four films of the series (not counting the 1980 parody film, Airplane!). This 1974 film starred Charlton Heston, Karen Black, and Gloria Swanson (as herself) in her last film role. Not nearly as fine a production as its predecessor, it nevertheless went on to become the seventh highest-grossing film of 1974. And it sports an elegant main title.

Song of the Day #1835

Song of the Day: Marty (“Hey, Marty”) [YouTube link] features the music of Harry Warren (who was once characterized on TCM by Michael Feinstein as the most successful writer of popular songs in the twentieth century!) and the lyrics of Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote the screenplay for this 1955 Best Picture (based on his 1953 teleplay). Ernest Borgnine in the title role earned a Best Actor Oscar. The theme can be heard in varied orchestrations penned by Roy Webb throughout the film, but the song itself can be heard over the end credits.