Hit & Run

Jerry Goldsmith, RIP


A rousing end-credits fanfare for my favorite composer of movie scores. This Reuters story perversely identifies him as "'Rambo' composer Jerry Goldsmith." Though I'm a fan of both Goldsmith and the Rambo franchise, this was not among his better efforts. I sang Jerry's praises in a discussion a while back, so in honor of his death you can reread my comments at no additional charge:

John Williams couldn't hold Jerry Goldsmith's jockstrap. In a lot of ways Goldsmith is Williams's b-side, and in fact in some cases Goldsmith would do the music for the less prestigious of back-to-back Spielberg productions (Poltergeist, for example, while Williams got E.T.) He's been tarred by doing a lot of work on bad films—often a Goldsmith score is the only reason to see a movie—and is not unreasonably considered a hack.

Since I admire hacks, I'll make the case for Goldsmith. He's produced countless memorable scores in every style imaginable: waltz (The Boys From Brazil), march (Patton), tango (Six Degrees of Separation), avant-garde suite (Planet of the Apes), Ravel/DeBussy-type fantasia (incidental music in Poltergeist), ersatz church chant (The Omen), innumerable variations on Richard Rodgers's Victory at Sea music (he's the go-to man for commando/special forces pictures), novelty/merry-go-round music (Gremlins) and so on. Even when he clips a score, as he did in taking Leonard Bernstein's On the Waterfront for L.A. Confidential, he makes sure to steal a good one.

Make mine Jerry!