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Editor's Choice:

Best of the Month
June 2009

 

Sammy Award for Best Bronze Age Film Score CD of 2009

 

 

 

TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983)

MusicComposed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith

26 Tracks (Total Playing Time = 79:10)

 

Original album produced by Bruce Botnick. Orchestrations by Arthur Morton. Music Editor: Ken Hall. Music recorded at the Burbank Studios, Burbank, California. Recording mixed by Bruce Botnick and Robert Fernandez. Recorded by Jerry Crawford, Bill Gernand, and Neal Spritz. Digitally recorded and edited by Digital Mechanics, Hollywood, California. Original disk mastering engineered by Bernie Grundman at A&M Records, Hollywood, California. Also includes “Main Title” from THE TWILIGHT ZONE by Marius Constant, and music by Carl Stalling.

“Nights are Forever” sung by Jennifer Warnes with background vocals by Wendy Waldman and Joseph Williams. Music by Jerry Goldsmith and lyrics by John Bettis. Arranged by James Newton Howard. Produced by Bruce Botnick and James Newton Howard. Recorded by Bruce Botnick at Warner Bros. Recording Studios, North Hollywood, California.

"Anesthesia” performed by 213. Music and lyrics by Joseph Williams and Paul Gordon. Produced by Bruce Botnick and James Newton Howard.

Re-issue produced by Lukas Kendall and Mike Mattessino. Analog-to-digital transfers by John Davis, Precision AudioSonics, Hollywood, California. Score restoration and assembly by Mike Mattessino. Digital mastering by Bruce Botnick at Uniteye Studios, Ojai, California. CD Art direction by Joe Sikoryak, designWELL, Berkeley, California. Cover artwork by John Alvin.

Film Score Monthly Silver Age Classics Vol. 12/ No. 7

Rating: ****

 

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the original TWILIGHT ZONE TV series, which premiered in October of 1959, this is a most welcome release of the full score for one of Jerry Goldsmith's best scores of the 1980s.

In keeping with the format of Rod Serling's original TV series, the film is broken up into four stories or episodes. Three of them were written by veteran TWILIGHT ZONE TV writers. "Time Out" was the only one with a story written and directed by John Landis. The other three stories are: "Kick the Can" (directed by Stephen Spielberg); "It's A Good Life" (directed by Joe Dante); and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (directed by George Miller). What unifies all four stories is Goldsmith's wonderfully inventive score, sometimes raw and rhythmically jagged, other times softly nostalgic.

The first story ("Time Out") is effectively filmed and stars a perfectly cast Vic Morrow, who tragically was killed in a helicopter accident during the filming. I believe Goldsmith's score for this story (tracks 2-3) is just right for the raw depiction of what happens to the Vic Morrow character.

The next story ("Kick the Can" - tracks 4-8) features one of Goldsmith's most sensitvive slow themes, first heard on track 4 , "Harp and Love" (1:27). This beautiful impressionistic theme is used throughout this story, the one I believe to be the best rendered of the original stories. It features the exuberant and wonderfully likable Scatman Crothers as Mr. Bloom, and he does in fact make people grow into something else! Goldsmith's music for this story is to my mind the most memorable of all four stories.

The third story ("It's A Good Life") has the goofiest story and the music that accompanies is just as goofy with Goldsmith all sorts of funny devices to suit the story's telling of a young boy's bizarre behavior. For example, on track 11 ("Cartoon Monster"), Goldsmith uses standard cartoon-like instrumentation, like cowbells, a whoopy-cushion whistle and an antique car horn. His score helps keep this rather silly and overly stylized story from becoming pure trash. Still, it does suffer from the heavy-handed direction and overacting by some of the cast.

That brings us to the fourth and last story ("Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"). This is one of the best remembered of original TZ stories and originally starred William Shatner. For the film the character of John Valentine is played by a supercharged John Lithgow, who really relishes this juicy part. As the CD notes tell us:, "Goldsmith's score for the segment ranks as one of the great accomplishments of his career, a virtual primer in scoring suspense and a mini-masterpiece of psychological accompaniment." Yes, that's mostly true, though I don't really know what a "mini-masterpiece" might sound like. This episode is surely the most suspenseful of the four and director George Miller pulls out all the stops to keep it chugging along at a breakneck speed, just like the airplane traveling along at the high altitude. I believe it is not as successful as "Kick the Can" in its story depiction, but Goldsmith's music is thrilling to listen to.

The 28 page full color CD booklet is beautifully designed and printed, with mug shots of the four directors and scenes from the episodes in the film. It also contains some fascinating insights from Goldsmith's recording engineer, Bruce Botnick. At the beginning of the booklet is a touching tribute written by Rod Sterling's widow, Carol, from the original LP Liner Notes. She writes that: "The score creates a dynamic and melodic roadway that lead us through the several episodes of the movie. The thematic material covers a vast range of moods, sometimes buoyant and brilliant, sometimes lively and lyrical, sometimes compelling and chilling, but always full of magic." I believe she has nicely summarized the best assets of Goldsmith's brilliant score.

This is yet another winner for Film Score Monthly on their long list of excellent vintage score restorations.

If you're a Goldsmith fan, you'll definitely want to add this one to your collection.

Even if you're not a TWILIGHT ZONE fan, this score should bring much enjoyable listening, demonstrating this film music master working his special skill "full of magic."

I am pleased to name this exceptional CD release of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE as Best of the Month for June.

-- Roger Hall, 19 June 2009

Jerry Goldsmith (1929 -2004) was named for a Lifetime Achievement Sammy Award in 2008.

 

And now -

Here is another opinion...

 

Film Score Monthly Silver Age Classics Vol. 12/ No. 7

Rating: ****

 

TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983) was one of those projects that was always rumored about but which took a while to come to fruition. When it finally made it, the classic television series creator, Rod Serling, had since died. The project was spearheded by Steven Spielberg, recovering after a disastrous flop (1941), and John Landis. George Miller and Joe Dante filled out the rest of the director talent. The film was marred early on by a Hollywood-policy changing disaster when Vic Morrow and two young children were killed in a horrible on-set helicopter crash whose court case lived on far past the premiere of the film itself. Four stories were told with a bookend sequence featuring Dan Ackroyd rounding off the film. Three of the stories were essentially episode remakes. The film has many highlights including a standout paranoid performance by John Lithgow (revisiting a classic episode that originally starred William Shatner), and a heartwarming story of recaptured youth featuring Scatman Crothers.

There is of course the music by Jerry Goldsmith at the height of his career. Goldsmith was one of the original composers who provided music for the television series, though not these particular episodes. It gave him a chance to show off various sides of his musical personality. Unlike the hard-to-find reissue of the original LP on CD, this new Film Score Monthly presentation allows us to hear the score as intended. The disc is presented first in film order with the final alternates for the album edits being provided as a concluding portion of the disc (making an almost 2-for-1 release).

Goldsmith often programmed the “Overture” from this score in concert and recorded it as well. It turns out that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The most noticeable addition to disc is the music composed for “Time Out” (the story featuring the extremely racist Vic Morrow character with tables turned). The eight or nine minutes of the score are fairly minimal cast in a sort of PLANET OF THE APES atonal style with piano, percussion, and synth serving as the aural components of the score. “Kick the Can” features the composer writing in a more romantic Americana style with beautiful intimate music and heartwrenching melodic ideas. It is the music most prominent in the “Overture” and it turns out that it was just the tip of much wonderful music. “It’s a Good Life” finds the composer exploring the bizarre antics of a little boy who can “do things.” The parallel cartoon atmosphere of the story finds music by Stalling leaping of the small screen and into the main score along with plenty of scares. The album material appears to have expanded more of the cartoonish music than what appears in the score proper. The music here is an apt companion to the maestro’s last score, LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION. The other highlight of the disc is the music from “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” Here, Goldsmith creates a wonderful ebb and flow to underscore the tension of a passenger who “sees something out there on the wing.” The disjunct solo violin line, revisited by Goldsmith for GREMLINS (of which the theme is a very close cousin), helps to give the proper off-kilter sound needed. It perfectly matches Lithgow’s performance without going over the top.

The sound of the score is unique in its recording of the synthesizers “live” with the regular orchestra which adds a different sonic dimension to the overall texture. The clearer sound picture in FSM’s release allows us to appreciate the electronic layers here very well which shows Goldsmith’s perfection of integrating these sounds with orchestra so totally that they sound unbelievably full and natural in the texture.

Goldsmith’s song “Nights Are Forever”—heard on the jukebox during “Time Out”—is provided along with another song which appears to be making its CD debut, “Anesthesia” by Joseph Williams (John Williams’ son). Jennifer Warnes performance features an arrangement by James Newton Howard. The program notes and package are up to the regular standards and beyond for the label.

This is as close to a definitive package as one can hope for playing out to near 80 minutes.

 

--Steven A. Kennedy, 19 June 2009

Comments regarding this review can be sent to this address: stev4uth@hotmail.com

 

 

Also available on DVD...

 

Twilight Zone - The Movie

TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE

 

 

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FMR Summer Issue 2009

 


 

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