SG Cinema Sounds Composer Profile – Jerry Goldsmith

The late Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004) has composed (and conducted) some of the all-time most beautiful, exciting, versatile and haunting volumes of film music and is unquestionably one of the masters of the art form.  He first gained notoriety for composing music for various episodes of The Twilight Zone (though not the famous title theme) and would became so sought after by directors and well known with audiences, even some of the scores he created that were rejected are now well regarded cult albums. Here’s a brief overview of a remarkable career.

Best Known For:
Air Force One, Alien, The Blue Max, Chinatown, Gremlins, Mulan, The Omen, Papillon, Planet of the Apes, Rudy, The Sand Pebbles, Seven Days in May and Total Recall.

10 Musts:
Twilight Zone- The Movie (Goldsmith created four entirely different themes for the film’s vignettes- this, I think, is his masterpiece), First Blood , The Secret of Nimh (heartfelt and awe-inspiring), Star Trek- The Motion Picture (gorgeous and enthralling, his Main Title theme became the Trek standard and the opener for Star Trek: The Next Generation), Innerspace (bizarre and thrilling), The Russia House (a mix of jazz and heart), The ‘Burbs (wondrously weird- sunny and ghoulish, with some offbeat sound effects), Poltergeist (one  of the scariest scores ever), Hoosiers and Basic Instinct (beautiful and sinister).

First Film Score: Black Patch (1957)

Last Film Score: Looney Tunes- Back in Action

Biggest Change of Pace:
Six Degrees of Separation (both a musical nod to upper class sophistication and a parody of it)

Most Underrated Film Compositions:
The Boys From Brazil, Explorers, Magic, Malice, Psycho II, L.A. Confidential, First Knight, Medicine Man, The 13th Warrior and Dennis the Menace.

Everyone Makes Mistakes:
Congo (his well-intentioned fusion of tribal music and action movie percussion is just silly)

Weak Movies, Great Music:
Baby- Secret of the Lost Legend, Chain Reaction, Leviathan, Rent-a-Cop, and Supergirl.

Skeletons in the Closet: Mom and Dad Save the WorldHidden Treasures:
Legend (director’s cut), Poltergeist III (recycled for The Haunting) Timeline (rejected but released on CD), and Alien Nation (also rejected but released later on CD).
Movies He Should Have Scored: X-Men, Starship Troopers and the upcoming Watchmen.Most Under looked Treasure of a Soundtrack: The Shadow

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Barry Wurst

Barry Wurst II is a senior editor & film critic at MAUIWatch. He writes film reviews for a local Maui publication and taught film classes at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs (UCCS). Wurst also co-hosted podcasts for and has been published in Bright Lights Film Journal and in other film-related websites. He is currently featured in the new MAUIWatch Podcast- The NERDWatch.
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