Jerry Goldsmith may be a name that is not known to you, but some of the music scores he’s created will be etched into your psyche.
The late composer created some of the most iconic film scores from the past forty years. Here are nine of the best.
1. Planet of The Apes (1968)
The first film in the Planet of the Apes franchise was a trailblazer for many reasons. Not only was the story innovative and philosophical, but it also received praise for its special effects. Another thing that made the film so special, was the musical score. Goldsmith had been writing scores for a while, but this was the one that truly put him on the map. He moved away from traditional melodies and experimented with horns, bowls, and strings. The result was a brooding avant-garde tsunami that hits you, wave after wave. Genius.
2. The Omen (1976)
This horror classic has one of the creepiest soundtracks of all time. The subject matter of the child anti-Christ obviously helps. The score for the film was the benchmark for horror that influenced a slew of films in its wake. Goldsmith employed some frankly terrifying Gregorian chants to make the horror more effective. He also combined the chants with some spine-tingling strings and piano. It all works and makes the hairs on your neck stand up when you hear it. This is one of Goldsmith’s most terrifying, yet brilliant works. He even won an Oscar for it.
3. Poltergeist (1982)
Ignore the terrible remake from a few years ago, the original Poltergeist movie was brilliant. What helped make it brilliant is the score that Goldsmith implemented. It’s a far cry from the creepy atmosphere of The Omen, but more of an unsettling lullaby. On first listen it seems like an uplifting piece of music, but after a while, you realise it’s the opposite. Goldsmith wanted to use the family dynamic as the focus of the music, exploring all the layers. The result is a surprising score that earned him an Oscar nomination, although he didn’t win that one.
4. Alien (1979)
Jerry Goldsmith’s score is almost as famous as Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic itself. It wasn’t all plain sailing though. His final score was cut to bits by Scott and the production team, although the full masterpiece is available now. What he achieves here is the coldness and terror of space, and what lies within it. It’s laden with atmosphere that takes you on a journey that touches all the emotions. There is a smorgasbord of instruments used within the score, but there is one that really stands out. The trumpet solos. They are used to great effect, and you can feel the Xenomorph creeping up behind you.
5. Gremlins (1984)
Arguably one of the greatest movies from the 1980s, Gremlins throws together a collection of genres. You’ve got comedy; horror; slapstick; gore and drama all in one. In keeping with that theme, Jerry Goldsmith created the film’s score to mirror that. In fact, it’s so gloriously over-the-top it wouldn’t be out of place in a funfair. The synth is beautifully erratic. It perfectly emulates the chaotic yet lovable rogue elements of the Gremlins themselves. It’s often thought that comedy scores should not be silly, but this preconception is thrown out of the water. Sit back and enjoy the madness.
6. Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Whereas the first Rambo film had a slight intelligent edge to the violence, Rambo II is an unashamedly hammy shoot-‘em-up. Keeping in theme with the film, Goldsmith manages to keep the score suitably exciting. Using his use of electronics to embellish the strings and horns, it makes for a big, brash, and thoroughly enjoyable listen. He manages to capture the exact feel of the film in his music. That’s no mean feat, and he does it to perfection.
7. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
The first of the Star Trek movies kickstarted a film franchise that’s still going to this day. The music of Trek is in my humble opinion, as important as the moral and optimistic themes of the stories. This is purely down to the genius of Jerry Goldsmith. Although visually superb, the film is a bit of a damp squib. The soundtrack, however, is not. It defines what Star Trek is about. The music takes you on a journey through space and exploration. There are mostly brass instruments that make up the score, and it builds to a crescendo that propels straight to the captain’s chair. The score was that good that it was used as the theme to TNG. This is some of Goldsmith’s finest work that defines Star Trek.
8. Basic Instinct (1992)
This Paul Verhoeven naughty thriller is iconic for many reasons. One of them perhaps more famous than others (ahem). Crossed legs aside, the movie itself is probably more famous for that scene than anything else. The musical score though is rather special. Goldsmith himself admitted this was one of his toughest ones to write. He pulled it off though. The music manages to capture Sharon Stone’s character perfectly. The charming beauty with a malevolent underbelly is clear to hear. He handles the contradictions with absolute aplomb and delivers a simply superb musical score.
9. The Mummy (1999)
This action romp may have had some questionable special effects, but the film score was some of Jerry Goldsmith’s finest work. Created towards the end of his career, it’s the last of the great film scores. It has everything from thunderous action and creepy horror. There are even some feel-good romantic elements. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotions but leaves you feeling fully enthralled. Even into his seventies, Jerry Goldsmith created some of his best work. A true icon and legend of film composition.
That’s our list of nine iconic Jerry Goldsmith film scores, did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out nine movie soundtracks better than the films HERE.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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