10 Best Movies Scored By Jerry Goldsmith
The late Jerry Goldsmith was truly a treasure. His skill as a film composer was undeniable. He could work in any genre and gave each film he worked on a unique and tonally appropriate voice. Though they also remain recognizable to his own personal voice. Strong and confident yet at the same time sparse in their own way. He is deserving of his many awards and nominations as well as any acclaim he’s received. The legacy he has left behind on Earth has not and will not go unrecognized. Here are ten of the best films he worked on during his career.
It is not up for debate. The original Alien is far and away the pinnacle of its franchise. It may very well be Ridley Scott’s best film. Even today, it is tense, claustrophobic and even at times frightening. A murderer in a small, confined area is simply a timeless setup. Goldsmith’s score is a huge part of the tension in key moments of the impressive film.
Total Recall (1990)
Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall offers a colorful, campy future that is nonetheless as equally horrifying and dystopian as its monochromatic brother, Robocop. That is what Verhoeven does best: looks at the future that may be and teaches his audience to laugh at it. Arnold Schwarzenegger gives a career-best performance with regards to comedy, and Goldsmith composes an appropriately exciting score.
For Joe Dante’s Gremlins, in particular, Goldsmith was in top form. His appropriately goofy, off-kilter score fits perfectly in the film. The world written by Chris Columbus’ of Christmastime and rampaging little monsters is a truly enjoyable watch—no matter what time of year.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
With Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Joe Dante went all-out, doubling down on the zaniest parts of the first film, offering a series of connected vignettes and throwaway punchlines. It is as near a live-action cartoon as a film has ever gotten, and Goldsmith, for his part provides more silly toe-tapping compositions.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Today it is often dwarfed by the science-fiction phenom that came out in the same year—Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey — but Planet of the Apes is an impressive film in its own right. Even though just about everyone knows the big twist ending today, it is still worth watching for a well-paced, well-written old science fiction film with some great earlier work by Goldsmith.
Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway really steal the show in director Roman Polanski’s neo-noir. Nicholson’s interwar era Detective Jake Gittes finds himself caught up in shady dealings when he agrees to investigate the cheating husband of Dunaway’s Evelyn Mulwray. It is far from a feel-good film, capturing powerfully the cynical mood of the culture at large in the mid-70s. Goldsmith’s score provides soulful jazz reminiscent of the film’s noir genre roots.
First Blood (1982)
First Blood is an engrossing film that characterizes the mental/emotional fallout of the Invasion of Vietnam. Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo is a veteran of the aforementioned conflict, cast aside by the country which he served and actively antagonized by local law enforcement. The film is one of the most empathetic in Stallone’s oeuvre, made even more effective by Goldsmith’s score.
Poltergeist stands alone in its genre as it blends the disparate styles of producer Steven Spielberg and director Tobe Hooper—who is best known for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is a family-centered film but nonetheless has truly chilling, haunting moments. Goldsmith’s ambient and tense score is pitch-perfect, so to speak.
Joe Dante’s somewhat forgotten Innerspace is the strangest kind of buddy cop movie. By strange circumstance, Dennis Quaid’s Lt. Tuck Pendleton finds himself in a shrunken-down submarine, which itself inside Martin Short’s neurotic grocery store clerk Jack Putter. They must find a way to get Tuck out before the sub runs out of oxygen. Is a goofy adventure with a fittingly funny score from Goldsmith.
Patton stars George C. Scott as the titular American general. The film, co-written by the great Francis Ford Coppola before he became a household name, gives a deep, focused portrayal of the divisive general during the key part of his career, the European theater of the Second World War. Scott won an Academy Award for his turn, and rightfully so. Goldsmith’s powerful score was also nominated — though he was beaten out by another, more forgettable film.
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