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2 Days in the Valley
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Intrada / 2012 / 46:58

John Hertzfeld’s 2 Days in the Valley takes a look at various interconnected characters and storylines in LA’s San Fernando Valley over a period of – have a guess – two days, the connections between them not being tied up until late in the day.  It wasn’t much of a success either critically and commercially; the few people who did see it, saw it with a score by Anthony Marinelli.  But Marinelli’s score wasn’t the first one written for the film; that one was by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith.  I’ve never really understood how composers of the stature of Goldsmith (and Elmer Bernstein and Maurice Jarre) ended up having various scores rejected towards the end of their careers; the music they wrote can hardly have been a surprise to the filmmakers.  Perhaps it’s just that the film wasn’t doing very well in test screenings, by which point the only major thing that could be changed is the score.  (I don’t think any of the films with rejected Goldsmith scores was anything other than a box office failure, suggesting the score was not the problem in the first place.)

His music for the film begins with the excellent “Theme From 2 Days in the Valley”, a bluesy trumpet solo offering the same kind of smoky romantic view of the film as the composer managed on other noirs, most famously Chinatown of course.  He returns to the theme frequently (using it for one of the film’s many main characters), conveying a great loneliness along with a sense of melancholy.  OK, so it’s not Chinatown (or even The Russia House) but its laid back blues is very appealing and certainly the score’s strongest aspect.

Jerry Goldsmith

He goes from the sublime to the ridiculous with another of the major themes, “Dosmo’s Theme”, a comic waltz featuring a prominent accordion solo which is witty and engaging, particularly in the lovely “Hello Dosmo” (which could easily come from a charming Italian romance) and when the composer adds deliberately overcooked melodrama in the terrific (but very brief) “Dosmo and Mark”.  Goldsmith also includes some Basic Instinct-style suspense music, with tension-raising electronic percussion and sultry high-end strings, notably in “Roy’s Minute / Helga’s Minute” (a cue that lasts, improbably, over five minutes) and “Becky and Helga”.  There isn’t that much outright action music, but when it does come it’s done with typical flair, many of the composer’s trademarks coming out in “Cigarette Pack / Valley Cops Killed”.

Through much of the score, these disparate elements are indeed kept largely separate, but you just know that at some point the composer would bring everything together, and (after hints of it as the score goes through its second half), he does just that in the catchily-titled, action-packed “Hotel Room / Street Convergence / Teddy’s Redemption / Becky Reaches for the Gold” (seriously guys, you could look for a bit more brevity when you come up with these things – though, oddly, this release repeats a number of track names from the bootleg which circulated in the late 1990s, which were invented by a fan at the time).

There’s still time for the composer to introduce one final new theme at the end of that mouthful of a track, and it will be a familiar one for Goldsmith enthusiasts, the lovely piano theme later finding its way into his score for Fred Schepisi’s Fierce Creatures (the only music from this score that he went on to use in another).  It would take a brave or foolish (or indeed brave and foolish) person to suggest that 2 Days in the Valley is in the top tier of albums from this composer, but that bar is so high, it’s still hugely enjoyable.  I particularly like the way he develops all his ideas as the score progresses and brings them together at the end (also a product of the smart album production, which doesn’t always present the cues in film order).  It’s a shame that the score wasn’t left in the film (the composer was apparently very pleased to work on a more serious film, and very disappointed his music wasn’t used) but thanks to Intrada’s album we can now enjoy it properly for the first time.  *** 1/2

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  1. Shaun (Reply) on Monday 20 August, 2012 at 19:37

    That fan….was me. I’ve been desperately seeking some sort of acknowledgment but no one cares. The Intrada release obviously wedges a bunch of tracks together, so you can’t blame me for that!

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Monday 20 August, 2012 at 20:21

    I blame you for most things, but it’s only fair to not blame you for that. Kudos for “Toupee or not toupee” by the way.

  3. Josh (Reply) on Wednesday 22 August, 2012 at 08:52

    Great review, James! I want to compliment you on your vast Goldsmith review collection. They’re an invaluable resource.