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  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Varese Sarabande CD Club VCL 1209 1102 / 2009 / 47:21

Montgomery Clift played Freud in John Huston’s 1962 biopic, a project the legendary filmmaker had wanted to make for a long time.  It charts the years in which Freud formulated his famous Oedipus Complex theory and was well-received at the time, also featuring performances from Susannah York, Larry Parks and a young David McCallum.  The original screenplay was, incredibly, by Jean-Paul Sartre, but after lots of cuts were made to that, he demanded that his name be withdrawn from the credits.

While ultimately Huston’s film may have been a little watered-down compared with his original vision, there is nothing vaguely watered-down about its music, composed by the then up-and-coming Jerry Goldsmith, fresh from his success with Lonely are the Brave.  It earned the composer his first Oscar nomination.  It’s very hard to imagine any film made in Hollywood today having music as unfailingly modern as this; that one could do almost fifty years ago shows what progress we’ve made.

A youthful Jerry Goldsmith

Huston choose to make his film in black-and-white, and one could certainly say there’s more than a noirish hint to Goldsmith’s music – it’s unsettling, sometimes creepy, a turbulent study of the human mind.  Don’t come here expecting melody – this is one of the most uncompromisingly atonal scores of the composer’s career.  The one exception is the childlike lullaby which appears in a few cues – and that itself is used in a particularly creepy way.

It’s scarcely believable that Goldsmith was so confident, so early in his career, to write a score like this.  It is so fiercely intelligent, the product of such deliberate design; needless to say, those whose Goldsmith tendencies are more towards Rudy or Air Force One are unlikely to enjoy it, but those more drawn towards his more daring earlier works will find one of the most impressive of those.  Psychological music like this is certainly not for everyone – but this challenging album (an expansion of the old LP) is one which reveals so much with every listen.  ****

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  1. Rory (Reply) on Monday 1 October, 2018 at 13:06

    Ordered the ‘09 album shortly after Alien. One of the creepiest listening experiences I’ve had in about as long, and probably the single darkest non-Hermann score I’ve heard up to that point. Loved it. Interesting film, too, darker and with a few more teeth than most from its era.

    My only major gripe is that the end of “Desperate Case” on this release neglects the film version of the ending (reused to great effect in Alien) in favor of a comparatively nondescript string piece. Incredible bit of scoring/sound design from Freud’s subsequent nightmare absent as well, though as that one’s kind of objectively unpleasant by design, I guess its absence is more forgivable.

  2. ANDRE>>Cape Town (Reply) on Tuesday 2 October, 2018 at 00:44

    This score is just brilliant–and the dissonances and atonalities,don’t just drone away in the background (as is so drearily ‘fashionable’ among contemporaryfilm composers)– but with GOLDSMITHIAN magic transport our minds into the agitated and dark neuroses of Freud’s patients. GOLDSMITH’S signature musical voice melds interestingly with the Vienna School of SCHOENBERG and WEBERN stylizations in that sad, tortured atonal theme that, like the Lullaby, repeats itself throughout the score. I also have the Varese Sarabande 2009 CD release Rory, and my one gripe is that the digital-mastering wasn’t able to filter out some of the irritating vinyl-like surfacy noise. Hopefully Douglas Fake’s INTRADA, with their state-of-the-art mastering utilities, will one day release the tracks as heard in the movie…along with ‘The Reincarntion of Peter Proud’, another GOLDSMITH score featuring dissonances and twelve-tonalities.