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  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Intrada / 2013 / 37m

A largely-forgotten boxing movie from 1992, perhaps Gladiator had a bit of a boost on home video by people buying it in error rather than Ridley Scott’s somewhat more successful film of the same name.  Those people who did see the film witnessed a score by Brad Fiedel; but as the note on the back of this CD case points out, “This album does not contain original score by Brad Fiedel.”  I propose that from now on, all albums that don’t feature original score by Brad Fiedel should be so marked.  Before the Terminator composer came on board, the film had actually been scored by the great Jerry Goldsmith, who had the ignominy of his music being dumped.  Listening to his bright, breezy, drum machine-infused music – and contrasting this with the apparent gritty, realistic tone aimed for by the film – then, much as it pains me to admit it, it’s not really hard to understand why there was a parting of ways.

On its own terms, the music isn’t without merit.  The main theme used for the fight scenes is cheerfully heroic, not dissimilar to Hoosiers, though the melody isn’t as memorable (and the synths sound horribly out of date bearing in mind the film was released in 1992).  By far the most satisfying of these sequences is the extended finale, spread over two cues.  Another theme – slightly funkier and used in the opening cue along with many other places – is also enjoyable enough, but does rather sound like an old white man trying to write young black men’s music.  The most attractive music here is the love theme, heard frequently for saxophone with keyboard accompaniment – it’s a bit like The Russia House, but with drum machines.  I’m a died-in-the-wool Goldsmith fanatic and so I can find enough here to keep me entertained, misguided though the music seems to be, but anyone who isn’t in that category might struggle to take it too seriously.  In terms of this composer’s music for sports movies, it’s at the Mr Baseball end of the scale.

Rating: ** 1/2 | |

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  1. ANDRÉ - CAPE TOWN. (Reply) on Sunday 17 March, 2013 at 21:07

    I love Jerry, but his banal MR. BASEBALL is at the bottom of a pile of mediocre Goldsmithian CDs > & if GLADIATOR, as your review indicates, is similar in content to BASEBALL, I might give it a miss. I’m pleased MOVIE-WAVE is back on line after a 2-week hiatus as your reviews and readers comments were missed. About that time I sent an enthusiastic response to PROMETHEUS RECORDS release of the newly recorded & expanded HOUR OF THE GUN. Regretably, my comments were lost in the virtual sites of Movie-Net… the 3rd time this has happened. The Hour of the Gun CD also features a Concert Suite of THE RED PONY orchestrated by Alexander Courage > the result is wonderful. This time round, the score sounds Goldsmithian, whereas the original recording (conducted by Goldsmith on Varese Sarabande) is dominated by ‘COPLANDESQUE CLICHES’. Do listen to the CD James, the sound and performances are stunning – I’m looking forward to your critique.

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 17 March, 2013 at 21:31

    Thanks for the tip about The Hour of the Gun, Andre. I haven’t bought that album yet.

    Sorry about the two-week hiatus, too – it has taken a while to resolve some technical problems. Unfortunately all comments people may have added during the period have been lost, for which I apologise.

  3. Elfenthalsmith (Reply) on Sunday 27 April, 2014 at 14:55

    I like how Jerry Goldsmith never let a good idea go to waste. The theme heard in “Good Luck / The Real Thing” is pretty much note-for-note the love theme from The Vanishing one year later, and the more suspenseful material is a first draft to the suspense theme in The Russia House.
    A good thing, since while not exactly unforgettable, The Vanishing and The Russia House are films more deserving of such musical ideas (just like The Russia House deserved that fantastic love theme MUCH MORE than Alien Nation).