- Composed by Marvin Hamlisch
- Kritzerland KR 20016-2 / 2010 / 30:40
Dudley Moore and Mary Steenburgen starred in this film adaptation of Bernard Slade’s imaginatively-titled play, which is a romantic comedy. Arthur Hiller directed; he had a habit of picking his composers well, and this was no exception. Marvin Hamlisch is maybe better-known for his work on songs, but had great success as a film composer in the 1970s and 80s; he wrote a handful of scores in the decade which followed, but 2009’s The Informant! was his first film score since 1996. Romantic Comedy was exactly the right film for him, calling for light, charming, tuneful music – his speciality. Of course, there’s an original Hamlisch song in the film (co-written by Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach!) – sadly “Maybe” isn’t on this album, the first release of the score, for licensing reasons, though there is an instrumental version.
I imagine there’s a certain kind of listener who will love this music and several kinds who will hate it – it’s virtually entirely monothematic (nearly every track is the same wonderful tune, though Hamlisch does a good job of presenting genuine variations rather than just repetitions), very short (an alarming number of people seem to base their appreciation for a soundtrack album based entirely on how long it is – well, this is half an hour and that includes six minutes of source music) and firmly rooted in the early 80s with the pop stylings and synths. But it has charm – real charm. No music like this could be written for a film today – people have just grown to cynical for something so straight-faced in its loveliness and simplicity. It’s all very slight but if Hamlisch’s style is one you admire, this is certainly a release to pick up. ***