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  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith

Burt Reynolds plays a very low-rent private eye in Shamus, a little-remembered 1973 comedy thriller directed by the wonderfully-named Buzz Kulik. Alongside Reynolds as Shamus, Dyan Cannon stars as Alexis Montaigne, and of course romance blooms; and there are seasoned character actors offering support like John Ryan as an ex-army officer called “Hardcore” and Joe Santos as a cop. Despite Reynolds’s star power the film rather disappeared without trace after garnering fairly mediocre reviews and these days is probably most highly-sought after by Jerry Goldsmith fans.

Even they (or should I say “us”) don’t need to seek it out quite so vigorously any more, because viewing the film is no longer the only way of experiencing Goldsmith’s score (one of four he wrote for director Kulik). Nearly half a century later, it is finally represented on album thanks to Intrada. The score is very short (26 minutes) and the release is not priced accordingly, but obviously the composer’s devoted army of fans will be flocking to buy it.

Jerry Goldsmith

The bulk of the score is built around a low-key main theme, heard fully over the opening titles – piano, organ, bass and percussion take the lead as he gives an easy-going charm to the central character. While it doesn’t stick in the memory very easily like the composer’s themes usually do, it’s highly effective at what it does and (not surprisingly given the score’s brevity) certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome despite its prominence.

Elsewhere the main highlight is undoubtedly the two-part action track “Here I Come”, featuring some trademark low-end piano writing – acknowledging that the film is somewhat light-hearted, it’s not the kind of full-on blast of excitement you usually get from Goldsmith but it’s still taut and always great to hear that side of the composer. There’s a particularly romantic flavour to the main theme in “Getting Acquainted” and some entertaining Our Man Flint-style material in “Surprise Visit”, before the action/suspense piece “A Broken Limb”, which is very entertaining and again features some vintage stop-start action material.

I remember when the glory days of archival soundtrack releases were just getting started, there was much excitement when Prometheus Records announced that they were releasing Shamus only for it to be shelved when they couldn’t find the tapes, which were believed lost for many years. Intrada has eventually come to the rescue, and it’s great to hear what for many will be a “new” Goldsmith score – few would suggest it’s a major entry in his filmography and it is a fairly minor, low-key work, albeit one with some real highlights.

Rating: *** | |

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