- Composed by David Shire
- Film Score Monthly / 2011 / 55:27
Before Airplane! came along and parodied the ridiculous disaster movies of the 1970s, it had already been done in another film – The Big Bus, from 1976. It’s fair to say it didn’t have quite the same impact (in fact I hadn’t even heard of it before this soundtrack release came along) – and it seems more like a comedy/farce than a straight parody – but it sounds like it might be worth a look. There’s something truly fascinating about the score. Elmer Bernstein is frequently credited with coming up with a new way of scoring riotous comedy – by pretending everything is deadly serious and instead of making the music funny, making it incredibly melodramatic. He did it in several films, of course, and so did countless others. The fascinating thing (you knew I’d get there in the end) is that that is exactly the approach David Shire takes to the music in The Big Bus, which he wrote a while before Bernstein’s Airplane!
In fact there is a brief (admittedly somewhat superficial) between this score’s fabulous main theme and Bernstein’s more famous one from four years later. Where they differ is the brilliant 70s funk that Shire injects into his – dynamic, pulsatingly exciting, it’s a real gem. The composer makes good use of it through his score but the opening and end title arrangements are the album’s highlights. There’s also some really strong action music – by its very nature, being deliberately more over-the-top than anything a composer as astute as David Shire would write for a serious film – it’s actually hugely enjoyable. This is not a major score by the standards of this composer, but it’s a very entertaining one and makes for a good, solid album, boosted by the stellar production values one associates with the label, Film Score Monthly. ***