- Composed by Jerry Fielding
- Intrada Special Collection Vol 112 / 2009 / 35:20
It’s not often talked about, but the collaboration between composer Jerry Fielding and director Michael Winner is surely one of the most important in film music history. Perhaps it’s just because, until not long ago, none of the scores were actually available on CD. But now – thanks to Intrada – they all are. The final film of their collaboration was 1978’s The Big Sleep, which transplanted Philip Marlowe (played by Robert Mitchum) to contemporary London. Changing fashions meant it was the last particularly noteworthy film directed by Winner (though he has made several more in the three decades since); and Fielding would only score another seven films before his untimely death in 1980. He was a film composer who was pretty much incapable of writing uninteresting music – and, for all the quality of his music for Sam Peckinpah, I think his scores for Winner are his very best.
As Nick Redman (probably the world’s foremost Fielding authority) points out in his liner notes, for The Big Sleep the composer included several hints of past scores – and that is all part of the reason why this could be considered vintage Jerry Fielding. Some gloriously funky 70s music (guitars, drums) mixes with some extremely modernistic orchestral writing. The funky stuff is so cool, it would be impossible to listen to it without wearing sunglasses; the orchestral parts complex, daring, modern. (Thirty years on, no film composer would be able to write such daring music.) The way Fielding wrote for orchestra was so detailed – there’s so much going on, but all the different lines are actually adding something important. It’s so impressive. As a score it’s a kind of mix between the more crowdpleasing Lawman and the astonishingly complex The Mechanic. Highly recommended! ****