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**** 1/2

Album running time


The Flim-Flam Man
1: Main Title (1:41)
2: A Good Trick (:16)
3: No Rest for the Wicked (3:46)
4: A Little Inspiration (1:38)
5: Stolen Property (3:14)
6: The Getaway (3:00)
7: The Main Line (2:17)
8: Times Gone By (1:07)
9: The Visitor (3:23)
10: Good Night / The Homestead (2:46)
11: The Hayseed (1:17)
12: A Poor Ending (:51)
13: Run for It (1:08)
14: Curley's Plan (2:44)
15: Curley's Farewell (1:16)
16: The Waiting Game (1:24)
17: On the Road Again (1:12)

A Girl Named Sooner
18: Main Title (3:04)
19: Sooner Frees the Calf (:45)
20: Into Town (:29)
21: Mac and Elizabeth (2:08)
22: Elizabeth Meets Sooner (:35)
23: The Bath / Bird's New Perch (2:49)
24: Becoming a Family / Jumping Rope (2:59)
25: Isolation (2:19)
26: Elizabeth Comforts Sooner (2:37)
27: A Kiss Goodnight (:59)
28: Runaway (2:08)
29: Second Thoughts (1:24)
30: Tears of Regret (:54)
31: Sooner and Grammy / Reconciliation (4:19)
32: Making a Difference (2:14)
33: End Title (1:00)

Performed by
conducted by

Produced by

Released by
Serial number
FSM Vol 2 No 9

Artwork copyright (c) 1975 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2002 James Southall

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Double joy

Jerry Goldsmith's knack of being able to find films of the lowest quality to work on is not something he has picked up in the recent years of his career, but was something he exercised just as vigorously in the earlier days. Irvin Kerschner's The Flim-Flam Man was one such film, a gentle comedy starring the wonderful George C. Scott that elicited one of Goldsmith's most beautiful scores.

Its bucolic stylings perfectly evoke rural America, and actually bring to mind Goldsmith's gentler western scores of the time. The film's slapstick humour allowed Goldsmith the chance to just sit back and have fun: something he does frequently these days, but perhaps was less willing to do in the 1960s. We should be grateful that he did, though. This is one of the most pleasant Goldsmith scores there is.

The main title is very enjoyable, frequently heard on the harmonica. There are also passages for banjo and vibraphones. The score's most famous sections are probably the very complex rickety piano cues. The score was previous available on the legendary SPFM Tribute album, but the suite presented there actually left off many of the key cues, which makes this Film Score Monthly album all the more welcome.

After the 32 minutes or so of The Flim-Flam Man (which represent the entirety of Goldsmith's contribution to the movie) comes a welcome surprise, Goldsmith's score for the 1975 tv movie A Girl Named Sooner. It is another pastoral and beautiful score, along the lines of The Flim-Flam Man but possibly even more affecting. Again, I don't know what possessed Goldsmith to score the film (perhaps it was the opportunity of teaming up again with director Delbert Mann), but again I'm glad he did.

The film's apparently about a couple who adopt a child to try to bring them closer together, and Goldsmith's score is not a million miles away from Elmer Bernstein's classic "children's" score To Kill a Mockingbird, both in terms of style and quality. Flute, violin, harp and harmonica are all emphasised through the flavourful and emotional score, which is one of the best television scores I've ever heard. Goldsmith never did differentiate between writing for the small and large screen, unlike most composers who jump between the media. The main theme reminds me so much of something, but I can't quite think what; whatever it is, I love it. It's highly-beautiful, really one of the composer's most attractive creations.

Sound quality throughout is excellent: The Flim-Flam Man is presented in clear, crisp stereo and A Girl Named Sooner, while in mono, still sounds great, and puts the previous bootleg of the score to shame. Liner notes are as informative as usual, and overall this is another release to treasure. There's one very good, and one outstanding, Goldsmith score here - and, surprisingly, it is the later tv movie score that is the better of the works.