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Artwork copyright (c) 1993 TriStar Pictures, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Beautiful, inspirational sports score


Following their excellent collaboration on Hoosiers, many fans were eagerly awaiting another pairing between composer Jerry Goldsmith and director David Anspaugh, which eventually came in the shape of Rudy, telling the story of Rudy Ruettiger, told he was too short to play American football, but who eventually lived his dream by playing for Notre Dame (which I always thought was a cathedral - I didn't know it had a sports team).  With a talented cast led by Sean Astin, it follows all the old fighting-the-odds cliches of sports movies, but is better than most of them, full of charm.  This extends to Goldsmith's extremely well-liked score, perhaps the most popular (and most copied) of his output over the last decade and a half.

It's simplistic and sentimental, but not necessarily any the worse for it.  The gorgeous main title theme is easily one of the composer's most attractive; opening with a celtic lilt, the theme eventually takes on sweeping proportions, with Goldsmith throwing a truly gorgeous melody through inspiring arrangements, including choir.  The secondary theme is introduced at the tail end of "A Start" but not really fully developed until "Back on the Field".  It's bizarrely similar to the end title theme from The Swarm, but of course presented in an entirely different setting, and Goldsmith really wrings out the emotion.  It was apparently on Rudy that the unprecedented tradition of Goldsmith being given repeated standing ovations by the Hollywood studio musicians began, and it's not difficult to see why - many composers attempt music like this (listen to Forrest Gump or The Cider House Rules) but none has pulled it off with quite this much charm and flair.  Ironically - and this is sadly typical of Goldsmith's career - both of those other scores, which blatantly lift liberally from this source material, were attached to considerably more successful movies, resulting in the scores being nominated for Academy Awards and the albums selling very well - while this score languishes in the treasure trove of Goldsmith fans' collections, virtually unknown outside of them, and was - needless to say - not nominated for anything.

While the two themes do dominate, they are by no means all the score has to offer.  The lengthy "To Notre Dame" offers a variety of touching music, dominated by a passage for clarinet with accompaniment from strings and choir which was lifted pretty much verbatim by Alan Silvestri for Gump - beautiful, lovely music; and there's even time for a beautiful brass chorale in the middle of the cue, before a reprise of the theme for flute and harp.  The playful flute solo which opens "Tryouts" is another highlight, before an emotional performance of the football theme.  But however great the music of the first nine cues may be, the tenth can take the breath away.  "The Final Game" is quite stunning in its way, a prime example of how Goldsmith seems able to wring emotion from a listener without being overtly manipulative; the two main themes play off each other and when Rudy's theme kicks in with the full orchestra and choir at the end, it's difficult to keep a tear from the eye.

This is a beautiful, inspirational, deeply moving film score which shows off a side of Jerry Goldsmith he has been able to express all too infrequently.  It's a great pity he hasn't got to score more films like this - but that only means that scores like Rudy are even easier to savour.  Simple, yes; wonderful, equally so.

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  1. Main Title (3:34)
  2. A Start (2:28)
  3. Waiting (2:36)
  4. Back on the Field (2:07)
  5. To Notre Dame (6:54)
  6. Tryouts (4:25)
  7. The Key (3:55)
  8. Take Us Out (1:52)
  9. The Plaque (2:36)
  10. The Final Game (6:12)