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Wrongfully Accused
  • Composed by Bill Conti
  • Intrada / 2011 / 62:26

A spoof primarily of The Fugitive (but lots of other films too), Wrongfully Accused starred the great Leslie Nielson, whose rise to becoming one of the most in-demand comedy actors in Hollywood when turning 60 after a career toiling away in dramatic roles probably caught him as much by surprise as Elmer Bernstein’s rise to becoming the go-to-composer for comedy (at an even greater age) caught him by surprise.  With 1980’s Airplane!, Bernstein set the template by which these spoof films would virtually all be scored right up to this day.  That composer grew tired of it all within a decade so it was left for others to continue what he began; for this film, scoring duties fell to Bill Conti, whose ability to tap into a golden age sound made him perfect for the film.  Director Pat Proft wanted him to weave in music in the style of composers like Franz Waxman and Max Steiner, a challenge Conti met with aplomb, delivering a fine dramatic score which even incorporates a mini violin concerto.

Having said that, the enjoyable main theme is pure Conti, reminiscent of various adrenaline-pumped pieces he has written through his career.  He gets a lot of of it, and a secondary march theme, and one is reminded of just how good a composer of action music Conti is.  A score like this is never going to be subtle; but it’s interesting to note that this deliberately over-the-top music for a spoof is actually a model of restraint compared with a lot of 100% “serious” action scores these days.  As well as nods to Casablanca, A Double Life and so on, Conti builds in some overt references to more modern film music, notably Mission: Impossible and Braveheart.  Interestingly, there’s no reference to the music from the film this one is primarily spoofing – perhaps, like me, Conti can’t remember a note of James Newton Howard’s overrated score no matter how many times he listens to it.  It’s all thoroughly enjoyable – my only complaint is the usual one, that it just can’t sustain an album of this length.  That’s a pity, because it paints what is very good music in an unnecessarily negative light.  A better-produced album and this could have been dynamite.  It’s enjoyable enough anyway – and the PR claim that it’s one of Conti’s most enjoyable action scores is not wide of the mark.  *** 1/2

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  1. A. Rubinstein (Reply) on Wednesday 30 March, 2011 at 12:52

    Well, if you can’t remember a note of James Newton Howard’s score to The Fugitive, how come you’re so sure Conti hasn’t referenced any of it?
    Anyway, it’s a fine score indeed, and it really saddens me that Conti doesn’t get to work more often nowadays.

  2. James Southall (Reply) on Wednesday 30 March, 2011 at 18:03

    Haha! Excellent point.