Review: Flim Flam Man / A Girl Named Sooner, The
4 / 5 Stars
At points throughout the CD release, it's hard to tell when one score ended and another began, since the styles and melodies are extremely similar. This isn't a disparaging comment, but rather to point out how Goldsmith portrays the Americana style during this era or his scoring career. During this time, 1967 through 1975, Jerry was mainly scoring westerns, high-action/high-drama stories, and the occasional horror and police drama. It was very fruitful period for Goldsmith, producing such gems as Papillon, Patton, Chinatown as well as two Planet Of The Apes and Flint movies. What is most remarkable for both of these scores are the understated, but yet recognizable themes used for each film, with Film-Flam Man residing in odd-ball craziness and A Girl Named Sooner being a bit like Little House On The Prairie. It's truly amazing what Mr. Goldsmith can do with a small orchestra.
In The Flim-Flam Man, the orchestrations included a well used harmonica and string chorus, not unlike what Jerry used in many of his "western" themes, augmented by the occasional banjo and, as the liner notes describe as a "tack-piano". Since it was a bit hard to get the "authentic" sound of an old-time out of tune frontier piano, the tracks recorded were studio manipulated to produce the end result rather effectively. I think that that manipulation alone gave Jerry's score just enough to get it to the level of inspired lunacy. Not all the music contained in the score is wacky; there are many poignant moments in the film between Modecai and Curley as well as Curley and Bonnie (Sue Lyons) that are perfectly underscored. To see the eventual effect of Mordecai on Curley, you must see the entire film to its' end, a true teacher-student relationship comes to fruition.
I'd have to admit I'm not as well versed A Girl Named Sooner, since many old made-for-television movies don't get replayed to often in our bigger, louder, faster 'reality-based" TV obsessed society. It would be a good replay on Bravo or Lifetime, but I'm sure you'll be hard pressed to catch a broadcast. It is a shame though, to note that hearing Goldsmith's score in context with the film will be hard. It's one of his better "gentler" moments in his film score career, when he's not, as of recently, having us escaping from sea-monsters (Deep Rising) or jumping out of an airplane (Air Force One or Executive Decision). This score as well as Flim-Flam Man serve as a reminder that there was a Jerry Goldsmith before he discovered and was overcome by electronics. You rarely hear Goldsmith scores like this anymore, but I wished we could, but as with most Silver-Age composers who are still writing today, he had to change with the times.
Due to the source quality and sweeteners used for each of these scores, there are some failings, not doing complete justice to the scores. However, with that aside, it's nice to finally hear the complete score to The Film-Flam Man after being teased with it over seven years ago. Also uncovered is the gem A Girl Named Sooner, which, should have been released sooner, one could only wonder why 20th Century Fox never paid much mind until Film Score Monthly came around to request it for release. As with 100 Rifles and more recently Rio Conchos, FSM has done justice to some of Jerry's finest, but yet somewhat disregarded works.
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