Chinatown (Jerry Goldsmith)
Chinatown is one of those few films where everybody involved was at the peak of their career, and is arguably the finest film that composer Jerry Goldsmith scored in his long career. Robert Towne’s screenplay, widely considered to be amongst the best ever written, was written with Jack Nicholson in mind for the character Jake Gittes, and Nicholson then introduced the project to director Roman Polanski. The film earned eleven Academy Award nominations, with Towne taking home the film’s sole Oscar for his screenplay.
The first score for the film, composed by Philip Lambro, was rejected at the last minute, leaving Goldsmith just nine days to provide a replacement. What he provided was a classic; one of the finest scores in cinema history, and undoubtedly one of the finest of his career, which consisted of many phenomenal scores.
There isn’t much to write here, because there isn’t much music, but that’s really one of the reasons why the score is so effective. Though the film is 130 minutes long, it only required 23 minutes of original score, and therefore, each of those 23 minutes has so much impact on the film, and stands out on its own, unlike the majority of scores these days which run for 90 minutes+ and only has one or two standout moments.
The album opens with the classic main theme, generally known as “The Love Theme from Chinatown”, which establishes the mood for the rest of the score. A haunting, shimmering piece, it’s easily one of the finest pieces of film music ever written. The remainder of it consists largely of variations of the main theme, with particular noteworthy highlights being “Jake and Evelyn”, where the soft shimmering string performances are stunning, as well as the excellent action writing that is heard in “The Last of Ida”.
Even by Goldsmith’s standards, Chinatown is a tremendous score, and is something that no film score collector should be without. For me, it’s easily one of his top 5 scores, and with the score having been out of print for over a decade, this presentation of the score by Varese Sarabande is a most welcome release for those of us who missed it the first time round. It’s limited to 3000 copies – don’t miss out on it this time.
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1. Love Theme From Chinatown (Main Title) (2:04)
2. Noah Cross (2:31)
3. Easy Living (1:51)
(Leo Robin & Ralph Rainger)
4. Jake And Evelyn (2:47)
5. I Can’t Get Started (3:38)
(Ira Gershwin & Vernon Duke) Performed by Bunny Berigan & His Orchestra
6. The Last Of Ida (3:01)
7. The Captive (3:11)
8. The Boy On A Horse (2:08)
9. The Way You Look Tonight (2:19)
(Dorothy Fields & Jerome Kern)
10. The Wrong Clue (2:35)
11. J.J. Gittes (3:09)
12. Love Theme From Chinatown (End Title) (2:03)
Total Time: 31:20
Music Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
Trumpet Performed by Uan Rasey
The score was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA
The liner notes contain detailed information about the film and score.
All images and artwork are Copyright © Varese Sarabande.