FILM MUSIC AFICIONADO WOULD LIKE TO SEE IRA NEWBORN'S MUSIC RELEASED
New York Examiner blogger Danny Gonzalez started up a new series last week called "The Forgotten Soundtrack Spotlight," kicking it off by examining Brian De Palma's Wise Guys, and especially its whimsical score by Ira Newborn. This film always grabbed me from the start, with its animated opening credits sequence and Newman's playful theme. Even so, I never took a close look at Newborn, so I did not know until I read Gonzalez' post that he also composed the Naked Gun theme, as well as the scores for some of John Hughes' most popular movies. Gonzalez' column hopes to get some of the "forgotten soundtracks" such as the one for Wise Guys released, if the original session tapes can still be located. Here is an excerpt from Gonzalez' post:
Newborn's score not only emphisizes the comedy of the film, but it gives it flavor. The film opens and ends with a goofy Italian godfather like theme with a fun solo violin playing throughout and adding to it later on is a solo saxphone. There are other more "tense moments" like the Church killing scene and for the twist at the end of the film which add a little more dramatic weight, but still keeps the score light, yet frantic.
The reasons the score is very good is because Newborn had some very solid help in the orchestration stage with David Newman and Alf Clausen. Newman who is the brother of Thomas (who I recently revivewed The Adjustment Bureau) and cousin of Randy, (who won recently for Toy Story 3) and Clausen, who has scored virtually every season of The Simpsons since 1990, do a solid job giving the film what it needed, a strong, bouncy main theme. The work they both did with this score does transcend later on in Clausen's Simpsons' music for the mobster character Fat Tony (voiced by Joe Mantegna) and Newman would later revisit the mobster comedy film genre with the hit The Freshman starring Matthew Broderick and the late Godfather himself, Marlon Brando four years after this film came out. His score for that film is quite similar to this one and it's no surprise because the scores are sorta of interchangeable and have the same bouncy main melody and most of the instrumentation (saxophone, accordion, violin, and mandolin) are also similar. You have to give De Palma credit for going in a different direction with Newborn and to me, he does succeed in going in a more lighter, fun direction with the film and the score. He could've easily just have gone for the material straightforward and turned it into a dark, gangster film like he would with David Mamet for The Untouchables, a year later.