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The Movie-music Biz

January 12, 1986

Jerry Goldsmith's score for "Legends" being replaced with one by Tangerine Dream is mindlessly depressing, but hardly surprising ("Movie Music: Is It Becoming Hit or Miss?," by Steven Smith, Jan. 5).

What else is to be expected in a business where corporate decisions have spent $48 million on a two-character sci-fi story ("Enemy Mine") in which one of the characters wears a rubber suit and mask that looks like a rubber suit and mask, where $23 million resulted in a filmed play ("A Chorus Line") that all takes place on a stage of a real theater, and where somebody like Terry Gilliam has his efforts "reshaped" ("Brazil") because it isn't thought to be on a direct conduit to the anticipated 15-year-old audience?

Were these decisions made by the holders of degrees in law/economics/bus-ad that are rumored to be so much in control? The 33-year-old "VP in charge of production"?!

Oh, for the bad old days when it was all in the hands of the raging, letching, drooling glove salesmen, bicycle shop owners and music publishers.

They gave us a bit of Korsakov, smatterings of Tchaikovsky to listen to, and a little Bronte and Dickens to watch. And heroes! Lotsa heroes! We looked up not only at their 30-foot high close-ups, but at their ideals and dreams.

When the powerful men in control of all this erred (that is, didn't make money), it was usually with what they then called a "prestige" picture, a "Dodsworth" or an "Intruder in the Dust."

What is interesting is that these supposedly uncouth men over- estimated their audience, they shot a bit too high and missed. Nowadays, it sometimes seems, no blow is too low.

Can Goldsmith take any solace from William Goldman's axiom, (from his book, "Adventures in the Screen Trade") that "Nobody knows anything"? Probably not. But it's true, you know.


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