Saturday, July 11, 2009


The story behind an extraordinary soundtrack:

It isn’t unusual for movies to be rescored under pressure, but Goldsmith’s music for “Chinatown” is so well suited to the film that it’s hard to imagine that he knocked it out at the very last minute. The original score, written by the classical composer Phillip Lambro, was heard on the soundtrack of the version of the film that was shown seven weeks prior to the film’s release date at a preview in San Luis Obispo, a small town north of Los Angeles. “By the time the lights came up, half the audience had walked out, scratching their heads,” Robert Evans, the producer of “Chinatown,” wrote in “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” his 1994 autobiography. Concluding that Mr. Lambro’s “dissonant, weird, scratchy” music (as Mr. Towne would later describe it) was responsible for the film’s poor reception, Mr. Evans called in Goldsmith, and 10 days later “Chinatown” had a new score. Mr. Towne, who was present at the first recording session for Goldsmith’s score, later told a journalist that “you could see the movie come to life. It was like you couldn’t see the movie with the other score, and now you could, and I thought, ‘Omigod, we may have a chance.’”

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