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Section Header
48 Hrs.
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
James Horner

Orchestrated by:
Greig McRitchie

Intrada Records

Release Date:
January 10th, 2011

Also See:
Red Heat

Audio Clips:
1. Main Title (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

2. Jack Leaves Elaine's Apartment (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

6. Subway Chase (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

8. The Alley (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Limited release of 5,000 copies, available only through soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial price of $20.


48 Hrs.
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Sales Rank: 133073

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Buy it... only if you consider yourself an absolute completist of the James Horner library, because 48 Hrs. is a predictable entry in the composer's badly dated, steel drum-laden contemporary action style of the 1980's.

Avoid it... if you are among the few who still really dig Horner's blend of electronics, steel drums, saxophone, and limited orchestra in sonic wallpaper mode for action applications of that era, namely Commando and Red Heat.

48 Hrs.: (James Horner) The origins of the "buddy cop" subgenre of comedy law enforcement films date back to 48 Hrs. in 1982, a maligned production that had stalled for a long time but turned into one of the year's most successful entries at the box office. Paramount was originally so dissatisfied with director Walter Hill's film that the studio initially indicated that it would never distribute one of his films again. Part of the concern was the bankability of co-star Eddie Murphy, who debuted here in a role as a convict who helps a tough San Francisco cop (played with ease by Nick Nolte) on the hunt for the gang of thugs who killed his partners. The two actors and their characters hit it off, of course, and a single hilarious scene with Murphy in a redneck bar solidified his big screen career as a regular comic lead. Despite the relatively simple chase plot and multitude of redundantly funny interactions between Nolte and Murphy, 48 Hrs. received enough critical acclaim on top of the substantial monetary returns to warrant a sequel in 1990. Hill has long been associated with Westerns and his production of the Alien franchise, and while he has rotated between an awkwardly wide variety of composers for his films through the years, his collaborations with Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner in the 1980's were among the most notable. The assignment of Horner to 48 Hrs. allowed the rising composer to branch out from his best known comfort zone in the science fiction genre, eventually yielding similarly styled sonic wallpaper of a gritty, contemporary nature for Hill's Red Heat and Another 48 Hrs. over the next eight years. Disappointingly, while yielding a competent atmospheric sound appropriate to Hill's desire for music that functions as purely a background filler element, Horner's output for these films has never attracted much appreciation when separated from its context.

While Horner did receive praise for his limited work for 48 Hrs., some of that recognition was likely a result of the immense popularity of the songs by The BusBoys for the film. The group's smooth blend of rock and blues tones is largely consistent across its four songs for 48 Hrs., often utilized as source pieces in the story's bar and club sequences. The end credits song, "The Boys Are Back in Town," is the best remembered of these contributions, originally considered by producers as the weakest of the lot but once again defying expectations. Horner's score does attempt to emulate a very slight dose of the same instrumental and genre character from the song placements, but it is largely a frightfully serious score meant to accentuate the many action sequences. The instrumentation and constructs of 48 Hrs. resemble a blend of saxophone, electronics, and steel drums that not only foreshadows Commando and Red Heat, but also represents some of the least palatable music to ever be written by the composer. An orchestra does assist in providing depth to the score, but minus trumpets and French horns. Trombones and tubas perpetually perform a single descending phrase from key in unison over and over again, a monotonous mechanism used with much better results in Brainstorm and even Vibes. The rest of the orchestral ensemble is mostly marginalized until the final chase cues, only the piano a traditional element of significant presence. Its thundering bass tones merge with tired, wandering lines of synthetic keyboarding that become even more increasingly obnoxious as the score ages. The sax performs the score's primary theme over a seven-note motif conveyed by basses, both of which presented in the first minute of "Main Titles." Unfortunately, none of these recurring motifs is particularly memorable, meandering aimlessly in variations that make them difficult to follow or care about.

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The sax performances in 48 Hrs. are nowhere near as stylish as Horner can make them (revisit Sneakers as an example), and the bass idea becomes swallowed up in the dull droning of whole notes on the synths. Horner's fascination with steel drums as means of representing contemporary coolness is still a bit odd given that the instrument is more commonly associated with reggae music (the source cue "Aerobics" actually reminds of Mark Mancina's Speed 2: Cruise Control); veteran Horner collectors may find their usage here to be predictable and boring. The only instrumental application of interest for such listeners will be traditional band-inspired percussion, the recording of the regular drums and cymbals slightly wetter and thus more pronounced in a couple of cues. Since Hill chose to spot the film with music very sparingly, Horner only wrote about 25 minutes of non-source material for it, and almost all of it addresses the chase scenes. Within this subset, there is really no development or evolution of ideas until the final killing of the villain in "The Alley" brings the score to a sudden, depressingly sparse set of piano thuds to close things out. The only upbeat cue is "Jack Leaves Elaine's Apartment," with the aforementioned percussion joined by hip electric bass and the sax performances of the primary theme. Compared to Horner's otherwise downbeat score, the fifteen minutes of songs from The BusBoys is a welcome relief. No soundtrack had ever been released for 48 Hrs. until Intrada Records issued a short album in 2011 with the entirety of the score and the songs on one CD limited to 5,000 copies. The quality of that album is as satisfactory as could be desired, with decent sound for a 1982 recording and a good arrangement of the material. It's hard to imagine that this product will appeal much to even the most ardent Horner collectors, though, because it's a predictable reminder of a period and genre in which the composer often underachieved. Approach this one only with the intent to complete your Horner library. * Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For James Horner reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 98 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.19 (in 187,986 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.35 Stars
Smart Average: 2.55 Stars*
**** 13 
*** 19 
** 25 
* 36 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: Review of 48 Hrs. at
  Oscar G. -- 4/11/11 (9:24 a.m.)
   Review of 48 Hrs. at
  Southall -- 4/9/11 (11:27 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 45:54

• 1. Main Title (5:09)
• 2. Jack Leaves Elaine's Apartment (1:06)
• 3. The Walden Hotel (4:10)
• 4. Aerobics (4:08)
• 5. Subway Station (5:38)
• 6. Subway Chase (1:50)
• 7. Luther's Bus (1:57)
• 8. The Alley (5:20)
• 9. The Boys Are Back in Town - performed by The BusBoys (2:35)

The Extras:
• 10. 48 Hrs. - performed by The BusBoys (3:13)
• 11. Love Songs Are For Crazies - performed by The BusBoys (3:44)
• 12. New Shoes - performed by The BusBoys (3:32)
• 13. Torchy's Boogie - written by Ira Newborn (2:55)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a list of performers and notes about the film, composer, score, and album assembly.

  All artwork and sound clips from 48 Hrs. are Copyright © 2011, Intrada Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/15/11 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2011-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.