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L.A. Confidential
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Trumpet/Flugelhorn Solos by:
Malcolm McNab

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton
Alexander Courage

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
November 25th, 1997

Also See:
Basic Instinct
The River Wild
The Edge
Playing by Heart

Audio Clips:
1. Bloody Christmas (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

3. Questions (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

9. Shootout (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

11. The Victor (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Nominated for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, and an Academy Award.

L.A. Confidential
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Sales Rank: 170526

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Buy it... if you admire the tension of Jerry Goldsmith's highly rhythmic and brutally percussive scores of the 1970's.

Avoid it... if you expect the seductive noir elements to convince you of the era or if you have little patience for Goldsmith's stock 90's action structures.

L.A. Confidential: (Jerry Goldsmith) The triumph of his career at the time, director Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential was a critical favorite going into the 1997 awards season. His adaptation of James Ellroy's novel is intelligent and engaging, and the film is shot in a distinctly fantastic noir style. It's a classic Hollywood police corruption tale, with an array of different cops, each with his own style, investigating a mob-related massacre with the simmering intensity that fulfills its promise of a definitive shootout at the end. To accompany the strong acting ensemble and vivid color contrast of the film's atmosphere, Hanson selected several songs from the era to punctuate the noir feel in many of his scenes. The common thread of these songs was the Chet Baker style of sultry, night club jazz that John Barry would imitate so well a few years later in Playing by Heart. But L.A. Confidential is a film with extraordinary tension, and the lounge atmosphere addressed by the songs in conversational scenes cannot translate to the edgier side of the story. For his score, Hanson approached his collaborator on The River Wild, Jerry Goldsmith, to connect the dots between the source songs and provide the necessary action. More specifically, Hanson asked Goldsmith to "magically" weave them all together. Goldsmith had been experiencing one of the busiest periods of his career in the mid-1990's, a time when he would have so many projects that he was forced to collaborate with others, a process he would eventually vow to avoid. His numerous action scores of the era were more thematically bold than the equally charged, but more atonal efforts of the 1970's. At the same time, though, many of Goldsmith's 90's action scores, and particularly the ones for films of lesser quality, were defined by their anonymity and regurgitation of stock Goldsmith constructs. Interestingly, L.A. Confidential features traits of both the 1970's style and some of the non-descript action of the 90's, likely leaving the composer's fans of either period somewhat annoyed. Still, L.A. Confidential gained Goldsmith nominations from the Golden Globes and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, though he could not compete with James Horner's Titanic for either award.

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Regardless of the score's technical merits, Goldsmith succeeds in producing a very dark and mysterious film noir accompaniment for the songs, made complete by several trumpet solos to reflect those songs. The score is surprisingly urgent, featuring the creepy, low piano rumblings that worked in Basic Instinct and synthesized beats resembling the John Williams style of sophisticated corruption in the 1990's. Thankfully, the electronic noises, because they are mixed at a distance behind the constant trumpet and piano solos, do not break the feeling of the period. The action scenes announce themselves with extremely heavy percussion, highlighted by a prominent role for timpani. The bombastic role of that instrument in "Bloody Christmas" will revive memories of classic Goldsmith action from the days of Capricorn One and The Wind and the Lion. The title theme and its variants, almost always performed by trumpet, are somewhat limp, used sporadically and often in minor fragments throughout the suspense cues. Only in the opening and closing cues, as well as "Susan Leferts," does the Chet Baker style really permeate the score with any success. As per Goldsmith's usual 90's habits, the theme receives its best treatment at the conclusion of the score, when the full ensemble accompanies the trumpet in one final, redeeming rendition of the theme. And yet, the score is extremely alienating; it attempts to draw you in with comfortable, intimate tones while pushing you away with its lonely suspense and faceless action rhythms. In the end, L.A. Confidential is a cold piece of music, successful in its task, but not entirely pleasant on album. The action music will not impress many Goldsmith collectors (outside of "Bloody Christmas") tired of similar, if not identical, music in concurrent efforts. The noir jazz, likewise, is not substantial enough in length or harmonic allure to be convincing. The CD release, as with many Varèse Sarabande releases of the time, is less than 30 minutes long, which may offer further deterrent for some potential buyers. In reality, though, L.A. Confidential would not benefit from additional length on album, for its functional patchwork of song-straddling cues never establishes enough of an identity to enjoy for repeated listening. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 138,513 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

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 Track Listings: Total Time: 30:01

• 1. Bloody Christmas (2:50)
• 2. The Cafe (2:20)
• 3. Questions (2:20)
• 4. Susan Lefferts (2:54)
• 5. Out of the Rain (2:47)
• 6. Rollo Tomasi (3:08)
• 7. The Photos (2:28)
• 8. The Keys (1:52)
• 9. Shootout (4:09)
• 10. Good Lad (2:19)
• 11. The Victor (2:32)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains a note from the director about the score, as well as biographical information about Goldsmith. A song album for the film was released three months earlier and includes only two tracks of Goldsmith music (both of which appear on the original score release).

  All artwork and sound clips from L.A. Confidential are Copyright © 1997, Varèse Sarabande. 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 12/23/97 and last updated 6/17/07. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.