Support Filmtracks! Click here first:
iTunes (U.S.)
eBay (U.S.)
This Week's Most Popular Reviews:
   1. Romeo & Juliet
   2. Hobbit: Unexpected Journey
   3. The Phantom of the Opera
   4. Lady in the Water
   5. Harry Potter: Sorcerer's Stone
   6. Moulin Rouge
   7. Gladiator
   8. Titanic
   9. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
   10. Thor: The Dark World
Newest Major Reviews: Best-Selling Albums:
   1. Chappie
   2. Fifty Shades of Grey
   3. Night/Museum: Secret/Tomb
   4. The Imitation Game
   5. Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies
   1. Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
   2. City of Ember
   3. Jack the Giant Slayer
   4. Indiana Jones Collection
   5. King Kong Lives
Section Header
The Rocketeer
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
James Horner

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
Elliot Kaplan
Conrad Pope
Billy May

Hollywood Records

Release Date:
May 26th, 1991

Also See:
Fievel Goes West
Once Upon a Forest
The Pagemaster

Audio Clips:
1. Main Title/Takeoff (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (244K)
Real Audio (152K)

3. Jenny (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

6. Jenny's Rescue (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

10. Rocketeer to the Rescue/End Titles (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

Regular U.S. release. Between 1993 and 1996, the album was very difficult to obtain in America, but a reprinting by Hollywood Records in March, 1996 made it widely available once again.


The Rocketeer

•  Printer Friendly Version
Used Price: $34.98

Sales Rank: 59051

Buy from

or read more reviews and hear more audio clips at

  Compare Prices:
eBay Stores
(new and used)
(new and used)

  Find it Used:
Check for used copies of this album in the:

Soundtrack Section at eBay

(including eBay Stores and listings)

Buy it... if you're tired of James Horner's more recent, seriously weighty dramatic scores and prefer the unrestrained enthusiasm of his early adventure works, among which The Rocketeer is one of the best.

Avoid it... if the overly-consistent innocence of Horner's soaring themes only serves to remind you of a composer rolling shamelessly in a bed of his own favorite musical constructs.

The Rocketeer: (James Horner) There was hope in the ranks of Walt Disney Pictures during the initial production phases of The Rocketeer that a film franchise could be made out of the beloved comic book hero. At a time when superhero films (and franchises) based mostly on Marvel characters were being launched with far darker sensibilities, The Rocketeer represented the innocent, straight-forward days of American fantasy in the late 30's and early 40's. In the story, a test pilot is given the opportunity (by an old inventor) to experiment with a rocket pack and, in the process of astonishing audiences with the new device, becomes a target of the Nazis, who want the technology for several reasons, Howard Hughes, and a few shady mafia characters. Throw in a beautiful girl and table is set for a typical Disney adventure. Unfortunately, the movie bombed, partly because of the exact kind of innocence that the film was trying to convey. The black and white distinctions in the film made it bland, and not even a rousing score by the ever-increasingly popular James Horner could salvage Disney's hopes. While the film slacked off at the box office and has been forgotten, Horner's score continues to soar. One of the composer's truly outstanding efforts, The Rocketeer is a stylistic bridge between his early, brass heavy fantasy scores and his later trend towards the favoring of broadly melodic string romance and drama themes. It's too serious of a score to be classified along with Horner's long list of great works for animated features, but it also has an undeniable touch of magic that reminds us of the light, comic book origins of the story. It is this light-hearted, tingling feeling of magic which makes The Rocketeer a score that has withstood the test of time. While originality was an issue for the concurrently bright score for An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Horner only references his own standards for The Rocketeer, occasionally taking stylistic inspiration from his previous scores. And when he does, he often improves upon those sounds, adding to The Rocketeer's appeal over time.

Two primary themes and one auxiliary motif for Timothy Dalton's villain are used almost constantly in the work. The title theme embodies the magical elements of the rocket and its aviator, serving as the basis for almost every action cue. With concert arrangements of this theme bookending the score, its consistent, extended statements do beg for some variation, and Horner provides some changes in tempo in the score's two ambitious action highlights. In "The Flying Circus" and "Jenny's Rescue," Horner offers the kind of explosive thematic expositions that made Willow so engaging. Here, he augments the brassy statements of the theme with an active percussion section, using cymbals, chimes, tambourines, triangles, and other light metallic elements to highlight the positive spirit of the story. In "The Flying Circus," the action motifs mirror Horner's early Star Trek writing, but translate them into their most flighty forms. Late in that cue, some hoedown attitude from Fievel Goes West appears in the form of banjo, fiddle, and other instrumentation meant almost as a parody of such sounds. For your money, however, "Jenny's Rescue" is easily the more enjoyable cue, partly because of the bass-staggered performance of the title theme two minutes in. The more fluid performances of the title theme in the opening and closing suites feature more of the magical atmosphere, however. The tingling sensation starts immediately, accompanying the film's opening take-off sequence with an elegant combination of light electronic tones (closer to Jerry Goldsmith's style than Horner's) under a gorgeous solo piano introduction of the theme. The storybook personality would continue through both suites; Horner's theme is so fluid and aerodynamic that it's built upon drawn-out peaks and valleys meant to accentuate the thrill of flying. Detractors often attack the perpetual use of this theme in the suites and beyond, though Horner does adequately shift its performances between all four corners of the orchestra, often with grand results. More troubling would be the "trademark" Horner finale at the end of the film, a progression first introduced with a bang at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, although its performance concluding The Rocketeer is among the better variants.

Learn about

The love theme in The Rocketeer also soars with innocence, and easily eclipses the quality of many of the romantic string themes that Horner would provide for films later in the decade. Heard in the form of short interludes in the two suites and during the action cues, this theme receives a lengthy performance in "Jenny." From the solo horn to the full string ensemble, this theme moves as gracefully as any in Horner's career, and its strikingly gorgeous layering amidst so much enthusiastic action material will remind of the same role the love theme played in Horner's early score for Krull. Its appeal in The Rocketeer is much the same, serving also as a tie to the source music of the era that is performed on screen by the love interest herself. The villain's theme (for Neville Sinclair) is perhaps one of the weaker points of the score, never developing with the kind convincing menace that you would hope from a score that delineates good and evil to such extremes. The theme is led by a rising four note motif that barely registers in the bland underscore in "Neville Sinclair's House" and makes an impact only in the latter half of "Zeppelin," in which the theme's layering is reminiscent of the Queen Bavmorda material from Willow's climax. Overall, critics often lump The Rocketeer in with Willow and The Land Before Time as simple, adventuresome children's music of significant orchestral volume. But there is one major difference between The Rocketeer and those other efforts. The Rocketeer is a larger-than-life comic hero, and therefore falls under a different classification of fantasy. Horner appropriately bloats every element of his score to create the needed level of comic-based fantasy; the brass play a little louder, the strings perform themes at a slower tempo, and the percussion section is absolutely exhausted of every metallic resource imaginable. Together, part of The Rocketeer seems slightly exaggerated, and that is the key to its success. A relatively short album with only 50 minutes of score and the two decent recordings of vintage jazz vocals ("Begin the Beguine" is as fluffy as it gets) was a rarity in the early 1990's but re-pressings have made this superior Horner score available once again. Only a flimsy villain's theme and the inevitable lack of variation in tone keep The Rocketeer from the highest rating. **** 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 187,905 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 4.13 Stars
Smart Average: 3.88 Stars*
***** 1124 
**** 670 
*** 329 
** 90 
* 103 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Expanded Album?
  Brett -- 5/7/13 (3:38 p.m.)
   Re: Jenny
  David Lounsberry -- 11/13/08 (2:37 a.m.)
   Re: One of Horner's Greatest
  David Lounsberry -- 11/13/08 (2:35 a.m.)
   Some of Brass Section (Hollywood Studio Sym...
  N.R.Q. -- 4/12/07 (6:21 p.m.)
   Re: They should strap that rocket to James ...
  Kevin Smith -- 1/8/07 (5:45 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 57:16

• 1. Main Title/Takeoff (4:30)
• 2. The Flying Circus (6:30)
• 3. Jenny (5:10)
• 4. Begin the Beguine - performed by Melora Hardin (3:36)
• 5. Neville Sinclair's House (7:20)
• 6. Jenny's Rescue (3:20)
• 7. Rendezvous at Griffith Park Observatory (8:10)
• 8. When Your Lover Has Gone - performed by Melora Hardin (3:25)
• 9. The Zeppelin (7:58)
• 10. Rocketeer to the Rescue/End Titles (6:30)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains no information about the score or film and is difficult to re-fold into its original form.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Rocketeer are Copyright © 1991, Hollywood 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 9/24/96 and last updated 1/1/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.