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Section Header
The Witches of Eastwick
1987 Warner

2006 Collector's Choice

2012 Perseverance

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Williams

Orchestrated by:
Herbert Spencer

Labels and Dates:
Warner Brothers

Collector's Choice
(June 27th, 2006)

Perseverance Records
(October 16th, 2012)

Also See:
Presumed Innocent
Damien: Omen II

Audio Clips:
1987 Album:

4. The Seduction of Alex (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

6. The Seduction of Suki and The Ballroom Scene (0:28):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

10. Daryl Rejected (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

11. The Ride Home (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 1987 album from Warner Brothers was a regular commercial release that eventually became a top film music collectible. The 2006 retail re-issue by Collector's Choice reduced its value to about $12, though that label quickly went out of business and the re-issue became scarce. The 2012 Perseverance re-issue was limited to 3,000 copies but returned to a retail value of about $13.

  Nominated for an Academy Award and a Grammy Award.

The Witches of Eastwick
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Buy it... if you're tired of hearing John Williams' melodramatic and bombastic music and desire an intelligently enthusiastic, whimsical score of faux romance and perky spirit.

Avoid it... if you find Williams' musical sense of humor to be tedious, for The Witches of Eastwick is so flighty in parts that it does tend to become obnoxious outside of context.

The Witches of Eastwick: (John Williams) For those who believe that casting is everything in a film, then The Witches of Eastwick was a production custom made for its cast. Not only do Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer play bored New England housewives messing around with witchcraft, but they conjure their perfect man in the form of the devil. In perhaps the most predictable single casting move ever in Hollywood, Jack Nicholson finally got to revel in the role he was truly meant for. Adapted competently by director George Miller from John Updike's fantasy novel, The Witches of Eastwick is a classic comedy in part because of the fiendish performance by Nicholson but also because the story is a timeless one that doesn't go overboard on the imaginative religious turmoil involving special effects until its final scenes. After creating the devil in a pristine small town, the three women are first seduced by him before uniting to defeat him, eventually yielding one of the most spirited and humorous (not to mention cherry-spewing) monologues to "church-going folk" ever to exist on the screen. While most of the accolades and awards attention pointed to Nicholson's performance, the Academy nominated The Witches of Eastwick only for its sound and score by John Williams. Indeed, the music by the veteran Williams was a delightful and obvious contributor to the comedy of the film, maintaining just the right tone of dreamy fluffiness until unleashing the necessary ballsy action material at the tale's conclusion. When you merge cheeky comedy with a keen classical sense, along with the composer's inherently intellectual view of practically any assignment, you get a score for The Witches of Eastwick that is remarkably effective despite its carefree attitude. In personality, it is about as far removed as possible from Williams' other Oscar-nominated score of 1987, Empire of the Sun (and more consistent in its flow by a substantial margin), though both scores suffer when translated onto album. In the case of The Witches of Eastwick, this trial of patience apart from the film is due to the overwhelmingly positive, dancing spirit of Williams' title theme and related material throughout the film. This music could quite literally drive a person mad in its twisted combination of folk and waltz movements, foreshadowing some the uplifting material of magical intent in the Harry Potter franchise but pouring on the tone of a carnival atmosphere (with slight religious nods from harp and organ) to such an extent that it borders on tedium in its more enthusiastic parts. Williams even lightly emulates Jerry Goldsmith's "squishing sound" rhythm from Damien: Omen II in "The Ride Home."

Because the witches and their unruly creation both evolve from the whim of the three housewives, their devious theme is the centerpiece for every part of the score. Heard in several major scenes without significant interference from other elements (as in the aforementioned "The Ride Home"), "The Dance of the Witches" is a whirling, fanciful theme for woodwinds, violins and harpsichord that occasionally employs deep brass tones on key to hint at the gravity of their actions. This theme takes on a purely comedy stature of grand high class in "Daryl Arrives," a piece that pokes fun at standard classical structures in its treatment of the devil's pompous bravado. While extremely memorable and therefore a crucial element within the picture, this theme does tend to wear on the nerves after the fifth or six major variation; the harpsichord is especially obnoxious after a while. The score's secondary theme for Daryl Van Horn is actually more humorous in its applications while also being quite attractive. First heard at the end of "The Seduction of Alex," this theme is ultra-tragic in a Golden Age sense, tickling at "Daryl's Secrets" before occupying the almost genuinely sorrowful "Daryl Rejected." The piano and deep synthetic keyboarding of this cue (a duo later used to great levels in Presumed Innocent) gives the sonic retort to the harpsichord. By laying Daryl's theme directly over the title theme and its rhythm in this cue, Williams firmly connects the two. The hopelessly optimistic environment conveyed on synthesizer and woodwinds in "The Township of Eastwick" extends to "The Tennis Game," and chopping string figures in these passages will please fans of Danny Elfman's early 1990's sound. Of the unique standout cues in The Witches of Eastwick, "The Destruction of Daryl" adds some overdue muscle and church organ to the confrontation, while "The Children's Carousel" is a downright creepy cue in the film that translates the title theme into a music box effect. Finally, any discussion of The Witches of Eastwick cannot conclude without a special mention of "The Ballroom Scene," a cue replaced by Giacomo Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" (from the opera "Turandot") in the film but whimsically romantic and beautiful to a fault and unlike anything else in Williams' score. Ultimately, The Witches of Eastwick is an important entry in the composer's career, as comedy was a rare occasion at the time. After the score's 1987 release on CD by Warner Brothers went out of print, it was considered a top collectible worthy of $200 or more. Several substandard bootlegs with additional, inconsequential music (including some alternate takes) floated around the market until demand was met by a 2006 Collector's Choice album and a 2012 Perseverance re-issue (both identical to the 1987 product, though the 2006 item has a few technical glitches) that made the music available inexpensively. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Williams reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.74 (in 69 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.59 (in 337,522 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.49 Stars
Smart Average: 3.38 Stars*
***** 160 
**** 162 
*** 117 
** 69 
* 65 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Don't feel the same
  thw -- 8/24/09 (1:07 p.m.)
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 Track Listings (All Albums): Total Time: 49:29

• 1. The Township of Eastwick (2:50)
• 2. The Dance of the Witches (4:57)
• 3. Maleficio (3:22)
• 4. The Seduction of Alex (2:42)
• 5. Daryl's Secrets (3:55)
• 6. The Seduction of Suki and The Ballroom Scene (7:09)
• 7. Daryl Arrives (2:47)
• 8. The Tennis Game (2:51)
• 9. Have Another Cherry! (3:25)
• 10. Daryl Rejected (3:03)
• 11. The Ride Home (3:24)
• 12. The Destruction of Daryl (5:39)
• 13. The Children's Carousel (1:54)
• 14. End Credits (The Dance of the Witches Reprise) (4:51)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The inserts for none of the retail albums include extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Witches of Eastwick are Copyright © 1987, 2006, 2012, Warner Brothers, Collector's Choice, Perseverance 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 8/11/09 and last updated 11/19/12. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved. "Did God know what he was doing when he created... woooman?"