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A Fish Called Wanda
Album Cover Art
1988 Soundscreen/
Little Major
1988 Milan Records/
Album 2 Cover Art
2017 Music Box Records
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed, Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
John Du Prez

Co-Produced by:
Andre Jacquemin
Labels Icon
Soundscreen/Little Major Records

Milan Records/Soundscreen

Music Box Records
Availability Icon
The 1988 album was commercial release in Europe, where it received identical pressings from multiple label combinations. It remained relatively easy to obtain for decades. The 2017 Music Box Records album is limited to 1,000 copies and available initially for $20 only through soundtrack specialty outlets.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you can't resist the funniest, most effective orchestral sex cue in the history of cinema, for John Du Prez highlights his otherwise breezy and predictable parody score with a Wagnerian humping cue that is alone worth the search for the album.

Avoid it... if less than five minutes of monumental symphonic glory is not worth the badly dated light rock that inhabits much of the acoustic and electric guitar-led romantic and crime caper material that dominates the remainder of the score.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 8/16/11, REVISED 12/31/17
A Fish Called Wanda: (John Du Prez) As one of the few films to have been confirmed by the media to be the cause of "death by laughter" for an audience member, A Fish Called Wanda resides on many lists of critics' funniest movies of all time. It represents the combined efforts of two legendary British comedians, John Cleese and Charles Crichton, the former famous for his involvement with Monty Python and the latter an established director and editor of English comedies from the 1940's to 1960's before coming out of retirement for A Fish Called Wanda, his final venture on the big screen. Both were nominated for Academy Awards (Cleese for just the screenplay, though he did reportedly direct some of the film as well), and Cleese also earned a BAFTA for his performance as a stuffy barrister in the movie. Fellow Monty Python alum Michael Palin stuttered his way to a BAFTA win himself while Jamie Lee Curtis earned Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for playing a seductive con artist. The most recognition was saved for Kevin Kline, however, who followed his BAFTA nomination by winning an Academy Award for his memorable supporting role as Curtis' accomplice in the convoluted crime plot. The heist tale in A Fish Called Wanda is only a basic template (or an excuse, one might say) for the clashing of ridiculous characters in Cleese's story, all four leads exhibiting personality quirks that make each of their interactions hysterically funny. After a successful London robbery of precious diamonds, the American duo betrays their British counterparts and spend the rest of the film attempting to lure Cleese's character into divulging where the Brits hid the loot before their arrest. The death of animals in the movie is grotesquely entertaining, as is the unrestrained anti-American viewpoints reflected by Cleese's drawing of the characters. Fallacies of logic are aplenty in the script and often serve one-liners that, in the case of several of them, have become classics ("You're the vulgarian, you fuck!"). The ensemble cast reunited in 1997 for Fierce Creatures, an attempt to capture the same undeniable spark with slight alterations to essentially the same characters, but without the same success.

One of the intangibles of A Fish Called Wanda is its completely unheralded and rather short but highly effective score by English composer and conductor John Du Prez. The film and television scoring career of Du Prez traces in most assignments back to his association with Eric Idle and other Monty Python connections, though he did follow A Fish Called Wanda with the music for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and contributed material to Hollywood as late as in portions of 2006's The Wild. He is likely best known for writing music for the "Spamalot" stage musical. The most intriguing aspect of his career was his name change; he abandoned his birth name of Trevor Jones in part to help distinguish himself from the South African-born composer of the same name who rose to stardom in the 1980's and made a fortune in the 1990's. His music for A Fish Called Wanda is, on the surface, not much different from the pop/orchestral blend that you'd expect to hear from any comedy during the 1980's, but Du Prez was forced to add significantly more intelligence to the mix because of the need for parody seriousness and source material sprinkled throughout the film. While the source-like sequences don't sound much like anything in the rest of the far more contemporary-styled score, these parody cues are handled quite well by the composer and will, for many listeners, yield the highlights of the work. Very tight budgets (only three hours of recording time was afforded with the orchestra) and a near rejection from studio head Lionel Newman caused Du Prez and Cleese a fair amount of stress, but the result of the final recording is impressive given the circumstances. The heart of the score is Du Prez's love theme for the Cleese and Curtis characters, heard in a wide range of guises and lending the upbeat, sappy tone to the score's majority. The performances of the love theme are usually the duty of guitarist John Williams, whose acoustic tones are timeless compared to the snazzier light rock renditions of the idea that exist elsewhere. In "Main Title," you hear both sides of this equation, the guitar with soft string backing at 1:20 still easily digestible decades later while the rendition at 2:00 in the same track adds electric guitar, bass, keyboarding, and percussion that clearly dates the music.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.04 Stars
***** 30 5 Stars
**** 25 4 Stars
*** 28 3 Stars
** 27 2 Stars
* 26 1 Stars
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I wish. . .
mastadge - October 18, 2011, at 2:29 p.m.
1 comment  (1062 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1988 Soundscreen/Milan Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 46:45
• 1. End Title's (3:19)
• 2. Main Title (2:35)
• 3. First Encounter With Otto (0:31)
• 4. Robbery (2:28)
• 5. George Arrested (1:17)
• 6. Empty Safe (0:47)
• 7. Wanda Meets Archie (0:38)
• 8. Otto Jealousy (0:43)
• 9. Sword Ballet (0:53)
• 10. Humping (2:14)
• 11. Wanda Visits Archie at Home (2:16)
• 12. Assasination (1) (0:22)
• 13. Choir Boy's (0:26)
• 14. Wanda Meets Archie at Flat (1) (1:15)
• 15. Assasination (2) (0:41)
• 16. Archie's Robbery (1:12)
• 17. Archie's Sadness (0:43)
• 18. Wanda Meets Archie at Flat (2) (1:43)
• 19. Assasination (3) (0:56)
• 20. Ken's Sadness (0:47)
• 21. Chase (1) (1:35)
• 22. Chase (2) (2:39)
• 23. A Fish Called Wanda Suite (16:55)
(track listings on the packaging misspells several titles and omit tracks 16 and 17)
2017 Music Box Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 73:19

Notes Icon
The inserts of the 1988 albums include notes about the composer and director. Most online track listings for this score's albums reflect the packaging's erroneous track names and times. The listing at Filmtracks recreates the misspelled titles but corrects the ordering and times. The 2017 Music Box album corrects all these mistakes as well, and its insert contains notes about the film and score.
Copyright © 2011-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from A Fish Called Wanda are Copyright © 1988, 2017, Soundscreen/Little Major Records, Milan Records/Soundscreen, Music Box Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/16/11 and last updated 12/31/17.
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