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Stanley & Iris
Album Cover Art
1990 Varèse
2017 Varèse
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony
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Varèse Sarabande
(January 27th, 1990)

Varèse Sarabande
(March 13th, 2017)
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The 1990 album was a regular U.S. release, but it fell out of print by the mid-1990's and sold between $30 and $50 for during that time. The 2017 Varèse Club album is limited to 3,000 copies and retailed at soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial price of $20.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... only if you are an extremely avid collector of John Williams' softer dramatic techniques and appreciate the very restrained tone of his most conservative character scores for small ensembles.

Avoid it... on especially the earlier album for the score if you have no interest in exercising patience with one of the composer's most underachieving and ineffective scores for an equally disappointing film.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 6/13/98, REVISED 4/2/17
Stanley & Iris: (John Williams) Despite its promise at small venues and with awards voters, Stanley & Iris was slammed by critics left and right and lost the interest of audiences almost immediately after its 1990 debut. With a screenplay written by husband-and-wife team Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr., and directed by veteran Martin Ritt shortly before his death, the film reunited the team that brought Norma Rae and, more recently, Murphy's Romance to the big screen. The purpose of the film was to make a social statement about illiteracy, posing Jane Fonda as a working class widow attempting to befriend and teach Robert DeNiro, a working class illiterate, how to read and write after she inadvertently causes the loss of his job. Despite a solid supporting cast of actors typecast from previous successes like Moonstruck and Parenthood, the movie was sunk by Fonda's unrealistic and unsympathetic performance in a title role, one that nudged her into retirement from acting thereafter. Poor dialogue and predictable plotlines have continued to cause laughter of a mean-spirited nature many years later, and while ardent fans of composer John Williams may not want to hear it, the score doesn't help Stanley & Iris much, either. Nestled in between Williams' lofty and adventuresome production of 1989 and 1990, Stanley & Iris represents one of the composer's relieving deviations from his fully orchestral exercises in bombast that he tended to take once every two or three years at the time. Unfortunately, his respite in the soft warmth of light character drama could not salvage the film and did little to further his own career path. In many ways, the film lacks spark, personality, and any kind of memorable touch to distinguish itself from other character dramas, and the exact same statement can be made about Williams' music. Over the years, the status of the score's album as a collectible caused an aura of desirability that many fans seem to feel towards Stanley & Iris.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.12 Stars
***** 61 5 Stars
**** 59 4 Stars
*** 61 3 Stars
** 55 2 Stars
* 46 1 Stars
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Very melodious music
S.Venkatnarayanan - May 7, 2008, at 3:13 a.m.
1 comment  (1728 views)
Still available at Varèse...   Expand >>
Walensky - November 4, 2005, at 2:12 p.m.
2 comments  (3173 views)
Newest: November 4, 2005, at 5:00 p.m. by

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1990 Varèse Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 28:56
• 1. Stanley and Iris (3:24)
• 2. Reading Lessons (2:26)
• 3. The Bicycle (3:07)
• 4. Factory Work (1:23)
• 5. Finding a Family (1:41)
• 6. Stanley at Work (1:31)
• 7. Looking after Papa (3:10)
• 8. Stanley's Invention (1:17)
• 9. Night Visit (1:58)
• 10. Letters (3:25)
• 11. Putting it all Together (1:46)
• 12. End Credits (3:03)
2017 Varèse Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 77:01

Notes Icon
The insert of both albums include notes about the score and film, the 2017 insert also containing a list of performers and notation about Pete 'n' Tillie. The following is an excerpt from the latter half of the 1990 album's insert notes:

    "The wide ranging emotions of the characters, which also include Stanley's elderly father and lris's pregnant teenage daughter, are beautifully and delicately captured in John Williams' poignant orchestrations and themes. The main title eloquently sets the atmosphere for what becomes an impressionistic poem-like presentation of the score. Solo piano, flute and strings are the dominant components of both the main title and the score, with the development of the characters' musical themes tracing the progression of the relationship between Stanley and Iris.

    Film experiences of this caliber are as rare as film scores of such inspired insight, and the combination of these two elements are more mutually exclusive than one might think. In John Williams' case, however, after scoring an unparalleled number of truly outstanding and memorable motion pictures and treating them all to a bounty of musical riches to help further elevate them, it is no wonder that he is considered among the best to ever practice his craft. Be it with the assistance of a huge symphonic pallet or working within an economy of means, as is the situation here, Williams always knows just what to say-what needs to be said-after which it is impossible to imagine any film of his existing without his contribution."
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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 Stanley & Iris are Copyright © 1990, 2017, Varèse Sarabande, Varèse Sarabande and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/13/98 and last updated 4/2/17.
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