Some film scores are so good that they’re worth owning even if you haven’t seen the movie. Here’s a selective A+ list:
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Erich Wolfgang Korngold
The soundtrack to the 1938 Errol Flynn swashbuckler is the kind of stuff John Williams wishes he could write. Old-fashioned movie music at its most stalwart, stirring, and sublime.
One From the Heart
Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle
Waits’ songs punch across the hung-over romanticism that the rest of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1982 misfire only hinted at. And the seemingly mismatched vocal pairing of Waits and Gayle — rotgut whiskey and smooth liqueur-works like a charm.
Mrs. Soffel/The Times of Harvey Milk/Never Cry Wolf
Mark Isham With his score to last year’s Billy Bathgate, Isham forays into Morricone territory and falls flat on his face. Better to search out this spare, elliptically haunting compilation of three earlier scores.
Psycho and Vertigo
They’re not just Hitchcock’s finest hours; they’re Herrmann’s, too. His 1960 Psycho is a nerve-damaging shriek of terror, while Vertigo (1958) is a dark, achingly romantic portrait of obsessed love.
Music for a Darkened Theatre
The erstwhile leader of the rock group Oingo Boingo has become the bad boy of movie music — there’s no orchestral effect he won’t try, and the results are frisky and ingenious. This compilation of his scores covers everything from the riotous (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) to the murkily dazzling (Batman).