PHOTO CREDIT: UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Feel-good movies don’t get much more uplifting than Rudy, the 1993 biopic about the college football player Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Immortalizing its subject’s story of struggle and eventual triumph on the silver screen, Rudy remains fondly remembered as one of the finest sports movies ever made — and is known to make even the most stone-faced football pros cry.
There’s no denying that Rudy’s power is enhanced by Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack. The late composer had made his name scoring horror, sci-fi and fantasy films in the 70s and 80s, but in 1986 he swapped otherworldly happenings for real-life events when he teamed up with screenwriter Angelo Pizzo and director David Anspaugh to score their movie Hoosiers. Goldsmith’s first foray into sports flicks earned him an Oscar nomination, encouraging the trio to reconvene six years later to turn Ruettiger’s tale into an inspirational biopic with universal appeal.
You don’t need to be a sports fan to be moved while watching an undergraduate underdog achieve his dream of playing for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. Nor do you need to be a musical genius to hear why Goldsmith’s score makes the perfect accompaniment to Rudy’s journey.
The main title theme offers a pastoral two minutes before soaring on layers of strings and wordless vocals, indicating that what follows will be a mini epic whose stakes are played out nightly on playing fields and in locker rooms the world over. The opening theme also sets up Goldsmith’s simple but affecting Rudy motif, which, like changes in formation, is rendered in various ways throughout the score, from the pensive cue “A Start” to the more portentous, emotionally-charged “Tryouts.” Across 37 minutes, Goldsmith delivers a master class in emotive storytelling, and by the time “The Final Game” draws to a close, you’ll feel as though you’re being carried off the field yourself.
As news that Goldsmith’s score would be performed live by a full orchestra at a silver-anniversary screening of Rudy, both the real-life Rudy Ruettiger and his on-screen counterpart, Sean Astin, explain why “it is an absolute right and an absolute truth that this score by Jerry Goldsmith is perfect.”
What? No Legend?! Nevermind – you know more Jerry Goldsmith film scores than you think, and pop-culture commentators Den Of Geek are all too happy to take a deep dive with you.
A touching tribute to the late composer from someone who got to know him personally – well enough, in fact, for Goldsmith to christen him “the man who hated salad.”
DEEP CUTS WE LOVE...
“Back On The Field”
With its gently undulating opening, “Back On The Field” channels feelings of pride and wide-eyed wonder before galloping towards a euphoric fanfare. In a little over two minutes, Goldsmith has encapsulated the shifting emotions felt by those who know they’re about to embark on a life-changing journey.
Taken at a gentle pace, “The Plaque” fairly shimmers throughout its opening bars before a variation on the main Rudy theme reminds listeners whose story this is. Master that he is, however, Goldsmith ensures audiences make their own connection as he weaves in a subtle use of vocals which is both heavenly yet grounded in humanity.
“Take Us Out”
Much of Goldsmith’s Rudy score displays a restrained grandeur as the composer turns his main motif inside out. On “Take Us Out,” however, he lets fly with a short 1.52 cue designed to get the blood pumping on the fields and in the bleachers. Success may not yet be assured for Rudy, but, by “Take Us Out”’s closing drum roll, it’s certainly within reach.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Jerry Goldsmith’s original score for the film Legend was cut from the U.S. edit of the movie and replaced by a soundtrack recorded by German experimentalists Tangerine Dream. Goldsmith’s soundtrack is now a cult favorite among fans.
- Despite 18 nominations across three and a half decades, Goldstein only received one Academy Award, for his chilling soundtrack to the 1977 horror movie The Omen…
- … And yet, in the late ’90s, he composed “Fanfare For Oscar,” which was officially used by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
- Other recipients of a coveted Goldsmith fanfare have included Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Carolco Pictures.
- Beyond Hollywood, Goldsmith also scored the music for the Soarin’ Over California flight simulator, installed at Disney California Adventure Park (and, renamed Soarin’, at Epcot Center, in Florida), ensuring that his work will reach forever skywards.
Words: Jason Draper