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  • Stefan Riedlinger

James Horner - The Rocketeer - Soundtrack review

My plan to talk about Jerry Goldsmith “Explorers” changed when I heard about the new CD release of James Horner’s “The Rocketeer”, one of my favorite Horner scores, with one of his best love themes.

Again, we have to say Thank you, Intrada because Douglass Fake was able to give us the complete soundtrack on a 2-CD set with more than 20 minutes of previously unreleased material. Even though I had no chance to saw the movie so far, I wanted to discuss the soundtrack this week.

The movie

“The Rocketeer”, directed by Joe Johnston, is a 1991 American period superhero film from Walt Disney Pictures, starring Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin and Timothy Dalton as the bad guy Neville Sinclair, a character inspired by movie star Errol Flynn. The film is based on the character of the same name created by comic book artist and writer Dave Stevens.

Set in 1938 Los Angeles, California, The Rocketeer tells the story of a stunt pilot who discovers a rocket powered jet pack that enables him to fly without an aircraft. His heroic deeds soon attract the attention of Howard Hughes and the FBI, who are hunting for the missing jet pack, as well as sadistic Nazi operatives.

Here is a trainer to the movie:

The music

As always, you immediately recognize Horner’s way of composing elegant melodies,, and you find soon similarities to other later scores of this composer. The “Main Title” is the first highlight of the score and introduces the wonderful main theme, played on the piano. For me, this theme is one of Horner’s best.

Here is an interview with the composer about scoring the music:

“The Gizmo” introduces some jazzy elements, and then we have seven shorter tracks that create atmosphere and also sometimes funny moments when Horner used, for example, Mickey Mousing techniques in “Testing The Rocket”. From these shorter cues, “The Laughing Bandit” is my favorite one; it is a short track with so much energy in it!

Track 10 “The Flying Circus” is the next highlight of the score, a six-minute track that is just beautiful. If you remember that Horner loved to fly, a passion that kills him in the end, you can imagine how much fun he had to write a score about flying. This track is one of the best Horner ever composed, full of energy such as in “Star Trek – The Wrath of Khan”, a beautiful melody such as in “An American Trail” and a wonderful dramatic structure. If you like the love theme, you can go directly to track Nr 14 “Love Theme”.

With “South Seas Send Up”, we are back into action again. I found the scene on YouTube:

With “Neville Sinclair’s House” and “Rendezvous At Observatory”, we have the two longest tracks of the score, and the music for the showdown is track 1 from the second CD named “The Zeppelin”, another nearly eight minute piece. The wonderful “End Credits” closes the album. CD 2 contains also the original soundtrack release.

I found a soundtrack suite that is quite nice:

“The Rocketeer” is without doubt one of James Horner’s best scores, truly amazing movie music.

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2016, 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 Stefan Riedlinger.

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