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Gotcha! – Bill Conti - Soundtrack Review

The only good aspect about these crazy CVSID - Corona Virus Self Isolation Days - is that I have time to update my blog. So, let’s talk about another Bill Conti score: “Gotcha!”. At first, I wanted to talk about Stephen Warbeck’s “Hamsted”, a movie I saw on a family trip to Brazil. The movie is fun to watch, and music has a nice theme, but because Intrada released Bill Conti’s “Gotcha”, I wanted to talk about this one this week as another CD with some of the finest action pieces written by Conti.

The movie

“Gotcha!” is a 1985 American action comedy film, starring Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino and directed by Jeff Kanew, who also directed Edwards in “Revenge of the Nerds” in 1984. Some people might remember Kanew as director of “Touch Guys”, an action comedy with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as freshly relieved out-of-prison-gangsters in their final film together. Kanew later directed “V.I. Warshawski”, an action-comedy with Kathleen Turner. Anthony Edwards is very well-known for his role as Dr. Mark Greene in “ER”, for which he received a Golden Globe award, and he also played Tom Cruise’s buddy Goose in “Top Gun” (1986). Here a trailer I found:

Nowadays, when more and more people, especially the younger generation, glorify Socialism, movies like “Gotcha!” should be watched again because you get an insight what life in the Cold War and Socialism had been. German actor Klaus Loewitsch plays Russian KGB Agent Vlad, the antagonist in this movie, who gives Edwards a hard time.

The plot is easily told, but I will not tell too much, so people who did not watch the movie so far, can still enjoy it: Edwards is playing a game called "Gotcha" (popular on 1980s college campuses as "Assassin"), wherein the players are all assigned a mock "hit" on another player by the use of a paintball gun. The plot really starts when Edwards and his Latino roommate Manolo (Nick Corri) go on a vacation to Paris. After touring and dealing with speaking French – there are two hilarious scenes in the movie -, Edwards meets Sasha Banicek (Linda Fiorentino), a Czechoslovakian girl, in a café. Edwards who had a long and unsuccessful career for getting laid at university is so happy that the little dominant Sasha is falling for him, and, finally, he is losing his virginity. Here is one of the French speaking scenes:

They continue to spend time with each other, going to West Berlin and even to East Berlin because Sasha told Edwards that she has to pick up a package, as she works as a courier. Normally, each Western Guy would be highly suspicious to go a communistic country, but hey, we are in a movie, and this guy is blind of love or sex, you can choose. We also see that Sasha is observed by a KGB agent (Loewitsch). During a walk, Sasha tells Edwards that if she gives him a certain message, it means that he must immediately leave East Berlin. And, of course, this situation happens, and we have one of the most suspenseful scenes in this movie. Before that, Sasha slipped an object into Edwards’ backpack, and that is the reason that he is being chased now by Soviet agents and the East German police. I will stop here, so you can enjoy the following scenes and the nice showdown.

The music

In the CD liner notes, Kanew explained that he used James Horner’s “Gorky Park” (1983) as temp tracks. Conti compared “Gotcha” with “For Your Eyes Only” (1981), the James Bond movie he scored and which I also discussed on my blog and in my book: The difference between these two movies is that James Bond is a professional spy and Edwards a fish out of water: “Changing emotion and chasing the ride that Gotcha! was going on made this an exciting project.”

When I saw this movie as a teenager, there was a soundtrack LP, but it offered mostly the songs which I was not interested in and only two tracks by Conti.

The CD now gives us 32 tracks and 50 minutes. From track 18 on, alternative tracks and source tracks are presented. The tracks can be separated in the quieter ones and the action tracks. Conti explained: “There’s a whole history of what “Russian Music” sounds like. Just the sound of an instrument like the balalaika will give you that feeling, and, of course, Russia also has this traditional great dark orchestral music. So, if you’re being chased by Russians, and want musically point to them, I’m saying “this is what I think they sound like.””

Conti uses a lot of percussions for the action music, and for the quieter parts the already mentioned Russian music, emphasized by strings in “Sascha’s Secret” (track 4), one of the best tracks. The following one “Love in the D.D.R.”, uses the French Horn at the beginning which reminds us about the lyrical tracks in the “Rocky” scores, especially the track “Mickey” in “Rocky 3”. The next track “Sascha, Meet Vlad” is another great track with the “Russian music” and the strings and the piano alternating to create wonderful suspense music. Well done!

With “Check Point”, we have the start of the action music even though track 2 “Jon Gets His Guy” is the first action track (I cannot remember the scene for this one). “Check Point” underscores the scene when Sasha is telling Edwards to leave the DDR.

For all who bought the LP like me, they remember the track “On the Edge”, this music is now called to “Jon, Meet Vlad”. On the CD, you can find this LP track also, the music is a little different (from 1’48’’), especially in the end, and you can decide which track you like more. Here are the two LP tracks:

Conti said about this chase music: “It’s wonderful when I get to do big chases that are dramatic and fun. The French horn where the notes are way in the stratosphere is typical of that period for me, along with the high string lines, punching brass and melodies that I like. When you’re using electronics and drum machines with the classical idea, then you’ve got the whole gamut.”

The next track is nice because of the quieter parts in the second half, track 15 “Hither and Yon” is a funky Jazz track. With “On the Edge”, we have now finally the music for the big show down, a fabulous action track, pushing constantly forward in the way only Conti could write it, this time with swirling strings, electronics, Russian music, and a lot of percussion. I am a big fan of the string part at 1’35’’ before the action music comes in again. The main theme for this score is such a good one, and I really like the way how Conti uses it sometimes dominant in the foreground, but also in the background, here with the brass section. The last 28 seconds sounds musically a little strange, but this is because we have a slow-motion scene here. Track 26 gives an alternative cue without this last part. Another alternative cue is the track called “Check Point” which seems just to be composed for the LP and is not a track from the music in the movie. I did not even like this track on the LP, so I skip it.

Overall, “Gotcha!” is still a funny movie to watch, a typical 80s action comedy, with a very erotic Linda Fiorentino. Conti’s action tracks are one of his nicest and a very good reason to buy this CD! Enjoy the music!

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2020, 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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