No, not the Kenny Rogers Gambler movie! Rather, Karel Reisz’s terrific The Gambler from 1974 with a greatly underrated performance by James Caan and a fine script by James Toback. For the remastered Blu-Ray release, I contributed On the Morning After: Composing The Gambler, a 10-minute featurette on Jerry Fielding’s music. It was an unusual situation, as the filmmakers asked the composer to base his score entirely on Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. Fielding essentially took bits and pieces of the Mahler First and rebuilt it into a dramatic score for Caan’s obsessive gambler character.
Nine of the entries in this 2019 collection of pieces about film and TV composers are mine. They were all written in the 2010-2011 period for the distinguished Grove Music Dictionary people when I had more time on my hands. They included John Barry, Bruce Broughton, Jerry Fielding, James Newton Howard, David Newman, Lionel Newman, Mike Post, Laurence Rosenthal and Patrick Williams. While it’s nice to have articles in a Grove Music Guide, it would have been nice if the editors had contacted me about revisions and modifications to the texts (no one did), not to mention consulting me about some of the other entries (the one on Jerry Goldsmith is misleading and the Alfred Newman entry contains errors).
This was another favorite assignment. Most of this 5-CD set consists of TV-movie scores composed by some of the greats of the ’60s and ’70s: Lalo Schifrin (Earth II), Dave Grusin (Assignment: Vienna), Leonard Rosenman (The Phantom of Hollywood), Don Ellis (The Deadly Tower), Billy Goldenberg (High Risk), Jerry Fielding (Shirts / Skins) and George Duning (…Then Came Bronson). Throw in a TV-episode score by Johnny Williams (for The Eleventh Hour), George Romanis’ theme for Assignment: Munich and Richard Chamberlain’s vocal from Dr. Kildare and you really do have a potpourri of great TV music from 1962 to 1976. It was especially exciting to revisit Grusin’s three jazzy scores for the short-lived Robert Conrad spy series Assignment: Vienna (part of The Men trilogy on ABC, 1972-73) and Schifrin’s wonderful score for the Earth II pilot of 1971.