Fried Green Tomatoes
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
LABEL & RELEASE DATE
Regular U.S. release, but completely out of print and extremely difficult to find.
Buy it... if you can find it for a decent price and aren't afraid
of vibrant Southern rhythms and Thomas Newman's symphonic soft side.
Avoid it... if you can't find it for a reasonable price and aren't
interested in soulful vocals and bluesy rhythms over a large orchestral
Fried Green Tomatoes
: (Thomas Newman) One of the
ultimate tearjerkers ever to be put to screen, Fried Green
is a story told in flashback, set in both the 1990's and
1930's and addressing common issues in both periods. The 1930's setting
is the attractive one, and the reason Fannie Flag's book ("Fried Green
Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe") was put to screen by Universal and
director Jon Avnet. Two young women operate a cafe in a small Alabama
town in the '30's, where things are pretty progressive. Whites and
blacks have civil relations, and the rednecks that roll down the main
street waving guns in the air are shunned as being the village idiots.
But complexity exists in the cafe, for there are lesbian undertones to
the relationship between its two operators. There's a murder mystery in
the past and the salvaging of another troubled woman in the future
setting, and one of the film's weaknesses is its inability to switch
between times with ease. For women especially, the film will send you to
the box of tissues repeatedly, and some have criticized the film for
trying too hard for a melodramatic punch. Whether that's true or not,
one fabulous element of the film is Thomas Newman's score. While already
an established name, Newman was still a few years away from his
mainstream discovery and handful of Academy Award nominations. It also
happened to come before Newman surprised orchestral film fans with his
masterful symphonic scores of 1993 and 1994, and well before he returned
to his experimental roots in electronic and world-instrument sounds
thereafter. Whenever you hear or read discussions about Thomas Newman
two decades later, you often hear people classify (or attempt to) each
of his recent efforts into either period of his production, and for the
most part, these classifications can be accurate. To its credit,
Fried Green Tomatoes
exists outside of this debate.
If forced into one of the two "trademark" Thomas Newman
sounds, Fried Green Tomatoes
would fall in line with the large
symphonic scores that he produced with great results. But the score also
features some of the intense creativity of instrumentation and
genre-bending characteristics of his post-modern efforts as well. In
these regards, Fried Green Tomatoes
is one of the finest scores
of his career, not on par with Angels in America
in its grandeur,
because it's a highly personal score, but almost equal in quality. The
melodramatic nature of the story causes the necessity for a orchestrally
thematic score, and among Newman's works, Fried Green Tomatoes
more loyal to its primary two themes than most others in his career.
Often carried by solo woodwinds, one theme in the score features a
lyricism and innocence that borders on Rachel Portman territory (which
is odd... those two have nothing in common musically). An earnest and
tonal approach to even the darker cues keeps the score a pleasant
listening experience. The second theme is one of spirit and pizzazz,
often existing over bluesy rhythms of guitar and piano that will remind
of Jerry Goldsmith's stylish Love Field
. The slide guitar, light
percussion, and piano in the two "Night Baseball" and "The Bee Charmer"
cues have undeniable charm in their smooth rhythms and sense of humor.
The "Ghost Train" title cue is a highlight of Newman's entire career,
opening with an ominous crescendo of suspense before bursting into the
Southern rhythms with remarkable brass counterpoint and swinging
woodwind solos. An indispensable aspect of the score is Marion Williams'
soulful vocals, a highlight of the rhythmic cues. A satisfying bass and
remarkably crisp sound quality also adds to the appeal of the score; in
"Ghost Train," the bass is impressive and the clear recording quality
allows even the whispery flutes to have a positive fluttering effect
over the top. On its own, the score has no weaknesses, though the album
does. The traditional songs performed by Williams break up the flow of
the score (though the reverberating honky tonk "The Town Follies" cue
fares better), and a short running time could leave you wanting more.
The rare score-only album followed a song album that featured only five
minutes of score, but it'll be worth the price for fans of Tom Newman
and beyond. **** @Amazon.com: CD or
For Thomas Newman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.16
(in 32 reviews)|
and the average viewer rating is 3.13
(in 55,750 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.
|I am glad..|
thw - May 14, 2006, at 7:12 a.m.
1 comment (2395 views)|
Total Time: 34:24
1. Ghost Train (Main Title)* (3:09)|
2. Whistle Stop, Ala. (1:16)
3. A Charge to Keep I Have** (2:34)
4. Xmas in Hooverville (1:50)
5. The Treehouse (1:11)
6. Night Baseball* (0:57)
7. Whither Thou Goest I Will Go (1:53)
8. Buddy Threadgoode (1:19)
9. Didn't it Rain** (2:53)
10. The Bee Chamber (1:59)
11. Wallpaper (1:30)|
12. The Smell of Coffee (1:12)
13. Visiting Ruth (1:44)
14. Miss Otis Died (1:27)
15. The Town Follies - written by Ralph Grierson (0:45)
16. Klansmen (2:04)
17. Smokey Lonesome (1:22)
18. Big George* (1:50)
19. Night Baseball (Mandolin Reprise) (1:01)
20. The Whistle Stop Cafe (2:28)
* Newman score containing Marion Williams vocals.
** Pre-existing songs performed by Marion Williams.
The insert notes contain extensive credits, but no info about the music itself.
Piano: John Beasley
Percussion: Michael Fisher
Clarinet: Jeff Elmassian
Double Reeds: John C. Clarke
Guitars, Mandolin: George Doering
Concert Mistress: Maria Newman