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Section Header
The Fugitive
1993 Elektra

2009 La-La Land

Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Co-Produced by:
James Newton Howard

Conducted by:
Marty Paich

Co-Orchestrated by:
Chris Boardman
Brad Dechter

Co-Produced by:
Michael Mason

Labels and Dates:
Elektra Entertainment
(August 31st, 1993)

La-La Land Records
(December 1st, 2009)

Also See:
U.S. Marshals

Audio Clips:
1993 Elektra Album:

2. The Storm Drain (0:28):
WMA (184K)  MP3 (226K)
Real Audio (140K)

4. Helicopter Chase (0:33):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (263K)
Real Audio (164K)

6. Subway Fight (0:31):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

11. It's Over (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

The 1993 Elektra album is a regular U.S. release. The 2009 2-CD set from La-La Land was limited to 3,000 copies and sold through soundtrack specialty outlets for $30.

  Nominated for an Academy Award.

The Fugitive
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Sales Rank: 190340

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Buy it... only if you appreciated James Newton Howard's staggered action rhythms, faint noir jazz, and ambient effects in the context of the film, or if you have an affinity for the similar, mundane Jerry Goldsmith thriller scores of the era.

Avoid it... if you expect the score to be an engaging souvenir of a superior film that frankly could have used a more memorable and cohesive musical accompaniment to match the consistently propulsive sense of urgency in the plot.

The Fugitive: (James Newton Howard) The history of the concept of Dr. Richard Kimball's attempts to solve the murder of his wife while evading the forces of Federal Deputy Marshal Gerard has been rich on television and on the big screen. Despite years (if not decades) of production toil, the famed fugitive's chase into the cinemas in 1993 earned the endeavor significant critical praise, with the film nominated for the top award (among many others) by AMPAS. Despite Harrison Ford's adequate return to the role of "scared, innocent family man," the better contributor to Andrew Davis' film was Tommy Lee Jones, whose performance as Gerard would itself garner winning Oscar recognition. So overshadowing was Jones that the ill-advised 1998 sequel to The Fugitive would be centered solely on his character, an unsuccessful attempt to recapture to massive box office success that the previous film had been for Warner Brothers. In the long and illustrious career of composer James Newton Howard, The Fugitive is a score that does not compete with his best. It was his first mainstream blockbuster score, a sudden venture into the realm of large scale action that terrified the composer at first. The arranging, recording, and original album for The Fugitive were nightmarish procedures full of performer unrest, crashed hard drives, and editing restrictions and blunders. But as the score was adequately decent for a highly popular film, Howard also received an Academy Award nomination for his efforts, and the composer would go on to tackle dozens of projects of similar status in the future. The Fugitive is one of the rare events when an (arguably soon-to-be) A-list composer receives a nomination for an average score while the vastly superior film could actually have used superior musical representation (the same phenomenon would happened to Howard much later with his nomination for Michael Clayton). Howard's approach to scoring The Fugitive involved the merging of electronic and orchestral elements, as well as the general avoidance of providing music that stands out strongly in the film. Hence, the themes are rather underplayed and secondary in emphasis compared to the rhythmic devices that Howard provides for the chase scenes. Unsettling ambience and obtuse musical identities are littered with noir-like references to the original television show's music, and Howard has mentioned that the topic of expressly using the previous theme for the concept was unfortunately not discussed. A jagged and frightfully disjointed set of rhythms is performed by a modestly-sized orchestra and varied percussion section instead, augmented by a synthetic layer that was somewhat common to thrillers at the time (even if there was little technological in the story).

Interestingly, the orchestral parts of the score, from the choppy action rhythms to the gracious harmonic exit at the end, are a distinct tip of the hat to Jerry Goldsmith. In fact, many of the mannerisms heard in The Fugitive sound like a Goldsmith score for a B-rate 1990's action thriller, and perhaps there's less irony than one might think when remembering that Goldsmith himself was brought in to score the sequel five years later. The reality of this similarity, however, is that Howard was, like many ascending composers of that era, tremendously impressed by Goldsmith's action styles. With the action material firmly rooted in Goldsmith territory (resembling Capricorn One in the staggered, percussive moments), Howard emulates hints of the more stylish tactics of Dave Grusin and John Barry for similar films at the time in other sequences. The intended, jazzy undercurrents in The Fugitive never really work themselves into the score well enough to be effective, a problem compounded by the absence of many of the saxophone performances in the film version of the score. The sax, bass, and piano still address the elegant lifestyle lost by Kimball, thus explaining why it only exists in faint hints. On album, the specially recorded track "The Fugitive Theme" elaborates on this style, performing the title theme with a touch of jazz that cannot compete with like-minded alternatives from Goldsmith or Barry. That theme would only be utilized sparsely throughout the score, easily receiving its most complete and satisfying performance in the harmonically rewarding resolution cue and credits. It is a reminder of Howard's later Dante's Peak theme in terms of its somewhat generic personality. Outside of this "redemption theme," as it could be called, Howard's score uses rhythmic motifs as his secondary ideas to propel the score. A four-note rhythmic motif squirms through the sequences representing the original crime and trial, as well as later connected elements; it's an effective tool, but rather anonymous after some good establishment in "Main Title." In "Helicopter Chase," "Subway Fight," and "Stairway Chase," a jagged, rising motif for full ensemble evolves out of this idea and represents Kimball's panic, and while efficient in furthering the thrill of the moment, these cues aren't particularly enjoyable when separated from the visuals. The most commonly praised cue in The Fugitive is "Helicopter Chase," and it's interesting to compare this dense material to the more mature and arguably more fluid style that Howard would provide for the highlighting chase in Salt many years later; the differences in technique and influences are fascinating, and anyone attracted to the undeniable flow of some of Howard's later chase cues may have difficulty finding as much enjoyment in the more frequently lurching predecessor from 1993.

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The remainder of the score is quite mundane in its conservative, only mildly engaging attitude. The varied drums and metallic percussive effects (possibly synthetic) work for the forest sequences in the film, but do nothing more than date this score back to the era of the television series. The related, downright hip rhythmic motif for Kimball's minor victories, embodied by a cool, light rock rhythm (complete with Unbreakable-like, bold drum pad thumps and finger-clicking sounds) in "Kimble Dyes His Hair" and "No Press," extend previews of the title theme (the latter cue has some fluttering of the sax at the outset that is worth noting). Alternatively, cues like "Main Titles," "Kimble Returns," and "Sykes' Apt." accompany scenes when Kimball is either mentally defeated or in "sneaking mode," thus handing control of the music over the realm of ambient sound design. Some of this material (as in "Computer Search"), when aided by tapped wood rhythms, is reminiscent of John Williams' similarly unnerving conspiracy atmosphere for JFK. For many listeners, however, the only true highlight of The Fugitive is "It's Over," with a slow and resolute form of the action rhythm leading to a solo woodwind and eventually full ensemble performance of the title theme's interlude in grand, bittersweet harmony. Interestingly, Howard had originally intended for more of that somber, troubled, but pretty tone to inform the score, but it was eventually struck from final edits. The original Elektra album of 1993 was basically adequate but suffered from sound issues relating both to a flat mastering for that presentation and, oddly, a switching of the left and right channels (a circumstance that might not be noticeable to the majority of listeners, but may have yielded some feelings in orchestral music collectors that something wasn't quite right with that they were hearing). A 2009 complete presentation of The Fugitive was a surprising choice for release by La-La Land Records, because the score certainly isn't among Howard's best. But that pricey 2-CD set ($30 retail upon debut) does offer everything heard in the film and many extras worth noting, including the graceful piano version of the title theme rejected from the end credits. A synth demo of "Helicopter Chase" is also an intriguing listen. More important, and the most notable aspect of the set, is its remarkably improved sound quality. A vibrant soundscape with tasteful reverb brings formerly dull portions of this score to life, making the product a solid recommendation for those already appreciative of this music. Still, however, The Fugitive represents Howard's thriller and action mode in its early development and it's difficult to sing the praises of a score that is ultimately efficiently mundane and little more. It remains a significantly underachieving effort floated more by a superior film than vice versa. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: **
    Music as Heard on the 1993 Album: **
    Music as Heard on the 2009 Album: ***
    Overall: **

Bias Check:For James Newton Howard reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.35 (in 56 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.34 (in 62,100 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.08 Stars
Smart Average: 3.03 Stars*
***** 255 
**** 262 
*** 319 
** 276 
* 190 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Why don't you list the full orchestra inste...
  Mark Malmstrøm -- 9/21/10 (4:44 p.m.)
   Ridiculous review.This is a great score!
  Bernardo -- 9/21/10 (8:03 a.m.)
   Trumpets & Tuba (Hollywood Studio Symphony)
  N.R.Q. -- 2/25/08 (7:32 p.m.)
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 Track Listings (1993 Elektra Album): Total Time: 41:38

• 1. Main Title (3:51)
• 2. The Storm Drain (4:25)
• 3. Kimble Dyes His Hair (4:22)
• 4. Helicopter Chase (4:50)
• 5. "The Fugitive" Theme (3:05)
• 6. Subway Fight (2:26)
• 7. Kimble Returns (3:07)
• 8. No Press (4:55)
• 9. Stairway Chase (2:32)
• 10. Sykes' Apt. (4:19)
• 11. It's Over (3:39)

 Track Listings (2009 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 126:21

CD 1: (64:52)

• 1. Main Title* (3:50)
• 2. The Trial (4:31)
• 3. The Bus (4:56)
• 4. The Hand/The Hunt/The Tow Truck (4:04)
• 5. The Hospital (4:06)
• 6. Helicopter Chase*/** (4:49)
• 7. The Sewer* (4:24)
• 8. Kimble in the River (1:52)
• 9. The Dream/Kimble Dyes His Hair (2:45)
• 10. Copeland Bust (1:59)
• 11. Kimble Calls His Lawyer/No Press (1:57)
• 12. Kimble Returns to Hospital* (3:06)
• 13. The Montage**/Cops Bust the Boys/Computer Search (6:50)
• 14. Kimble Saves the Boy (2:54)
• 15. Gerard Computes** (1:49)
• 16. The Courthouse/Stairway Chase* (6:13)
• 17. Cheap Hotel/Sykes' Apartment* (4:37)

CD 2: (61:29)

• 1. Kimble Calls Gerard (2:37)
• 2. Memorial Hospital/It's Not Over Yet (3:03)
• 3. See a Friend/Sykes Marks Kimble (2:12)
• 4. This is My Stop/El Train Fight* (4:02)
• 5. The Hotel (2:42)
• 6. Roof Fight Pt. 1/Roof Fight Pt. 2/Nichols Reappears (3:52)
• 7. The Elevator/The Laundry Room (4:58)
• 8. It's Over*/End Credits (5:40)

Original Album Suites:
• 9. The Fugitive Theme* (3:04)
• 10. Kimble Dyes His Hair* (4:23)
• 11. No Press* (4:57)

• 12. No Press (Alternate)** (0:45)
• 13. No Press (No Sax) (1:31)
• 14. Cops Bust the Boys (Alternate)** (1:09)
• 15. Computer Search (No Sax) (2:49)
• 16. Roof Fight Pt. 1 (Less Percussion) (1:57)
• 17. Roof Fight Pt. 2 (Less Orch Verb) (1:17)

Bonus Tracks:
• 18. Helicopter Chase/The Sewer (Synth Demos) (7:44)
• 19. Piano End Credits** (2:47)

* previously released on original 1993 soundtrack album
** contains material not used in film

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 1993 Elektra album includes no extra information about the score or film. That of the 2009 La-La Land album contains extensive information about both.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Fugitive are Copyright © 1993, 2009, Elektra Entertainment, La-La Land Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/26/00 and last updated 9/14/10. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2000-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.