One year before Curtis Hanson made film noir hip again with LA Confidential, director Lee Tamahori and screenwriter Pete Dexter proved that there was still a lot of life in the old form. They assembled an all-star cast led by Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Jennifer Connelly and John Malkovich for Mulholland Falls. The production was top-notch, with the legendary Haskell Wexler (In the Heat of the Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Thomas Crown Affair) signed as cinematographer, and jazz icon Dave Grusin enlisted as composer. Grusin’s score is now getting the expanded deluxe treatment courtesy of Kritzerland as a new, limited edition CD of only 1,000 copies.
Grusin’s distinguished film career began in 1967 with Norman Lear’s Divorce American Style and Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. He established himself as a master of numerous styles, and Oscar rewarded him frequently with nominations for Tootsie, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Firm, Heaven Can Wait, On Golden Pond and more; he took the coveted prize home for 1988’s The Milagro Beanfield War. Grusin has maintained a parallel career as a jazz musician, and co-founded GRP Records in 1978. He's also contributed arrangements to artists of all genres, including Billy Joel, Paul Simon and Sergio Mendes.
Grusin has been the deserving recipient of a lot of reissue love lately, between Varese’s The Goonies and Kritzerland’s A Dry White Season. Mulholland Falls is a worthy addition to any film score fan’s library, and the new edition bests the out-of-print Edel CD which regularly fetches upwards of $35. The sound has been improved thanks to a new remastering, and never-before-released additional cues and alternates are present.
Mulholland Falls is available for pre-order here and is scheduled to ship the third week of June, but pre-orders from Kritzerland usually arrive an average of four weeks early. The cost is $19.98 plus shipping. Hit the jump for the label’s press release plus the track listing!
“THIS ISN’T AMERICA, THIS IS LOS ANGELES.”
Sometimes it’s just timing. Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw. In 1996, an LA film noir called Mulholland Falls was released. Very much attempting to tap into the feel of the film Chinatown, it received some good reviews and some bad reviews; but not many people in 1996 cared to see a period LA film noir set in the early 1950s, despite its excellent cast, which included Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Jennifer Connelly, John Malkovich, Melanie Griffith, Chris Penn, Michael Madsen, Andrew McCarthy, and Treat Williams, as well as small roles played by Bruce Dern, Louise Fletcher, Rob Lowe and William Peterson. One year later, LA Confidential opened, and suddenly a period LA film noir set in the early 1950s was all the rage with audiences and critics. It’s interesting to think about what would have happened if the two films had come out in reverse order.
Mulholland Falls was loosely based on a real-life group of LA policemen known as the “Hat Squad” who pretty much did things as they pleased in the days long before the Miranda decision. It also concerned itself with secretly filmed incriminating lurid movies, the A-bomb testing in Nevada, and a mystery rife with cover-ups and secrets and immorality lurking around every corner. In other words, business as usual for an LA noir. Roger Ebert really liked the film, saying, “This is the kind of movie where every note is put in lovingly. It’s a 1950s crime movie, but with a modern, ironic edge.” The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan also liked it, and said, “Mulholland Falls combines a vivid sense of place with a visceral directorial style that fuses controlled fury onto everything it touches.”
The film disappeared quickly, but developed a cult following from its many cable showings and various video releases. Seen today, it is a moody, evocative, well-paced noir, with a powerhouse cast – and a lot of what works about the film can be traced to its score by Dave Grusin. Not only does his music do everything that film music is supposed to do, i.e. propel the film, establish its moods, define its characters, and illuminate its story, but apart from the film it is a great listening experience – its themes are beautiful and memorable, exciting and melancholy, mysterious and smoky and intoxicating. In fact, it’s one of the best noir scores ever written, and right up there with other classics of the post-1970s noir scores, Chinatown (Jerry Goldsmith), Farewell, My Lovely (David Shire), and LA Confidential (Goldsmith again).
The score to Mulholland Falls was issued on CD concurrent with the film’s release, on Edel. That CD presented about thirty-eight minutes of score and the classic song “Harbor Lights,” sung by Aaron Neville (who performs it on camera in the movie). That release has been long out of print and brings pricey collector prices. For this release, we’ve gone back to the original two-track mixed masters and discovered quite a nice number of cues that were not on the original Edel CD. So, for the first time we are presenting the complete score to the film, in film order (the original CD is, for the most part, in film order and is very well sequenced, but the missing cues are really good and really give the score a cohesive quality that is quite addictive), along with an alternate version of the main title.
Dave Grusin is a master film composer, and Mulholland Falls is right at the top of his prodigious output. So, just surrender yourself because there’s no way not to be caught in the spider web of its sinuous, silky musical world; a tone poem of doomed romance, conspiracy, and an LA that doesn’t exist anymore.
This release is limited to 1,000 copies only. The price of the CD is $19.98, plus shipping. Additionally, we are offering a special deal with the purchase of this release. Go to the item page, below, and click on the link to find out about it.
Dave Grusin, Mulholland Falls: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Edel 0029732, 1996 – reissued Kritzerland KR-20019, 2011)
- Main Title/Drive To Perino’s
- Drive To Falls/After Fall
- Construction Site/Allison
- Max Home Drunk
- Projection Room/Max Goes To Beach
- She Was Wrong/Where We Goin’?/Allison’s Room/Flashback/ Jimmy’s Apartment
- Max And Kate In Bedroom/Shoot-Out Epilogue
- Drive To Base/No Admittance/Testing Ground/Jeep Chase
- Geiger Counters/Max Meets Timms
- Human Sacrifice/FBI Search/What Happened?/Max Finds Film
- Kate Gets Package/After Phone Call
- Max Watches Film/Flashback
- At Least/Drive To Plane/Flight To Base /Cancer Ward
- Drive To Timms’/Gonna Throw Us
- Coolidge Dies/Funeral
- Max And Kate Walk/Kate Leaves /End Credits
- Harbor Lights Performed by Aaron Neville (*)
- Main Title with Alternate Start (*)
The presentation above is the complete film score in actual film order, plus bonus tracks denoted by (*).