Chinatown (1974)/Lambro

December 16, 2012


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The first thing that I noticed about the Lambro score to CHINATOWN (1974) was no mention of the name of the film (legal issue I’m sure) but there was no doubt what it was for. If you’re interested in learning more about what happened I urge you to read the book Lambro wrote “Close Encounters of the Worst Kind.” The second thing I noticed was the word unused instead of rejected, a much better way to phrase it. Rejected seems so negative compared to unused.

The liner notes by Gergely Hubai give a nice overview of all the problems that were encountered during the making of the film such as Jack Nicholson wanting time off during shooting to watch the Lakers, diva Dunaway, and the obsession that the producer Evans had with the Bunny Berigan chartbuster I Can’t Get Started. There is no track by track analysis of the score but there is a nice written comparison between the Lambro and the Goldsmith versions. Both themes I would put in the category of an easy jazz listening style. In fact they are somewhat similar with the trumpet being substituted for the sax in the Goldsmith version.

Main Title features a swaggering sax that you’ll not likely forget with able support from the piano all of which is somewhat haunting due to the creepy percussive/brass background. A dissonant trombone completes the orchestration. Tailing Hollis has no melody only dissonant sound from the percussion. An interesting underscore track that would likely be a synthesizer cue today. The Boy on a Horse is more underscore this time with a long note from the strings followed by a statement from the flute, clarinet, piano, and brass with percussion. A creepy track that I could see as underscore on a Twilight Zone episode. Mariachi Source offers a basic theme which is played by the winds/brass and strings. Effective underscore. Orchid Case is a pulsating track with the ever present percussion and strings sounding like a bee swarm. One Night with Evelyn is a repeat of the main title in a lush romantic setting. I’ve included this track as an audio clip. One Night With Evelyn (main title theme) Welcome to Chinatown and End Titles are pentatonic Chinese underscore.

This reviewer had no problem listening to the first fourteen tracks. They are mono recordings but the tape noise at least for me was minimal. As explained in the liner notes the two classical works were recorded separately at an earlier time and are stereo with fuller sound and a greater dynamic range. It was because of these works that Lambro was given the assignment to score CHINATOWN. The styles are quite modern sounding classical and are works that require many listens to understand.

This score like many of Lambro’s is dependent upon percussion which makes it highly effective as underscore. Owning both the Goldsmith and the Lambro is fun to compare. Recommended.



Track listing


Main Titles (1M1) (02:02)


Tailing Hollis (1M2) (01:11)


The Boy on a Horse (5M1) (03:09)


Noah Cross (7M1) (01:07)


Mariachi Source (7M1X) (01:04)


Orchard Chase (8M1) (01:59)


One Night with Evelyn (9M2-10M1) (02:42)


Finding the Captive (10M2) (01:05)


The Last of Ida Sessions (11M1) (02:05)


Welcome to Chinatown (14M1) (00:58)


Evelyn Shot (14M2) (00:33)


Forget It, Jake (14M3) (00:54)


End Titles (14M4) (01:03)


Trailer Music (03:08)

Structures for String Orchestra


Moderati (03:44)


Lively (04:36)

Music for Wind, Brass & Percussion


Lento misterioso (05:16)


Allegro con fuoco (08:03)

Total Duration: 00:44:39


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