Ordinary People/Save the Tiger

May 1, 2016


Harry’s theme from Save the Tiger



Directed by Robert Redford in his directorial debut and starring Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, and Timothy Hutton it was adapted from a novel by Judith Guest dealing the death of a son in a white collar family and all of the emotions that surrounded the situation. The film received 4 academy awards for picture, director, supporting actor, and screenplay as well as being a success at the box office. The public that attended took a good look at their own families so perhaps the film was helpful instead of entertainment.

Composer Marvin Hamlisch and director Robert Redford used the famous classical theme ” Canon in D” theme by Johann Pachelbel as the main theme and many of the other tracks. The theme, is a solid example of seriousness known to much of the listening office even if they had no idea where it came from. Hamlisch did a good job in arranging and orchestrating the theme in such a way that it was serious, light, dance , and religious. It appears as harmony and counterpoint and the use of it had to increase the sales of it making the classical world very happy. As I went through the tracks I enjoyed trying to find examples of it’s use.

“Do You Want Some Breakfast,” an original theme from Marvin is offered three different ways and is a sweet sentimental melody that is an alternative to “Canon in D.” One of the things that Marvin did was write all of his source music which includes classical, holiday, funk, elevator music, and country western.

This score is one that will appeal to you if you were moved by the film, La-La Land completest, or fan of Marvin Hamlisch. I found it appealing because I was listening to all of the different variations of the “Canon in D” theme.

The other half of the 2 fer is Save the Tiger (1974) a film directed by John G. Avildsen, Rocky fame, and starred Jack Lemmon starring as Harry Stonet, a Long Beach dress manufacturer, who goes through a period of 48 hours that prove to be life changing. Jack won the Oscar for Save the Tiger that year for best actor in a film that cost a little over a million to make and became a big hit with the younger and older generation, something hard to do.

Since part of the film dealt with the flashbacks of Harry Stonet and his service in WWII Marvin Hamlisch used a lot of material that was played during that time such as “Stompin at Savoy.” He did compose a great theme for “Save the Tiger” (Harry’s theme) that was written in the style of the 40’s. It was a sweet band slow dancing number that fit Harry perfectly. The track featured a fine trumpet, clarinet and clarinet solo. It also appears in “L.A. Sunset,” “Exit Factory,” and “Surf.” “Surf” was orchestrated for trio and featured vibraphone, trombone, and piano. His other theme was “Where Are All My Dreams?” written very much in the style of something that Burt Bacharach might have written. Listen to the rhythm and the piano chords and you’ll agree.

This is a soundtrack that will appeal to someone who enjoys the music of the 40’s as both the source and original music are from that era. While it is not a must have soundtrack it does nicely represent what Marvin Hamlisch did for Hollywood. He did win three Oscars you know and all on the same night; quite an achievement.



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