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Soundtrack review: Inherit the wind (Laurence Rosenthal – 1990)

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Soundtrack review: Inherit the wind (Laurence Rosenthal – 1990)


“Inherit the wind” is the fictionalized story of a very strange American legal case from 1925. It was called “Scopes Monkey trial” and Tennessee substitute teacher was accused of violating a law which said you couldn’t teach Darwin’s theory of evolution in public state-funded schools. The trial was in fact deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to that small town and attention on the subject. This TV version of the story stars Jack Lemmon and the score, written by Laurence Rosenthal, is part of the Intrada release for “Return of the man called Horse”.

The “Religious prologue” is almost European in its weight and darkness. This is the kind of cue I used to hear a lot of during “Polish composer month” last year. It’s only an illusion because the score goes melodic in the next cue. I enjoy tracks like “Brady will prosecute” because it offers variation and surprises even if it’s a short cue. It’s a piece of music that tells a story, the kind that you really like in the moment even if you won’t return to it. It has served its purpose.

“Drummond arrives” is the first moment when I feel connected with this score. It has a veiled emotion in it which I like to uncover. I feel as if it bridges two eras of film music, bringing the classical romantic sound into the faster, darker present. This duality drives “Inherit the wind”. Laurence Rosenthal’s music doesn’t stay neutral; it has strong opinions and tries to make the listener’s mind up, or to suggest him or her what’s going on in the respective scene. Some parts are romantic; others are dark; others are accusing.

Even if “Inherit the wind” isn’t a special or memorable score I always enjoy listening to an orchestral composition. At least there’s that, and the music is appealing. The score doesn’t have a strong thematic content and it probably molds over the scenes it completes. The standalone listen lacks something to keep me connected. The listening experience isn’t frustrating, far from it, and has some moments where it shines (the stormy opening to “Rachel breaks down”. I also appreciate the variety in the music, with a sound ranging from romantic to actual horror (hear “Brady’s death”) and even to military horn music (“Drummond departs”). It’s just no something I will remember or come back to once it’s over.

If I were to choose I would say that my favorite moments where the romantic ones. They touched some long forgotten resort inside me and made me remember times when I was still in school and watching classical movies with my parents in the evening. “Come sit with us” is such a lovely interlude which brings just a drop of nostalgia to make the listening experience better. The end of the score, the melancholic violin piece “Summer days” is another shot back to long forgotten times…

“Inherit the wind” is the kind of score that ends up (just barely) on the right side of the enjoyment scale. Below it are all the generic compositions that got frustrating at times. I can’t fault a score like this for the lack of emotions or memorable moments when it clearly does its job with some decent orchestral music.

Cue rating: 76 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 30

Album excellence: 18%


Come sit with us

Summer days


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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