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Soundtrack review: The trouble with angels (Jerry Goldsmith – 1966)

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Soundtrack review: The trouble with angels (Jerry Goldsmith – 1966)


These weeks almost every weekly release form a major soundtrack record label includes a Jerry Goldsmith reissue or premiere. Since I am one of the (very) few who can’t yet fully connect with the maestro’s music, all these releases are both challenging and interesting. With every new album I get one more chance to find my point of contact with Jerry’s music. This time I am listening to one of his earlier scores: the 1966 comedy “The trouble with angels”. It’s the story of a girl who reluctantly arrives at the St Francis Academy for girls. For the next four years, Mary tests the patience of Mother Superior: smoking cigarettes, complaining, putting dish soap in the nuns’ tea, giving tours of the off-limits cloister, and plenty of other miscreant mischief. Gradually, though, Mary’s heart begins to soften.

First thing I notice is that we have 52 cues for 75 minutes, not the most encouraging of ratios. But with a composer like Jerry Goldsmith good things can come in small packs as well. So let’s meet comedic Jerry; this is a side of his I really don’t know much about.

The score is very simple and addictive in sound. There are a lot of flute motifs dancing with funny brass inserts and I feel as if I am watching a cartoon. Every now and then I get the feeling of actually seeing Tom and Jerry (the other Jerry) chase each other around me. Other times the score plays like a musical. I can imagine people dancing and acting. There are inserts of sounds like someone whistling and all this makes “The trouble with angels” a real hoot. This is one of the most surprising and delightful little gems I’ve heard in a while. There’s so much innocence and sun and joy in this that I can’t help but just smile and happily wait for the next cue. There are marches and celebrations, everything in a cartoonish way which reminds me of my childhood.

So what should I tell you in conclusion… if you want a score which has a Christmas spirit, a 60s jazzy smoothness, is fun as playing with your kids all in one or like watching a comedic sketch, this one is for you. “The trouble with angels” is funny, surprising, and wacky and one of the first scores ever where I felt as if I was watching a real cartoon, with images and everything. It’s been a delightful experience. I know this won’t bring me closer to Jerry yet since it’s something rare, but it’s a start.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 28 / 73

Album excellence: 39%



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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