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The soundtrack cover of the little seen 1984 film and John Barry, it's score composer circa 1980s
I've interviewed a lot of film celebs over the years and one of my favorite was Debra Winger.  We had
a lot of time to talk about various aspects of her career, including the criminally overlooked
Murder from late writer-director James Bridges, which finally saw the light of day - all too briefly - in
1984 (it has recently been released in a DVD on Demand title from the
Warner Archives - yay!).  One
of the most striking things about the film, aside from the tremendous performances of Winger, Paul
Winfield, and a cast of offbeat character actors, is the moody, noir-like score that
John Barry provides.

Barry's score was a replacement for new wave pop writer/performer Joe Jackson whose work had been
rejected by the studio (though remnants of his songs survive in the final cut of the film as source
music including the semi-hit "Memphis").  And the film - which follows Winger as Betty Parish, a bank
teller living in Los Angeles who goes in search for clues when her sometime boyfriend Mike is brutally
murdered by drug dealers - neatly captures the noir aspects inherent in Los Angeles utilizing his
signature strings and a wailing, forlorn sax.  Aside from a gorgeous love theme that plays on Betty
and Mike's affection for her out of tune piano, Barry's score includes an oft repeated trance-like cue
that plays each time Betty is seen driving to check out another clue, or meet another acquaintance of
Mike's (the CD release includes two complete cues "Driving" and "More Driving" that feature this
theme).  The music captures both the character's numbness and her growing fear as she descends
further into Mike's nefarious world of drugs and the excesses of the music business.

The score, which came to CD a year ago, has been criticized by film music reviewers for being too
repetitive but I think just the opposite - Barry tightly weaves several different themes together so
expertly the score works almost best as a whole.  Prometheus Records, the Dutch soundtrack label
that issued the score on CD (with only a run of 3000 - so grab it now), acknowledges this by
presenting a welcome outtake - a mini suite of nearly 20 minutes that neatly (and gorgeously)
encapsulates Barry's superlative score.  As with the best of Barry, this is a string heavy score that
relies on subtle musical colors to bring to life his gorgeous melodies.  There are many stand out cues
here and flashes of dramatic musical flourishes as well ("Coke" and "Bloody Room" are two

The score for Mike's Murder is as memorable as the film itself and makes for a rewarding stand
alone listening experience.  Prometheus is to be congratulated for this outstanding release which also
includes some source cue outtakes along with the nicely remastered score.
More Reviews,
Interviews, and
in the Archives
More soundtrack recommendations in the 2004-2009 ARCHIVES