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The Accidental Tourist (1988)
Music by John Williams
The Accidental Tourist The Accidental Tourist
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $29.95
Limited #: N/A
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: May 2008
Catalog #: Vol. 11, No. 6
# of Discs: 1

One of John Williams’s finest “intimate” scores is back in print on CD: The Accidental Tourist (1988), a straight reissue of the Warner Bros. Records LP and CD that now fetches high prices on ebay.

The Accidental Tourist was Lawrence Kasdan’s sensitive adaptation of Anne Tyler’s novel about a writer of travel guidebooks (William Hurt) who comes out of his rigid emotional shell (after the tragic death of his son) thanks to the love of a quirky dog trainer (Geena Davis, in an Oscar-winning role). Kathleen Turner plays Hurt’s estranged wife, with Bill Pullman, Ed Begley Jr. and Amy Wright among the supporting cast.

By 1988 John Williams’s name was practically synonymous with the modern-day Lucas/Spielberg blockbuster. However, Williams had provided excellent scores for films in a wide variety of genres, including intimate dramas such as the similarly themed Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972). Any critic who marveled at Williams’s “sudden” mastery of understatement and subtlety in The Accidental Tourist was clearly an idiot.

Williams’s score for The Accidental Tourist relies on a single theme, albeit one comprised of three parts: an A theme for the main character (often played by piano), a syncopated B theme, and a four-note motive derived (often for French horns) from the opening phrase of the A theme. The orchestra is relatively small, with a subtle sheen of electronics to convey the emotional detachment of the main character. When the main character finally chooses to follow his heart, Williams’s musical catharsis is remarkable in its emotional flowering while remaining faithful to the understated approach of the picture.

The Accidental Tourist was one of the first John Williams soundtracks to appear on CD, and one of the last to be issued on vinyl. Both formats went out of print and the CD has become a high-priced collector’s item. FSM reissues the original album program (which was thoughtfully assembled for listening purposes and comprised almost all of the score), remastered from the original Warner Bros. Records tapes and chronicled with new liner notes by Williams authority Jeff Eldridge—including reel and part breakdowns of the component cues.

John Williams Scores on FSM
About the Composer

John Williams (b. 1932) is not only the composer of most of the biggest blockbusters of all time—including Star Wars, E.T., Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and many more, many of them directed by Steven Spielberg—but he has transcended film music to become the world's most famous living composer, and an American institution. His popular symphonic scores are so iconic that they often overshadow the fact that he has been equally proficient at sophisticated, adult fare (Schindler's List, Images) and had a successful career in composing (for television and often comedy features), arranging and performing well before he even met Steven Spielberg. FSM, like most labels, will release everything it can of Williams's music, and has concentrated (for reasons of availability) on his early years as "Johnny" Williams when he was doing sterling work on relatively little-known television and films—always with an amazing attention to melody and detail. In fact, his early works are fascinating for the ways in which they foreshadow his later, world-renowned efforts. IMDB

Comments (14):Log in or register to post your own comments
Once I had a copy of the original release in my hand, at a used cd store in the 90's. I passed after previewing it, thinking it too sad. What a mistake!

I'm so glad I have the FSM, because it's one of the too-few examples of the wonderful and interesting sounds that JW could make when he wasn't being King of the Movie Franchises.

You are so correct about this one.

This is my favorite John Williams score.

Often in the rotation here as well.


You are so correct about this one.

This is my favorite John Williams score.[/endquote]

It was mine for many years as well, and still sits in my Top 5 fro him.

Hey ! I was just playing this the whole day! What a gem of a score.

Yup, it's the kind of JW I prefer to listen to these days, THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, STANLEY & IRIS, PETE & TILLIE, ANGELA'S ASHES, that kind of stuff.

I had a CD-R of the original, rare CD in the 90s -- being unable to afford it -- untill Nils traded an original CD with me in the early 2000s. I never upgraded to the subsequent FSM, however.

I picked this up recently for $1.99 and discuss it in my "Onya Birr's John Williams Journey" thread.

It's one of my all-time favourites too. I was very happy that David Newman talked about this score quite extensively (especially about the final scene) in my recent podcast conversation with him:

(it's toward the end of the episode, around 1h 7mins)

It's one of my all-time favourites too. I was very happy that David Newman talked about this score quite extensively (especially about the final scene) in my recent podcast conversation with him:

(it's toward the end of the episode, around 1h 7mins)[/endquote]

That's a really nice interview, Maurizio. Not to dampen the compliment at all, but I think it must be hard to have a bad interview with David Newman. He's a natural educator, and genuinely exuberant when he talks about this stuff.

The FSM version was helpful in answering the mystery of “The Wedding Scene” and how it appears in the film. Among my favorite Williams scores and the best of his “piano scores.”

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