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The Accidental Tourist (1988)
Music by John Williams
The Accidental Tourist The Accidental Tourist
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $10.95
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

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