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Over the years, David Newman has been a favorite composer of mine and while a number of his scores have been released over the years, there are still many that are missing in action.
 
In the spirit of Scott Bettencourt's similar articles on Williams, Goldsmith, Barry and Bernstein, this is my attempt at filling in the blanks on Newman's filmography. Basically a combination Buyer's Guide (remember those?) and Unreleased & Incomplete article, these are (as of 3/1/21) the scores of David Newman that have yet to see a CD release.
 

 

Frankenweenie (1984)

Tim Burton's short film about a young boy (Barret Oliver) re-animating his dead dog features a score from the surprising partnership of Newman and Michael Convertino. Newman's early style makes it incredibly easy to identify which composer wrote what and his bold cues (the opening horror movie, the experiment, the town revival finale) greatly enlivened the mini-feature. [Walt Disney]

 

Faerie Tale Theatre: 'Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp' (1984)

Peculiar casting abounds in this adaptation of the fairy tale, though Burton's direction has some interesting touches. As with "Frankenweenie", Newman and Convertino divided cues between them, with Newman's music (the main and end titles, the palace relocation) spotlighting strings and woodwinds against glittering electronics. [Platypus Productions/Cabin Fever]

 

Vendetta (1986)

A stuntwoman meets resistance when her sister is murdered behind bars, so what else can she do but get herself locked up to investigate? Newman's first solo feature (released the same year as Critters, but filmed before, as per the 1985 timestamp in the end credits) is a passable women-in-prison movie, distinguished mainly by the composer's involvement. Electronic music is the order of the day, the cold synth scoring enhanced by piano for the sisterly bond, a rock source piece for the admittedly amusing grand theft auto sequence and more recognizably Newmanesque cues for the revenge killings of the various conspirators. Though a distinctly minor effort in the composer's career, it's still better than the movie deserved. [Concorde]


Wise Guys (1986)

Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo are mob flunkies set up by their boss Dan Hedaya to rub each other out. Basically an old 40s comedy script dusted off and jammed with four-letter words. An odd change-of-pace for Brian De Palma, but a likable one. Ira Newborn wrote the engaging score, but Newman (also credited as co-orchestrator) provided a string-based cue for the late-film funeral scene that's serious enough to be mistaken for an outtake from DeVito's later Hoffa. [MGM]


Dragnet (1987)

Joe Friday's nephew (Dan Aykroyd) and his new partner (Tom Hanks) investigate the doings of a pagan cult in this amusing offshoot of the Jack Webb series. Once again, Newman co-orchestrated Newborn’s music and chipped in a piece of his own: a heroic brass cue as the cops rescue Alexandra Paul's Connie Swail from the cult's ritual. [Universal]

 

Sunrise (1927)

Multiple Oscar-winner about a married farmer and the woman from the city who tempts him into murder. Newman provided the score for a 1988 screening of the film at what would be known as the Sundance Film Festival. The music works better in sections as the whole tends to overwhelm the sluggish (if well-produced) silent film: The bustling travelogue opening, The Kindred-like chaos for the drowning suggestion; Gershwinesque action for the transition to the city; a flute and string cue for the restaurant scene; the noble strings of the church reconciliation; the horn-led waltz for the carnival and the whirlwind variation of the main theme for the climactic boat trip. [Killiam Studios/20th Century Fox]


Disorganized Crime (1989)

In Montana, a group of criminals gets antsy waiting for their leader, whose heisting plans are stopped short by pursuing New Jersey cops. Amusing caper is not too far removed from the Stakeout movies, which is to be expected given that their writer, Jim Kouf, made his directing debut here. Newman provided a long-lined main theme as well as a slower, four-note tension motif, especially effective during the third-act bank robbery. Also, the composer employed harmonica and guitar to represent the countryside and indulged in some nicely ironic temping: The Untouchables to help characterize the hapless thieves and The Magnificent Seven over the end credits. [Touchstone]


Back to Neverland (1989)

Walter Cronkite takes tourist Robin Williams on a tour through the various parts of creating an animated feature in this Disney theme park short. Some neat cues such as the sprightly flutes for Tinkerbell's magic and tick-tock percussion for the crocodile attack and a brief quote of "You Can Fly" for Williams' lost boy ending up on Captain Hook's ship. [Walt Disney]


Gross Anatomy (1989)

This story of med student Matthew Modine breezing through his studies and annoying his way into the heart of Daphne Zuniga was promoted as a comedy, which surely made the later scenes of heavy drama something of a shock to ticket buyers. One of the most sparsely spotted of Newman's 80s scores, with a neo-classical string fugue and academic-sounding trumpets in its main titles and a recurring motif for rolling piano that accompanied the study montages. [Touchstone]


Cranium Command (1990)

Disney World attraction (directed by The Brave Little Toaster's Jerry Rees) that takes you inside the mind of a twelve-year-old boy, his various mental functions enacted by the likes of Jon Lovitz, Charles Grodin, George Wendt, Bobcat Goldthwait as well as Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon basically reprising SNL's Hans and Franz. Newman's music nicely captures the moods of the short, from militaristic scoring for General Knowledge's harangues to more frantic work for the boy's race to school and reflective strings for the finale. [Walt Disney]


Madhouse (1990)

John Larroquette and Kirstie Alley (on a break from their respective NBC sitcoms) play a yuppie couple whose new home is besieged by annoying relatives, pushy guests and all manner of human detritus. Some laughs result, but the funniest thing about Madhouse might well be its tagline: "The bad news is that you have houseguests. There is no good news." Newman's fair score is highlighted by a bizarre, jagged electronic motif for the cat, Scruffy, who can't seem to stay dead. [Orion]


Flower Planet (1990)

A musical bee visits a desolate planet and introduces its residents to the beauty of harmony in this engaging animated short that premiered at Japan's 1990 World's Fair. As one would imagine, such a plot description allowed Newman to cut loose. A sprightly oboe theme for the bee (credited to one Brianne Rhodes), blaring brass for the bullying creatures and the ultimate tree monster, sweeping strings for the gradual brightening of the planet and a canny use of synthesized orchestra for the creatures' musical abilities. [Bob Rogers and Company, Inc.]


Tales from the Crypt: 'The Thing from the Grave' (1990)

Manager Miguel Ferrer wants model Teri Hatcher all to himself, even killing her photographer boyfriend Kyle Secor to ensure that, but...well, you've seen the episode title. Newman's fun electronic music has some Heathers-like pop for the modeling scenes and a soft romantic motif that recalls the quieter moments of The Runestone, but the best part of the score is the insistent melody underscoring Ferrer's murderous intentions that bookends the episode. (A brief suite ended up on Big Screen’s 1992 compilation of episode score tracks.) [HBO]


The Freshman (1990)

NYU film student Matthew Broderick finds himself in the employ of 'importer' Marlon Brando - riffing on one of his most famous roles - in this delightful Andrew Bergman comedy. Newman's Italian-flavored music owes much to Nino Rota, as you'd expect, but it's more Fellini-esque than Godfather-like, with a rambunctious main theme, a quieter flute melody for Brando's Carmine, as well as some fine moments for concertina and mandolin. [TriStar]

 

Michael and Mickey (1991)

At the conclusion of the Disney/MGM Studio Tour, CEO Michael Eisner and Mickey Mouse take a trip to the screening room. As the short runs a mere two minutes, most of which is devoted to quotes of classic Disney music, Newman doesn't get too much opportunity to shine, his brief, sprightly work coming off a bit too - please forgive me - Mickey-Mousey. [Walt Disney]


Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991)

Eighties-style comedy where, following the titular event, Christina Applegate finds herself going from Kelly to Al in having to provide for her horrid family. While not one of Newman's best scores, it does make for a good encapsulation of all the things that the composer was known for at the time: Heathers-style pop, orchestral romping and one of his first (and slyest) temp riffs - Psycho (for the kids removing Mrs. Stirack’s body). [HBO]


Other People's Money (1991)

Corporate raider Danny DeVito plans to make money off of the sale of New England Wire and Cable, but finds himself facing (and wooing) the company's lawyer, Penelope Ann Miller. Directed by Norman Jewison, this is very much a filmed play, but it has its moments. Apparently a last-minute replacement for Angelo Badalamenti (and may I assume a suggestion of star DeVito?), Newman's music is highlighted by a bustling main theme for horns, with saxophone taking the lead. The 'B' section of the theme is utilized and slowed down for strings for the romantic scenes and - as a nod to DeVito's character's hobby - violin appears in a number of cues. Other highlights include shakuhachi for the Japanese restaurant date and a neo-classical passage for strings in the shareholders vote. [Warner Bros.]


Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)

In Las Vegas, private eye Nicolas Cage loses fiancee Sarah Jessica Parker to bigshot James Caan. Newman's music (replacing that of Marc Shaiman) starts with a rather downbeat main title cue (for the darkly comic animated opening), but things lighten up afterward, its clarinet and sax-based main theme and four-note piano love theme weaving a more compelling narrative than the movie, which sets up its hook (a good eight months before Indecent Proposal), then has nowhere to go. There's also a jazzy ‘investigation’ motif that’s a close cousin to The Marrying Man. However, the highlight has to be the rollicking rock-orchestral hybrid cue for Cage's climactic skydive with the Flying Elvises. [Columbia/Castle Rock]


The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Here it is: the movie that spawned two sequels, a completely unrelated animated series and a professional hockey team. (How many movies can claim that?) A Disneyfied revamp of The Bad News Bears that still has the power to charm and rouse. Sadly, this would mark (at least for a decade) the last collaboration between Newman and his Critters/Bill and Ted director Stephen Herek. In spite of quite a few influences at certain points, there are a fair number of highlights, like the carousel-like love theme for Gordon and Charlie's mom, warm music for Gordon's remembrances of his father and a peculiar percussive cue for the pre-game face-off of the Ducks and the Hawks. [Walt Disney]


That Night (1992)

Uneven coming-of-age tale nearly rescued by its leads: young Eliza Dushku idolizes neighbor Juliette Lewis, whose relationship with bad-boy-with-a-heart C. Thomas Howell has people tsking. Newman's mostly electronic score has its moments (and the occasional piano), making it of a piece with the synth parts of The Sandlot (which was also set in the early 1960s). [Warner Bros./Regency]


Undercover Blues (1993)

Decent-enough comedy with Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner as unflappable spies Jeff and Jane Blue whose vacation with their baby girl in the Big Easy is interrupted by all manner of ne'er-do-wells. Newman's delightful score is highlighted by a lively main theme, with lots of orchestrational color throughout (whistling accents the Blues’ laid-back demeanor, while Spanish guitar accompanies Stanley Tucci's hilariously inept assassin and one cue utilizes a typewriter, of all things). [MGM]


The Air Up There (1994)

College basketball coach Kevin Bacon travels to a small African village to scout a potential prospect in this derivative but likable sports comedy. Newman's eclectic score eschews orchestra in favor of an electronic approach overlaid with African percussion and chanting. Highlights include tense writing for the film's more serious moments (the village fire, the warthog chase), a sensitive flute motif for the gifted player as well as fast-moving guitar work for the big game. [Hollywood]


My Father, the Hero (1994)

In one of the surest examples of how and why Hollywood needed to leave the works of Francis Veber and his ilk alone, Gerard Depardieu plays a man trying to reconnect with his bratty teen daughter (Katherine Heigl!), who tells everyone that he's her lover to impress some other guy. Yeah. Newman, miraculously, was able to look past the ickiness (and unfunniness) of the material and write a charming score. The main theme consists of keyboards and saxophone underpinning a young woman's 'la-du-da' vocals, with more robust writing for the water-skiing and swim rescue cues. [Touchstone]


The Flintstones (1994)

Lavish live-action adaptation of the classic cartoon marked the first of several collaborations between Newman and director Brian Levant. Perhaps as an unconscious nod to the fabled amount of screenwriters the film had, Newman provided a multitude of themes: a jaunty traveling motif for saxophone, a flute-based friendship melody, schmoozy descending trombones for Kyle MacLachlan's Cliff Vandercave, a slinky sax line for Halle Berry's Sharon Stone (ha ha), as well as Hoyt Curtin's original 'Rise and Shine' theme to complement the quotes of the beloved theme song. The traveling motif gets a number of raucous horn permutations (the strike, the pterodactyl attack, the quarry showdown), as well as a worried string version in the abduction cue. [Universal]


The Cowboy Way (1994)

Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland as New Mexico rodeo buddies going to the Big Apple to save a friend. David channeling some of father Alfred's How the West Was Won style. What if I told you that the end result is less fun than what I just described, the film only really coming alive when the two leads are bouncing off of each other. Similarly, Newman's music errs more on the side of urban thriller than Western comedy, favoring quieter work for piano, electronics, percussion and guitar. However, the final ten minutes brings a rousing ending of racing, Coplandesque horns as our heroes go after slimy criminal Dylan McDermott on police horses in New York City traffic (just go with it, okay?). [Universal]


Boys on the Side (1995)

Despite their different backgrounds and hardships, Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker and Drew Barrymore become firm friends in this cliched but easy-to-take drama. Some interesting touches in Newman's music, such as the occasional tendency of the score to weave in and out of the film's musical numbers, notably a repeating piano figure in the main titles trailing seamlessly into Whoopi's opening song. There's also a lively comic cue for trying to flag down Drew's bus ride and strong, Hoffa-esque string writing for the second half's many dramatic moments. [Warner Bros./Regency]


Tommy Boy (1995)

Perhaps the finest comedy to star Chris Farley; an uproarious derivation on Planes, Trains and Automobiles. There's a handful of good cues here, like the love theme and the Copland homage for the cow tipping/stampede, but - given the six (!) additional composers listed in the end credits and the obvious temp track (Dave, Back to School, Mrs. Doubtfire) - it's clear that this score was written in a hurry. For Newman completists only. [Paramount]


Big Bully (1996)

Novelist turned English teacher Rick Moranis finds that his former bully Tom Arnold is teaching shop at the same school and, faster you can say 'cancelled in three episodes!', they fall back into their usual routine. The movie was one of the era’s many well-meaning but failed efforts to push Arnold as a leading man as well as one of Moranis’s last stops before self-imposed retirement. Directed by Steve Miner and, despite the monstrous waste of a great cast, it’s still a step up from his My Father the Hero, albeit a small one. Newman's score is highlighted by a pair of themes: a folksy melody for Moranis's Davey and the small town he's from and a motif of growling brass for Arnold's Fang. A lot of the score is pretty busy, as if competing with the silliness of the film, though the final reel of Davey and Fang finally having it out contains some good action music. [Morgan Creek]


The Nutty Professor (1996)

Jerry Lewis's classic becomes more of an overt Jekyll-and-Hyde story with Eddie Murphy as the big (and big-hearted) Sherman Klump whose elixir turns him into the slim, conniving Buddy Love. Whoever assembled the temp track must've had 1992 on the brain (listen for Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Beethoven in the opening credits). Still, Newman provides some delightful music, like his old Hollywood-style love theme and piano music that nicely punctuates Murphy's sensitive performance. Other highlights include the action-infused Godzilla nightmare and the percussive experiment cue and Newman's Honey-derived theme for Klump is effective, especially in the final confrontation. [Universal]

 

Bone Chillers (1997)

Based on a series of kid-lit novels, this ABC Saturday morning series followed four teens (including a pre-"Freaks and Geeks" Linda Cardellini) as they fought the supernatural forces plaguing their high school. Newman reunited with the producers of The Brave Little Toaster in providing the main title theme, an electronic melange of rock guitar riffs, sampled strings and eerie wailing. [Hyperion]


1001 Nights (1998)

In the late 90s, there was a planned series of collaborations between filmmakers, composers and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to have been called "Filmharmonic". The one result was this short film that screened for a few days. Based on one of the stories from "1001 Arabian Nights", this short has some impressive animation, utilizing everything from ink and paint and stop-motion to (then-)cutting edge CG, but dramatically, it misses the mark. However, Newman's music is quite fascinating, with crashing brass for the short's Chernabog-like villain, female vocals for Scheherazade as well as everything from erhu to squealing strings and harsh techno. [Hyperion]


Never Been Kissed (1999)

Uneven but harmless Drew Barrymore vehicle sees her as a former geek who gets another chance at high school glory as an undercover reporter. Newman's music - what there is of it between the songs - is light and fluffy, favoring piano and strings. Though professional as ever, the score is, ultimately, not substantial enough to work on its own. [20th Century Fox]


Brokedown Palace (1999)

Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale are BFFs whose Thailand va-cay takes a wrong turn after they're framed for drug smuggling and imprisoned. A very unusual - though welcome - change-of-pace for the composer (replacing Hummie Mann, whose source cues made the final cut) that some people called reminiscent of David's brother, perhaps a coincidence given the plot's various resemblances to the Thomas-scored The Shawshank Redemption and Red Corner. The arrest sequence starts off placidly, electronic beats overlaid with Asian percussion, but bass strings soon enter, radically altering the girls’ lives. Life at the prison is captured with techno, percussion and low string work against female vocals, a strong contrast to the pre-incarceration scenes of piano, flute and strings (the cue for the girls arriving in Thailand is particularly exotic). However, the finale brings with it hopeful, Thomas-like strings as Danes’ Alice sacrifices her freedom to save Beckinsale’s ailing Darlene from further prison time. The score was released on a now-impossible-to-find SuperTracks promo album, but it makes for a fascinating anomaly in the composer's career. [20th Century Fox]


The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)

Amusing-enough prequel sees Fred and Barney wooing Wilma and Betty. Some neat new themes, like a loungey motif for romantic rival Chip Rockefeller as well as two different motifs for Alan Cumming's scene-stealers: a flute-and-electronics idea for the Great Gazoo and a swaggering guitar riff for Mick Jagged, whose song "Never Say Never" is cleverly worked into the proposal scene. [Universal]


Nutty Professor II: the Klumps (2000)

Sherman's future with fellow professor Denise (Janet Jackson) is jeopardized by the re-emergence of Buddy Love in this not-bad sequel. As something of a response to the over-the-top humor, Newman's music is busy, but never exhaustingly so. However, his cleverest innovation is a percolating ‘watercooler’ motif for winds and electronics, suggesting that Buddy is always bubbling under the surface. Among other interpolations (such as Star Wars and "The Blue Danube" in the Armageddon parody nightmare) is a neat recurring motif for Denise derived from Jackson's song "Doesn't Really Matter". [Universal]


Duets (2000)

An ensemble cast singing their way through America’s karaoke clubs isn't quite the rollicking good time one would expect. In fact, the film is downright dull when people aren't singing and Newman's brief transitional cues are unable to do much for it. [Hollywood]


Bedazzled (2000)

Brendan Fraser is the lovesick nerd and Elizabeth Hurley is the Devil in this okay remake of the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore feature. Newman's work is decent, with some Spanish flavor for the Colombian drug lord wish and a delightfully over-the-top romantic cue for the big kiss in the sophisticated author wish. [20th Century Fox]


102 Dalmatians (2000)

The last of three 'more is more' sequels from that year saw Glenn Close returning to the role of Cruella De Vil, whose short-lived rehabilitation leads to more puppy-snatching mayhem. Not unlike the movie, some parts of Newman’s score go a little too hard on silliness - as with the sampling of George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" for spotless pup Oddball - but there are also some moments of invention, as with the song "Cruella De Vil" transformed into a leitmotif for the villainess, especially in the choral cue when she falls off the dog-loving wagon. Elsewhere, there's a triumphant main theme, best used in the Twilight Bark sequence. [Walt Disney]


Coming soon: Into the 21st century...and the ‘Incomplete’ section.


The opinions expressed about the movies and scores therein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the personnel of Film Score Monthly. Tor Y. Harbin is a film-music lover and writer for FSMOnline. Questions? Corrections? Feedback? Ripping recipes for tuna salad?

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Comments (9):Log in or register to post your own comments
David iscsomething of a chameleon next to his brother and cousin- while Thomas and Randy are fairly recognizable styles (andcare great when they provide what's called for), David writes what's needed (i would have preferred hearing his James Bond, frankly).

1001 Nights is a real treat. Hear an official excerpt here: http://www.davidlouisnewman.com/video. The whole thing may be avail on DVD.

I found it amusing that he has one short score suite (made up of two cues) on the Breakdown Palace and he STILL manages to give away the ending in the title! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brokedown_Palace:_Music_from_the_Original_Motion_Picture_Soundtrack

Nice guide.

About his early collaborations woth Michael Convertino, they were really not that surprising, as MC had played in a band with Thomas Newman, THE INNOCENTS.

Do not forget R.O.T.O.R (1987) !

I'm dying for a Score CD of THE FLINTSTONES !!

I want his scores for TOMMY BOY and THE NUTTY PROFESSOR!

Do not forget R.O.T.O.R (1987) !

Which is not scored by David Newman.

It's sad that most of these scores will never see a CD release, probably mainly due to comedy scores being a total sales bust.
I think MIGHTY DUCKS has a chance via Intrada.
I'd love LLL to do his SCOOBY DOO scores, which are fantastic.
I'm lucky enough to have many of these scores on tape/CD, thanks to DN himself sending them to me many, many years ago.
There's always room for more/new David Newman music in my life.

Nice guide.

About his early collaborations woth Michael Convertino, they were really not that surprising, as MC had played in a band with Thomas Newman, THE INNOCENTS.


Didn't know that. Thanks for sharing.

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