The Good German

Thomas Newman

" Old fashioned score is highlight, short time of cues distraction "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Steve Sodenbergh's The Good German was considered a homage to the noir films of the 1940's, though lacking a character development that made it pretty uninteresting for most people. Regardless what the critics thought about it, the common man wasn't interested in it at all, making it a box office disappointment and a Sodenbergh movie many people passed on. For the music Sodenbergh returned to the composer that probably scored his most celebrated picture, namely Thomas Newman. And regardless what you think of Newman in general, expect to discover a wonderful sound you haven't heard from him too often.

In fact, there's not a specific score that comes to mind when listening to The Good German. It's so deliciously immersed in the golden age sound of the 40's, delivering strong dramatic trumpet blasts, melancholy strings and eerie harp and piano moments. In fact it sounds so genuine, it could have become one of his all time bests. Sadly development wasn't given a chance. Of course this is not new, Newman's scores are often full of short tracks. And more often than not, Newman does more in 40 seconds than other composers in 10 minutes. BUT here time is not aiding the ideas, often leaving wonderful short moments stuck in a development it can not expand upon. Melodies it can not fulfill.

Basically the score's full of these moments. The dramatic opening cue is a winner all right, especially for the Newman fan who thought he heard it all. Loud opening for brass, a theme made for romantic evenings and dark alleys, a melody that immediately transports you to the 40's. And this doesn't need the black and white color to convince you all right. Because the performances you receive here are stunning. But as said earlier, they require more time, no matter the brilliance they already unleash in a matter of seconds.

So most of the cues often deliver a moment or an idea it doesn't expand upon. For instance "Kraut Brain Trust" delivers a march that could have made it one of Newman's all time bests, the main theme sounds deliciously romantic (in true Miklos Rosza style) that literally screams for a 4 minute expansion in tracks such as "A Good Dose" and "The Good German", the atonal clashing strings require more time to raise the bar in the short lived "The Brandenburg Gate", etc etc. Meaning this is a fine album on itself, but like (for instance) Little Women it is a score screaming for longer tracks. Development is everything, especially in a time mystery, romance and deceit went hand in hand. That's exactly what the movie was trying to do, that's exactly what the score is trying to achieve. Alas the idea wasn't given the time to hatch.

Track Listing

1. Unrecht Oder Recht (Main Title) (2.25) Excellent track
2. River Havel (1.06)
3. Countess Roundheels (1.21)
4. Such a Boy (1.34)
5. Kraut Brain Trust (1.04)
6. The Russian Deals (1.11)
7. A Good Dose (1.11)
8. Muller's Billet (0.48)
9. Wittenbergplatz (0.45)
10. Trip Ticket (1.41)
11. Safe House (0.57)
12. A Nazi and a Jew (1.50)
13. Dora (2.49)
14. Kurfürstendamm (0.43)
15. The Big Three (1.24)
16. A Persilschein (1.35)
17. Stickball (0.27)
18. Golem (1.09)
19. Atom Bomb (1.30)
20. The Good German (2.09)
21. Hannelore (1.00)
22. Occupation Marks (1.19)
23. U-Bahn (1.35)
24. The Brandenburg Gate (1.25)
25. Skinny Lena (1.44)
26. Rockets for our Side (1.49)
27. Always Something Worse (2.05)
28. Godless People (End Title) (2.44)
29. Jedem Das Seine (2.49) Excellent track

Total Length: 44.09
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 4 votes - average 3.38/5)

Released by

Varèse Sarabande 302 066 781 2 (regular release 2007)

Orchestrations by

Thomas Pasatieri