The Driver. The Star Chamber. Black Widow
. Three very different films from one studio, Twentieth Century-Fox, directed by three very different filmmakers, connected by one very gifted composer–Michael Small
is a terrific thriller starring Theresa Russell and Debra Winger. The acting is superb, the photography of Conrad Hall is amazing, as always, and the production design of Gene Callahan is stunning. Michael Small
's score is as entrancing, captivating, alluring, and dangerous as the Black Widow
of the title. It has all the hallmarks of a classic Michael Small
score and is one of his best.
The Star Chamber, directed by Peter Hyams and featuring a stellar cast, including Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto, and Sharon Gless, became kind of a cult film thanks to cable TV and home video and is generally well thought of today. Once again, Michael Small
provides a terrific score, beginning with its classic Small main title, majestic-yet-ominous, strings, woodwinds and piano doing an uneasy dance against a steady rhythmic pulse, a perfect beginning for the music and drama to follow.
Small's score for The Driver is, like the film, lean, cool, stylish and, yes, unique. Small uses electronics sparingly amidst the strings, reeds, and brass, and plays off The Detective's line about The Driver being 'the cowboy who's never been caught,' with the use of a twangy country-western guitar that occasionally insinuates itself into the music.
All three scores were previously released by Intrada Black Widow
as a standalone and The Star Chamber and The Driver together on one CD. For this release, all three have been remastered by Mike Matessino, carefully removing numerous small dropouts and ticks and pops, most especially on The Driver. Black Widow
and The Star Chamber are in stereo, while The Driver is in mono. With The Star Chamber and The Driver about to make their debut on Blu-ray, we thought the timing was perfect to make these three large Small scores available again in a two-CD value-for-money set. If you have never heard this music, you owe it to yourselves to grab this –there has never really been anyone quite like Michael Small