John Barry

King Kong [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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With his score for Dino DeLaurentiis' much-maligned 1976 remake of King Kong, John Barry faced the unenviable task of following composer Max Steiner's landmark work on the 1933 original. To his credit, Barry largely ignores Steiner's precedents (as well as the overwrought disaster-movie scores so dominant throughout the first half of the decade) to emphasize his own strengths. The result is a melodic, woozily romantic work rich in orchestral grandeur. Rather than focusing on Kong's destruction, Barry accentuates the great ape's affection for heroine Jessica Lange, yielding one of the finest love themes of his career. His classic James Bond work shades the more suspenseful passages, but King Kong works best when it plays against type and expectations.

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