Jerry Fielding

The Enforcer [Original Soundtrack] [1976]

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Jerry Fielding was an enormously talented composer of music for film and television in the 1960s and '70s. Fielding mainly worked on action pictures and dramatic television shows and enjoyed a very close working relationship with director Sam Peckinpah and with actor/director Clint Eastwood, for whom he scored four films; the first of these was The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), which netted Fielding an Oscar nomination. Fielding was probably surprised to work on the Harry Callahan vehicle The Enforcer (1977), as his friend Lalo Schifrin had scored the first two features in the franchise; Schifrin would go on to score the remaining two as well. Nevertheless, Lalo Schifrin was unavailable to do the project and Fielding got the job. While The Enforcer is probably the least well remembered of the Dirty Harry vehicles, Fielding's score is excellent and quite different from Schifrin's work even though it serves the same basic dramatic aims. Fielding died, not quite 50, from a heart attack not long after completing the music for a later Eastwood film, Escape from Alcatraz (1979), and this issue of The Enforcer is found on Schifrin's label Aleph, which is also releasing the soundtrack music to the other Dirty Harry soundtracks.

This Aleph release is the first ever to contain all of the soundtrack cues written for The Enforcer; the only previous issue, a Viva LP from 1983 entitled Sudden Impact and the Best of Dirty Harry, contained only a couple of short excerpts from The Enforcer in addition to the main title. While Fielding's score contains a fair amount of the funky stuff that one remembers from the action films of the '70s, most of the score is devoted to dramatic cues, and these are reminiscent of the contemporary orchestral music of the '60s, just not quite as confrontational as, say, Penderecki or Lutoslawski. Fielding's "Finale (Elegy for Inspector Moore)," following the inevitable demise of Harry's sidekick -- played in this film by Tyne Daly -- is a genuinely touching and moody track; it is heard in two versions. There is also some wry humor; the cue for "Tiffany's Number Eleven" is a jazzy send up of the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," reminiscent of Fielding's tongue-in-cheek music cues for Peckinpah.

The Enforcer CD contains a fine reminiscence of working on the film by Daly and an equally good appreciation of the music by producer Nick Redman. The action-based soundtrack music of the '70s was, and continues to be, a primary source of influence for younger composers, particularly of the so-called postminimalist school. Aleph's The Enforcer is a fine example of this classic kind of soundtrack music, but for soundtrack collectors for whom such lofty concerns are not a premium, the Aleph disc will find a welcome place on their shelves.

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