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Review of The Firm – Limited Edition Score

The Firm


Original Motion Picture Score

The Firm from 1993 is just one of the movie adaptations from critically acclaimed author John Grisham. Starring Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, and more this film brings Grisham’s story to life, and so does Dave Grusin’s score! Here’s my review of that score, along with my thoughts on the film itself.

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It was The Pelican Brief that got me into reading John Grisham in the mid 90s. But when I found out about The Firm, I just knew I had to read the book, then see the film. It always surprises me looking at films from the 80s and 90s now because 85% of the ones I remember watching as a kid were rated R. I’ve said it before on many of my podcasts, but I’ll say it here one more time. My mom let me watch almost anything. When The Firm came along, it was just after A Few Good Men. That film had Tom Cruise going up against Jack Nicholson himself! So when this one hit, and after I had read the book, I was wondering how things would differ between the two mediums. After all not all films stay true to source material. There were slight changes between the book and the film, but they aren’t bad changes at all. The funny thing is now in 2015… I remember the film The Firm more than I do the book. I guess I should go back and reread the book to really see the differences. Before receiving this release from La La Land Records… I can safely say that I hadn’t watched The Firm in 15 years or so. Luckily for me it just was put on Netflix, and I really wanted to watch it again to get the full experience of the film, and then blare the soundtrack in my headphones.

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Here’s the thing, I never knew who did the scoring for The Firm. I just knew  I LOVED the music from the film. Turns out it was done by a man named Dave Grusin. Mr. Grusin, after looking him up online, has done a number of scores we’d all know. Stuff like The Fabulous Baker Boys and Mulholland Falls! Grusin’s piano playing is just simply amazing. The bluesy jazzed up, at the same time toned down score for The Firm is exactly the kind of music I love listening to for film scores. So this 2 CD release is very interesting, the first disc is the Original Film score, and the second disc is the original GRP Records Soundtrack. Now had I known this beforehand I wouldn’t have sought out Lyle Lovett’s M-O-N-E-Y track by itself. I guess I just wasn’t looking hard enough at the track listing on the back of the CD case. So now I have 2 copies in my iTunes library of that song. Not really complaining, but still… I find it very ironic that I wanted the track after hearing it in the film, only to realize that I had already had it here on this CD set.

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Disc 1 Total Time: 64:50

I haven’t been able to stop listening to this score since it arrived in the mail for me. It’s very rare that you have a movie score that is mostly if not all piano. It’s just some breathtakingly refreshing. There are a number of tracks that have previously unreleased music in them. There are a few that have music that wasn’t in the film. Outside of the “Main title” tracks which are Tracks 1 and 2 on this disc…. Track 7: “Original Film Score: Blues: The Death of Love & Trust” might be my favorite, because it starts off very dark, and then slowly builds into an emotional tune. There are hints of suspense in it, and the way Grusin changes from the mysterious to the darker tones is very fluid. Another one I really enjoy is Track 16: “Original Film Score: Mail Fraud Is a Federal Offense/Dog Track/Abby Tells Mitch She’s Leaving Him/Nordic Fax” It delves into those mysterious tones I mentioned, and then it gets quite sad. With Track 17: “Original Film Score: Mitch Gets Into Manager’s Office/Abby Phones Tammy” There is an urgency, and I freakin’ love that about Grusin’s choices for these pieces. This feels like chase music, but it isn’t chase music. It’s more like hurry up before we get caught!!!! Disc 1 the Film Score has 26 tracks. I can safely say that after listening to this for a week now… there isn’t a track on here that I don’t like. There are some I really enjoy more than others, but there is not a single track I’d skip. Track 21: “Original Film Score: Mitch Bolts/Avery Visits Abby at Schoolyard/Tarrance Gets Phone Call From Mitch” is very different from most of the other tracks. It is almost eerily haunting. Track 24: “Original Film Score: Mud Island Chase/Stalking/Dead Nordic” might be the only really chase type music in the entire film’s score. Obviously because this was during the Mud Island scene. I do really love this track. This might be my number one favorite after the main theme tracks. Track 26: “Original Film Score: How Could You Lose Me? – End Title” is almost a sad ending kinda theme to it. Even though the film’s ending is better for the McDeere’s than the book version. It just feels like a very sad song at first, and then it brightens a bit.

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Disc 2 Total Time: 60:25

This disc has 21 total tracks, features the awesome Lyle Lovett song M-O-N-E-Y!, and more! 8 of these 21 tracks are bonus cues. As I said before this was the originally released soundtrack album. What’s really interesting here are the bonus tracks. Do not get me wrong I love the original album, but disc 1 does the film so much more justice than that original release. There’s Track 40: “Bonus Track: Lamar Dazed (Alternate)” I’m not sure where this is in the film score on disc 1, but hearing it here once again I’ll say that Dave Grusin really did an excellent job with this score. This track takes place right after they learn that Hodges and Kosinski are killed. Track 41: “Bonus Track: The Photographs (Alternate)” this was during the scene with Mitch and DeVasher, as the security man showed Mitch the photos of him on the beach with the woman he had an affair with. Hearing this original release compared to disc 1… I enjoy this, but I love disc 1 so much more.

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Total Disc Time: 125:15

Dave Grusin as I’ve stated really killed it on this score. Every track has something that will make you think, or something that’ll make you smile. It even has 1 or 2 tracks that will make you jump outta your skin. If I really had to pick favorite tracks… outside of the Lyle Lovett song… I’d have to say that my favorites are 1,2,3,4,7,16,17, and 24! I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones I’ve listened to multiple times!

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Final Thoughts

Say what you want about Tom Cruise, you cannot deny that The Firm was one of the best legal thriller films of the 90s! Dave Grusin was phenomenal on the piano for this score! You can get this hauntingly elegant score from LA LA Land Records directly! Always have an escape plan!!!

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