film scores


Score by Dave Grusin

For a website devoted to the musical career of Dave Grusin, check out

Story:  A young group of friends (The Goonies) band together in an effort to save home from rich real estate investors and set off on a treasure hunt.

The music for cult film “The Goonies” is almost as treasured by fans as the daring adventures of its young protagonists.  A mainly orchestral score, it stands out as one of Dave Grusin's longest and most thematic.  In fact, the last third of the film is nearly wall-to-wall music, utilizing full orchestra throughout.  In addition to the rich elements, there is an overall sense of fun in the score, which might be tongue in cheek, but is never camp.  Dave Grusin says that Goonies “turned out to be a clone of the classical film score, with the average 87-piece orchestra,” but was not what he envisioned when he first approached the subject.

If Ludwig van Beethoven had lived 200 years later and found himself in Hollywood, he might well have composed something like the music over the opening titles, the “Fratelli Chase.”  (… Perhaps he did - but had more of a predilection for jazz in this incarnation …)   In any case Dave Grusin's nod to the great master of the symphony gives young filmgoers a superb chance to hear something which is a little more complex than the numbing rock they are otherwise inundated with.

The exhilarating “Fratelli Chase” may well be done in a sense of mirth, but it is a powerful piece of music which is as unforgettable as the picture.  It is not only used to great effect and entertainment in the opening chase scene, but during the comic plumbing havoc raised by the Goonies at the Astoria Country Club as well.

The composer uses a fascinating technique in the earliest scenes of the film which comes across like source music, perhaps rock playing on a radio in the room where the children are.  But it cuts off unexplainably in the middle of scenes, and therefore, acts as a device to demonstrate that this sort of music is simply running through the minds of the young cast, more or less constantly, until they begin their
escapade.  After this, the technique is only associated with those boys who are not Goonies.

But aside from this rock, (and of course, the Cindy Lauper-sung “Goonies 'R' Good Enough” which launches the adventure and also runs over the end titles), the score almost always employs full-blown orchestra.

While Steven Spielberg films conventionally use large orchestras and a symphonic approach, Dave Grusin had the idea of adding electronic elements, “partly because the adventure involved little kids and partly because I didn't want it to be a symphonic score clone.”

The (four plus five note) “Goonies” signature motif -  which has a fantasy quality akin to a swirl of stardust - projects innocence, and is infused into suspense and danger scenes not just to emphasize the vulnerability of the children, but also, their decency.  Dave Grusin elaborates on technicalities, saying that the “little keyboard figure” was “a MIDIed sound using a DX7 Rhodes-based timbre with some sustain.”

Another theme used widely in the motion picture is the dreamy, inspirational music which often underscores Mikey's speeches and impressions.  Referred to as the “Goonies Theme,” it is one of the most beautiful of Dave Grusin compositions.  Richly melodic, with depth and gravity, it unquestionably  fulfils the task of the best cinematic music - to touch the heart and evoke all the right emotions.  It's very adult tone, used in a picture about children, may be a key to the longevity of “The Goonies” in the hearts of its fans  long beyond their own youth.

In addition to a great deal of interesting and  inventive incidental music for the Goonies' exploits, there are a number of notable minor themes, such as the invigorating music tracing that slide down the waterfall, a sense of paradise in the piece when they come across the wishing well, and  the swashbuckling `rescue' theme.  The chaotic and dangerous happenings of the film require plenty of adventure music, and the dramatic  `discovery' theme, as well as  the `pirate' or `conquest' theme (which fulfils a number of different necessities) are outstanding examples of original compositions in “The Goonies.”  It is in these sequences, relating to the riskiest moments, where Dave Grusin utilized most of the electronics in the score.

Of special note is the music which accompanies Mikey encountering One Eyed Willie.  As with the main theme (which is also interwoven into the cue along with the Goonies signature), this is an illustration of how music can give a fantasy film the kind of richness, texture and substance which keeps it fascinating  and meaningful for decades beyond its initial run.

While an official soundtrack album was released of the rock music in “The Goonies,”  the attractive Dave Grusin score is rather a problematic thing to come by.     If one searches hard enough, it is obtainable, and worth getting at all costs.  The alternative is  just to savor the 77 minutes of music on the video or DVD of the movie.

Supervising Music Editor:  Else Blangsted

Music Editor:  Jim Flamberg

Stars:  Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green

Director:  Richard Donner

Producer:  Steven Spielberg

Released:  Warner Bros. 1985

Music Recorded at:  Record Plant Scoring

Soundtrack Album:  Epic

Running Time:  1 hour 49  minutes

Music Time:  (approx) 77 minutes

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