film scores


Score by Dave Grusin

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

Story:  An unemployed actor with a reputation for being difficult disguises himself as a woman to get a role in a soap opera

Dave Grusin has had considerable experience at scoring comedies, and has turned in his usual professional job on this once-off Sydney Pollack venture into the genre.

The music in this film runs along the lines of what the composer was turning out in his jazz recordings during the period. “An Actor's Life,” which runs over the main titles, also adds pep at strategic stages of the picture.   There is a lively, twinkling quality to it, encapsulating all the movement and ups and downs of Michael's world, and the various jobs he takes on to continue working as a professional actor.

The director was keen on bringing out “the escalation of the idea of a man dressing up as a woman" into something more, "so that the visual gags were working toward the larger sense." Wanting to avoid a punchline-based score,  he admits that he shot the scenes as if they were doing Chekov. He says, “I think the trick for me was not doing it like a comedy.  All the work we did was in coming up with something that had a spine or a center to it.”  The enormous and long-lasting success of “Tootsie” has more than vindicated his approach.

Musical centerpiece of “Tootsie,” of course, is “It Might Be You,” done in two different instrumental versions, as well as vocally by Stephen Bishop singing the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman.  It has lived after the film, and gone on to be a bit of a standard.

Providing background to the genesis of the song, director Sydney Pollack laughs “Originally Dave and I talked, and I said `we need a song,' and Dave in his usual modest way said `well, maybe we should get some songwriters'.”  The director had his usual faith in the scorer with whom he's done nine pictures, and the result was an Academy Award nomination for Best Song.

The composer adds “the interesting thing about `It Might Be You' is that this was written for a montage that told a story in three-quarters of a song that probably would have taken 10 minutes to talk about if it were straight acting and straight dialogue .  This was amazing to me that it worked the way it did.”

Particularly infectious is the Caribbean flavored vocal “Tootsie,” which accompanies visuals of the metamorphosis of Michael into `Dorothy' as well as the montage showing Dorothy's spectacular rise to fame. Its instrumental companion piece is the bouncy and brassy “Working Girl March” which embellishes images depicting the undaunted spirit and assertiveness of Michael/Dorothy.

The whole picture, named the #2 comedy of all time by the American Film Institute, rings with pace and style, its score all that and more.

Music Editor:  Else Blangsted

Stars:  Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray, Sydney Pollack

Director:  Sydney Pollack

Producers:   Dick Richards , Ronald L. Schwary, Sydney Pollack

Released:  Columbia 1982

Running Time:   1 hours, 56 minutes

Music Time:  (approx) 49 minutes

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