Sunday, April 3, 2011

Scoring "The Right Stuff"

The Right Stuff is arguably the best film ever made about the early years of the American human space flight program. It's the common frame of reference when lecturing about the subject at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum.

Although a flop at the box office (probably due to its 193-minute running time), it's considered an iconic American film that was widely praised in film reviews. The Right Stuff was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four.

One of those four was for Best Score. Bill Conti's composition was its own character; one can't listen to the music without envisioning human space flight.

The soundtrack, unfortunately, was largely unavailable for many years. A CD version was released in 1990 but only had five tracks; the rest of the disc was Conti music from the TV mini-series North and South. My recollection is that Conti had a dispute with the studio over rights, specifically that some of his music was replaced by other works, such as Holst's The Planets.

Lo and behold, it seems that Varese Sarabende released a 3,000-copy limited edition in 2009 that finally lets us revel in the full soundtrack. It scarcity has driven up its price to ... well, if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

For those of you who want this expanded soundtrack without sacrificing your lifetime savings, I have the solution. has the 2009 soundtrack for $1.68.

No, that's not a typo.

You sign up for the service by providing an e-mail address. You then download the score as MP3 files to your computer. If your PC is capable, you can burn a CD with the score, and you can blare it to your heart's content.

Which I'm doing right now.

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