Sudden Impact

Music By: Lalo Schifrin

Distributed by: Aleph Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Have you ever watched a movie and then searched for its soundtrack?  Have you ever discovered that the movieís soundtrack had never been released?  Thatís what Dirty Harry fans discovered upon searching for the soundtrack of Sudden Impact, the fourth installment of the Dirty Harry series.  The soundtrack was unavailable until May 6, 2008.  In Sudden Impact, Inspector Harry Callahan is after a serial killer, one that he discovers has a very good motive for murder.

            Lalo Schifrin composed the soundtrack of Sudden Impact.  Having composed the soundtracks for the first two movies of the series, Schifrin faced the challenge of composing a new and exciting soundtrack for the fourth Dirty Harry movie.  Since this new film was opening in the Ď80s, it called for a new style of music.  The character was older and had experienced a great deal in his career.  This would also have to be conveyed in the composition. 

            Iíve enjoyed Schifrinís Dirty Harry movie soundtracks in the past, having experienced them while watching the movies and in the form of soundtracks released in the last couple of years.  Hearing the soundtrack as it plays throughout a film and hearing it as a stand alone soundtrack album are always two very different experiences.  Each of the tracks created for the film will be shortened to fit the action in each scene.  Thus, it is only via the soundtrack album that you will get to experience the complete version of the composerís works.  I had enjoyed the background music when I watched Sudden Impact many years ago.  Would I still enjoy it in soundtrack format?

            The Main Title track features a cool techno sound with a disco-like beat.  I loved the sounds of the police scanner in the background at the beginning and the end of the tack.  There is a recurring theme throughout the Sudden Impact soundtrack Ė a crazy calliope finds its way into many of the tracks, representing the mind of the killer.  As Harry investigates the serial murders, we hear different styles of music, according to the locales he ventures into and the emotions of the scene.  In Youíve Come A Long Way, we hear a romantic piano bar melody that eventually becomes rather intense and then heads off into a jazzy beat.  Carousel music can be heard in Remembering Terror as the victim/serial killer thinks back to the events that made them a murderer.  Rising crescendos in the music are used to heighten the intensity of scenes in the movie.  Increasing tempos are used for action sequences.

            Lalo Schifrinís composition for Sudden Impact is a mix of disco, romance, and techno along with edgy, action-laced music.  The music of Sudden Impact moves the Dirty Harry series into the new decade and accurately depicts major changes in the actions of the main character.  I enjoyed the little nuances that allowed the listener to discover the differences in Harry Callahanís thinking.  I also enjoyed the way Schifrin depicted the mind of the serial killer in this film Ė more of a revenge killer with a slightly manic tendency brought about by tragedy.  The Sudden Impact Soundtrack is a perfect addition to the Dirty Harry soundtrack series.


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