Album: Road to Perdition: Music from the Motion Picture

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Road to Perdition: Music from the Motion Picture

Artist: Thomas Newman
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Label: Decca U.S.

Director Sam Mendes’s much-anticipated follow-up to his Academy Award®-winning American Beauty found him exploring the period gangster film—but with a moral fiber and undercurrent of family tragedy familiar from his Oscar® triumph. As he did with Beauty, Mendes again wisely entrusts the film’s music to Tom Newman, a composer with an instinctive knack for getting inside a film’s characters via innovative and often orthodox methods. As many of Newman’s preceding scores have been rhythmically driven and rife with…

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Director Sam Mendes’s much-anticipated follow-up to his Academy Award®-winning American Beauty found him exploring the period gangster film—but with a moral fiber and undercurrent of family tragedy familiar from his Oscar® triumph. As he did with Beauty, Mendes again wisely entrusts the film’s music to Tom Newman, a composer with an instinctive knack for getting inside a film’s characters via innovative and often orthodox methods. As many of Newman’s preceding scores have been rhythmically driven and rife with improvisation-driven experimentalism, its good to hear his equally distinctive writing for orchestra largely take center stage here again. But Newman’s inquisitive musical instincts can’t be denied, and his melancholy string writing is leavened first with subtle uilleann pipe flourishes that echo the characters’ Irish-American roots, then with savory, yet ever-restrained touches of his own ethnic-defying instrumental color and rhythmic accents. It’s another moody and introspective gem, seasoned with some lively period jazz (courtesy of the Charleston Chasers, Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra, and Chicago Rhythm Kings) and a warm, final surprise: a duet of John M. Williams’s autumnal title track performed by none other than stars Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. —Jerry McCulley

Related Works

Book:Road to Perdition

Road to Perdition

Max Allan Collins

Rock Island, Illinois—1929. Michael O’Sullivan is a good father and a family man—and also the chief enforcer for John Looney, the town’s Irish Godfather of crime. As Looney’s “Angel of Death,” O’Sullivan has done the bidding of Chicago gangsters Al Capone and Frank Nitti as well—but when a gangland execution spells tragedy for the O’Sullivan family, a grieving father and his adolescent son find themselves on a winding road fo treachery, revenge, and revelation.

Writer Max Allan Collins is a two-time winner of the Private Eye Writers of America’s Shamus Award for his Nathan Keller historical thrillers True Detective and Stolen Away. Award-winning artist Richard Piers Raynner spent four years working on the artwork for Road to Perdition, a labor of love that has resulted in some of the most stunningly realistic drawings of 1930s Chicago ever seen on printed page.

Film:Road to Perdition

Road to Perdition

Sam Mendes

In Road to Perdition, Tom Hanks plays a hit man who finds his heart. Michael Sullivan (Hanks) is the right-hand man of crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman), but when Sullivan’s son accidentally witnesses one of his hits, he must choose between his crime family and his real one. The movie has a slow pace, largely because director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) seems to be in love with the gorgeous period locations. Hanks gives a deceptively battened-down performance at first, only opening up toward the very end of the film, making his character’s…

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