The Dave Grusin Archive
Music for the Scree
Falling In Love

Stars:  Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Harvey Keitel, Jane Kaczmarek, George Martin

Director:  Ulu Grosbard
Producer:  Marvin Worth
Released:  Paramount 1984

Story:  Two married people meet accidentally, and fall in love, creating a dilemma for both.

The Mountain Dance Movie!

From the appearance of the Paramount logo, through  commuters making their way into and out of New York and Molly going through her wardrobe, to final fade out, “Falling in Love” has the delightful Dave Grusin signature tune written all over it.

Is this any indication of what the great composition is all about?  Not about mountains and not about dancing?  If Dave Grusin could have chosen to place this piece in any of his films, but selected “Falling In Love,” does it mean that the exhilarating concoction is about that special tingle of delight that `something's coming'?  The thrill of anticipation?

Or was it employed in this film just because it is so enigmatic?  Perhaps so, as director Ulu Grosbard had the rather singular concept in mind that the audience should in no way be led by the music or editing.  The composer says that he understood and appreciated the ethics behind not manipulating the audience's emotions.  However, this desire to jettison the principal purpose of cinematic music was something Dave Grusin described as “a strange experience.”  

He has revealed that he used an ordinary CD, exactly like the kind one could buy in record stores, to complete the soundtrack music for this movie. The quality of that early digital master was so phenomenal for its day that it has continued to ring perfectly for over two decades, not least in "Falling in Love."

In any case, there is no question that the five occurrences of the uplifting “Mountain Dance” add a verve and swing to the film each time they are played - over opening and closing titles, shots of the train rolling through the countryside, the couple arranging a meeting, and of course, the memorable `dress up' sequence as Molly tries out a variety of outfits for a planned meeting with Frank.

In addition to montages of Christmas source music and underscoring to denote the festive season, there is only one other melody in the film, a modern and lyrical love theme which is served up in a variety of ways, from light piano music to full orchestral versions.

Its relatively neutral tone can be traced to the director's  concept of not telling the audience what to feel.  Modestly unobtrusive (not that Mountain Dance wouldn't steamroller over even a grand Max Steiner theme), it fulfils Ulu Grosbard's design by not tugging at the heartstrings, but rather maintaining a sense of balance and a positive outlook, even when it begins sadly or uncertainly.

The danger may be that the thoughtful concept behind this motion picture was betrayed by the unusual plan.  Dave Grusin himself voiced the concern that audiences would, “get to feel all the depth that film was capable of generating” in spite of the absence of music which influences feelings.

One might be inclined to believe that a motion picture such as this, in fact, required an extra dose of emotional involvement in the score, rather than less or none.  With everything so played down, the general reaction was to see the film as banal and dull instead of a probe into the weighty subject of how two decent and mature people with good marriages can have their lives turned asunder by meeting someone who touches their heart in a way that they somehow cannot comprehend.

It might have been

Music Editor:  Else Blangsted
Orchestration:  John Charles, Richard Hazard, Dave Grusin

sheet music

Dave Grusin
Feature Films