The Dave Grusin Archive
Music for the Scree

Stars:  Robert Redford, Lena Olin, Alan Arkin,

Director:  Sydney Pollack
Producers:  Sydney Pollack  & Richard Roth
Released:  Universal 1990

Story:  A footloose gambler finds that, not just love, but a revolution gets in the way of his biggest card game as Cuba erupts during the 1958 Christmas season.

Resplendent with Latin fire, the vivid score for “Havana” is conceivably the most lush Dave Grusin has written.  In the words of director Sydney Pollack, it is "one of the best scores I've heard to a motion picture."

From the opening notes of the main title, followed on by Arturo Sandoval's evocative trumpet solo, the music is drama on a grand scale.  Never more than a moment away from Cuban flavor throughout the picture, the emphasis here is excitement and spicy Latino rhythms, aptly citing time and place, also courtesy of Dave Valentin and Lee Ritenour on flute and guitar.

`Hurricane Country,' as the theme has been called in its incarnation over the closing credits, is the soul of this motion picture.  Magically played by Sal Marquez on trumpet, like the rest of the original music for “Havana,” it so epitomizes the fabric of the picture that it could be played under any dramatic scene and feel appropriate.  

Dave Grusin has vividly identified the ethos of this film in this composition.  The theme might just as well be entitled `Fate,' in the way it suggests displaced people who have become caught up in someone else's fight, individuals who might easily be blown off course by a butterfly waving its wings on the other side of the planet.  Dori Caymmi's vocals over it during the closing titles are captivating.

(To hear a scintillating jazz exploration of “Hurricane Country,” check out Dory Caymmi's 1997 album, “Kicking Cans” [see 80s/90s Records as Sideman], on which singer and composer reprise the piece.  The latter offers some interesting piano improvisations on the theme with a delicate solo of “Cuba Libra” as prologue.)

The tender love theme is no less applicable to scenes with a wider concept.  Exquisitely moving, it conveys a sense of hopelessness, and even the nobler side of Jack.  It is as good as any example in the Grusin filmography of the scorer's thoughtful approach to the most sensitive moments in a movie. The theme contains substance and depth which elevates it from being only a banal tug at the emotions.  Lee Ritenour's emotive guitar and the composer's piano also play a great role in intensifying the poignancy at different moments of the film.

A spectacular tableau of a nation in revolution is painted by the grand Cuba Libra theme.  As with the camera's focus on one character within a crowd of jubilant revelers, the music manages to be touching and intimate at the same time as majestic - conveying momentous events affecting a whole country.  In so doing, it reinforces the film's attempt  to give perspective to the events of New Year's Eve 1958 through the lives of two outsiders.

This music made unforgettable the scene of Roberta walking through the throng - torn apart by her mistaken betrayal and the lingering love for the man she has just left.  Describing the massive undertaking to score this scene, director Sydney Pollack states “It was such a hard feeling of a combination of panic, exuberance and confusion.  All of these things were going on at the same time, but he did it.  He wrote a piece that was so incredible”

Particularly dazzling is the music accompanying the journey to Santa Clara.  Within these scenes, three further original pieces emerge which encompass the romantic nature of Jack's search. the landscape is captured not only by indigenous rhythms, but a haunting quality in the cues which touch the heart at the same time as projecting the sense of danger and cataclysmic events.  On their own these themes and their epilogue could have comprised the core for the entire score.  But they barely appear elsewhere in the motion picture.

In addition to traditional tunes of the locale, there is a good dose of American pop in the film, and with 79 minutes of screen time, one can virtually say “Havana” leans toward being wall-to-wall music.  Nominated for Oscar and Grammy awards, the score was therefore quite a departure from Dave Grusin's generally minimalist  approach.  This non-stop quality plays a critical role in moving the film along.

Two incidental items stand out.  Frank Sinatra singing  “London By Night” on Jack's phonograph is a world away from the scene of the picture, but so perfect for mood that it almost stops the show. (The record is actually a part of the film, with the “Come Fly With Me” LP getting its own moment of screen time.)

The other is a further bit of magic - Fats Domino singing “One Night” over scenes of a card game.  Were the dramatic underscoring anything less than sensational, this would be a stand-out musical moment in the film, so delightfully married are image and music.

The original Grusin pieces are so exquisite, they are beyond being diluted;  nevertheless, to hear them extracted on the soundtrack album is to be treated to probably his most magnificent score.

Music Editorial Consultant:  Else Blangsted
Music Editor:  Bunny Andrews
Assistant Music Editor:  Lise Richardson
Music Consultant:  Joel Sill

Running Time:    2 hours, 24 minutes
Music Time:  (approx) 1 hour, 19 minutes

GRP - GRD 2003


Main Title                             
Night Walk                        
Cuba Libre                             
Santa Clara Suite
 Milicia Y Refugios                  
 Fuego Peligroso                    
A Los Rumberos De Belén              
Love Theme                           
Hurricane Country                    
Lost In A Sweet Place                
Mambo Lido                           
El Conuco                            
Adios Habana                         
La Academia     


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soundtrack album

Dave Grusin
Feature Films


"Kicking Cans"


(times approximate)

0.08 - 1.03   (.55)

Film opens on a black screen.  As Jack begins to speak, tantalizing drum brushes lead into Perry Como's “Round Round Round” running under montage of gambling scenes and events in Cuba, as Jack's voice speaks of the country.

1.04 - 2.32   (1.28)

“Round Round Round” is taken up as source music played in a Latin rhythm by ship's band over scenes in lounge and at card table (though so faint as to be merely a percussive sound), with cuts to night shots of children with toy guns.  Stops as scene moves to car deck.

3.33 - 6.04   (2.31)

Latin source music in ship's lounge over conversation between CIA man and Roberta.  Music becomes fainter and louder again throughout the cue, depending on how audible it is in the location of the various scenes.

6.09 - 9.38   (3.29)

Source music “The Christmas Song” played in a Latin tempo in ship's lounge as Jack and Roberta dance.  Becomes less audible as they negotiate on deck.

9.52 - 12.51   (2.59)

Main title plays over Jack searching Roberta's vehicle on darkened car deck as opening credits roll.   Tone moves from guarded and mysterious to hotter Latin rhythms over scenes of disembarkation and activities around the port.  Ends as dialogue begins.

14.36 - 14.58   (.22)

Latin percussion as Jack drives into town.

14.59 - 15.18   (.19)

Blending in from previous cue, Latin source music playing in the street.

15.19 - 18.07   (2.48)

Source music “Moonglow” played by casino band over conversations on Jack's arrival.

18.27 - 20.40   (2.13)

Source music - combo prophetically plays “Too Late Now” as Jack meets Roberta at gambling table, she pays him, and he tries to get to know her better.  Ends as  she leaves the table annoyed.

20.41 - 22.37   (1.56)

As scene moves to lobby, source music both from the street and the casino as Jack unsuccessfully continues to persuade Roberta.

22.38 - 23.14   (.36)

“Rum and Coca Cola” played over revolutionaries' activities and a body being covered .  Pregnantly ends on the words `New Year's Eve.”

23.20 - 23.59   (.39)

Frank Sinatra singing “Let's Get Away from it All” over Jack playing cards alone.  Ends as he speaks on the phone.

24.12 - 24.40   (.28)

Source music played for strippers begins faintly as Jack walks into earshot of it.  Becomes loud as he reaches the scene of the show.

24.41 - 25.26    (.45)

Honky tonk source music over scene of Jack at card game.

25.27 - 26.25   (.58)

Fats Domino singing “One Night” over cards flying across the table.  Ends suddenly in the middle of the game, revealing silence among the players.

27.13 - 27.35   (.22)

Opening notes of Main Title begin at card game, and play over a brief arrival scene in the street, implying something important.

28.03 - 28.10   (.07)

Source music playing in the street ends with Jack and Joe talking in car.

29.01 - 29.23   (.22)

Faint Latin source music from the street under conversation in the car.

29.59 - 31.57   (1.58)

Cuban source music plays in café as CIA man chats with two American girls.

31.58 - 32.04   (.06)

“Why Do Fools Fall In Love” plays over couples driving from one night spot to another.

32.05 - 34.31   (2.26)

Cuban source music plays in another night club scene as Jack meets Roberta and Arturo.  Ends as scene changes to their table.

35.44 - 37.41   (1.57)

Cuban source music begins to play in the middle of scene with Jack, Roberta and Arturo conversing at the table.  Starts as they finish with pleasantries, and ends as Jack says he wants to leave.

38.34 - 38.51   (.17)

Latin source music plays over night life scenes from Arturo asking if Jack believes in beautiful women to scene of Roberta and Arturo in the street.

38.56 - 40.17   (1.21)

“La Academia” plays as source music in a night spot, and grows faint as Arturo retires to a side room to talk with compatriots.  Ends with change of scene.

40.18 - 40.34   (.16)

Spicy Cuban source music as Jack enters a night spot.

40.35 - 40.50   (.15)

New Latin source music in night club as Jack sits down at a table.  Ends with change of scene to street.

41.02 - 41.18   (.16)

Source music - singing in stage show as Jack and friend chat with American girls .

41.19 - 41.28   (.09)

Source music - Afro Cuban rhythms in floorshow.

41.29 - 41.44   (.15)

Melodic source music from stage as American girls say they want to see the real Havana.

41.45 - 42.08   (.23)

Loud source music from the street as Jack and girls walk along.

42.10 - 42.26   (.16)

Percussive motif with brass as scene cuts to police dragging someone out of a house.

42.27 - 43.24   (.57)

Percussive, jazzy source music from provocative stage show as Jack and the girls watch.

43.37 - 43.52   (.15)

Percussive motif with brass as scene cuts to police dragging  someone out of a kitchen.

44.09 - 46.12   (2.03)

“A Los Rumberos” theme with heated trumpet plays against images on screen -  Jack undressing the two American girls in his apartment.  Scenes cut between him making love to them and those of shootings and people being arrested.

46.13 - 46.45   (.32)

Frank Sinatra sings “I Think of You” as Roberta and her husband are taken away and scene then cuts to Jack in bed with the American girls.  Ends in scene of Jack and his friend in a bar the next morning.  Very effective following previous cue.

49.42 - 49.56   (.14)

Source music of street bands.  Ends with change of scene.

50.16 - 51.11   (.55)

Dean Martin sings “Memories Are Made of This” as players in card game are introduced.  Stops in mid scene.

57.31 - 57.58   (.27)

Love theme begins as Jack and Joe converse after card game.  Roberta is seen in her prison cell, and then Jack approaches the Lieutenant who has been questioning her.

59.54 - 1.01.09   (1.15)

Love theme played by strings begins after Roberta has walked out of the prison with Jack watching her.  It is taken up dramatically, then romantically  by the guitar when their eyes meet, and as she walks alone to a café where they sit and talk.

1.01.29 - 1.02.26   (.57)

Love theme begins on close up of Roberta as she speaks to Jack in the café, and  scene moves to seaside where they speak meaningfully to one another.  Ends just before their conversation does.

1.09.30 - 1.10.02   (.32)

Source music - Frank Sinatra sings “London By Night” on Jack's phonograph as Roberta rests.

1.13.45 - 1.16.09   (2.24)

Bobby Darin singing “Beyond The Sea” over scenes of street and Meyer Landsky's party, and into end of next scene.

1.18.09 - 1.19.19   (1.10)

Romantic music plays as Jack and Joe walk through the streets talking about the future.

1.19.20 - 1.21.06   (1.46)

“Night Walk” (`Hurrican Country' Theme)  plays over Jack and Joe continuing to walk through the street, talking about life.

1.21.07 - 1.23.19   (2.12)

Source music from a Cuban night club is heard as Jack and Joe continue their walk, fading from earshot before the end of the scene.

1.23.23 - 1.24.15   (.52)

“Vayase” theme plays as Jack drives to Santa Clara, and ends as his car is halted by officials.

1.24.48 - 1.26.30   (1.42)

Dramatic “Milicia y Refugios” plays after Jack's car is hit by a bullet and he surveys the land around him, seeing beautiful scenery, but also soldiers.  It continues through his drive to Santa Clara, the roads filled with people on foot, coming in the opposite direction.  Stops in the middle of the scene.

1.26.39 - 1.27.43   (1.04)

“Fuego Peligroso”  plays majestically over scene of  fires set all around, and Jack encountering a house burning, and bodies hanging outside it.  Music swells as he recognizes Roberta's car, and searches for her.  Ends as he drives into village.

1.32.46 - 1.32.50   (.04)

Source music of Jack playing a music box as Roberta chats with revolutionaries outside.

1.32.53 - 1.33.18   (.25)

Extended string note as Jack watches Roberta talk with the revolutionaries, then tries unsuccessfully to use the phone.

1.35.34 - 1.37.41   (2.07)   

Delicate, romantic music plays over Jack and Roberta talking intimately  about the intertwining of their lives and the revolution.  As they embrace, screen goes black and music soars into the grand “Cuba Libra” theme.  They drive away, and pass signs of devastation.  Music is blown out when, shortly after Jack says “it's going to be OK, Bobbi,' a plane drops bombs all around them.

1.38.27 - 1.38.44   (.17)

Epilogue to Santa clara suite plays as they drive into Havana and arrive at Jack's apartment.

1.39.14 - 1.40.38   (1.24)

Telephone rings, and Jack walks towards Roberta, as if to embrace her.  Love theme plays on through love scene, ending in scene of Roberta in the bath.

1.42.50 - 1.43.25   ((.35)

As Jack says he'll go anywhere in the world with her, and embraces Roberta, love theme  begins in bath scene, plays through cut away to a view of Havana and the sea, then back to them asleep in the dark.  Resonance of music ends in a daylight scene of the streets.

1.43.34 - 1.43.47   (.13)

Vocal of “Hurricane Country” plays over scene of subdued gambling in the casino.  Very interesting cue.

1.44.23 - 1.44.24   (.01)

A snatch of music as Roberta tunes Jack's radio.

1.44.32 - 1.44.44   (.12)

Love theme plays as Roberta listens to speech on the radio, and glances at the paper umbrella she gave him.

1.44.45 - 1.45.31   (.46)

Source music of band playing march music in the port as Jack chats with Captain of the ship.  Fades as it goes out of earshot.

1.46.01 - 1.46.23   (.22)

Love theme plays over Jack's reaction to the news that Arturo is alive, and continues into scene of him arriving at his apartment and speaking to Roberta.  Fades out as he does.

1.48.31 - 1.49.29   (.58)

Love theme plays over Roberta telling Jack of her feelings for her husband and for him, as well as his reaction and departure.  Plays into following scenes of the streets and setting up for card game.  Ends as Jack begins to speak.

1.49.39 - 1.51.37   (1.58)

Latin source music of bands playing.  Fades to faint as Jack speaks to CIA man until becoming louder again at end of cue.

1.51.38 - 1.52.16   (.38)

Percussive motif with threatening strings used to denote police begins as Jack is speaking to CIA man, and plays over  cars moving through the night and Jack looking for the Colonel, as well as scene of players at card table awaiting his arrival.  Ends as he begins to speak to Colonel.

1.56.11 - 1.57.56   (1.45)    

“Fuego Peligroso” plays as Jack goes to Arturo's cell, and continues up to the point where the latter recognizes him.

1.59.42 - 1.59.59   (.17)

Elegant cha cha cha played over scenes of cars arriving at casino with camera panning upwards to perhaps denote card game.

2.00.10 - 2.01.06   (.56)

Love theme plays over Jack arriving at casino, cut to Captain waiting with his boat, and Jack then arriving at his apartment.  Fades out as he and Roberta embrace.

2.02.46 - 2.03.45   (.59)

Love theme (Lost in a Sweet Place) plays delicately and poignantly as Roberta goes through agony on the realization that her husband is alive.  Ends as Jack speaks emotionally

2.04.46 - 2.05.02   (.16)

Festive Latin source music played by official band as crowds dance in the street.  Ends for announcement of New Year.

2.05.06 - 2.05.19   (.13)

Source music fanfare and anthem played by band as 1959 is announced, President's picture is raised, and crowd cheers.

2.05.20 - 2.05.48   (.28)

Source music of band breaking into Cuban dance music.  Dwindles off as word goes through the crowd that President has left the country.

2.05.49 - 2.09.00   (3.51)

Grand “Cuba Libra” theme plays as crowds are jubilant in the street while the focus is on Roberta who walks solemnly amongst them on her way home.  Cuts to Jack walking aimlessly through the street, but again and again, back to Roberta going on purposely.  Cut to Captain giving up his wait, and leaving with the boat.  Continuing scenes of the mob and of Roberta.  Ends as Jack meets Joe at the casino.

2.10.51 - 2.11.17   (.26)

“Cuba Libra” plays as cards fly through the air while mob loots the casino, and scene cuts to Jack's car  arriving at the port.  Ends as he enters café there.

2.15.10 - 2.18.06   (2.56)

Love theme begins as Roberta raises Jack's sleeve to reveal a bandage, meaning his diamond has gone to save her husband.  Continues romantically over their intimate conversation, their last embrace, and Jack's departure.  Focus on Roberta with tears in her eyes as Jack's car drives away.  Camera pans to grey waters of Havana in 1959 which dissolve into a golden beach at Key West in 1963.

2.19.26 - 2.23.47   (4.21)

As voice-over epilogue of Jack against a golden Key West sky, comes to an end, and he speaks of  his life now, “Hurrican Country” begins to play over the scene.  Credits roll (2.20.12) and then run over black screen (2.22.18).

 Additional Music Credits

Additional Orchestration:  Greg MacRitchie, George Hernandez

Music Score Mixers:  Don Murray & John Richards

Additional Music Support:  Sandy DeCrescent, Jo Ann Kane, Jill Meyers, Mary Lou Bales, Oliver Berliner, Josie Powell

Additional Musicians:  Drums & Percussions: Alex Acuna, Harvey Mason, Mike Fisher, Ephraim Torres Bass: Abe Laboriel, Brian Bromberg Piano: Claire Fisher, Guitar: Ramon Stagnaro  Saxophone: Don Menza  Concert Master: Gerry Vinci

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