I read a review of a Walter Hill film, I think it was by Derek Malcolm, saying that all his work was a re-presentation of Greek tragedy and myths in action comic settings. It was one of those incredibly simple (with hindsight) critical insights, economic and genuinely useful. It helped unpick his films without taking anything away from their craft. Thanks in part to TV still taking cinema seriously in the eighties, with series like Moviedrome, I saw most of the films Hill made between The Driver (1978) and Trespass (1992) — except for [cough] the really popular ones.
Trespass I definitely saw at the cinema. I bet it sounded good: there's a fantastic rumbling menace throughout this soundtrack, a bit reminiscent of the uncanny soundscapes Alan Splet and David Lynch used to devise for the latter's movies. Ry Cooder did a lot of Hill's soundtracks. To me, it feels as though Walter said to Ry, "OK, you did me a great swampy bayou for Southern Comfort, now guve me something harsh, gritty and urban."
And Ry delivered. There were actually two "soundtrack" albums to Trespass, one featuring the rap songs used in the film and then this original score. Maybe knowing he'd be up against hip hop put Ry and his fellow musicians on their mettle. Pretty great musicians too — Jon Hassell and Jim Keltner — making this one of those soundtrack supergroups like John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis on The Hot Spot or Richard Thompson, Henry Kaiser and Jim O'Rourke on Grizzly Man.
I was just thinking, It would be good to see Southern Comfort again, and a few of the others. What a pity the American studio system won't treat Walter Hill as an auteur in the way that you can now get big, cheap boxed sets of the films of Eric Rohmer or Claude Chabrol. Bugger me, I underestimated them, and may now have to buy the Walter Hill Collection.
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