Soundtrack Review: The Rocketeer

Horner, James The Rocketeer 2020 remaster and 1991 original.

Way back when, Disney released a film that was pure 1930s pulp, with a fun soundtrack that included period pieces and period-sounding pieces. That movie was The Rocketeer. It was based on a comic-book series that was an homage to the pulps and adventure films of the 1920s-30s. The film is a romp, and the comics are very impressive (a full hardbound set is coming out this fall.) I’d sort of forgotten about the soundtrack until Sib-in-Law pinged me about it. It was released in 1991, re-released in 2016, and expanded and re-released last year.

James Horner (of Titanic fame, among other things), did the soundtrack. Like the film, it is great fun, and you will probably recognize the main theme, because it has been used here and there since the movie was released. The re-master includes the classic “Begin the Beguine,” well done by Melora Hardin (for the original instrumental version, see below).

The music is NOT, in general, 1930s sounding (as compared to soundtracks from actual movies of the era). It is very symphonic Hollywood, lots of soaring melodic lines and fast chase scenes, which fits the film. There are Big Band numbers as well, as befits the time and setting of a stunt pilot/barnstormer trying to romance a Hollywood starlet. (Howard Hughes appears as a character in the film, as does one of his actual aircraft designs. Those in the know laughed at that scene, or at least the pilots I know found it very entertaining.) The remastered soundtrack sounds good as either a CD or MP3.

The 2021 release includes both the later remastered version with additional songs and the two vocal numbers, and the original 1991 “theatrical soundtrack” which is shorter. The price for the MP3 file is reasonable. The prices for the CDs on Amazon started at $100.

I’d recommend this soundtrack recording for fans of the film, fans of pulp movies in general, adventure music buffs, and people looking for a fast, solid melodic recording for writing or work-outs.

FTC Notice: I purchased this soundtrack for my own use and received no remuneration from the composer or the studio.

4 thoughts on “Soundtrack Review: The Rocketeer

  1. I’m pretty sure every male in my age bracket had a crush on Jennifer Connelly.

    I’m pretty sure the studio actively wanted that movie to fail . I spent a good bit of time at the movie theater that year, and don’t recall ever seeing anything about it.
    (I encountered it years later at the video store, when I was looking for things that might not suck—or at least might suck in an entertaining fashion. And was blown away that I’d never even heard of it before.)

  2. I’ll have to check out the MP3s. I saw the movie in 1991, but was post-op for a stapedectomy, with that ear packed to a fare-thee-well. The “better” ear hadn’t been treated yet (otosclerosis, more or less fixed now), so the soundtrack was muddled monaural.

    I can’t recall which theater showed it; San Jose had (has?) a nice complex with several large screens, and other local theaters also had good setups. This wasn’t a mall-multiplex film at that time, so somebody wanted it to be $een on a large $creen.

  3. Yep, fun movie, and that scene was a ‘tad’ wierd… LOL I ‘think’ we saw that at the drive in theater in Sunnyvale, if I remember correctly.

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