The Hudsucker Proxy represented the Coen Brother's biggest budget up until that point. We had no experience with "temp score" until this. "Temp score" is music taken from pre-existing sources - previous films, songs, whatever - and used to temporarily score a film until such time as the real score is recorded. Sometimes directors or editors use it to help them find the tone or pace of a movie. But it's also used in the "test screening" process, where the film is shown to audiences before it's finished, and their reactions are used to guide the editing and marketing (and sometimes re-writing and re-shooting) of the film.
Our previous films had been sufficiently private affairs that we didn't need to do test screenings, but this film involved big money and big studios like Warner Brothers, so it needed to be tested, and so it needed temp music. Todd Kasow, who'd been our music editor since Miller's Crossing, started working on the temp score around the same time I started working on my own music.
Unfortunately Todd had the brilliant idea of using Aram Khatchaturian's music in the temp score. Khachaturian, born in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1903, might not seem like an abvious choice for a big business comedy set in a nameless American city in the 1950s, but the combination of grandeur and dreaminess was perfect for the film, in particular the opening credit sequence and the hula hoop montage.
I worked hard to write something better, but never could. It was very frustrating. Sonny Kompanek and I arranged Khatchaturian's music to fit those scenes. And I wrote original score for the rest of the film.
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Written by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen and Sam Raimi
Composed by Carter Burwell
Music Editor: Todd Kasow
Music Scoring Mixer: Mike Farrow
Orchestrated and Conducted by Sonny Kompanek
Contractor: Emile Charlap
Recorded and Mixed at Hit Factory, NY, NY
Starring Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, Charles Durning, John Mahoney
U.S. Release March, 1994
The score to The Hudsucker Proxy was released by Varese Sarabande. Here, for demo purposes, are examples from the score:
Selections marked with an asterisk are arrangements of Aram Khachaturian's compositions.
"... Carter Burwell's music is excessive in just the right way, echoing the overwrought, clue-giving scores of 50 years ago." - Caryn James, New York Times, March 11, 1994
"...The rhythms of Thom Noble’s editing are extraordinary, the montage on a par with just about any classic examples. This, on top of the orchestration of the other superior elements — Dennis Gassner’s formidable architectural production design, Richard Hornung’s impeccable costume designs that draw upon diverse periods, Roger Deaakins’ moody yet vivid cinematography and, perhaps best of all, Carter Burwell’s sumptuously supportive score — must certainly establish the Coens among the most imaginative and supple craftsmen of the cinema." - Todd McCarthy, Variety, Jan. 30, 1994.