Study Guide

Million Dollar Baby Music (Score)

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Music (Score)

Clint Eastwood

Actor. Director. Composer. Clint Eastwood's a triple threat.

"Graceful," probably isn't the first word that comes to mind when you hear Eastwood's name (we think "serape", personally), but his score for Million Dollar Baby is exactly that, and it earned him a 2005 Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score.

Eastwood's minimalist score never gets in the way. It "always does what is required and never distracts," writes Roger Ebert (source). Take the training montage, for example, where Frankie whips Maggie into shape. Montages are the stuff that sports movies are made of, and nine times out of ten, they're set to a bombastic, often literal pop tune. (We're looking at you, Karate Kid.) In Million Dollar Baby, Maggie's hard work is set to a simple acoustic guitar melody that's both warm and melancholic at the same time. As Frankie and Maggie drive in the dark, Maggie telling Frankie about her beloved father, we hear the same "Blue Morgan" theme: tender and mournful. Eastwood's score is often plaintive, but it's never slight.

As a composer, elegiac restraint is Eastwood's jam. A talented pianist, he's written the score for several of his own films, including Mystic River and Flags of Our Fathers, and he's written the theme song for almost every movie he's directed since 1992's Best Picture winner Unforgiven. For Eastwood, composing film soundtracks is also a family affair. His oldest son, Kyle Eastwood, an accomplished jazz bassist and composer in his own right, is a regular collaborator, and contributed three songs to the Million Dollar Baby soundtrack.

Every now and then, Eastwood even sings a little, too. No, really! In the 1969 musical Paint Your Wagon, he talked to the trees. For the soundtrack to 1980's Any Which Way You Can, he got in a musical bar fight with Ray Charles. More recently, he sang the Golden Globe nominated theme to Gran Torino that he co-wrote with Jamie Cullum. Of course, none of this is news to your hipster uncle that has a copy of Rawhide's Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites on vinyl collecting dust in his basement.

Sing it, Rowdy.

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