Dave Grusin’s Oscar-Winning Ode to the Southwest

Dave Grusin’s Oscar-Winning Ode to the Southwest

Dave Grusin is the subject of a long overdue musical biography directed by CU College of Music alum Barbara Bentree, which opens the 8th annual Boulder Jewish Film Festival.

Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time” opens the Boulder Jewish Film Festival on March 4, with two screenings in the Dairy Arts Center’s Boedecker Theater.  A jazz musician and filmmaker, Bentree will present the Boulder premiere of her documentary on the legendary film composer, jazz musician, arranger, record producer, and pianist – who grew up in Colorado and graduated from CU. (Click here to learn more.)

In anticipation of the opening gala, the BJFF invites audiences to a special screening of “The Milagro Beanfield War” on Sunday, March 1, 3:30 pm in the Boedecker Theater. Two additional screenings of “Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time” have been scheduled for noon and 3:00 pm on Saturday, March 14.


Robert Redford’s love for Western lore and landscape, specifically his passion for the multi-cultural collision of Northern New Mexico, was so perfectly expressed by the music composed by Dave Grusin that it earned “The Milagro Beanfield War” it’s one and only Oscar in 1988, for best score.

An oddity among musical score winners, the Oscar-winning soundtrack does not exist as a recording.

It was Grusin’s 5th nomination and he did not expect to win. In fact, he had not yet seen the film on the screen when the nominations were announced.

Grusin was at the height of his career in 1988, having composed the score for “The Graduate,” “Three Days of the Condor,” “The Champ,” “On Golden Pond,  “Goonies,” and “Tootsie.” The following year, “The Fabulous Baker Boys” earned another nomination.

Based on John Nichols novel of the same name, “The Milagro Beanfield War” is Robert Redford’s semi-comedic Chinatown, set in the water-starved New Mexican desert.

This tale of progress and greed intruding on tradition features an all-star cast that includes Ruben Blades, Sonia Braga, Melanie Griffith, John Heard and Christopher Walken. The movie is unabashedly romantic, featuring lush cinematography, and dabbles in the magic realism that was in vogue in Latin cinema and literature at the time.

Grusin’s score sets the prefect one for the mystical magical American folk tale – and includes the only song he ever composed as an ode to a pig.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn has spent her professional life writing about, teaching, and presenting the arts. Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Kathryn was Director of Menorah and ACE at the Boulder JCC from 2003 through August, 2019. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time." kathryn.bernheimer@gmail.com

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