Picks and Pans Review: Ragtime
updated 02/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
The easy thing here would have been to dust off a bunch of Scott Joplin or Tom Turpin rags, but Newman took on the whole lively American musical era that flourished before World War I. Whatever you think of the satirist who gave us Short People, prepare to be charmed. His score is every bit as clever and magical as E.L. Doctorow's original novel and the film Czech director Milos For-man made from it. If the zesty Delmonico Polka. the elegant Waltz for Evelyn or the dance hall chestnut I Could Love a Million Girls by Donald O'Connor don't send you, Jennifer Warnes singing a wistful ballad called One More Hour surely will. The only other tune with Newman lyrics is the playfully remonstrative Change Your Ways, which he sings himself with his best mock-Southern drawl. Newman's success here is not surprising. Three of his uncles (Lionel, Emil and Alfred) are old-timers in the scoring business, and he has two credits of his own: Nicolas Roeg's Performance and Norman Lear's Cold Turkey (both 1970).