Tangerine Dream Helped ‘Risky Business’ Be More Than Just Another ’80s Teen Sex Comedy

photo from the 1983 movie
© Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection
Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay, with the help of Tangerine Dream's musical score, find "love on a real train" in Risky Business

Ever since its debut on Aug. 5, 1983, Paul Brickman’s comedy/drama Risky Business — led by Tom Cruise in a breakout role, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Curtis Armstrong and Bronson Pinchot — has probably been most remembered for this iconic scene featuring Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll”:

That is a great moment, but it’s also something that would not necessarily have been out of place in one of the other teen sex comedies that were frequenting theaters at the time.

Risky Business is deeper, and a cut above something like Porky’s, for example, because of Brickman’s screenplay and direction, the fantastic performances, particularly from Cruise and De Mornay, and, especially, because of a wholly different part of its soundtrack: the musical score by Tangerine Dream.

The German electronic group’s music for Risky Business really helps lend it an almost poetic, and often hypnotic and haunting, atmosphere, especially the track “Love on a Real Train,” which plays in another famous scene when Cruise’s Joel and De Mornay’s Lana make love on the L train.

(That scene is too steamy for YouTube to let me share it, but you can watch it at this link).

“Love on a Real Train” can also be heard in this somewhat less hot scene:

And you can take a listen to, and get lost in, Tangerine Dream’s full soundtrack for Risky Business here:

Other Great ’80s Movie Scores By Tangerine Dream

Risky Business is only one of the notable movie soundtracks that Tangerine Dream created during the ‘80s. Here are a few other films that were enhanced, sometimes greatly, by the group’s atmospheric sound.

Legend (1986)

Another film led by Cruise, this Ridley Scott-directed fantasy also stars Mia Sara (seen dancing with a demonic dress to a Tangerine Dream track in the first clip below) and Tim Curry.

Here is Tangerine Dream’s full score for Legend:

Thief (1981)

This terrific neo-noir heist film from writer/director Michael Mann, led by James Caan, Tuesday Weld, James Belushi and Robert Prosky, boasts one of Tangerine Dream’s most well-known movie scores, with some tracks likely familiar even if you’ve never seen the film, based on their uses in other places. You can hear the tracks below:

Firestarter (1984)

This adaptation of the Stephen King novel, starring Drew Barrymore, David Keith, George C. Scott and Martin Sheen, frankly doesn’t have a whole lot going for it besides its Tangerine Dream score, which you can hear below.