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Hamlisch’s first movie credit was “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” a perky, optimistic pop tune that Lesley Gore sang in the 1965 comedy “Ski Party,” which featured Frankie Avalon in drag. The song lives on in places like the family film “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and was even used ironically during a police chase in the 1993 “Simpsons” episode “Marge on the Lam.”

The last film he scored was 2009’s “The Informant!” Steven Soderbergh’s `70s-tinged romp about a bungling, delusional whistleblower. Once the strains of Hamlisch’s jaunty score begin _ an ideal accompaniment to the faded cinematography and Matt Damon’s helmet of hair and corny sportswear _ you know you’re in some vividly retro, comic parallel universe. That’s how effectively Hamlisch could create a mood.