Western Film Soundtracks

March 8, 2013 | By

Just uploaded is a quartet of western film scores that stray from the traditional dusty oater music of the fifties.

La-La Land Records have been going through their secret tally of previously OOP CDs and giving new transfers and expansions to a select few, and the differences are often quite startling between the new and the old.

When Film Score Monthly debuted their CD series with Stagecoach [M] (1966), it marked a personal dream by the magazine’s main personnel to actually produce & release soundtracks – basically albums of music never before available, or released in either truncated or poorly albums, and they certainly raised the standard of archival score releases by collaborating with the studios, cleaning up and restoring as much of a score as possible so their release was at least the most definitive edition until the next label took a crack.

The changes in technology have allowed a greater range of sounds to be transferred, getting us even closer to the original elements, and that’s perhaps one reason why LLL’s albums are a significant upgrade from prior editions.

In addition to some new cues, LLL’s Stagecoach CD [M] also includes the same FSM suite of materials from The Loner (1965-1966), a short-lived Rod Serling drama no one’s seen in decades. Fox produced it, Lloyd Bridges starred, and and it was broadcast by CBS. There’s no reason the full 26 episodes shouldn’t be on DVD. Would be nice if Timeless Media’s got it in their sights already?

Goldsmith’s Rio Lobo [M] (1970) is also out on an expanded CD from LLL, and it shows a more mature Goldsmith confidently going against the grain of big sweeping sounds and opting for his own brand of modernism. I still think his 100 Rifles is one of the best western scores ever written; can’t top its amazing energy and blend of action and melodrama.

Also reviewed is Lalo Schifrin’s Coogan’s Bluff [M] (1968) which transposed a modern western peacemaker into the wilds of urban NYC. Intrada’s limited CD features the score and a series of source cues, plus lengthy liner notes.

Lastly, there’s a double-bill [M] of Luis Bacalov scores from Quartet Records, featuring The Grand Duel (of which its main theme was used by Quentin Tarantino in the O-Ren flashback anime sequence in Kill Bill: Vol. 1), plus A Man Called Noon, a little known, no- on-DVD (at least here) western by Peter Collinson, a director who became a bit of a journeyman after the success of The Italian Job (1968).

Collinson’s fans might be please to know his spy film, Innocent Bystanders (1972), was just released by Olive on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s a mean film with all kinds of arty compositions that sometimes border on the ridiculous, but you do get to see Stanley Baker do his tough guy routine (albeit in an ill-suited, long hairdo). That film’s score was by former jazzman Johnny Keating, whose only other film work was the Peter Yates caper Robbery (1967) and the film version of Arthur Haley’s sudsy melodrama Hotel (1967).

Last thing: Olive’s next wave of titles includes Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949). The film’s appeared on various foreign DVDs, most looking like they were either taken directly from the old Paramount laserdisc, or an older video master. The transfer is an improvement over prior DVDs, but it looks like a straight SD master Paramount shelved when they bowed out of DVD production & distribution, and began licensing their back catalogue to other labels.

Reportedly a restoration was underway last year, which had fans hoping Olive might bring out a more glimmering transfer on DVD and Blu-ray, but for now there’s just the DVD. Those who still have the laserdisc should hold onto it, since it contains an isolated music & effects track of Victor Young’s rich score.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor
KQEK.com ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Uncategorized

Comments are closed.