A Quartet of Western Soundtracks

June 13, 2013 | By

Just uploaded is a quartet of western film scores featuring some really great music.

Although best known for their classic sci-fi scores, Monstrous Movie Music have expanded their range, trying to show genre composers in a different light, and their CD of The Tall Texan [M] (1953) features a really solid score by Bert Shefter, better known as the other half of the composing team responsible for The Fly (1958). Shefter and Paul Sawtell scored a variety of films, but early in his career the former composed music for a low budget Lippert western starring Lloyd Bridges – an always reliable dramatic actor often given short-shrift because of his extensive career in TV. A great example of his range is Attack on the Iron Coast (1968), a predictable low budget WWII entry worth watching solely for Bridges’ performance.

Next up is Elmer Bernstein’s The Shootist (1976), coupled with The Sons of Katie Elder [M] (1965)from La-La Land Records. Whereas the latter score is filled with elements from Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven (1960), the former is a grim little gem, and has some subtle resonance because it was John Wayne’s swan song.

Also from LLL is Jerry Goldsmith’s Bandolero! [M] (1968), which features a blend of arresting dramatic cues and a rather poppish (and evil corkscrew) main theme. LLL’s been going through Goldmsith’s western catalogue, releasing several premiere and expanded releases – Rio Lobo [M] (1970), Stagecoach [M] (1966) – but one they’ve yet to tackle is 100 Rifles [M] (1969), which Film Score Monthly released back in 1999. I’ll defend this score as one of (if not) the composer’s best western, and I’ve written a long, blathering review to support why this represents one of his finest examples of kinetic, polyrhythmic action writing.

This thing starts with a bang and doesn’t stop, and because it was written a year after Planet of the Apes, there’s some bleeding of experimental ideas that elevate an upper B-western to something more engrossing. The film itself is also a fine example of director / co-writer Tom Gries’ knack for solid storytelling and action, and he remains a seriously forgotten mini-master whose work deserves greater attention (which means there will be a few review of his fine work coming soon).

Note: because FSM is no longer producing soundtracks, quantities of older releases like 100 Rifles are running low, so you might want to check out their website or vendor Screen Archives Entertainment for what’s still available, as this particular title is likely to sell out very soon.

Also: SAE has reported a trio of fast-sold out CDs will be reprinted by FSM and should be available in 6-8 weeks. Check both sites for word on when the 3-CD set of Jerry Fielding’s The Wild Bunch, the 2-CD set of John Barry’s King Kong, and the multi-disc set of the  Superman films are back in stock. SAE does have stock of Goldsmith’s Under Fire which features great guitar work by Pat Metheny.

Lastly, Intrada just released Fielding’s Beyond the Poseidon Adventure on CD. The main theme is just a variation of Wild Bunch, but the score proper is pretty solid. Nice to see Fielding’s modernist work is still being championed. (Intrada also released a gorgeous expanded CD of Pino Donaggio’s Dressed to Kill, which I’m reviewing for Rue Morgue for an upcoming issue.) The label also reissued Goldsmith’s Inchon, a score I’m not particularly fond of, but was quite bummed out to see selling out in less than 24 hours. The original 2 disc set is back in print as a non-limited release.

Now if only someone would release the blasted movie on Blu-ray.



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

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