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 Posted:   Jun 6, 2016 - 9:02 PM   
 By:   simon377   (Member)

Picked this up in the recent Intrada sale. Am enjoying it immensely. Elmer at the height of his powers (actually those powers were pretty good all the way to the very end.)

 Posted:   Jun 7, 2016 - 12:52 PM   
 By:   Rameau   (Member)

I just ordered this. I don't know why I didn't in the first place, a Bernstein score for a Wayne western, I'd have hated to have missed it.

 Posted:   Aug 2, 2016 - 9:40 AM   
 By:   JSDouglas   (Member)

A pity this one has gone OOP - this is such a strong Bernstein/Wayne western score.

I caught up with the film not long ago (the last of the Bernstein/Wayne collaborations I had not yet seen) and ultimately felt it was missing some of the charisma other Wayne films seem to have in abundance. It felt like one of his old "B"pictures except with color, widescreen and an exciting music score!

The CD produced by Intrada is probably the finest-sounding original recording of a Bernstein/Wayne western that has ever passed my ears. From the opening quote of "Streets of Laredo" (a tune Wayne's character sings boisterously early in the film) to the previously unheard finale, this recording is chock full of great bits of prime Bernstein. Some of my favorite moments include the bell-like little riff that follows the Main Title and recurs throughout, the crazy slide-whistle effects that haunt the "Cemetery" cue, and those beautiful Bernstein traveling cues utilizing the main theme.

As Anabel Boyer points out earlier in this thread, the two cues Bernstein re-recorded ("Necktie Party" and "Nocturne" - for a long time my only entre to this score) were re-combined & re-arranged heavily for that recording. Such fiddling with the source material is understandable, but it is still a shock to hear these pieces in their original form. "Cemetery" contains most of what "Nocturne" included but the latter omits the spooky slide-whisle effects and an all-out Copland-styled closer that covers the brief action at the end of that scene.

I think Bernstein underestimated the quality of this music or he might've selected more highlights to re-record. Luckily this original recording exists (though probably now hard-to-find) as a testament to the enduring quality of Elmer Bernstein western film scoring at it's peak.

 Posted:   Aug 4, 2016 - 12:42 PM   
 By:   James MacMillan   (Member)

JSDouglas, the "fiddling" of the cues 'Necktie Party' and 'Nocturne' for the Varese album would most likely have been the work of Christopher Palmer who was heavily involved with those recordings. But I must thank you for digging out the sources from the original and bringing them to light!

CAHILL, U.S. MARSHAL is OK stuff as late Bernstein fare for John Wayne, and I agree that the recording is terrific, but I tend to think of BIG JAKE as superior stuff. Elmer put a lot of thought into that one. Quoted in Films in Review magazine at the time, he said that he approached the scoring as if it was the last Western he might ever do and he wanted to use all the experience he'd gained from earlier films of that nature. It's an excellent score with a traditional wide-open-spaces tune for Wayne, but also a memorable theme for the bad guys, led by Richard Boone. Damn good film as well! And maybe time for a re-issue of the CD...

I guess the true benefit of these latter-day John Wayne pictures was to keep Elmer Bernstein on the A-list of films, at a time when film music was kind of in the doldrums.


 Posted:   Aug 4, 2016 - 1:05 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I tend to think of BIG JAKE as superior stuff.

I prefer BIG JAKE to CAHILL as well. If only it were in stereo.

 Posted:   Aug 4, 2016 - 5:20 PM   
 By:   JSDouglas   (Member)

James and Bob - you make a good point about the excellence of BIG JAKE (another of the many Bernstein scores I admire). If I'm honest, it does rank higher than CAHILL. I have merely re-aquinted myself with CAHILL and find it (in the Intrada release) to be a neglected gem of a score.

I had forgotten about Christopher Palmer's involvement in those re-recordings. It seems either he or Bernstein wanted very particular elements out of the CAHILL score which undersold some of the plusses of that score. Anyway, it was startling to hear the originals.

I do enjoy the Prometheous release of BIG JAKE, but it certainly suffers from less-than-perfect masters. Unless finer source materials emerge, I imagine a properly handled re-recording could help bolster that score's merits - but maybe that's too much pie-in-the-sky thinking on my part. If only all scores could survive in the condition of the CAHILL masters!

As long as we're picking personal favorites, I've always been most fond of THE COMANCHEROS in the Bernstein/Wayne canon.

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