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This is a comments thread about FSM CD: The Bravados
 
 Posted:   Apr 19, 2017 - 6:01 AM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

"His influence as a composer and executive cannot be understated"

Sorry to carp, but shouldn't that be "overstated'?

 
 Posted:   Apr 19, 2017 - 6:18 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

I'm going to have to give the film another watch. For some rather obscure reason, it has never been a favorite. It's not the Peck character getting the wrong idea and pursuing a wrong lead that gets me, rather, there is a tediousness to the proceedings as a whole. It probably broke some new ground in that the main guy actually goes wrong along the way to an extent that might have left audiences feeling a little uncomfortable with the story outcome. I'll also take note of the sensibilities inherent within the music, especially given the pedigree involved!

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 19, 2017 - 6:51 AM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

I'm glad you didn't give the plot away. smile

 
 Posted:   Apr 19, 2017 - 1:11 PM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)


Fixed, thanks!

Lukas

 
 Posted:   Apr 20, 2017 - 6:49 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

Having seen the film last night, I still feel pretty much the same as before about it. It feels massively compromised. It doesn't have a long running time and the Joan Collins romantic lead character has a lot of vacuum around her.

The music is very basic in outline form. It mainly consists of the MT march in various states of adornment. It seems very likely the reason two big names worked on it concurrently might have been related to a problem facing composers today - serious limitations with time. That appears to be very probable in the then circumstances. The main title has Peck riding along the spectacular scenery with bold red calligraphy typical of the period wording. What I found particularly strange is that Lionel Newman's role in the music department is shared with the director of photography - Newman being given the higher profile upper half of the frame. Does this hint at some sort of politicizing compromise, because as I recall, the music department usually gets the whole frame to itself?

 
 Posted:   Apr 20, 2017 - 7:12 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

No, Fox usually put music and photography on the same credit card. I wonder if the music credit is reflective of the musician's union strike at the time. The score sounds like it was recorded overseas (un Fox-like echo) and Bernhard Kaun is credited as conductor (his last credit and I believe he had already returned to Germany).

 
 Posted:   Apr 20, 2017 - 7:17 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

No, Fox usually put music and photography on the same credit card. I wonder if the music credit is reflective of the musician's union strike at the time. The score sounds like it was recorded overseas (un Fox-like echo) and Bernhard Kaun is credited as conductor (his last credit and I believe he had already returned to Germany).

Fantastic, Ray! Seriously, I noticed the echo in the music as Peck was riding along. How unfortunate I didn't mention it because now you mention it, it is a standout of historical observation.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 2, 2017 - 5:34 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

I see that this was released by FSM in 2001 and the first response was from this year. Maybe the consensus was kind of lukewarm - although it's listed as OOP (but I take it that's only at SAE)?

Whatever, it took me sixteen years to get this. Just do the math(s). Well, to tell you the truth (and I never lie), it was never on my top-priority list, but when there was a delay on my recent order for the Newman-Herrmann collaboration THE EGYPTIAN, I had a glance at other old Alfs which I'd previously ignored, and settled on THE BRAVADOS. And what's more, it's a collaboration too! With one of my favourite composers, Hugo Friedhofer. I'd either "forgotten" that fact or didn't know it in the first place. One of the two. But to cut a long story short, The End.

No, To Be Continued -

So there I was sitting and listening to this CD over and over, and it just wasn't clicking that much with me. I haven't really put my finger on it yet, but it's one that I'd rank as kind of middling. I know it's inevitable that not everything can be brilliant and that an awful lot, in fact probably the vast majority of scores by even our favourite composers may not scale the heights of total brilliance. But given the skill of Newman and Friedhofer, who were no slouches, it's equally inevitable that there are moments of brilliance along the way. But it seems a kind of slog.

I'm not quite sure if I "like" the theme. I actually went out of my way to watch the film just to see if I could get a better handle on it and, if anything, it distanced me even more. The film itself is well worth watching I'd say. It's absolutely gorgeous to look at, the story is taut, the ambiguity surfaces as it should. Gregory Peck could be a little wooden at times, but it works here. He's in turmoil and puts a stoic face on his mission. When the truth is revealed he's quite wonderful. But I'm not sure Newman's theme "fits" him. I was never even sure if the theme was meant to represent the Peck character, or the posse, or the revenge plot, so it ended up kind of just seeming like a bold Western march. It's strong, it's determined, but it's not terribly subtle. Friedhofer's arrangements of the theme fare better. He appears to bring out more the inner torture involved.

Having said that, the Friedhofer-penned material itself is not particularly noteworthy. It sounds like him and everything, but I always loved Friedhofer's music for what he would do with his own themes, which were often beautifully unconventional long-line melodies. His textures were always great too, and that's the side of him most on show here, but it's a bit of a grim ride. Some of the earlier "plodding" funereal music (appropriate, yes) isn't really the most rivetting of stuff. Parts of it reminded me of Herrmann, where just a little combination of woodwinds at the end of a track could convey a lot. Here I'm not sure if it's sufficient.

And then the Newman theme pops up again all over the place. It's catchy as hell and it's been going around in my head for days, but it's turning into a nightmare. My favourite bits of pure Newman are in the religioso moments of "A Mother's Prayer" and especially at one hugely emotional part of "The Dead Miner and Emma" - underpinning a key dramatic moment in the film. That is brilliant. That very same track "unfortunately" segues into Newman's theme for the Joan Collins character "Josefa". On solo guitar (Track 16 in the bonus material)) it sounds attractively authentic. I thought it actually was a traditional piece, but it's credited to Newman. However, in the main body of the score, the theme is arranged by Cyril Mockridge - who was no slouch either - but it sounds terribly old-fashioned and ill-fitting compared to the rest of the score. It's at its worst in the mercifully brief "End Title", which sounds like it could have been tacked on from a quickie western programmer from two decades before.

I feel a bit bad about writing something which reads so negatively, but - 1) It's been out for sixteen years and is OOP, and - 2) I'm intrigued enough by my own lukewarm reaction that I keep going back to it to find out what's wrong. In fact I'm going to listen to it again right now.

Oh, I'm going to ask a few "technical" questions. The first is about the (great) track "Jailbreak". Just at about the 53-second mark, there's a noticeable jump or something, maybe from a bad splice? The counter on my CD equipment keeps marking the seconds correctly, so I don't think it's a faulty disc problem. For those millions of you who have this CD (and have patiently waded through my incontinent rabbit up to this point - thank you, thank you) - could you tell me if your discs have that same.... feature?

The second question is about the track "The Posse Leaves", which has been relegated to the "Damaged Stereo" bonus material (it's the only one). I don't hear much wrong with it at all, except for maybe a little bit of wow towards the end. I'd have happily had it as part of the main prog. Did the powers-that-be (LK and Co.) deem it so poor-sounding as to banish it to the leper colony? I suppose the answer is yes, but it still seems an odd decision.

THE BRAVADOS - Goodish.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2017 - 10:26 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

It's probably the wrong moment (it's DAMNATION ALLEY time!) for folks to chip in with their thoughts on those musty oldsters Newman and Friedhofer, but I thought I'd bump it anyway in the hope that someone might reply to the two questions I asked at the end of the post, even if you just skim over the rest of the drivel.

 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2017 - 12:28 PM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

Isn't the film basically a cautionary tale concerning primarily the 9th Commandment, with a sprinkling of the 10th although there's plenty of overlap with some of the others? I'll go back to the CD, but absorbing the movie again would be asking a little too much.

 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2017 - 1:54 PM   
 By:   Yavar Moradi   (Member)

Oh, I'm going to ask a few "technical" questions. The first is about the (great) track "Jailbreak". Just at about the 53-second mark, there's a noticeable jump or something, maybe from a bad splice? The counter on my CD equipment keeps marking the seconds correctly, so I don't think it's a faulty disc problem. For those millions of you who have this CD (and have patiently waded through my incontinent rabbit up to this point - thank you, thank you) - could you tell me if your discs have that same.... feature?

I just checked and my copy has it too. It's not a skip or a pop or anything; my best guess is that there was a quick crossfade from one cue to another because the end of one was damaged or something. Or perhaps it was somehow an edit to match the film and this was all that survived?

The second question is about the track "The Posse Leaves", which has been relegated to the "Damaged Stereo" bonus material (it's the only one). I don't hear much wrong with it at all, except for maybe a little bit of wow towards the end. I'd have happily had it as part of the main prog. Did the powers-that-be (LK and Co.) deem it so poor-sounding as to banish it to the leper colony? I suppose the answer is yes, but it still seems an odd decision.

Listen starting around :20 -- I hear more sound issues there with the brass. But I'm actually like you on this issue preferring slightly damaged cues remain in the main program, as they are part of the architecture of a score. Or maybe I'm even weirder, because I actually put that damaged sequence from Prince Valiant back in film order in my iTunes, and the wow in that gets pretty horrible at one point. I can see both sides of this issue but thankfully it's not that big of a pain to rearrange for my preference.

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the score and I guess I agree it's sort of less than the sum of its parts (many of which are great -- you did a good job pointing out a lot of highlights, especially The Dead Miner and Emma). I certainly wouldn't list it among either Newman or Friedhofer's best, but I still think it's very good and I'm ever so grateful to FSM for putting it out. I remember liking the film as well, though again nowhere near one of my favorite westerns.

Yavar

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 5, 2017 - 4:23 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Grecchus - well, I think we could fit the 9th and 10th Commandments into the story - with a sprinkling of a few others. It's hard to avoid them (any of the ten) in any storyline, even if it's tangential. I wouldn't want to force you to sit through it again if it's such a chore for you. I'm with Yavar on this - it's a "good" film, with some outstanding moments, but probably not top-tier... which kind of goes for the score too.

Thanks for your comments Yavar. Yeah, that little "hiccup" could be a crossfade or something. It's quite abrupt though. Hard to hear in the film itself. I was wondering about that "damaged" track. Hmm, perhaps as you say... something in the brass around the 40-sec mark onwards. I don't know, I'd never have noticed it if it hadn't been set aside from the main prog, and labelled "damaged". It's more like some missing element or something, as if some groups of instruments should be more prominent in the mix, but it would only really bother me if it caused real distorsion, and I don't hear any of that, or very little.

The good thing about THE BRAVADOS is that it's good enough to keep me wanting to go back to it in order to come to terms with its averageness. That sounds terrible, but in a way it's like accepting the imperfections in something. I'd hate everything to be absolutely brillliant. That way nothing would seem good.

Just slipping off-topic for a moment - I picked up THE BRAVADOS "blind" along with Rózsa's THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL. I'd seen the latter film, so I "knew" how it sounded, and I recognised it as a kind of middling effort from him. But, like THE BRAVADOS it's growing on me. I don't know if I'll ever rank it among my favourites from Miklós, but I'm finding that familiarity is not breeding any contempt at all. It took me a while to take to TRIBUTE TO A BAD MAN. I'm not there yet, but it's worth persevering. Another "lower-tier" Rózsa is one you (Yavar) actually recommended - THE SEVENTH SIN. And so after four or five spins of "another typical Miklós Rózsa score", it became so addictive that I found myself playing it at all hours, on replay.

Maybe I'm wasting my life and should be forging forward into unknown territory, abandoning these countless hours spent replaying fairly run-of-the-mill (heard objectively) stuff. But I think that even "average" Rózsa, Newman and Friedhofer deserves our attention. That's what I'm trying to convince myself anyway.

 
 Posted:   Dec 6, 2017 - 1:42 PM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

I agree the Jailbreak musical continuity at 52/53 seconds appears to be broken by a small chunk that seems excised, with the two ends of the tape stuck back together a moment or so later. My guess is the tape may have actually snapped if it was being run backwards and forwards with little or no slack, and stopped suddenly - who knows?

I've heard this continually about 4 times end to end and it's still not enough to form a complete picture. Back after the intermission.

 
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