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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.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 15, 2018 - 1:40 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Just discovered this thread not here on the board but on a page devoted to the CD. Never knew about that access before.

I finally caught up with the film. You might call it a sixtieth anniversary viewingwink I actually remember the ads from 1958, chiefly for that unusual double-breasted shirt that Peck improbably wears throughout the film. The Gerhardt album of c. 1974 brought the huge surprise that this was an Alfred Newman (et al.) score. I don't think that fact was widely known before. The Bravados theme was a highlight of that uneven album. I remember my late wife being particularly thrilled by the contrasting (minor key?) horn calls that embellish the latter part of the prelude. Cut to the next century and the FSM album. I see that it bears no copyright date aside from that of the movie itself. The presentation was a little confusing, with the source music out of sequence. (Why? The Josefa theme is integral to the score.) But there was at least one additional highlight in the emotional treatment of the "Dead Miner" sequence. I see that Newman had help from some of the old Fox factory hands in this and other portions.

And now to put it all together. The movie is a bit of a muddle. It purports to show the horror of Peck's unreflective revenge quest. But his folly is undercut by having all his victims be guilty of robbery and murder and kidnapping themselves. Peck and King created a far more honest portrait of sin in their vastly superior David and Bathsheba, where the king acknowledges exactly what he is doing when he sets up his own soldier for betrayal and slaughter. Then there's the unnecessary Joan Collins character in her stylish riding outfit. Having her accompany Peck and the child out of the church makes for one of the least convincing "happy" endings I've seen. More could have been made of the other female character (the kidnapping victim), but the poor actress makes little impression, since the writers have given her nothing to work with. Philip Yordan is credited, but he was well known as a front man for blacklisted screenwriters.

Does the score come together? The Friedhofer is at least functional. (On the album it never impressed me.) The Miner's Cabin sequence gains from being heard in context, but it was already good enough to stand on its own. And the relentless title march is always welcome, even if there isn't a lot of musical development. The "Josefa" theme is a bit of a puzzle. It's a nice Spanish-flavored piece, but the fair-skinned, English-accented character in the movie hardly seems to deserve such a tune. As somebody observed above, its final statement makes for a rather lame epilogue. Maybe Newman just threw up his hands and let his crew give the studio its minimum requirement. At least we can be grateful for his stirring theme and one core sequence.

 
 Posted:   Jan 15, 2018 - 3:46 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)



The movie is a bit of a muddle. It purports to show the horror of Peck's unreflective revenge quest. But his folly is undercut by having all his victims be guilty of robbery and murder and kidnapping themselves. Peck and King created a far more honest portrait of sin in their vastly superior David and Bathsheba, where the king acknowledges exactly what he is doing when he sets up his own soldier for betrayal and slaughter.




The thrust of the film is the danger of capital punishment, and jumping to conclusions. The true murderer is the one least expected, and society (the town) is willing to conspire in Peck's projection because they are bourgeois and think they know what a murderer looks like. The murderer is in fact in their midst. So it's not about 'sin' per se.

It's a giggle to notice Stephen Boyd and hear the main theme which is in effect Messala's motif in variation!

I think the double-breasted shirt is one of the Union Army issues, indicating Peck's backstory.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 16, 2018 - 4:26 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Cut to the next century and the FSM album. I see that it bears no copyright date aside from that of the movie itself. The presentation was a little confusing, with the source music out of sequence. (Why? The Josefa theme is integral to the score.)

I think this is one of the many cases which might have caused a headache for LK. I suppose a decision had to be made - either place the Josefa theme in its right place chronologically, or relegate it to the extras. I can see both sides of the argument. For those who have seen the film, it would probably have been more "logical" to have it in the correct place. It's the first appearance of the Josefa character, and in later scenes it develops out of that first statement. But it also seems to work as "semi-diegetic" music... Aren't they in a taberna or something when they meet? I was never quite sure if there was a local sitting in the corner just out of shot, sitting on a barstool strumming the guitar. So for film music geeks (that's not an insult - I'm one) there may have been dismay expressed at placing "source music" (even if it wasn't) within the main programme, had the FSM team decided to do that. I'll bet LK's glad he doesn't have to lose sleep over these things so much nowadays.

I pretty much agree with the rest of your post, Rozsaphile, although I think it's a much more powerful film than you do. I think its ambiguity is one of its strengths. Not entirely successful, but pretty solid. Getting back to the theme for Josefa, I said before that in its orchestral arrangements (mostly by Cyril Mockridge, from Newman's material) it's a bit old-hat for me, even when it should be at its most dramatic, at the end of the marvelous Newman-scored piece for the rape in the cabin. Then when it appears suddenly jollified for the brief End Titles, we're right back to Hopalong Cassidy times.

But I rabbit. All my other thoughts are in my earlier posts here.

P.S. - Ha, William! Never noticed that upside-down Messala material in the recurring march until you mentioned it. And to have Stephen Boyd as one of the baddies here too...

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 16, 2018 - 8:16 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

The thrust of the film is the danger of capital punishment, and jumping to conclusions. The true murderer is the one least expected, and society (the town) is willing to conspire in Peck's projection because they are bourgeois and think they know what a murderer looks like. The murderer is in fact in their midst. So it's not about 'sin' per se.

It's a giggle to notice Stephen Boyd and hear the main theme which is in effect Messala's motif in variation!


Huh? The condemned men are variously guilty of bank robbery, murder, horse theft, jailbreak, kidnapping, and rape -- all capital offences in the law of that era. So the film's condemnation of Peck's foolish rage is somewhat mitigated by the convicts' obvious guilt. We also see these men trying to shoot Peck. Contrast King David's murderous condemnation of an innocent man for totally selfish reasons. That was a case of a movie star allowing himself to look really bad -- something that isn't quite realized in THE BRAVADOS. Adding to the moral muddle is the climax, wherein the last outlaw is suddenly seen as a really nice guy with a lovely wife and baby. His wife's contribution (smashing Peck with a water jug) is straight out of cartoonland. One of the problems is that the four outlaws are insufficiently distinguished from each other. Like Emma, their characters are simply underwritten.

Yes, the Messala "pre-echo" is amusing once you notice it.

 
 Posted:   Jan 16, 2018 - 8:33 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

I agree John, but the worst criminal of all, who killed his own neighbour's wife and child and stole his money, seizing on the opportunity to blame the bandits, was the real culprit. He 'never hurt anybody in his life'. It's precisely because the bandits did what they did that Peck was willing to judge them.

The biggest flaw dramatically is how easily he was persuaded of their innocence by just one conversation.

With Dave and Bath, there's the sanction of the Old Testament story. An actor can always play a Biblical villain without losing face, as it'll be called 'worthy'.

 
 Posted:   Jan 16, 2018 - 11:38 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

I've listened to the music so many times as of late it's kind of grown on me. Saw the movie again, too. Before that one-sided chat between the suddenly 'reformed' bandito Lujan, there's the Douglas/Lujan pursuit, which is so tight you'd have thought they'd have reached for their six-shooters long before. That might be my fav piece. The chase starts off at night, but there's a dissolve to daytime to cut a longer story short. This particular mechanical aspect of 'film' seems to be a lost art in these times. It's not that dissolves are never shown - more like directors and film makers in general don't want to feature them with 'digital' for some reason. Anyway the gist is that the scoring carries over through the dissolve and you can hear the moment it actually happens IN THE MUSIC, (12. Douglas And Lujan) at about 0:48 in. When was the last time music was so 'wired' into the film like that?

As for David & Bathsheba, if you'll recall they perform some verbal sparring at their first meeting, sort of bashing out a contract of sorts. Seems familiar . . . ?

Edit: Will, are you serious about Rozsa referring to the hard edge 'da-da-da-da' of The Bravados March to help flesh out the Messala revenge motif? That's one interesting observation.

As for Douglas' double breasted clothing, wouldn't that indicate an officer and a gentleman underneath? Getting it dirty, nay bloody, chasing felons gives the character a more than semi-official capacity in the posse - he assumes a high degree of authority considering he's not even drafted as a deputy in the overall proceedings - fully vindicated in the final shot as a grateful town pays homage when, cometh the hour, cometh the man.

 
 Posted:   Jan 16, 2018 - 2:39 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)




Edit: Will, are you serious about Rozsa referring to the hard edge 'da-da-da-da' of The Bravados March to help flesh out the Messala revenge motif? That's one interesting observation.


I'm sure it wasn't deliberate. The first six (arguably seven or eight if you take out the ties) notes are the same. But 'All the Brothers Were Valiant' is probably the real source.

 
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