Dominic Frontiere

Hang 'Em High

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Dominic Frontiere's music from Ted Post's Hang 'em High came out of the cross-currents of Clint Eastwood's early career as a motion picture star. As the score for Eastwood's first domestically produced Western feature, done in the wake of the Sergio Leone Man With No Name trilogy, the makers wanted something similar to Ennio Morricone's music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. As the composer pointed out, however, his name was Frontiere, not Morricone, and if they wanted Morricone's music, they'd have to hire him, though he would do his best to write a score along those lines. He delivered more than they bargained for, including a rousing, memorable main title theme that became the basis for a hit instrumental single by Booker T. & the MG's. The soundtrack also has intense, savage underscoring for the story of a lynching on the trail and the survivor's quest for revenge, and a gentler, more lyrical side for his interactions with a similar victim of frontier lawlessness (played by Inger Stevens). The music made heavy use of muted horns and brass in a Spanish style, reminiscent of elements of Dimitri Tiomkin's music from Rio Bravo, and kept the percussion section busy as well. The players included guitar virtuoso Tommy Tedesco, harmonica player Tommy Morgan, and a 60-piece orchestra. In the early '90s, Hang 'Em High was reissued on CD by Sony Music in tandem with Morricone's soundtrack Guns for San Sebastian.

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