This reviewer really wanted to love this CD; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is the kind of movie that Hollywood and everyone connected with the picture would still be able to be proud of 100 years after it was made. But Max Steiner's music for the movie isn't quite as enveloping a score as his work on, say, Casablanca, and the differences in the scoring are made more than clear on this recording. Although there are some powerful passages for full orchestra here, some of which (especially "Attack on the Train") recall the better moments in Steiner's greatest score of all, for King Kong, too much of what is here is limited to short vignettes that underscore transitions in the movie, and many of those are more important for their Mexican atmosphere than they were for their actual musical content, in terms of anything that listeners are supposed to notice. "Madness," "After Dobbs -- 'The Man in the Hotel' -- Arrested," and "The Ruins" (the latter featuring some gorgeous shimmering harps) are some of the best parts of this score, all dark and ominous and filled with turmoil and threat, but they amount between them to only about ten minutes of the whole disc; the central thematic material depicting the uneasy partnership between the principal characters and their search for gold is not all that interesting, and becomes rather repetitive through the middle of the score; as underscoring, "The Journey Commences" works, but it almost overstays its welcome as free-standing music, and the repeat of the central theme in "Windstorm," which follows, is overkill, at least as a fully exposed musical cue. In its favor, the playing of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra under conductor William T. Stromberg is spirited enough to pass for an authentic Hollywood orchestra of the period, so they get as much out of every note as there is to be gotten. But there's just not enough consistently interesting material here to make this a CD that one can recommend without equivocation. Also on the positive side, along with excellent sound, the CD boasts very thorough annotation and a fascinating production history of the movie (at one point, Ronald Reagan was in line to play the part of Cody, ultimately portrayed by Bruce Bennett, and author B. Traven wanted the role of Howard to go to Lewis Stone, rather than Walter Huston), the producers have also included the scoring for the original trailer, which simply distills down the best parts of what listeners have heard already, and alternate scoring for the main titles that Steiner left behind.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder
|Treasure of the Sierra Madre, film score|