Original Soundtrack

Stagecoach [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Gordon Douglas' 1966 remake of John Ford's Stagecoach was doomed from the get-go -- even with a few good supporting players in the cast, including Van Heflin, Bing Crosby, Slim Pickens, and Keenan Wynn, it was hopeless to try to equal, much less improve upon, Ford's 1939 original. The music by Jerry Goldsmith might have been the only element of the production that was an improvement, mostly owing to the fact that the scoring of the original was the one unambitious element of the production, comprised of instrumental arrangements of traditional Western songs (most particularly "Oh Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie"). For this film, Goldsmith took an unusual approach, scoring the scenes establishing the setting and the characters, but not providing music for any of the action sequences. The result is more a moody, expansive, and reflective Western suite (complete with harmonica and acoustic guitar scoring in some places) than a boldly exciting body of music, with quiet moments in abundance -- more introspective than the movie itself, it seems, on listening to the score, as though Goldsmith succeeded in capturing the internal "life" of the characters with his music far better than the movie did. It takes several listens to appreciate what Goldsmith did with this almost quietly subversive score within the loud and garish film. As a bonus, the producers have appended two extended scores that Goldsmith wrote for the 20th Century Fox-produced series The Loner, a Rod Serling production starring Lloyd Bridges that was greeted as a "thinking man's Western" in 1965-1966. The music for the pilot, "An Echo of Bugles," is dark-hued and somber, reflecting the grim post-Civil War setting at its most serious, with long, hauntingly beautiful brooding passages, while the score for the episode entitled One of the Wounded is lighter and more upbeat in certain spots, and filled with new material by Goldsmith (whereas his main theme, as the notes indicate and Goldsmith admitted, were culled from his own music for the modern Western Lonely Are the Brave). The source tapes are in excellent shape for all of the material on this CD, though the movie scoring is more interesting on a technical level for its inventive use of stereo. The annotation is very thorough and the 19 minutes of Goldsmith television music here from the Fox library raises a question -- why doesn't FSM assemble all of Goldsmith's TV-spawned music from Fox (maybe even his music for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, currently on the GNP Crescendo CD for that series) in one place?

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