British film composer John Barry, known for his scores for the James Bond films From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965) seems an unusual choice to write the music for The Chase, a politically charged escaped-convict drama set in rural Texas, a long way from the casinos and high-tech villains' lairs frequented by the sophisticated super spy. But then, the project, an elaborate misfire stuffed with celebrated, high-priced talent (director Arthur Penn, screenwriter Lillian Hellman, stars Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, and Robert Redford) was littered with odd participants, and Barry was no odder than the rest. One is hard-pressed to find elements of the Southwest in his music. The only local references seem to come in "The Chase Is On," which makes use of a mariachi-style trumpet, as well as banjo and harmonica, but has more the feel of the scores for the recent Spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, and some stereotypical Hollywood Western sounds, or, as reissue annotator Richard Torres aptly puts it, "in other words, it's Morricone-meets-Steiner." Strangely enough, the chief style of the score is cocktail jazz, with saxophones, walking bass lines, and Hammond organ swatches characterizing one after another of the cues. This is interspersed with fairly standard orchestral passages meant to support specific plot points, as demonstrated by titles like "The Beating" and "The Killing -- Next Morning." The 2004 reissue contains two bonus tracks in which Barry got a chance to re-conceive the major themes, "Main Title (Alternate Version)" from the album Great Movie Sounds of John Barry and "The Chase" from The Film Music of John Barry. In doing so, he took them even further from the film itself, which made them more satisfying as music.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann