This is an unexpectedly bold and lyrical score from David Buttolph, who, in his final project (under his long-term contract) for Twentieth Century-Fox, finally got a high-profile, big-budget assignment as a composer and ran with it in the best Alfred Newman mode. Actually, good as the bold main themes are, this score really shines on the challenging, dissonant passages evoking the strife and conflict of the hero's early life and his later life as a dissolute riverboat gambler, the surging brass and ominous bass being where Buttolph seems to have himself most invested, both as a composer and conductor, though he also has his fun with the lighter moments of the score as well. Just as the movie was a sort of cut-rate telling of a scoundrel and his lady that seemed like it could have been carved out of sections of Gone With the Wind and Showboat, so too the score has moments resembling the former, including a gorgeous waltz theme (written for the charity ball sequence at which the character played by Maureen O'Hara is introduced). None of it is great music but it does show the classic Hollywood style off about as well as anything by Max Steiner would, and Buttolph was interesting enough as a composer to rate this exposure. The sound quality ranges from good to excellent, and the disc is accompanied by a handsome, profusely illustrated, and highly informative booklet.
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