John Williams

The Missouri Breaks [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Sandwiched between John Williams' career-defining scores for the blockbusters Jaws and Star Wars sits his work on The Missouri Breaks, an eccentric and flawed 1976 Western starring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. While eschewing the grandiose string arrangements and heroic sweep of the composer's best-known efforts, it's nevertheless one of Williams' most delightful and ambitious scores, applying traditional Western instrumentation like guitar, banjo, and harmonica to melodies rooted in contemporary pop and jazz. It's an approach as idiosyncratic as the film itself (and if anything only compounds the narrative's disjointedness), but taken on its own terms The Missouri Breaks is a rare exercise in subtlety and restraint from Williams' most bombastic period as well as a potent reminder of his remarkable versatility.

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