MGM director Ronald McDougall didn't do much right in adapting Jack Kerouac's novel The Subterraneans for the big screen -- first, the lead character of Mardou Fox (played by Leslie Caron) was transformed from black to white, and future A-Team star George Peppard was miscast as Kerouac's alter ego, Leo Percepied. And don't even mention Robert Thom's clumsy, lightweight screenplay. But at least composer André Previn had the good sense to recruit cool jazz giants including Gerry Mulligan, Russ Freeman, and Dave Bailey to perform his Subterraneans score: jazz not only fueled Kerouac's work, but his prose sought to evoke the rhythms and energy of bebop. Indeed, this music comes far closer to accurately capturing Kerouac's writing than any of the film's dialogue. Previn also deserves credit for articulating the sadness of the original novel, deftly combining horns and strings to create a score that is dark and emotive.
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny