True Grit: Elmer Bernstein Conducts his Classic Scores for the Films of John WayneVarese Sarabande (302 066 726 2)
Format: CD (78 min)
Review: Comancheros, The
4.5 / 5 Stars
For The Comancheros, Bernstein reaches for similar broad, open themes used to effectiveness the year before in The Magnificent Seven (1960). The main theme is one of those hum-able string and brass inventions that Elmer is so good at writing, a peppy semi-syncopated shuffle-march that has its roots in Alfred Newmans How The West Was Won. As the score progresses you begin to hear where Bernstein reached to inspire his work in The Three Amigos as well as Spies Like Us with almost cartoonish abandon. The main theme creeps up here and there in different instrumental arrangements throughout the rest of the score, almost ad nauseum, really driving home the point that if there is one thing you should pull away from this average western is a sense that every western hero has a theme. There is a different theme introduced later on, entitled "McBain" which is a comically inspired piece for when John Wayne assumes another identity before his search for the Comancheros.
The score is nice, with some differing action cues as well as some slow points when death and romance enter on-screen. Mostly, however, its rough and tumble typical western music used most effectively. Ending the album are two songs left out of the film, for obvious reasons, performed by Claude King. Songs like these crept up in a later Bernstein / Wayne collaboration, True Grit, and in my own opinion destroyed the presentation on CD. Here these songs are two-minute summaries of the major bits in the film without using a lick of Elmers score for inspiration.
Overall the presentation is nice, good liner notes by Film Score Monthly editor Jeff Bond, but some of the sound quality, albeit from old sources, is a bit muddy and washed out in places. However, except for the audiophiles in the audience, few will really notice, and should be recommended to purchase this album if only to hear where many later scores were inspired from.