Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Friday, October 27, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
Music by Maurice Jarre
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.12 (U.S.)
19 Tracks 70:03 mins

This 1971 film is an offbeat fantasy western, scripted by one of my favourite filmmakers, John Milius, directed by the great John Huston and starring the charismatic Paul Newman. How could it fail? Well, at least for me it didn't. I love the film and, though at times I can take or leave Maurice Jarre's music, particularly his later stuff, this is certainly up there with his work on the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, Is Paris Burning?, Villa Rides, The Professionals and The Man Who Would Be King.
Paul Newman plays the somewhat exaggerated hanging judge, Roy Bean, a young, almost unrecognisable, Victoria Principal, plays his girl, and there is a fine performance by a rather large bear to boot. There is also a brief, but memorable, turn by Stacy Keach, as an albino gunfighter.
As for the score, as I grow older I seem to miss the old days of melodic scoring more and more, and this is certainly melodic, even if it has its dissonant moments (the lengthy bonus track "That Man on Horseback" for instance). At the heart of it all is Bean's memorable and quite nostalgic theme, voiced by full orchestra and all kinds of solo instruments in various arrangements, from a noble march in "The Marshalls" to a waltz in "On the Way to the Opera." There is also a great theme for the more progressive and celebratory moments in the plot, and the Principal character has an elegant, waltz-like theme. Even the bear has a theme, played instrumentally and also voiced by Andy Williams as "Marmalade, Molasses and Honey," with lyrics by the Bergmans - a charming, infectious number. There are also source-like cues like the mariachi style of "Sent to Madgeland," the hymn-like theme for "Reverend La Salle" and the piano duet of "Old Ragtime."
Next to the main theme that opens the album, my next favourite track is "Justice," in which Bean returns to the town he ran for so many years, having been ousted by oilmen, to wreak his revenge, a spectacular scene, with a great scoring, commencing with a big variation on Bean's theme for horns and then becoming a powerful variation on the celebratory theme, mentioned earlier.
The score, presented here, is much expanded from the original LP release, and there are also four bonus cues, including an instrumental of the bear's theme and a music box version of "The Yellow Rose of Texas," which is earlier voiced by Newman in the body of the score.
As always, a splendid booklet accompanies the disc, with plenty of colour stills and Lukas Kendall's notes on the film and its score, with comments by the composer, from an interview with Jeff Bond, as well as the always valuable cue-by-cue guide.
A fabulous, must-have release for anyone, like me, who loves the melody-based scoring of the '70s.


Post a Comment

<< Home