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Friday, May 18, 2007

CD REVIEW - Damn The Defiant!/Behold a Pale Horse

Damn The Defiant!/Behold a Pale Horse
Music by Clifton Parker/Music by Maurice Jarre
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.4 (US)
26 Tracks 65:05 mins

This is the fifth FSM reissue of music first released on Colpix LPs and pairs Clifton Parker's score for the 1962 Mutiny on the Bountyesque Damn The Defiant!, which starred Alec Guinness and Dirk Bogarde; and Maurice Jarre's music for the 1964 Gregory Peck starrer Behold a Pale Horse, which saw him as a kind of latter-day terrorist during the period following the Spanish Civil War, making incursions over the border from France to continue the struggle, though his side have lost.
The custom at the time of these album releases was to rearrange cues into a more satisfying listening experience, sometimes combining cues, or shortening them, all to provide a running time of around 30-35 minutes. Both these scores were in fact quite short in any case, so that the albums actually had to be padded out to meet the required running time. The result, particularly in the case of Defiant, is some repetition of material, but it's interesting stuff all the same and both scores are worthy of reissue.
Damn The Defiant! starts out with the "Main Title," in which a shanty-like opening gives way to the sweeping main theme. The theme is later repeated twice more on the album, together with a noble variation in "Midnight on the Defiant." The following "Vizard Theme," an expectant mover, developing into full-blown action, also is repeated a couple more times. "Sailing on the Tide" finds the composer in romantic mood. "Unrest among the Crew" features tense suspense writing, which continues in "The Defiant Reaches Corsica," becoming dirge-like, with anguished strings. The other track not repeated from anywhere earlier is "Crawford at Vizard's Deathbed," which presents agitated strings after a violent opening. However, this then is repeated to double the length of the track.
After Maurice Jarre's large-scale, sweeping score to Lawrence of Arabia, Behold a Pale Horse finds him in much more restrained mood. Much of the main thematic material is propulsive and often march-like, but mostly in a restrained form, with just occasionally the main march bursting forth proudly and heroically. Along the way, there is some innocent flute-lead scoring, and some brief Spanish guitar interludes. Harpischord is another key instrument in the score, often playing spare variations on the main thematic material. There's a little suspense here and there, with the eerie and dissonant "Manuel in San Martin" standing out. The presence of Omar Sharif as a Catholic father is delineated by solo organ in "Father Francisco's Conscience Struggle."
Interestingly, an EP was also issued at the time of the LP release, and contained two tracks not included on the latter. These in fact prove to be the most satisfying tracks from the score, the first, a rousing orchestral version of the main march theme, entitled "Exile March," which commences and ends with wordless choir carrying the tune; the second, a "symphonic medley" of much of the secondary material in the score.
As always, the disc is accompanied by a splendid 16-page booklet, with artwork from the films, together with Lukas Kendall's notes on the films and their scores, together with the usual cue-by-cue guides, and even the original LP liner notes.
Despite the repetition, particularly in the Parker selections, the disc is well worth your attention, presenting an example of Maurice Jarre's early work, following on the heels of his initial great triumph, and a rare example of Parker's music, little of which is available on disc.
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