clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

OVERVIEW OFFERS DISTINCT '60S FILM SCORES

A new collection of seven '60s soundtracks from Legacy (OK, "The Bridge on the River Kwai" is actually from 1957) offers a wonderful overview of diverse themes composed for period films, using some of the very best film-scoring talent available . . . including pre-Spielberg John Williams.

The least interesting is the seventh in the series, the soundtrack from "M*A*S*H," which contains far too much dialogue. It's nice to hear the theme song - "Suicide Is Painless" - with those dark satirical lyrics that were excluded from the TV series, but most of the album feels like a "radio" version of Robert Altman's classic film.As for the others, I was surprised at how enthusiastically I responded to each one, from the familiar ("River Kwai," "The Lion in Winter") to the less familiar ("The Reivers," "King Rat").

And there were occasional surprises, as when I noticed among the distinctive Dimitri Tiomkin themes for "The Alamo" some strains that may have influenced Ennio Morricone for "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." And Jerry Goldsmith's rousing score for "The Blue Max," which makes for wonderful repeat listening, and ultimately convinced me it is one of his best works (no small compliment for the man who later composed "Patton," "Star Trek - The Motion Picture" and many others).

John Barry's scores for "King Rat" and "The Lion in Winter" are loaded with a diversity that is missing from some of his redundant-sounding later works, obviously featuring him at the peak of his form. And "The Reivers" is an utter delight, a score right up there with John Williams' later Oscar-winning work ("E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "Schindler's List"), with themes ranging from Cope-land-esque grandeur to a down-home rural flavor.

As if that's not enough, a few of these albums are more than an hour in length and several include previously unreleased tracks - and in the case of "The Blue Max," seven of them feature source music.

Unfortunately, the final CD included in this review, the lone Capital entry, "True Grit," does not hold up so well. Surprisingly, it is an Elmer Bernstein ("The Magnificent Seven") effort, but the title tune warbled by Glen Campbell is mediocre at best and the mishmash of themes feel more like Lalo Schifrin knockoffs. These inappropriate tunes would be more at home in 1960s dance clubs than the 1860s Old West.