Nevada Smith/Newman

October 21, 2006

 

Nestled between two of McQueen’s bigger hits Cincinnnati Kid (1965) and The Sand Pebbles (1966) was the Harold Robbins best selling Carpetbaggers of which part of the stories included Nevada Smith (1966), the ultimate tale of revenge. The Joseph E. Levine production directed by the veteran western director Henry Hathaway had a whose who of character actors including Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Pat Hingle, Arthur Kennedy, and Martin Landau. McQueen (Max Sand), tracks down and kills the three men responsible for the death of his parents and the ultimate revenge is to what length he is willing to go to in order to find them. Hathaway had worked on How The West Was Won and The Sons Of Katie Elder so he was no stranger to the western genre and neither was one of the grandmasters of film scoring Alfred Newman either, as some will argue that his theme from How The West Was Won (1962) was his finest.

Released on a Dot LP in 1966, the album is a scant 31+ minutes, but this is really an average length for a soundtrack during the time period of the 60’s. It contains arrangements by Shuken and Hayes (Newman’s team) as well as Jimmie Haskell (Nevada Smith) and Al Sendrey (The Gold Wagon). The “Main Title” is the main theme which appears as a song in “The End Title” sung by Merle Kilgore and in “Nevada Smith” an upbeat version with electric guitar (Al Hendrickson and ‘Red’ Mitchell). It is in the category of The Magnificent Seven, or The Big Country in terms of depicting the wide open, big, and bold wonderful American West. The theme is one that once you have heard it you’ll remember it always as this is truly Alfred Newman at his finest. “Pilar, The Cajun Girl” is as romantic and touching as anything Alfred has ever written putting it in the category of Wuthering Heights or Song of Bernadette ! It is not just his superior writing but soloists like Ted Nash (bass flute), Dick Nash (trombone), Vincent De Rosa (french horn), Laurindo Almeida (acoustic guitar), and Carl Fortina (accordian) are like the whip cream on the pumpkin pie. They take something great and make it even better. “Eldorado Frontier” is like a little trip through the bawdy western times. Alfred includes several of the played songs of the era and turns the cue into a nice listening experience. “Escape Through The Swamp” is an excellent underscore track which is composed without the loud electronics so prevelant today in action cues. The bongo drums, oboe and bass flute with harmony by the brass and strings all just compliment each other. “The Gold Wagon” is a more traditional western type cue depicting the action with active brass and strings in a dissonant track. Yearning for love and respect is the best way to describe “Neesa, The Indian Girl” cue. Alfred may have been 65 at the time but he could still feel and understand love as this track shows.

The theme is available on a couple of film compilations from Silva (SSD 1122 & FILMXCD 352) but otherwise it is another fine score that has yet to be released onto a legitimate CD. At the very least you should have the theme in your collection! Somehow I have the feeling that it won’t be too much longer before there is a remastered release coupled with another Dot western release. Or they could be added material (don’t really know) that could make for a longer CD. Recommended. Too fine a western score to be collecting dust in the Paramount vaults.

Track listing1. Main Title (02:27)

from “Nevada Smith”

2. Neesa,The Indian Girl (03:10)

from “Nevada Smith”

3. Going West (01:42)

from “Nevada Smith”

4. The Prison Song (02:16)

from “Nevada Smith”

5. Lonely Prairie (02:57)

from “Nevada Smith”

6. Eldorado Frontier (03:30)

from “Nevada Smith”

7. Nevada Smith (02:45)

from “Nevada Smith”

8. Pilar,The Cajun Girl (02:26)

from “Nevada Smith”

9. Escape Through The Swamp (03:42)

from “Nevada Smith”

10. The Gold Wagon (02:22)

from “Nevada Smith”

11. The Padre’s Parable (02:37)

from “Nevada Smith”

12. End Title (01:53)

from “Nevada Smith”

Total Duration: 00:31:47

Golden Score Rating (***1/2)

Produced by Tom Mack and Ken Darby

Dot LP 25718

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