Appaloosa/Jeff Beal

October 28, 2008

Sometimes holding off until you’ve seen the movie to write about the score is a good thing and this was the case with New Line Cinema Appaloosa starring Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Renee Zellwegger, and Jeremy Irons. Written by Robert Parker, who created the detective Spenser, the modern day Philip Marlowe for novels, and then a successful television series, handles this western story every bit as well as his page- turning books. This film had a lot of influence from Harris as he helped with the screenplay, produced, directed, and even sang a song in the end credits “You’ll Never Leave My Heart.” Hired peacemakers Virgil Cole (Harris) and Edward Hitch (Mortensen) are hired by the town of Appaloosa to take back the town from bad guy Bragg (Irons) who murdered the former sheriff and two deputies. Allison French (Zellweger) is the love interest for Cole as well as other men in the film, an interesting developed subplot. The entire story was most predictable but quite entertaining and the two-hour film went by quickly holding my attention the majority of the time.  It was filmed in Santa Fe, New Mexico and, having spent time in that area I quite easily identified with the locale. The blowing sand in certain scenes brought back real life memories!
Jeff Beal, a wonderful television writer, now appears to be getting involved with bigger and exciting upcoming silver screen projects such as Who Do You Love and Salomaybe? as well as this film. Known for his jazzy style such as the television series Nightmare And Dreamscapes, very little of that genre bleeds through in this western score, showing the extreme versatility required from these composers.
The “Appaloosa Main Title” is the theme you’ll hear over and over again and it is one I will remember several years from now, a classic western tune. Close your eyes and you can see the main characters Cole and Hitch riding off into a horizon of blue, slow and easy as the horses sway slightly. This reviewer would have loved to have heard a full symphony orchestra playing the theme in certain situations such as the one mentioned above, as the scenery just cried for it. Perhaps it is a bit of nostalgia taking me back to the days of Shane but it just seemed to be on the thin side. This could have been a director decision to not take away from the film at all and watching the film I can say that it certainly didn’t. The theme for Bragg is a low register theme played by the bass, dark and dissonant, as you would expect. The upbeat happy music heard in “Allison French” is exactly what your ear expects. You’ll also hear fiddling, cool cello solos, sad trumpet, proud Spanish guitar, Native American flute and percussion with a hint of traditional and Hollywood sounds mixed together, what we expect to hear- harmonicas- all good stuff. The percussion couldn’t have sounded better, doing nothing but adding to the soundtrack giving it a nice crisp sound. As pointed out by another respected reviewer there  are references given to both Danna in his work on Ride With The Devil as well as Morricone in a general fashion (hard not to).

This reviewer comes to expect a better than average score from this composer and I wasn’t disappointed. Highly recommended.

Main Titles rating is ****

Lakeshore CD# is LKS 340432

Orchestrated and conducted by Jeff Beal

Performed by members of the Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra

Produced by Ed Harris, Skip Williamson and Brian McNelis

Track listing
1. Appaloosa Main Title (02:12)


2. New City Marshal (01:47)


3. Bragg’s Theme (00:45)


4. Allison French (01:50)


5. Allie Teases Virgil (00:39)


6. Dawn in Appaloosa (01:45)


7. Cole and Hitch Stalk Bragg (01:21)


8. Bragg is Captured (03:05)


9. Apology Accepted (01:26)


10. The Kiss (02:31)


11. Readin’ and Writin’ (01:52)


12. Allie is Kidnapped (02:51)


13. Cole Ponders (01:03)


14. Hitch Rides (01:39)


15. Finding Allie (01:24)


16. The Indian Attack (01:38)


17. The Horse Trade (03:54)


18. Riding Into Rio Seco (00:47)


19. Ballad of Rio Seco (02:37)


20. Shootout at Rio Seco (02:27)


21. Allie Goes Upstairs (00:56)


22. Hitch Settles a Score (02:43)


23. Riding Off / Apaloosa End Credits (03:44)


24. You’ll Never Leave My Heart (04:30)

vocal by Ed Harris

25. Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Friend (03:15)

vocal by Ed Harris

Total Duration: 00:52:41









One Response to “Appaloosa/Jeff Beal”

  1. nanette Says:

    Does anybody know who sings in this sound track?
    It sounds as if Johnny Cash is singing on one of the tracks and Tom Petty….Would love the list of the artist that aided in this great film.

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