The Unforgiven/Tiomkin

November 19, 2010

Not to be confused with the Clint Eastwood Oscar winning film Unforgiven (1992) this John Huston directed 1960 film starred Audrey Hepburn, Audie Murphy and Burt Lancaster and dealt with Indian racism. It was quite an adult topic for its time but the reviews and opinions about the film have been somewhat mixed. While some enjoyed it, John Huston the director felt it was the worst picture he had ever made. None of this has anything to do with the score from Dimitri Tiomkin as he produced yet another stellar soundtrack.


The score has been previously released on LP from United Artists, London, and even a 45RPM of the main theme from Don Costa on United Artists (UA221). Recently it was part of a limited release of 1500 copies from Film Score Monthly of Great Western Classics (FSMCD Vol. 10 #10) and it sold out fairly quickly. This Kritzerland (KR 20016-9) is also a limited release of 1000 copies but is still available and all offer the same material with Kritzerland having a slight mastering improvement. The material was recorded in Rome. It is coupled with The Way West from Bronislau Kaper which will be reviewed separately.


The “Prologue” is really classic Tiomkin material as the full Americana treatment is given with references to the Indian culture throughout the theme. It is quite busy with the brass providing the theme but the entire orchestra has a role in this one including xylophone and percussion. “The Unforgiven-Main Title” is yet another one of those melodies that was an ever flowing supply for Tiomkin. It is romantic with the strings leading the way in a lush treatment. The primary theme is also offered as part of “The Unforgiven Alone,” “Riding Back to the Soddy,” “Mattilda Confesses,” and finally in “After the Battle-End Title,” a sad Adagio opening with the horns offering a ray of hope followed by a majestic restatement of the main title. “Across the Texas Panhandle” is a good underscore track where the entire orchestra joins in for a rollicking adventure. “Turkey in the Straw” is not Tiomkin but a traditional square dance with Jews harp, harmonica, and piano in a standard arrangement. “Horse Ballet” is yet another melody that oozes the Wild West in its orchestration. “Kiowa Warpath” is your standard tom tom beat with fluttering flutes, a definite Indian motif for the audience.

Tiomkin wasn’t afraid to use his main theme over and over and why should he? He is a master of melody and his themes are memorable. Add this to his somewhat dissonant brass and out of character string writing at times and you have a distinct sound which is impossible for a soundtrack enthusiast to miss unless they listen to nothing pre 1970. As stated in the liner notes the recording received a dose of reverb, common in those days, and nothing can be done about it. The melody simply overpowers the score anyway. Recommended.


Kritzerland KR 20016-9



Track Listing:


1. Prologue (01:55)
2. The Unforgiven Main Title (03:21)
3. Across The Texas Panhandle (02:20)
4. Turkey In The Straw (01:14)
5. The Horse Ballet (02:41)
6. Search For Abe Kelsey (01:24)
7. Charlie Courts Rachel (02:35)
8. Kiowa Warpath (02:35)
9. The Capture Of Abe Kelsey (02:29)
10. The Unforgiven Alone (01:25)
11. Riding Back To The Soddy (01:45)
12. Mattilda Confesses (01:30)
13. The Kiowas Attack (03:20)
14. After The Battle – End Title (02:28)

Total Time=31:02




3 Responses to “The Unforgiven/Tiomkin”

  1. […] release also includes The Unforgiven previously reviewed. Both titles had been released before in limited edition packages and sold out relatively quickly. […]

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