The Way West/Kaper

November 26, 2010

When Kaper did this film for MGM/McLagen in 1967 he was pretty much at the end of his career as a writer for the silver screen. A big budget effort from MGM, the film starred Widmark, Douglas, Mitchum, three of the bigger Hollywood names along with a fine supporting cast including Sally Field, Lola Albright, and Stubby Kaye. It was met with mixed reviews. The Pulitzer Prize-winning story by A.B. Guthrie follows the happenings of a group of settlers on a wagon train, led by a former senator from Missouri to Oregon in 1843.


While Kaper is not a common recognizable name to many soundtrack collectors he did score over 100 films and FSM especially has released several scores including the Oscar winning Lili (FSM 0815) as well as a three CD set of all of the music from Mutiny on the Bounty (FSM 0716).


Like Dimitri Tiomkin, Bronislaw was very comfortable in writing for this type of genre and the score to The Way West shows it. While the Serendipity Singers would never make a top list of mine they proved more than adequate with the singing on this album. I especially enjoy the “Overture (Main Title)” a full orchestra being used complemented nicely by harmonica.”Lige Celebrates” is a somewhat comical track which offers a nice exchange in the brass section between the trombones and trumpets. “Becky’s Theme” is quiet laid back track offering some very nice harmonica work backed by guitar. “We’re Crossing First” is an action cue using loud brass playing a variation of the main title. It also offers an abrupt Indian motif with the orchestra also playing a struggle depicted in exchanges between strings and brass. “Finale” ends the soundtrack with pleasant syrup and it dissolves into the Serendipity Singers ending the film on an upbeat happy note. While Bronsilaw used a lot of cliché western motifs instantly recognizable to much of the audience it is still a very pleasant forty minutes of listening.


To the best of my knowledge this soundtrack comes from a stereo source and is fairly typical of the quality of the time. Bruce Kimmel, writer of the liner notes offers some interesting information about Kaper the composer as well as good historical information about the film.


This release also includes The Unforgiven previously reviewed. Both titles had been released before in limited edition packages and sold out relatively quickly. They were a remastering of the LP UAS 5149 from 1967 as is this CD. Kritzerland has once again made these available in a 1000 limited edition CD that is still in stock if you missed it the first time around. If you have an interest in Western material this would be a welcome addition to your growing collection. Recommended.


Kritzerland KR 20016-9




Track listing:


1.       The Way West (02:06)

Featuring the Serendipity Singers

2.       Overture (Main Title) (02:00)

3.       Lige Celebrates (01:26)

4.       We’re Crossing First (03:14)

5.       Flowers for Mr. Mack (02:12)

6.       I Killed Him (Execution) (03:45)

7.       Water & Billy’s Death (05:30)

8.       Mercy McBee (02:15)

Featuring the Serendipity Singers

9.       Buffaloes and Indians (03:03)

10.     Becky’s Theme (02:00)

11.     One to Crystal City-Tadlock’s End (04:24)

12.     Reluctant Mercy (02:07)

13.     Finale (05:03)

Featuring the Serendipity Singers


Total Duration: 00:39:05



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