Fear Strikes Out/The Tin Star/Bernstein

March 14, 2011

By the time that these two scores had been composed by Elmer Bernstein his sound had already been established for Hollywood. It was a brash somewhat dissonant sound at times with loud brass chords but at the same time there was a melodramatic innocence to his strings. He made excellent use of his percussion and used the “motif” necessary to achieve the effect that the audience was looking to hear such as the tom tom for a western cue etc. I like his attention getting or danger cue which has become part of the trademark of this great composer.


1957 was also quite a year for Anthony Perkins who was a contract star for Paramount at the time and was being groomed to become an A+ actor. To come for Perkins were the films Tall Story, Desire Under the Elms, Psycho, The Trial, and On The Beach. While a fine actor he just never seemed to get to the level that Paramount was looking for except in his role as Norman Bates.


Dating myself a bit I watched Piersall when he had some of his better years for the Boston Red Sox in the 50’s and I saw firsthand some of the antics he did on the field. The mental illness story was one that helped make aware the problem of how it afflicts so many people even though Piersall denounced the film as not being true. Piersall went on to play for seventeen years and then became an announcer. He still has a radio show airing out of Chicago today. The main theme is a powerful one filled with emotions of hope, tragedy, and majestic feelings. It is repeated and used in several of the cues and truly fits the bipolar illness that Jimmy went through. Some of the material such as “Rough Start” could have been used as an Indian/western cue or a film like To Kill A Mockingbird. While I’m certainly not putting a ‘generic’ label on this it is material that would go well in other films.


Tin Star, a western starring Anthony Perkins and Henry Fonda also made in 1957, was one that I just had a hard time with Perkins in the role of a sheriff. The film is worth putting in your Netflix list to watch if for nothing else to see how the music is used in the finished product. Perhaps it had something to do with Psycho or he just didn’t fit the part as he had such a clean cut look. The music on the other hand is a good western score that has a sound that is a little different than others due to the style of Elmer Bernstein. It doesn’t have quite the expansive Americana sound of others of that era like Big Country and Elmer’s very own Magnificent Seven but a flavor somewhat different. He makes excellent use of the percussion in the tension scenes and makes full use of the main theme in several of the tracks. It is a good memorable theme which you don’t get tired of listening to. I for one have added the main theme to my compilation list to enjoy.


The mastering of the material is mono but it has a clean crisp sound without the muddiness you can sometimes hear. It doesn’t have that tinkle of the triangle or full deep booming bass but it is a nice job done on material that was recorded at the time. There are no what I like to call blips: it is a good clean transfer as I’ve come to expect from Kritzerland. The pressing number has been increased from 1000 to 1500 but is still labeled as limited and will likely sell out like most of his titles. Take advantage now rather than later and you won’t be disappointed with adding two new Elmer Bernstein scores to your growing collection. Recommended.



Track listing


1. Main Title

2. A Rough Start

3. We Won / Off to Work

4. A Tragic Homecoming / Tragedy

5. A Tragic Homecoming / Tragedy

6. Bridge to Proposal / Impossible Proposal / Telephone Tenderness

7. Most Ardent Fan

8. A Bundle of Nerves

9. Infield

10. Shortstop Psychosis

11. Got to Work / Temperamental Teammate

12. Suspended / Don’t Let Me Down

13. Piersall Collapses / Doctor Brown

14. Therapy, Part 2

15. Waiting / The Consultation

16. Where Am I Today, Parts 1 and 2

17. You’re Killing Me

18. A New Life and Finale

19. A Rough Start (unused alternate version)

tracks 1 – 19 from “Fear Strikes Out”

20. The Tin Star and Prelude / A Stranger in Town (Dramatic Version)

21. Bounty Hunter

22. Morg Meets Nona

23. Kip’s Half-Injun

24. Morg Saves Ben, Parts 1, 2 and 3

25. The McGaffey Brothers

26. Good Indian

27. An Ex-Sheriff

28. New Patient

29. Last Report

30. Kip Follows Posse

31. Morg Captures McGaffeys, Parts 1, 2 and 3

32. Bringing ‘Em Back Alive and Joyous Reunion

33. Ready for Action and Dead Silence

34. Finale

tracks 20 – 34 from “The Tin Star”



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