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February 5, 2001:
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The Bravados (1958)
Music by Hugo Friedhofer, Alfred Newman
The Bravados The Bravados
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $19.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: September 2001
Catalog #: Vol. 4, No. 13
# of Discs: 1

The Bravados is a stark and realistic western starring Gregory Peck as a man seeking revenge on a band of outlaws. The film features a powerful and handsome score co-written by two Hollywood greats: Alfred Newman and Hugo Friedhofer. The composers often contributed to each others' scores, just without the fanfare that followed the collaboration between Newman and Bernard Herrmann on The Egyptian. In fact, the score to The Bravados was credited in the film to Lionel Newman, who did not write a note but supervised the score's recording in Germany during a Hollywood musicians strike in 1958 (Bernard Kaun conducted).

The melodic and exciting score for The Bravados features both composers working at the top of their games. The main title theme, "The Hunter," is a driving, quintessential Alfred Newman march which takes melodic and rhythmic western staples to a whole new level. On the other side of the coin, Newman composed the film's love theme and solemn "A Mother's Prayer" material; the 6:17 "The Dead Miner and Emma/Josefa" is the highlight of his contribution, with stirring string passages recalling his masterpiece, The Robe.

The Bravados is a dark and violent film as well as an adventure and Hugo Friedhofer composed the brooding theme for the titular characters. He adapted Newman's march into many of his cues, underscoring the exciting showdowns between Peck's character and the fleeing bandits. Friedhofer keys into the moral ambiguity of the story and his cues are appropriately haunting and dramatic.

FSM's CD restoration is divided into several sections: first is the complete underscore in stereo (minus one cue which was damaged); followed by the film's guitar and church source music; the aforementioned damaged stereo cue; and then a suite of selected cues repeated in mono. The liner notes by longtime film music scholar William H. Rosar delineate the contributions by each composer and shed light on the recording process overseas. The album is a Bravados feast and a fitting tribute to this important score and its two brilliant composers.

Hugo Friedhofer Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Hugo Friedhofer (1901-1981) started his Hollywood career as an arranger and orchestrator (working for Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Max Steiner, among others) before becoming one of the most admired—if still underappreciated—composers of the 1940s and ’50s, with television work extending into the 1960s. He won an Oscar for his score for The Best Years of Our Lives. FSM is proud to have released several scores by this thoughtful and accomplished musician; sample the main titles from Above and Beyond and Soldier for Fortune for their exquisite melodies. IMDB

Alfred Newman Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Alfred Newman (1901-1970) is one of the most important figures in the history of movie music, a nine-time Oscar winner (with 45 nominations overall) who was head of music at Twentieth Century-Fox in the 1940s and '50s. His influence as a composer and executive cannot be overstated; he invented the "Newman System" of synchronizing music to picture and is the patriarch of the Newman family of composers and musicians (Lionel, Randy, David, Thomas and others). Just a sampling of his work as a composer includesHow Green Was My Valley, Captain From Castile, All About Eve, The Robe and The Diary of Anne Frank.IMDB

Comments (7):Log in or register to post your own comments
"His influence as a composer and executive cannot be understated"

Sorry to carp, but shouldn't that be "overstated'?

I'm going to have to give the film another watch. For some rather obscure reason, it has never been a favorite. It's not the Peck character getting the wrong idea and pursuing a wrong lead that gets me, rather, there is a tediousness to the proceedings as a whole. It probably broke some new ground in that the main guy actually goes wrong along the way to an extent that might have left audiences feeling a little uncomfortable with the story outcome. I'll also take note of the sensibilities inherent within the music, especially given the pedigree involved!

I'm glad you didn't give the plot away. :)

Fixed, thanks!


Having seen the film last night, I still feel pretty much the same as before about it. It feels massively compromised. It doesn't have a long running time and the Joan Collins romantic lead character has a lot of vacuum around her.

The music is very basic in outline form. It mainly consists of the MT march in various states of adornment. It seems very likely the reason two big names worked on it concurrently might have been related to a problem facing composers today - serious limitations with time. That appears to be very probable in the then circumstances. The main title has Peck riding along the spectacular scenery with bold red calligraphy typical of the period wording. What I found particularly strange is that Lionel Newman's role in the music department is shared with the director of photography - Newman being given the higher profile upper half of the frame. Does this hint at some sort of politicizing compromise, because as I recall, the music department usually gets the whole frame to itself?

No, Fox usually put music and photography on the same credit card. I wonder if the music credit is reflective of the musician's union strike at the time. The score sounds like it was recorded overseas (un Fox-like echo) and Bernhard Kaun is credited as conductor (his last credit and I believe he had already returned to Germany).

No, Fox usually put music and photography on the same credit card. I wonder if the music credit is reflective of the musician's union strike at the time. The score sounds like it was recorded overseas (un Fox-like echo) and Bernhard Kaun is credited as conductor (his last credit and I believe he had already returned to Germany).[/endquote]

Fantastic, Ray! Seriously, I noticed the echo in the music as Peck was riding along. How unfortunate I didn't mention it because now you mention it, it is a standout of historical observation.

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