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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 (29):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!

Lukas

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.

I see that this was released by FSM in 2001 and the first response was from this year. Maybe the consensus was kind of lukewarm - although it's listed as OOP (but I take it that's only at SAE)?

Whatever, it took me sixteen years to get this. Just do the math(s). Well, to tell you the truth (and I never lie), it was never on my top-priority list, but when there was a delay on my recent order for the Newman-Herrmann collaboration THE EGYPTIAN, I had a glance at other old Alfs which I'd previously ignored, and settled on THE BRAVADOS. And what's more, it's a collaboration too! With one of my favourite composers, Hugo Friedhofer. I'd either "forgotten" that fact or didn't know it in the first place. One of the two. But to cut a long story short, The End.

No, To Be Continued -

So there I was sitting and listening to this CD over and over, and it just wasn't clicking that much with me. I haven't really put my finger on it yet, but it's one that I'd rank as kind of middling. I know it's inevitable that not everything can be brilliant and that an awful lot, in fact probably the vast majority of scores by even our favourite composers may not scale the heights of total brilliance. But given the skill of Newman and Friedhofer, who were no slouches, it's equally inevitable that there are moments of brilliance along the way. But it seems a kind of slog.

I'm not quite sure if I "like" the theme. I actually went out of my way to watch the film just to see if I could get a better handle on it and, if anything, it distanced me even more. The film itself is well worth watching I'd say. It's absolutely gorgeous to look at, the story is taut, the ambiguity surfaces as it should. Gregory Peck could be a little wooden at times, but it works here. He's in turmoil and puts a stoic face on his mission. When the truth is revealed he's quite wonderful. But I'm not sure Newman's theme "fits" him. I was never even sure if the theme was meant to represent the Peck character, or the posse, or the revenge plot, so it ended up kind of just seeming like a bold Western march. It's strong, it's determined, but it's not terribly subtle. Friedhofer's arrangements of the theme fare better. He appears to bring out more the inner torture involved.

Having said that, the Friedhofer-penned material itself is not particularly noteworthy. It sounds like him and everything, but I always loved Friedhofer's music for what he would do with his own themes, which were often beautifully unconventional long-line melodies. His textures were always great too, and that's the side of him most on show here, but it's a bit of a grim ride. Some of the earlier "plodding" funereal music (appropriate, yes) isn't really the most rivetting of stuff. Parts of it reminded me of Herrmann, where just a little combination of woodwinds at the end of a track could convey a lot. Here I'm not sure if it's sufficient.

And then the Newman theme pops up again all over the place. It's catchy as hell and it's been going around in my head for days, but it's turning into a nightmare. My favourite bits of pure Newman are in the religioso moments of "A Mother's Prayer" and especially at one hugely emotional part of "The Dead Miner and Emma" - underpinning a key dramatic moment in the film. That is brilliant. That very same track "unfortunately" segues into Newman's theme for the Joan Collins character "Josefa". On solo guitar (Track 16 in the bonus material)) it sounds attractively authentic. I thought it actually was a traditional piece, but it's credited to Newman. However, in the main body of the score, the theme is arranged by Cyril Mockridge - who was no slouch either - but it sounds terribly old-fashioned and ill-fitting compared to the rest of the score. It's at its worst in the mercifully brief "End Title", which sounds like it could have been tacked on from a quickie western programmer from two decades before.

I feel a bit bad about writing something which reads so negatively, but - 1) It's been out for sixteen years and is OOP, and - 2) I'm intrigued enough by my own lukewarm reaction that I keep going back to it to find out what's wrong. In fact I'm going to listen to it again right now.

Oh, I'm going to ask a few "technical" questions. The first is about the (great) track "Jailbreak". Just at about the 53-second mark, there's a noticeable jump or something, maybe from a bad splice? The counter on my CD equipment keeps marking the seconds correctly, so I don't think it's a faulty disc problem. For those millions of you who have this CD (and have patiently waded through my incontinent rabbit up to this point - thank you, thank you) - could you tell me if your discs have that same.... feature?

The second question is about the track "The Posse Leaves", which has been relegated to the "Damaged Stereo" bonus material (it's the only one). I don't hear much wrong with it at all, except for maybe a little bit of wow towards the end. I'd have happily had it as part of the main prog. Did the powers-that-be (LK and Co.) deem it so poor-sounding as to banish it to the leper colony? I suppose the answer is yes, but it still seems an odd decision.

THE BRAVADOS - Goodish.

It's probably the wrong moment (it's DAMNATION ALLEY time!) for folks to chip in with their thoughts on those musty oldsters Newman and Friedhofer, but I thought I'd bump it anyway in the hope that someone might reply to the two questions I asked at the end of the post, even if you just skim over the rest of the drivel.

Isn't the film basically a cautionary tale concerning primarily the 9th Commandment, with a sprinkling of the 10th although there's plenty of overlap with some of the others? I'll go back to the CD, but absorbing the movie again would be asking a little too much.

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