John Wayne At Fox - The Westerns - 2 CD set - The Comancheros, North To Alaska, The Undefeated
Composed by Elmer Bernstein, Lionel Newman, Hugo Montenegro
John Wayne at Fox – not a lot of films, but some extraordinarily entertaining ones. The Comancheros (1961), based on the 1952 novel by Paul I. Wellman, was directed by Michael Curtiz, the great director who’d done any number of classics, including some of the most beloved films of all time – Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, Angels With Dirty Faces, The Sea Hawk, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mildred Pierce, White Christmas, to name just a handful. Starring were Wayne, Stuart Whitman, Ina Balin, Lee Marvin, Nehemiah Persoff and Bruce Cabot. It’s a wonderful film with colorful performances, gorgeous photography, and a rousing musical score by Elmer Bernstein. At the time, Bernstein had just written what would become one of the most iconic western scores ever, The Magnificent Seven. The Comancheros was his follow up western score, and it, like the film it graces, is colourful, bigger than life, and filled with action and adventure. You know what you’re in for as soon as the first chords of the main title music begin, one of Bernstein’s all-time classic themes. But the score is rife with melody and invention and Bernstein’s music is as iconic and big as the Duke himself.
A year earlier, the John Wayne Fox western was North to Alaska, a big, sprawling comedy western starring the Duke, Stewart Granger, enticing Capucine, Ernie Kovacs and teen heartthrob Fabian. The score, credited solely to Lionel Newman, but containing music by several others, fits the film like a glove. It’s got a tuneful title song by Mike Phillips, a nice song for Fabian called “If You Knew” and some fun original orchestral cues by Newman.
Next we jump to the third of the Fox Wayne westerns, the 1969 film The Undefeated, starring Wayne and Rock Hudson, along with Roman Gabriel, Lee Meriwether, Bruce Cabot, Ben Johnson, Jan-Michael Vincent, Harry Carey, Jr., Paul Fix, Richard Mulligan, John Agar and Dub Taylor. Hugo Montenegro’s music for The Undefeated is big as all outdoors, with strong themes and a real sense of storytelling. As with many Western scores, there’s a lot of Copland “Americana” as well as a stirring main theme, some great dramatic scoring, some Mexican-flavoured cues and even a hoedown.
Both The Comancheros and The Undefeated were previously released on CD by FSM, and North to Alaska was released on CD by Intrada – all are out of print – in the case of The Comancheros, for many years. But we’re pleased to have them all together in one great 2-CD set – they’ve all been newly remastered for this release.