CD Reviews Elmer Bernstein

Big Jake

Beginning with THE COMANCHEROS in 1961 and ending with THE SHOOTIST in 1976, Elmer Bernstein composed six scores for John Wayne westerns. As might be expected, these scores are as broad as the great landscapes they accompany and also reflect the largeness of Wayne himself as the towering actor in these westerns. In truth, Bernstein … Continue reading Big Jake

Marie Ward

This fulfils all expectations. When combined with the visual, the score was not always that appropriate, but on disc the music seems to sing itself. In spite of the fact that Bernstein often dips into the semi-classical bag, he manages to keep the balance between “old” and “modern” musical languages. There are baroque and classical … Continue reading Marie Ward

The Carpetbaggers

The Carpetbaggers (1964) is a somewhat lurid post-studio era Hollywood epic based on schlockmeister Harold Robbins’ emphatically lurid best-selling novel. But even the emerging “new” Hollywood of the mid-’60s could not put all of Robbins’ trademark sex and raunch on screen, so the end result is an overheated and watered down psycho-melodrama that was, however, … Continue reading The Carpetbaggers

The Comancheros / True Grit

This hugely enjoyable album reminds us how Elmer Bernstein’s music has enriched the western genre. There is nothing complicated about these two symphonic, well-contrasted scores – no disturbing modernistic touches to irritate the ear. The music instantly evokes the old-fashioned action western in which the good guy always triumphed, but which received a mortal blow … Continue reading The Comancheros / True Grit

The Deep End of the Ocean

Considering the rather tragic nature of THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN, Elmer Bernstein’s score is remarkably upbeat in places. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams, the film tells the emotionally shattering story of a woman whose youngest son vanishes while she is attending a school reunion, and how this desperate event tears at the … Continue reading The Deep End of the Ocean

The Great Escape

At last one of my favorite Elmer Bernstein scores comes to compact disc. Thanks to Doug Fake and Intrada for taking on the project and doing such a fine job on it. Taken from the original 1963 master tapes, the CD version contains admirable sound quality with minimal and barely-noticeable hiss and distortion. For the … Continue reading The Great Escape

The View from Pompey’s Head / Blue Denim

If anyone neeads proof that Elmer Bernstein and Bernard Herrmann are among the greatest film music masters, then this disc should provide it. It contains the scores for two lesser-known films from the 1950s. Both scores have more to offer than the films themselves, yet the scores don’t call attention to themselves in any overindulgent … Continue reading The View from Pompey’s Head / Blue Denim

Wild Wild West

When Elmer Bernstein scores a western, you know exactly what you’re going to get. With a track record that includes scores like THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE COMANCHEROS, TRUE GRIT and THE SHOOTIST (his last “true” western, back in 1976), it is obvious that Bernstein is a master of the musical depiction of the vast open … Continue reading Wild Wild West

Zulu Dawn

Well, put on your British pith helmets and sit back and enjoy Elmer Bernstein at the helm of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting this excellent score for a film set in Colonial Africa. The emphasis for this music is almost entirely boisterous and spirited, full of orchestral color and pageantry, with the RPO pumped up … Continue reading Zulu Dawn