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The Bravados (1958) was a hard unrelenting tale of vengeance. It cast Gregory Peck in a not entirely sympathetic role as a rancher seeking vengeance on four outlaws (including Stephen Boyd, Lee van Cleef and Henry Silva) who he mistakenly believes had robbed him and raped and killed his wife. It is only after he has hunted down and killed three of them that he discovers that his neighbour, a miner, was really the guilty party. Lionel Newman was credited as having written the score (the credit was given mainly because he supervised the recording sessions in Germany because Hollywood studio orchestras were then on strike.) In actual fact the music was a collaboration between Alfred Newman, who wrote the main theme, and Hugo Friedhofer. This main theme, although stirring and flamboyant, is also one of the darkest, most brutal that had been written for any western to date. It heralds a score that is sombre and gritty – especially for the opening ‘The Scaffold’ sequence in which Peck rides into Rio Arriba to see an erected scaffold awaiting the four outlaws who are in jail awaiting execution after an aborted bank robbery. (They are later freed by an imposter hangman and then pursued by Peck). The powerful music that stalks the score as Peck hunts down his quarry is dark and doom-laden. Film Score Monthly present it not only in stereo but also in its mono alternative (the latter extraordinarily sounding just as potent and curiously more ominous). There is of course some more tender moments for the love interest provided by Joan Collins.
The score also includes some source music: two guitar solos and church music a cappella choruses that paradoxically underscore the rather grisly jail break scenes.
A dark, powerful score for a noteworthy adult western.