The Chase has long remained a vastly under-rated drama from the mid-1960's. Directed by Arthur Penn immediately before that director gave the world Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Chase is an equally powerful drama with a far stronger moral centre and impeccable credentials: a cast headed by Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford (also featuring EG Marshall, Angie Dickenson, Robert Duvall and James Fox), with breathtaking Panavision cinematography by Joseph LaShelle and an uncredited Robert Surtees, a screenplay by Lillian Hellman and music by John Barry. Quiet how this film has been written off for so long remains one of film criticisms great injustices, and all one can conclude is this riveting movie has been overshadowed by the groundbreaking ultra-violence of Penn's next picture.
A story of corruption, injustice and sweltering passions in an oil rich small Texas town, the movie benefits greatly from John Barry's innate knack for finding tension in a situation, and from his background in jazz. This current CD is an issue of the original 1966 OST, augmented by two bonus cues; an alternate take on the 'Main Title' (taken from the album Great Movie Sounds of John Barry) and a two minute title cue (from The Film Music of John Barry). The CD booklet is well documented and comes with stills of variable quality and a useful essay by Richard Torres. Bar some rare distortion, the stereo sound is excellent.
After a 'Main Title' which could play like a Barry suspense cue from a Bond movie, and has a melody not so far removed from You Only Live Twice territory, though with a harmonica taking the lead, the disc, 'The Chase Is On' plays more into Magnificent Seven territory, a Mexican flavoured trumpet suggesting Western adventure. Indeed, with its pulsating rhythm, quiet, introspective central section and later guitar and harmonica orchestration the track confirms the film as a modern day Western.
The modern day part of the equation comes to the fore with the jazz and soft instrumental pop of later cues beginning with 'Saturday Night Philosopher', a typically mid-60's catchy Barry laconic jazz-pop instrumental with a truly catchy melody. Across the spectrum is the moody lounge music of 'Call That Dancin'?' the sultry 'And You Got One!'
Meanwhile familiar brooding, melancholy Barry themes develop through 'What Did I Do Wrong' and the tender 'Stop Talking Foolish – Stop Talking Anything'. The film bursts into action with 'The Beating', a gruelling, punishing scene which Barry scores with grim stoicism, suspense writing more suggestive of impending danger than the brutal ferocity unfolding on screen; an approach which effectively underlines the horror of the violence, rather than simply punctuates it Mickey Mouse style.
There is a poignant, lyrical beauty to 'I Came To The End Of Me' which help make the finale of The Chase all the more moving; a finale which finally comes with the slow-building, fatalistically intense 'The Julykyard'.
The whole finds Barry on top form in an under-rated score for a very under-rated film. Essential for Barry fans, and well worth adding to any film music collection.