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Special Merit

THE McCULLOCHS (1975)

 

29 Tracks (Playing Time = 39:49)

Album produced by David Schecter and Kathleen Mayne.
Cover art by Robert Aragon.

Monstrous Movie Music MMM-1966

Rating: ***1/2

 

With all the hype that comes along now with every "blockbuster" score like AVATAR or LORD OF THE RINGS, it is a welcome departure to listen to a high quality film score by a past film composer, such as the still underrated, Ernest Gold (1921-1999). THE McCULLOCHS is dedicated to one of the film's stars, Julie Adams, who is pictured on the CD cover.

Years ago, I attended a one woman show with his former wife, Marni Nixon, whose attractive daughters are shown in the CD booklet. She gave a fascinating audio-visual tour of her movie singing career. When she mentioned her husband's work she made a statement that Ernest Gold had to work in the early days for any film opportunity that came along, even such low budget stinkers like THE SCREAMING SKULL. Fortunately he got to work on much better films especially those produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, such as INHERIT THE WIND (1960), JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG (1961), the hilarious IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963), and THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA (1969).

But what about THE McCULLOCHS? Have you ever seen that film? Not too likely because it never got the proper publicity it deserved and I must confess to never had watched it myself. The film stars Forrest Tucker (remembered especially for TV's F TROOP), the talented Julie Adams, Janice Heiden and writer-director, Max Baer Jr -- he was responsible for highly successful films like MACON COUNTY LINE and ODE TO BILLY JOE.

THE McCULLOCHS is usually described as a ripoff from a John Ford classic film from 1950. In Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide, it is listed under it's alternate title, THE WILD McCULLOCHS, and described as " Forgettable QUIET MAN rip-off...Yawn."

Yet the score by Ernest Gold has a very appealing mix of music styles -- from the opening expansive western-sounding Main Title theme (homage to Elmer Benstein!) to snazzy Big Band cue (track 2 - "'40s Plus I - Radio Source") to Irish melody (track 3 - "Keep On Truckin'"), a lovely though too brief romantic theme for strings and harp (track 9 - "I Love You"), a short religious theme (track 11 - "Holy Communion"), and even a fine country music theme (track 19 - "One Last beer"). That's quite a combination of themes! And all of it is well executed by Ernest Gold.

In addition to the soundtrack cues there are four bonus tracks and the first two ("Blues 1 and 2") are special standouts.

The sound quality on the CD is very good and though it is a relatively short soundtrack it never wears you out with too much of the same type of music, like so many of today's bombastic scores.

A special kudo to David Schecter, whose extensive notes are not only witty but also very informative and fun to read.

There are also some fine illustrations including several of Ernest Gold and the lovely Julie Adams who has recently written her autobiography (www.julieadams.biz). The scroll-like 16 page liner foldout is a bit awkward to handle when reading the notes but it is well worth your time to read them all.

Also worth commendation is Robert Aragon, who has produced a very appealing cover art illustration for the CD.

This is one of those film scores that could have easily been lost, yet thanks to the preservation efforts of David Schecter and Kathleen Mayne, this fine score by Ernest Gold has been saved from the scrapheap of forgotten films.

THE McCULLOCHS is a very good score that is well produced and it is the premiere release on CD as well.

The CD is recommended, especially for film music fans in search of a less well known but very worthwhile soundtrack.

Bravo to Monstrous Movie Music!

 

-- Reviewed by Roger Hall, 28 April 2012

Comments regarding this review can be sent to:

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More information about this and other film scores are found at

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