Film Music Review
The Sammy awards








Editor's Choice -
Best of the Month
for June 2006


TRUE GRIT (1969) and other film scores by Elmer Bernstein

22 Tracks (Playing Time = 69:44)



1. Instrumental (1:43)
2. A Dastardly Deed/ A Stiff Job (2:14)
3. Businesslike Mattie/ Papa's Things (2:02)
4. Pony Mine/ Rooster and Le Boeuf/ Runaway Races Away (4:07)
5. Chase/ On Their Way (1:47)
6. The Big Trail (1:10)
7. Where there is Smoke/ The Dying Moon (4:16)
8. Preparation Dugout/Dugout Stakeout/ Shots Galore (5:28)
9. Ruffled Rooster (1:42)
10. Bouncing Into Danger/ Over Bald Mountain (4:20)
11. Rooster in the Meadow/ Meadow Fight/ A Long Shot (3:26)
12. The Snake Pit/ The Lift Out/ Sad Departure (6:44)
13. The Pace that Kills/A Ride for Life (3:01)
14. A Warm Wrap-Up (1:56)
15. End Credits (0:55) - orchestrated by Christopher Palmer
16. True Grit - Vocal: Keith Ferreira (1:49)

Bonus Tracks:
17. THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER - Concert Suite (4:18)
18. THE SHOOTIST - Opening Sequence (3:12)
19. THE COMMANCHEROS - McBain/ Main Title (2:41)
20. CAHILL: UNITED STATES MARSHALL - Necktie Party (4:04)
21. BIG JAKE - Concert Suite (6:45)
22. TRUE GRIT - Instrumental (first orchestration) (1:52)

Orchestrations by Christopher Palmer (Tracks 1, 15, 17, 19); Leo Shuken & Jack Hayes (Tracks 2-14); Al de Lory (Track 16); Nic Raine (Track 18); Dominic Nunns (Tracks 20-21); Gil Grau (Track 22). Transcriptions of orchestrations by Leo Shuken & Jack Hayes onto the Sibelius 4 software program , preparation of new scores and parts by Joni McCabe, Getty Music. Music printing by Jiri Simunek, Prague.

The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by James Fitzpatrick.

Album Produced by James Fitzpatrick. Associate Producers: Adam Klemens, Stanja Vomockova, Patrick Russ, John Waxman. Mixed and Mastered by Gareth Williams. Artwork & Design: Damien Doherty. Photos courtesy of Eve Bernstein. Recorded at Barrandov Studios - Smeck Soundstage, Prague (January - February 2006).

Special Limited Collectors Edition of 3,000. Distributed by Silva Screen Records Ltd.

Tadlow Music CD 002

Rating: ****


Along with other types of music covered on the American Music Preservation site, this soundtrack is a prime example of what dedicated preservation work can accomplish.

The Tadlow Music new release is not to be confused with several other CDs with the same title.

One is on Varese Sarabande (reissued in 2006), conducted by. Elmer Bernstein. Another was released on Silva America back in 1994 as True Grit: Music from the Classic Films of John Wayne which is a compilation with only one track devoted to TRUE GRIT (4:39), yet it does have a broad sampling of music from Wayne's other westerns. The third release is of the least value and is the oldest of the bunch, first released by Capitol in 1969 and reissued by DRG in 2004 -- one not recommended by David Wishart, who wrote the CD notes for the new Tadlow CD. He criticizes the DRG release for its "outlandlishly 'commercial' arrangements of thematic material from the film score and remains something of an oddity." That it is and I received some criticism when I listed it in my article, " Elmer's Magnificent 7: Essential Elmer Bernstein Scores From the 1960s" in Film Score Monthly, Volume 9, Number 9, October 2004 (Elmer Bernstein Tribute Issue). I listed the old 1969 soundtrack mainly because it was on Elmer Bernstein's official website and at that time was the only TRUE GRIT soundtrack, though in badly dated arrangements. I would not recommend that album for anyone looking for the complete soundtrack in its original form.

Instead I'd highly recommend this new Tadlow CD performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by James Fitzpatrick.

It has this statement printed on the CD box: "This is a Newly Recorded Digital Recording of the complete Elmer Bernstein Score and should not be mistaken for the original 1969 Capitol Records album release." Apparently that old Capitol release still ruffles a lot of feathers.

I have long believed that TRUE GRIT has one of the great Elmer Bernstein western scores. If I may quote myself from that Film Score Monthly article:

"Obviously, Bernstein found working on the Wayne westerns to be very stimulating. His work on TRUE GRIT is top-notch all the way. The music is used very sparingly--something that today's younger directors could learn from--but when it does come in, there is good reason for its appearance, such as the theme for Rooster (John Wayne) and LeBoeuf (Glen Campbell) when they are riding across the wide-open spaces. This is a score that is among Bernstein's better westerns and superior to those that followed in the 1970s."

I'd go so far as to say it's the best Bernstein western score after THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, and has one of his greatest themes as well.

This Tadlow CD of the complete soundtrack is a blessing for the ears. It begins with an instrumental version of the title song. When the cue I mentioned in my article of Rooster and LeBoeuf riding out is heard on this Tadlow CD (track 4), I get goosebumps -- perhaps a true test of it reaching one's deeper emotions? Bernstein's score defines what many filmgoers would think of as great western film music. The fact that the role was John Wayne's Oscar-winning performance just adds more luster to the film and the score, which I believe should have been awarded the Oscar as Best Score.

Besides the 16 tracks devoted to the complete TRUE GRIT score, there are bonus tracks from five other John Wayne westerns. All of them are welcome additions.

I need not go any further about this excellent release except to compliment David Wishart for his fine CD notes that describe the film's story along with each track. Also kudos to Damien Doherty for the appealing art design of the CD booklet which is very tastefully done.

On the first page of the booklet there are brief comments by Bernstein's widow, Eve, who praises Elmer's work in the U.K., and also remarks by another Brit, lyricist Don Black, who describes his work with Bernstein on the title song (nicely sung by Keith Ferraria on this CD).

Highest praise must go to James Fitzpatrick for producing this outstanding soundtrack and conducting The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra with such conviction. He has championed the music of the greatest film composer for westerns.

It so happens that earlier this year I named Elmer Bernstein for the Lifetime Achivement Sammy Award. So, I'm extremely pleased to name this TRUE GRIT soundtrack as Editor's Choice - Best of the Month.

This Tadlow Music CD is a glorious tribute to the memory of Elmer Bernstein and highly recommended to all fans of the great film music from the past.

So ride on over and get your CD album while they last!


--Roger Hall, 3 June 2006

For more information, click on this link:

Tadlow Music

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True Grit


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