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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Soundtrack > The Undefeated/Hombre (FSM Records Limited Edition CD Soundtrack)

The Undefeated/Hombre (FSM Records Limited Edition CD Soundtrack)

Sound: B- Music: B for both

PLEASE NOTE: This CD was issued in 2000 and after all 3,000 copies sold, went out of print (you might luck out on a used copy if you search hard enough at $100+), but we are updating the text as a limited edition Twilight Time Blu-ray of Hombre was issued in 2015 with an isolated music score you can read about at this link:


The passing of The Western as an active genre could not be stopped no matter what. One of the most interesting things about the Film Score Monthly FSM label CD soundtrack double feature of The Undefeated (1969) and Hombre (1967) is that both had composers that usually did not work on feature films and are less-known names, yet still of interesting note.

Hugo Montenegro, best known as a kind of one hit wonder for his big hit cover version of Ennio Morricone's The Good, The Bad & The Ugly theme back in 1968, but had action experience scoring the Rebel episode of the original Mission: Impossible and the Frank Sinatra/Tony Rome sequel Lady In Cement (1968), so having him do a Western score made total sense. The Andrew V. McLagen-directed Panavision tale is somewhat of a camp classic for a few reasons, all of which have to do with the great Rock Hudson being cast opposite John Wayne. Saving that for a future review of the film itself, but with the influence of Morricone in so far as taking some risks were concerned, yet not duplicating him. Montenegro deconstructed the idea the traditional while avoiding being hip by 'Mickey Mousing' motifs associated with Morricone so he would not be written off as a cloner of Morricone's work. As the terrific booklet notes, whistles and snaps are among the motifs cut, so the challenge was to find another way to do a new kind of score for such a film. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and Once Upon A Time In The West are reviewed elsewhere on this site.

It is a shorter score, but still not as short as that of David Rose's for Hombre. One of the fine collaborations between star Paul Newman, cinematographer James Wong Howe and director Martin Ritt, the film was more quiet and self-reflective about The West. That this was adapted form an Elmore Leonard novel is all the more interesting. It was also more explicit a Western than the trio's 1963 classic Hud (the film also reviewed elsewhere on this site), but it does continue the more existential themes of that previous work and that is why this is so short and less typical than the usual Western score.

Oddly, Rose is known for the sexy classic The Stripper and not surprisingly worked on the original black and white Red Skelton Show (in a box set reviewed elsewhere on this site), so he had an idea of how humor and ironic distance could work. His score for The Underworld Story (1950) around the same time as that series showed he had some teeth for dark material, but he was more typically known for music lighter than The Stripper, like the TV themes of Bonanza (one version), Sea Hunt and even lighter fare as network TV declined in the late 1970s. Here, he both composes and conducts what is one of his best works.

Together, this makes quite a 'double feature' and offers great comparison opportunities both between the two films and against all such scores for the genre, and both make their debut on this CD. The former has some warping and distortion problems, while the latter is mostly monophonic, but the PCM 2.0 CD-type sound is not bad otherwise and the DVDs will not have more than lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo at best anyhow, so there is richness here that neither film is likely to have in those formats. With that said, those interested should go to www.filmscoremonthly.com and read more about the track order, download some samples...

- Nicholas Sheffo


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