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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Soundtrack > Broken Lance (Limited CD)

Broken Lance   (Limited Edition CD Soundtrack)


Sound: B-     Music: B-



Few have heard of Leigh Harline, but almost everyone has heard “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Disney’s 1940 animated classic Pinocchio.  He does not always get credit for making that song possible, but he had done other music of note.  There was Mark Robson’s Isle of the Dead (the 1945 Val Lewton/RKO Horror production), Sam Fuller Film Noir classic Pickup On South Street (1953), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962, in Cinerama), The 7 Faces of Lao (1964, both for George Pal and M-G-M), and 1954’s Broken Lance for Fox.  This was Fox’s attempt to capitalize on the Western genre success of their 1950 key Western Broken Arrow, which became a TV series and is considered a turning point for the genre, despite some shortcomings.


That has to do in part with seeing the ethnic point of view.  This film offers some of that, a look at racism, and a big sprawling drama.  That makes it a worthy cousin of the former film, which ranks as at least a minor classic, but Harline’s score deserves credit for adding to the epic feel, if repetitious and not among his best works.  It is still better than many a Western score made today that hears the music for this genre as almost a formula, sounding particularly dated as compared to Ennio Morricone’s scores for later Westerns.


That may seem a bit unfair, but Morricone was sending up the conventions this score and ones like it were building as Hollywood was reestablishing itself after WWII and the loss of their theater chains, in the face of TV.  It is a classic in that respect, making one of its high points a limit.


The sound is not bad and in stereo, but has some “wow” and distortion problems due to the condition of the master materials not surviving like one would wish it did.  You can still hear the layers of orchestra, though, and Western fans will want this CD.  However, with only 3,000 being made, only so many copies are available.  Exclusively, the FSM label of the magazine Film Score Monthly offers this CD, which can be most quickly ordered at www.filmscoremonthly.com while supplies last.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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