Broken Lance (Limited
Edition CD Soundtrack)
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
- Nicholas Sheffo