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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Drama > Police Thriller > Soundtracks > McQ (Limited CD)

McQ (Limited Edition CD Soundtrack)


Sound: B     Music: B



When Dirty Harry was originally planned, it was going to star Frank Sinatra instead of Clint Eastwood.  The result was a phenomenal hoped-for hit and Warner Bros. scrambled to have more than a sequel to the film.  One project that surfaced in its wake was McQ (1974), an interesting attempt to put John Wayne in such a film.  When it works, it is good, and when it does not, it is a real hoot.


One of the things that clearly worked is the music by Wayne veteran Elmer Bernstein and it has finally been issued for the first time ever from Film Score Monthly’s FSM CD soundtrack label, even if it is a limited edition at 3,000 pressings (available for order exclusively at www.filmscoremonthly.com).  Bernstein is somewhat emulating the Lalo Schifrin score from the original Dirty Harry, but moves on into other areas that are less “street” and more smoothed out than the Schifrin work.  It also harkens back top the more typical style of detective/police drams, though at Bernstein’s higher level.  He had never really done music for this kind of storytelling before.


Like too many films of the past, the actual film was issued in movie theaters in optical mono sound, while the music was recorded in stereo.  That is not including the many films that had vinyl LP soundtracks of the day that were rerecorded especially for record store release.  The music here is exactly what you hear in the film, but better, as Bernstein was in rare form when he laid these tracks down.  They are diverse and the exceptional booklet included explains that part of this is due to several different orchestra configurations.  It feels like Bernstein had all these ideas to get out of himself about this kind of storytelling and the film benefits greatly as a result.


The PCM CD Stereo is good for its age, as the tracks have not been played much and somehow stayed in good shape in the Warner archives thirty years later.  Warner has yet to issue this film on DVD, but when they do, they ought to offer more than just the usual Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono that most of us are tired of.  They ought to really remix the film, as they did with Enter The Dragon, by adding the music in a 5.1 surround mix.  That will still not be as great as having the score stand-alone as it is here, but would make the film even more entertaining than it is now.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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