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Editor's Choice -

Best Of The Month

September 2011  

  

LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL (1959)

Music composed and conducted by Dimitri Tiomkin.

Orchestrations by Maurice DePackh, Manuel Emanuel, Michael Heindorf, George Parrish, Herbert Taylor.

Tracks 30, 32: Song - "The Last Train From Gun Hill"
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Paul Frances Webster

Executive Album Producers: Craig Spaulding, Lukas Kendall and Neil S. Bulk. Soundtrack Album Coordinator: Kim Seiniger. Tape transfer: John Davis. 3-track Music Score Remix: Michael McDonald. Audio production: Doug Schwartz. Film and Music Notes: Frank K. DeWald. Art Deisgn: Jim Titus.

Counterpoint CPT-1003

Rating: ****

1. Prelude/ The Stalkers/ The Rape (5:29)
2. The Ride For Help/ Return To Tragedy (1:01)
3. The Dead Squaw (1:44)
4. The Belden Ranch/ The Scar (4:27)
5. Matt Leaves Pawley (1:39)
6. Te Train To Gun Hill (0:43)
7. The Belden Cattle Company/ The Guilty One (0:58)
8. Matt Traps Craig (1:36)
9. Trouble Ahead/ Visit To Sheriff (1:32)
10. Back At The Ranch (0:59)
11. Craig In Action/ Searching (2:25)
12. Linda Again (1:32)
13. Rick Belden's Capture (2:38)
14. Belden Heads For Town (1:29)
15. The Shooting Starts (0:55)
16. Memories With Crai/ Linda Enters (3:08)
17. A Stolen Moment (1:58)
18. No Deal (0:39)
19. Watchful Waiting/ Eight-Thirty-Part I (2:22)
20. Eight-Thirty-Part III (3:08)
21. The Chips Are Down (0:44)
22. Linda And The Shotgun (2:23)
23. Matt And Rick Fight (1:42)
24. Ride To The Station (1:01)
25. Real trouble/ Rick Belden's Death (1:30)
26. Finale (2:14)

Bonus Tracks
27. Music Hall Dance (1:44)
28. The Horseshoe Waltz (1:58)
29. Prelude (First Revision) (2:00)
30. The Last Train From Gun Hill (Prelude-Original Version)
Vocal by Kitty White (2:01)
31. The Last Train From Gun Hill (Prelude-Original Version)
Instrumental (2:00)
32. The Last Train From Gun Hill (Demo Version)
Vocal by Kitty White (2:27)

 

Here we have a new record label formed by a knowledgable soundtrack trio of Craig Spaulding, Lukas Kendall and Neil S. Bulk. This is their third release and it turns out to be an old soundtrack available for the first time on CD. And this isn't just any soundtrack, but one by the most successful Hollywood composer from the 1950s: Dimitri Tiomkin, with seven of his scores listed on my list of 100 Essential Film Scores of the 20th century.

 

 

This film was released in 1959 with two of the most respected actors in action films or westerns: Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn. The story has similarities to other films of that decade, such as 3:10 TO YUMA and BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (also directed by John Sturges). But those are both quality films as is LAST TRAIN TO GUN HILL.

What happened to westerns that told morality tales? They seem to be gone from today's movie makers who prefer mostly fact action, too much violence, and CGI effects , plus actors who have little charisma.

The same can be said for today's meandering soundtracks that have little to focus on in the way of strong themes.

In the tradition of other major western films he scored, like his Oscar-winning HIGH NOON, and GUNFIGHT AT O.K. CORRAL, Tiomkin wrote a theme song for the film for LAST TRAIN TO GUN HILL. Unfortunately, it was decided to not use it in the released film. But Tiomkin, being such a resourceful and savvy composer, used the song theme anyway throughout his film score. Tiomkin wrote the song with his lyricist partner, the skillful and underrated Paul Francis Webster. This song theme plays a major role in this soundtrack, used repeatedly as backdrop to this tense and suspenseful story. This is mentioned in Frank K. DeWald's detailed and very informative CD booklet notes. Although some of the song recordings no longer survive, the one used for the "Prelude" is included and nicely sung by jazz vocalist, Kitty White, though her singing on the Original version (track 30) is a bit muffled and the words are not easy to understand. But the Demo version (track 32) is much better. But the song lyrics are not included in the booklet -- a common omission on soundtrack releases. Why is it assumed that listeners don't need or want the song lyrics? I'll bet lots of them would appreciate having them available with the CD, especially with such a memorable a song as this one by D. Tiomkin and P.F. Webster, who work wonders with such an awkward title to set to music!

Unlike some soundtrack releases that include lightweight leftovers from the original tapes, the Bonus Tracks on this CD are all worth hearing, including a few old-timey dances played on a honky tonk piano (tracks 27-28).

The art design by Jim Titus on this release is especially attractive with the pictures on the sides or bottom and not printed underneath the text -- hooray for that decision! The 1950s sound is also expertly handled by Michael McDonald and Doug Schwartz.

It is my pleasure to give this CD my highest recommendation and name it as Best of the Month for September.

This is a wonderful homage to one of the greatest film music masters, Dimitri Tiomkin.

Kudos to all involved on this excellent LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL release!

-- Roger L. Hall, 22 September 2011

Comments regarding this review can be sent to

Film Music Review

 

 

 

 

DVD: LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL

 

A Tiomkin Tribute

 

 

"In Hollywood vernacular, I could write commercial." -- Dimitri Tiomkin

Read Roger Hall's tribute to Dimitri Tiomkin, Hollywood's highest paid film composer of the 1950s, reprinted with a new addendum of recordings available at

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