Saturday, October 03, 2015

Jerry Fielding’s Score to Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales (Suite)

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

The Outlaw Josey Wales was a milestone for movie Westerns, as it was for Clint Eastwood. He wasn’t yet human as an actor, but he was leaving the catatonic style of acting that characterized his spaghetti Westerns. The picture was a decidedly politically incorrect take on the Civil War and its aftermath, in which the chief heavies were cut-throat Union bounty hunters, and the Confederates they get to switch sides. (However, Eastwood triangulates by making Indians good guys.) Eastwood plays Josey Wales, a Confederate soldier forced to become an outlaw, in order to stay alive, and to avenge the murder of his family by the Union cut-throats. Notwithstanding all the bloodshed, the movie has comic relief provided by Chief Dan George, as a garrulous old Indian, who does his fighting with his mouth.

Jerry Fielding is primarily associated with Sam Peckinpah, whose films he scored, above all, Peckinpah’s masterpiece, The Wild Bunch. While Fielding’s Wild Bunch score fits the picture perfectly, and has its moments, it’s not satisfying from an artistic or emotional standpoint. Put simply, there’s nothing to whistle or hum, as you leave the theater. Fielding’s score to Josey is much more accessible that way. There’s the hard-driving drums and pipes of the cavalry in the main theme, a wistful harmonica theme, bluegrass fiddle work, and much more. (There are also a couple of very brief riffs cannibalized from his Wild Bunch score.) Unfortunately, Fielding died at 59.

From I make no brief for its legitimacy:

Peckinpah and I hit each other a lot. He's a terribly volatile person. We are close friends, but we fight an awful lot. In many ways Sam doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. In other areas, he's a fantastically gifted man. He has very strong instincts about the job music ought to do. He has less than no idea of how to go about accomplishing that. I usually know what he wants to do. Sometimes he tells me what he wants and I let it go in one ear and out the other. Then I do the score, and if he hates it, we have a fist fight. But it all comes out in the end. [on his relationship with director Sam Peckinpah (1972)]


Uploaded on December 29, 2012 by COSMORICO.

Great composer, great music!

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