Cheyenne Autumn Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score Cheyenne Autumn by Alex North.
At a glance:
Geek Score: 69.1
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 1.3
Album Excellence: 1.7%
Cheyenne Autumn is a 1964 American western movie directed by John Ford and starring Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker & Karl Malden. It is based on the 1941 novel The Last Frontier by Howard Fast. Large-scale frontier epic telling the true story of a band of Cheyenne Indians who, starved nearly to extinction on an inhospitable reservation, embark on the long trek back to their distant ancestral homelands in Wyoming, despite opposition from the US Army. Their journey revives old hatreds – and the threat of war. The score is composed by Alex North.
Usually, westerns revolves around white hats and black hats, so it’s a bit unusual to focus on the native Americans. It wasn’t the biggest movie, but it was nominated for supporting actor and cinematography at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Label X released a CD of this score in 1987, but now Intrada has released an expanded 2 CD release with better sound. The score is now 79 minutes compared to 46 minutes on the Label X release and there’s almost an hour of bonus cues and alternatives. The score opens with ‘Overture’ as a score should in my opinion. It is not your typical western overture, but a rather dramatic opening that could easily have been for another genre. The only western-like music is featured near the end of this short overture with some horns. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. ‘Main Title’ is also going in a dramatic direction that impacts how the theme is. It’s not dissonant, but it doesn’t feel like a great main theme to me. Still, what I do like about the two opening cues are the classic sound, that never fails to excite me despite it’s missing lyrical properties.
There are subtle and nice themes, such as a love theme in ‘Deborah / Indians Arrive’ and the dark and gloomy theme for the Native Americans. Nothing that will set the world on fire, but it’s a marked improvement over the overture and main title. We can hear more of that love theme in ‘Deborah (Proposal)’ and on it’s own it stands out. It’s quite simple, but pleasing to the ear. This score is not quite what I expected. I don’t know if it has to be like this due to the Native American element, but surely there has to be a better, more exciting and lyrical way of scoring this. Despite the fact that it has a nice classic dramatic sound to it, the music itself is hard to listen to an enjoy. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not a score I would sit and listen to when there are so many great western scores out there. Maybe it’s one of the fans of the movie only, or fans of Alex North. For me, it missed the mark.
7. Deborah (Proposal)