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The Mountain Men
  • Composed by Michel Legrand
  • Intrada / 2012 / 49:41

The Mountain Men starred Charlton Heston and Brian Keith as a pair of irascible old trappers in 1830s Wyoming and a whole load of white actors as the Native Americans they fight over the beautiful squaw Running Moon.  It all sounds very 1950s but was in fact made in 1980 and noted at the time for its “extreme” violence and language (I don’t suppose many would find it particularly extreme any more).  Michel Legrand is best-known for his great romantic contributions to film music, his music adding a layer of French charm to numerous films over the years, but from time to time he has dabbled in numerous other genres and this score may be his most action-packed and exciting, full as it is of action/adventure music of high quality.

If the film seems a few decades behind its time, that feeling is not particularly diluted by Legrand’s main title, a grand, old-fashioned, sweeping theme that could easily come from an earlier period.  It receives a glorious presentation as a full-bodied love theme in “Frapp is Scalped”.  A more gentle secondary theme is introduced in the second cue, “On to Popo Agie”, a warm paean to friendship.  It’s the action music that’s the real star and the composer introduces his propulsive action theme in the lengthy, breathlessly exciting “Cross Otter”.  “Run For Your Life”, “Run” and “Shootout at the River” also feature some magnificent action writing; as Jeff Bond points out in his liner notes, Legrand takes an almost balletic approach to the action rather than concentrating on hitting specific points (much like James Horner has done over the years) and this is to the considerable benefit of the music as heard on the album.  It all makes for a terrific listening experience, a score full of romance, action and adventure, and is highly recommended.

Rating: **** |

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