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ONE LITTLE INDIAN
Pleasant western score finally released to fill another Goldsmith gap
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2009 Walt Disney Records; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
I doubt that too many people remember One Little Indian, but it has lived a life well beyond what may be expected with a particular niche of the public. Many a Jerry Goldsmith fan over the years will have scanned down his filmography and seen this 1973 western and pined to hear it - only to hear the dreaded response "forget it, it's Disney." But times have changed - and Intrada has developed a relationship with the entertainment giant which promises some exciting times ahead for film score fans. Goldsmith didn't have a miss when it came to westerns - he had his own unique take on the genre, and all of his scores in it are good - some very, very good indeed.
Given that (and the fact that so few people are familiar with the music from the film), it's no surprise that One Little Indian has been a holy grail for many people. The score opens very promisingly indeed in "Escort the Prisoner", with a typically catchy main theme in the Rio Conchos vein. Indeed, the score as a whole is very clearly part of that score's lineage. But this is a Disney film - Goldsmith goes as far as he can with the gritty music, but there's usually a much lighter touch around the corner.
While the legendary composer mastered virtually every genre of film during his career, perhaps the one in which he was least successful was comedy. That's probably the one in which his later scores (I'm thinking of the films of Joe Dante in particular) show greater control than the earlier ones - One Little Indian's comic touches feel a little forced, as if he's trying too hard. The interpolation of Maurice Jarre's iconic Lawrence of Arabia doesn't really work for me - sticking it in once as a joke (it underscores a camel) would have been OK, but as with most jokes, repeating it over and over makes it wear rather thin.
In truth though, the comedy elements are relatively minor here. (If a soundtrack album for One Little Indian had been released at the time of the film, I'm sure Goldsmith would have excluded most, maybe even all of them - the great irony of these deluxe releases is that they're usually worse listening experiences than the non-deluxe ones which came out decades ago.) Much of the score is made up of pleasant action music - not the sort of explosive stuff heard in several of the composer's other western scores - more like a "diet" version thereof.
It's all highly entertaining, a very good listen for any Goldsmith fan, though it's hard to imagine too many would rank it above many of his other western scores. Warm and melodic throughout, it might lack the cutting-edge that distinguishes this composer's best work, but as I said at the top of the page... Goldsmith just didn't write western scores that weren't worth hearing.