- Composed by James Newton Howard
- La-La Land Records / 2013 / 163m (score 126m)
Audiences were treated to two different Hollywood movies about Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday about six months apart. That the one directed by George P. Cosmatos was arguably a little better (and certainly more successful) than the one directed by Lawrence Kasdan is probably not something many would have predicted. As it happened, Kasdan’s Wyatt Earp was still a very handsome, very decent piece of entertainment and only fell slightly short of Cosmatos’s Tombstone in terms of quality (though it was a box office disaster). In one of those curious turns of events, the composer of Kasdan’s most famous (and best) film, Silverado, ended up scoring the other one; this film was graced by a quite magnificent score by James Newton Howard, the best of his career to date. Sprawling, expansive, tuneful, exciting, beautifully evocative – it’s everything you want the score for a film like this to be.
The main titles piece, with the glorious main theme, is the score in a nutshell – in turn pastoral, expansive, exciting, tender and emotional. The theme itself sticks long in the memory and is just perfect. Typically for the composer (particularly around this point in his career), it’s got a very organic feel and is highly malleable, allowing a number of variations through the score, most impressively in the wonderful action cue “The Wagon Chase”. Another great theme, referred to in the liner notes as “Wyatt’s Destiny Theme”, is blessed with a kind of stoic heroism and impresses both in its more restrained form (as in “The Night Before”) and in a more action-packed version elsewhere (e.g. the brilliant “The Shootout” and later “It All Ends Now”, full of dark drama). Finally – if this score’s main theme is the finest of Howard’s career then its love theme is probably the second finest. Its most wonderful appearance comes in “The Wedding”, incredibly pretty and full of a delightfully old-fashioned swooning feel. Wyatt Earp is a first-rate score which fits its film like a glove and, remarkably, the quality never really dips throughout even the expanded album’s gargantuan running time. Personally I think it’s best-served by a 45-minute or so playlist to really bring out the highlights, but no doubt that’s just me. Highly recommended.