Originally released in 1969 on UA records in the UK and also on Parade records in Italy, GDM are to be thanked for this re-issue as it is an iconic and important work from the Maestro Ennio Morricone. LA RESA DEI CONTI or The Big Gundown was the first movie in a western trilogy of films that were directed by Italian filmmaker Sergio Sollima, the other two being Corri Uomo Corri which was scored by Bruno Nicolai and Face To Face which had a powerful soundtrack penned by Maestro Morricone. The Big Gundown, is along with The Good The Bad And The Ugly one of Morricone’s most prominent western scores. It contains a Powerful and stirring main theme which can be heard in varying arrangements throughout the running time of the compact disc at times being robust and thundering and on other occasions being performed quietly,or in a subdued fashion. When released in Gt. Britain The Big Gundown was a ‘B’ feature movie,(shown along side THE WRECKING CREW-the Matt Helm spy spoof) this was because a few scenes were deemed too violent for British audiences, so Gundown was severely edited by British censors, and indeed a number of sequences were cut completely, consequently the films duration was also lessened drastically, making the story line difficult to follow and at times missing out whole chunks of what are obviously important links within the story line. Morricone’s score was an important feature throughout the movie, at times the music running almost continuously, punctuating the antics of the oppressed and wrongly accused Mexican peasant and lovable rogue Cucillo (Tomas Milian) who was being pursued by lawman Johnathan Corbett (Lee Van Cleef), who had been given the wrong information about Cucillo and thus hunted him down until the end of the movie when Corbett realizes what a mistake he has made and puts that right.
This in my opinion has got to be one of Morricone’s best scores within the Italian western genre and contains many of the musical trademarks and sounds that are now considered as standard or stock motifs for the Italian western score. Pounding percussion accompanies and underlines shrills and shrieks that mimic animal sounds in the opening section of the film’s central theme, these give way to thundering kettledrums that herald a slower paced percussive interlude which acts as support to the marvelous voice of Edda Dell Orso, who performs the film’s principal theme with ease and perfection. This part of the composition builds to a crescendo that in turn leads into a full working of the theme on brass, accompanied and embellished by strings, percussion and choir, that carry the piece along to its thundering and dramatic conclusion. This is without a doubt the power of classic Morricone. I say it is the films main theme,but really it is but a version of it as it does not come into the equation until the film has nearly finished and accompanies Cucillo running from his pursuers through cornfields over desert terrain and also over rocky and rough landscapes.
The score also contains two gunfight sequence compositions, both of which are very different in their musical make up. The first, ‘La Condanna’, begins with a piano composition which Morricone borrows unashamedly from Beethoven to accompany the pompous Austrian / German count that faces Corbett in a showdown. The cue progresses into solo guitar and tense sounding castanets, it builds creating a tense atmosphere but eventually subsides without reaching any real climatic crescendo. The second is ‘La Resa’ which is the music for the films main showdown scene. Morricone utilizes a deliberate and rather clumsy sounding piano to usher in the choir and trumpet again creating a tense and dramatic piece of scoring that perfectly enhances the stand off between the two protagonists, in the knife versus gun showdown. Then there is the marvelous vocal version of the film’s main theme entitled ‘Run Man Run’ which is sung by Christy, the LP included the song but only in English, here we are treated to both the English and Italian versions,which are powerful and glorious her booming voice being accompanied and supported by Morricones infectious and rousing music. The sound quality for this release is good, but not outstanding as at times the mix seems to be rather lacking, in fact in both the two major cues that feature full workings of the central theme,there is a distinct echo present and the re-verb is a little too much and it causes the instruments to sound as if they are rather mixed up or overlapping and all trying to overpower each other. However apart from this negative the CD is enjoyable and boasts ten additional cues, striking artwork and an impressive array of colourful stills, plus notes that are brief, but informative.