Lets go back in time shall we, when men were men women were women and westerns were , well westerns. 1965 was a good year for movies and also soundtracks and it was also the year when Sam Peckinpah directed the Charlton Heston, Richard Harris civil war western MAJOR DUNDEE. Now this was an interesting movie and focused upon a group of regular Union soldiers, confederate prisoners, Indian scouts and a ragtag collection of bounty hunters who go in search of renegade Apache Indians. Being a Peckinpah western it was scattered with violent scenes and blood spattered encounters. The end scene in-particular which was a battle on the border with French lancers is impressive. The movie was scored by composer Daniele Armithetrof, who put a European sounding musical stamp upon the soundtrack, and although the score contained a rousing song performed by Mitch Miller and his gang the music was not what one would expect from an American made western during this period and that is why it is so appealing. The soundtrack was issued on CBS in the 1965, and contained seven cues, but the cues ran continuous not having any space between them, the album also contained sound effects on a number of the cues which for me somewhat spoilt the listening experience. However, saying this MAJOR DUNDEE still remains an entertaining score, with the composer throwing in some very different electronic effects on one or two cues. The Maestro also included some nice Hispanic/Mexican sounding passages and themes, utilising guitar and percussive elements to great effect. There are two songs on the soundtrack, the first being THE MAJOR DUNDEE MARCH and the second is a rather sugary and cliched sounding affair entitled TO BE WITH YOU, which to be quite honest one could skip over and not really miss it. Its a kind of Mancini/Mercer sounding song in a similar style to DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES or MOON RIVER, but not quite as good. The score suited the movie well and the composer underlined and punctuated the action, the romance and the melancholy well throughout. The soundtrack did get a re-release on LP and then onto compact disc, and finally having an expanded release on Intrada where it was paired with a new score that was commissioned for the movie, but the new score by Christopher Caliendo never found a lot of favour with fans of the film.
The original score by Armitheatrof is a soundtrack that you should try and check out and is available on Spotify now. I like it, maybe you will too. The march that the composer penned for the French Lancers is probably one of the highlights of the soundtrack. It is filled with pomp and ceremony and matches wonderfully the prancing lancers as we see them in the distance and as they ready to do battle with the unlikely band of heroes from across the border. As the two sides join in battle the composer integrates the Lancers theme into elements of the Dundee march and also adds to this Dixie for the confederate prisoners who are battling against the French alongside the Union troops, Armitheatrof also drives the music along with brass stabs, dark sounding piano and guitar in places, which makes for some great action music for this frenzied and somewhat chaotic battle at the movies conclusion. Recommended.