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Released by Special Arrangement with Turner Classic Movies Music
Sam Peckinpah (1925-1984) ranks high on any list of great directors. His films The Wild Bunch (1969), The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), Straw Dogs (1971), The Getaway (1972) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) established an uncompromising voice on violence, masculinity, and most often the American West. Peckinpah's first masterpiece was Ride the High Country (1962), a tale of two aging lawmen (Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott) whose friendship and values are tested in one last job. The film established Peckinpah as a major creative force and is still viewed by some as his best work.
Peckinpah's most famous musical collaborator was Jerry Fielding; however, Ride the High Country was made several years before Peckinpah and Fielding met. Ride the High Country was instead scored by George Bassman, a veteran songwriter and composer whose Hollywood career (including M-G-M's The Clock and The Postman Always Rings Twice) was interrupted by the blacklist. Bassman's High Country score is utterly different from the music most associated with Peckinpah. His approach is melodic and almost cheerily old-fashioned, adding a dimension of Hollywood nostalgia for the film's aging stars. Bassman's main theme—a wistful, melancholy tune capturing the reflection of the characters—ably assists in the film's central relationship and heartwrenching conclusion.
Two years after Ride the High Country, producer Richard E. Lyons reassembled some of the cast and crew—and story elements—for Mail Order Bride. Buddy Ebsen, Keir Dullea and Warren Oates star in a light comic "B western" of an oafish heir (Dullea) forced into a mail-order marriage to claim his family ranch. Bassman's score (for his last Hollywood feature) is a perfect counterpart to Ride the High Country in that it even reuses the earlier film's love theme and action passages.
FSM's premiere release of Ride the High Country/Mail Order Bride features the complete underscores for both films in stereo, remixed and remastered from the original 35mm three-track elements. The CD booklet features an essay by Peckinpah authority Nick Redman, as well as FSM's usual program commentary.