I’m really happy to have been involved, even to a tiny extent, with the CD release of a couple of 50s Western scores — Paul Dunlap’s score for Hellgate (1952) and Bert Shefter’s music for The Tall Texan (1953) — from David Schecter’s label Monstrous Movie Music. Both are Lippert pictures, available on DVD from Kit Parker and VCI.
Over the course of his career, Paul Dunlap scored over a hundred films, mostly B movies of various sorts — from I was A Teenage Werewolf (1957) to Shock Corridor (1963). There were lots of Westerns: Jack Slade (1953), Stranger On Horseback (1955), The Quiet Gun (1956) and Oregon Trail (1959), to name just a few. While Dunlap wasn’t a big fan of some of the films he worked on, his name’s on some films I love. Every seen Big House U.S.A. or Shack Out On 101 (both 1955)?
Hellgate is an excellent film, a low-budget reworking of John Ford’s Prisoner Of Shark Island (1936). Sterling Hayden, Ward Bond, Joan Leslie and James Arness are directed by Charles Marquis Warren. It’s obvious Dunlap liked this film, and he came through with a terrific score. The CD presents the music in sequence, cue by cue, from a set of original acetates (a few cues have been lost to time). Dunlap’s score for The Lost Continent, a 1951 sci-fi picture starring Cesar Romero, is also included.
Bert Shefter was a Russian-born concert pianist and conductor. He scored his first film in 1950 and by the time he retired, had more than 60 movies and hundreds and hundreds of TV shows to his credit. His scores include Cattle Empire (1958), Return Of The Fly (1959) and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965). His work on It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) really knocked me out. Like Dunlap, Shefter never coasted, never give less than 100% — even if if the picture didn’t really deserve it.
The Tall Texan was directed by Elmo Williams, the Oscar-winning editor of High Noon, and shot by Joseph Biroc. A solid, low-budget 50s Western (it cost just $100,000), it stars Lloyd Bridges, Marie Windsor and Lee J. Cobb. Shefter gives themes to several of the main characters, including a menacing piece for the Indians, and makes good use of a couple popular tunes, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Blow The Man Down.”
I really like these films, and it’s easy to recommend these CDs. Monstrous Movie Music has assembled a nice package, with thorough notes and some fascinating archival material. David Schecter says that if these titles do well, there are other 50s Western scores he’d like to get around to. Let’s help make sure he can.
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