"The Red Pony"
Varese Sarabande Club
17 Tracks/Disc Time: 50:12
In the late 60's and early 70's, Academy Award winner Jerry Goldsmith was going through a rather interesting and fruitful period that brought about a lot of memorable works that include the revered scores to "Planet Of The Apes", "Patton", "Papllion" and "Chinatown", all of which were really deserving of Oscar wins that subsequently went to somewhat deserving films. Goldsmith was more heavily involved with television during the early period of the 70's that brought about memorable themes to "Barnaby Jones" and strong work on the series, "The Waltons". He also did score alot of television films in the process and the one that really stood out most was the critically acclaimed television version of "The Red Pony", which starred Oscar winner Henry Fonda, the great Maureen O'Hara and a very young, Clint Howard, who is the brother of Oscar winning Director and "Happy Days" star, Ron Howard. The film was based upon the famous novel by John Steinbeck which revolves around the Tiflin family who's son Jody (Howard) is having a tough time communicating with his own hardened father Carl (Fonda) but soon develops a strong bond with a young red pony. The bittersweet film was a major success in which Fonda personally called the best film he'd ever been in and Maureen O'Hara retired from acting until her first and final appearance for the comedy "Only The Lonely" close to 20 years later co-starring the late John Candy.
The biggest win the film was the Emmy Award that was won by Goldsmith for his wonderful original score that is very Americana and easily one his best, but seemingly forgotten works until this score was finally released by Varese Sarabande. The music is what you would expect from a film such as this and a very important asset as Goldsmith really understood the dramatic elements as he did his legendary cinematic efforts which was one of his greatest gifts that are sorely missing in today's score.
From the opening moments of "Main Title Part 1" and "Main Title Part 2", Goldsmith establishes a delicate, pastorial sound that really turns into pure Americana with a lovely trumpet solo and flute playing off each other building up a tender atmosphere. "True Love" is a wonderful lengthy track that is filled great rhythmic moments that are bit inspired by his fun score to "The Film-Flam Man", but also keeps his tender, dramatic edge in tact. Goldsmith follows that up with some more solid dramatic material in "Father's Home", "Father's Gift", "Final Ride", "A Sick Horse" and "The Vacation", that have a rich melodic texture and subtlety that made Goldsmith's scores so special that leads up to the scores two major set pieces in "A Helping Hand" and "The Foal", with the latter being a beautiful, tender track that culminates and fulfills the score's wonderful drama to a great finish.
Varese's premiere release of "The Red Pony" is a very important one because it fills another hole in the late Jerry Goldsmith's discography and not to mention it is a truly fine effort that is very strong and memorable. It is a passionate and delicate score that would influence two other scores by him in "Ace Eli And Rodger Of The Skies" and "Raggedy Man". The score is a true testament to the brilliance of the late composer who really is sorely missed everyday and films have never been the same without him. "The Red Pony" is sparkling. Very strong thumbs up.