cover art for The Chase

The Chase

1966
LP: Columbia OS-2960
CD: Varese Sarabande VSD-5229
CD: Pendulem PEG027 A 33530
CD: Sony Legacy B0001CCY8S

  1. Main Title (2:44)
  2. The Chase is On (4:41)
  3. Saturday Night Philosopher (4:44)
  4. What Did I Do Wrong? (2:38)
  5. Call That Dancin'? (3:37)
  6. Stop Talking Foolish—Stop Talking Anything (3:34)
  7. Look Around (2:00)
  8. The Beating (3:23)
  9. And You've Got One! (2:41)
  10. I Came to the End of Me (2:51)
  11. Blues for Blubber (4:05)
  12. The Junkyard (5:27)
  13. I'll Drink to That (2:45)
  14. The Killing—Next Morning (5:19)
  15. Main Title (alternate version)* (3:15)
  16. The Chase* (1:57)

* new to the Sony/Legacy edition.

The Movie

Blow-dried hunk Robert Redford is supposed to be a no-luck, life-long, two-bit con who lams out of jail. The townspeople in a Texas backwater anticipate his return with a mixture of excitement and dread. Now you'd think that if you had Brando as sheriff, Redford as a con, and a title called "The Chase", that you'd get a cat-and-mouse game. No—it's mostly a character study of various people in this town. It's mainly talk and anticipation for the first two acts.

So how was it? I rate it so-so. I thought Redford was miscast. Brando mumbled a lot of his lines, and for someone who looked pretty tough in his sheriff suit, he was conveniently beaten to a pulp fairly easily. Jane Fonda looks like the female version of Redford—no way in that part. Some great performances but I thought the script or the editing was lacking; there's a lot of stuff in this movie that's there to give the characters depth and a sense of having real lives. But a lot of it was thrown away or quickly taken up and dropped—halfway through I had little sense of what was relevant and what wasn't. The other problem was that nearly every character was repellent, and the ending left me feeling ambivalent and empty.

The Music

This is what we're really interested in anyway. John Barry was in the middle of swinging London—Austin Powers's London—the hip cultural center of the world in the mid-to-late 60s. The Beatles had revitalized the pop music market and focussed attention on Britain. The film industry was turning out the Bond movies, Richard Lester's Beatles films, Michael Caine's Alfie, Peter Sellers was box-office king of comedy, Jaguar was selling the E-type.

So you're Sam Spiegel, producer of blockbuster movies like The African Queen and Lawrence of Arabia, and you're next film is set in the American South, with an American cast, script by Lillian Hellman from a book by Horton Foote, and Arthur Penn is directing. Who do you get to score it? Elmer Bernstein? Alfred Newman? How about Quincy Jones? He's good.

John Barry? The guy who writes music to spy movies and farces like The Knack and The Wrong Box? Are you kidding me?

So The Chase became Barry's first "american" movie—and it had something that was common to Barry scores from that period—a unique sound. Nobody would put The Chase on the record player and immediately say, "oh, yeah—that's the guy who wrote Goldfinger." It doesn't sound like anything else he wrote. And it sounds like it fits an American film. An American southern film.

There's quite a bit of variety here—some of the tracks are background ques to establish the mood, some of it is source music that would being playing on a radio. Personally, I liked the variation—too many soundtracks have so much of the main theme and its variations that it all blends into one long, dull malaise. This album offers tones that are sinister and tense (the main theme), cool and languid ("Call that Dancin'?"), lush ("Look Around") and just plain fun ("I'll Drink to That").

This may be an overlooked movie, but the music should not be.

Release Notes

For such an obscure movie, this soundtrack seems to show up a lot. The original soundtrack came out in the 1960s as an LP, and was released with the same content CD by Varese Sarabande. Around 2000 Pendulem re-released it, and now Sony Legacy has released it again—at least this time with two additional ques (see the track listing above). The first one, Track 15—my guess is that it's the film version of the main title. The second addition, Track 16, is the "single" version—it's got a faster tempo and louder rythmic beat. It also sounds more like a "song," where as the main title sounds more like a music que.

Links

Legacy Recordings