ONE-EYED JACKS did not receive a great deal of critical or public appreciation when the film opened in 1961 but for me it’s one of the all-time great westerns. On the surface it’s a traditional western of revenge but psychological elements and moral ambiguities provide the film with complexities which imbue the film with considerable more depth than the average western of the early ’60s. The acting, particularly that of Marlon Brando and Karl Malden is never less than compelling. Brando brings a fascinating brooding intensity to his role; seemingly always about to explode into anger. The dialogue is sparse but brimming with subtleties and the location filming is spectacular. What is not a matter of dispute is the quality of Hugo Friedhofer’s score which is one of his very best. He clearly expended much effort in composing the music; providing the film with some splendidly vigorous and romantic themes, bursting with melody and invention with a robust Mexican element, especially in his use of percussion, brass and guitar. Friedhofer had of course mined this rich vein of Mexican style music before in the films VERA CRUZ and SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD.
This splendid 2 CD set on the Kritzerland label offers not only the original soundtrack LP but, more importantly, the premiere release of the complete score and in excellent stereo sound. Sources report that Brando, as director of the film, delivered a cut of around 4 hours 40 minutes. Paramount released the film at 141 minutes. It’s not clear how long the film was when Friedhofer composed the score but insiders say it was just under 3 hours. Based on the additional music on this CD, Friedhofer undoubtedly composed music for a longer version than that which was released following apparently disastrous previews. In this connection, Nick Redman, who provides interesting background detail about the film and score in his liner notes, quotes Friedhofer as having said “After the preview everybody got their grubby hands on it – so that they had the devil’s own time bridging musical sequences they had slashed into”.
There is a considerable amount of music on the CD which is not in the film, either because for some scenes the studio decided to favour dialogue and sound effects over Friedhofer’s music or because scenes which originally contained music were cut from the film following previews. These changes make a comparison of the music on the CD and its placement vis a vis the film problematic. Nevertheless I have attempted to provide a track by track breakdown of the complete score as presented on disc 2 of this CD:
1. Main Title – The wonderfully expansive main title music opens with the theme which will become mainly associated with the antagonism between Rio (Marlon Brando) and Dad Longworth (Karl Malden). This is followed by the romantically expressive melody for Luisa (Pina Pellicer) which becomes the dominant theme in the film.
2. The Getaway / The Kiss of a Scoundrel – A short musical sequence (The Getaway) accompanies Rio and Dad as they ride away after robbing a bank in Sonora, Mexico. This music segues to brief mariachi source music as Dad stops at a cantina. At the same time Rio pays a visit to an aristocratic senorita (Kiss of a Scoundrel) who he duplicitously sweet-talks to the background of a charming melody played in the film on solo guitar. The CD version of this cue has a different, orchestral arrangement of this music, in which the guitar is augmented by strings. Additionally, in the film the guitar solo plays longer and is split into two separate cues; being interrupted by a sequence where Dad, to fast-paced syncopated music, escapes from the cantina as enforcement officers, the Rurales, enter. This cue is similar to the following ‘Pursued by Rurales’ cue although this short bridging section is not included on the CD.
3. Pursued by Rurales – Rio and Dad ride off pursued by the Rurales, and end up trapped, with only one exhausted horse, high up on a dusty ridge where swirling orchestral effects echo the windswept terrain. Much of this chase music is dubbed at a low level in the film but appears to follow the CD track.
4. Toast to Friendship – This begins with a lengthy plaintive clarinet solo but only the last 1:30 of the cue is in the film. The music progresses to describe Dad’s leave taking of Rio as he rides off to obtain fresh mounts from a nearby corral, leaving Rio to hold off the Rurales until his return.
5. Escape from the Cantina – This cue seems to be mislabelled because it actually contains the music for the sequence when Dad arrives at the corral to buy horses for himself and Rio, although the first 0:45 of the track is not used in the film. The music at this point reflects Dad’s consideration as to whether to go back to help Rio or ride away. He decides to ride off leaving Rio to his fate.
6. Lonely thoughts / Betrayal and Capture – Most of this music is not in the film. Only the last 1:20 is used as Rio is captured by the Rurales. Curiously, the track includes the music from ‘Kiss of a Scoundrel’ which doesn’t fit the film action at all and suggests a lengthy cut or flashback during the scene when Rio is left with only his thoughts for company while waiting on the ridge.
Following Rio’s capture, scenes were allegedly shot showing Rio in prison prior to breaking out with Modesto (Larry Duran). The absence of any such cues on this CD suggests that even if filmed, the prison scenes were not scored.
7. Escape – A title card to accompanying brass chords states ‘Sonora Prison – five years later’ as Rio and Modesto are shown on foot, running across the desert.
8. The Search – The Rio/Dad theme announces the start of a montage as Rio and Modesto visit some of Dad’s old stamping grounds seeking information on his whereabouts.
In the film, following ‘The Search’ cue, Rio approaches a saloon to the sound of mariachi music. As he enters, solo guitar music is being played and continues as Bob (Ben Johnson) introduces himself and his partner Harvey (Sam Gilman). Bob is looking for partners to help rob the bank in Monterey and informs Rio that Dad is now the Sheriff of Monterey. This music; both the mariachi and solo guitar (which appears to be looped to play longer in the film) is on disc 1 track 14 following the Alternative Finale.
9. To Monterey – Rio, Modesto, Bob and Harvey ride towards Monterey. Only the first 0:20 of this cue is used in the film as the gang look down from a hill onto the town. The rest of the cue was obviously intended to be used as they ride along a trail by the coast; but this music has been cut in favour of the sound of waves crashing against the rocks.
10. Meeting After Five Years – Having found out where Dad lives, Rio rides alone towards his home located by the coast. The suspenseful slow ostinato in this cue was clearly intended to begin as soon as Rio is seen approaching on horseback but the beginning of the cue is cut in the film and the music begins at 1:10 as Dad, sitting in the porch, sees Rio riding towards him.
11. Meet the Family / Trouble Among the Four – These two cues are cut from their corresponding scenes in the film. In meeting Dad, Rio pretends that he holds no animosity towards against him. Dad introduces Rio to his wife Maria (Katy Jurado) and step-daughter Louisa, whose theme is briefly introduced in this short ‘Meet the Family’ cue. Later Rio and his gang meet in a saloon (‘Trouble Among the Four’) to discuss their plan to rob the bank when it re-opens following the town fiesta.
There follows a lengthy sequence in the film portraying the fiesta, where the town folk dance and enjoy hoedown, mariachi and flamenco music. None of this source music was composed by Friedhofer and is not included on the CD.
12. Luisa in Love – Luisa’s emotionally charged love theme is given an expressive arrangement, as, during the fiesta, she becomes attracted to Rio and walks with him towards the beach.
13. The Seduction – Night time on the beach and Luisa falls for Rio’s standard duplicitous seduction techniques, while a sweepingly beautiful arrangement of Luisa’s theme adds to the emotion of the scene.
14. Contrition – In the morning Rio becomes aware of his genuine affection for Luisa and confesses his regret at having lied to her and in having been so deceitful. The music here reflects Rio’s conflicted feelings and Luisa’s sense of disillusionment.
15. The Informer – Dad’s Deputy, Lon (Slim Pickens) informs Dad that Luisa and Rio have spent the night together. At first the music reflects the disorientation of Dad, who is suffering a hangover from the previous night’s festivities but the menacing antagonistic Rio/Dad theme makes its presence felt as soon as Dad becomes fully aware of what has happened.
16. Dad’s Suspicions Allayed – Maria confronts Luisa who admits that she spent the night on the beach with Rio but claims that nothing untoward happened. A delightful passage with solo guitar and strings reflects Luisa’s sadness and guilt.
17. Dad’s True Colors – Rio kills an obnoxious drunk in a bar in self defense. Deep bass chords and percussive effects dominate as Dad leads Rio from the bar into the street. Dad then subjects Rio to sadistic punishment by first whipping him and then smashing a rifle butt onto his hand, telling him “You’re gun days are over”.
18. To Point of the Devil – The scene fades in on Rio outside town as he tends his wounds alongside Modesto, Bob and Harvey. The four men ride on to The Point; a small fishing village, where the men rent premises while Rio recuperates. Another music cut is made in the film here; the cue enters with a quasi pastoral touch at 1:54 as the group ride to The Point but this music was obviously intended to start immediately at the fade-in point as Rio is seeing to his wounds. On arrival at the village there is a brief 0:22 atmospheric cue as Rio lies in pain bathing his shattered hand in a bowl of water, although this cue is not included on the CD.
19. Gentle Visitor – This cue is not in the film. The cue contains a new delicately arranged theme, heard only in this cue, for a scene which was presumably cut following previews. The title suggests that it may have been a scene with one of the fisherman’s sons, who is seen in the village in a later sequence in the film.
20. Dark Thoughts / Necklace and Idea – A repeated five note ascending motif on brass introduces ‘Dark Thoughts’ although this cue is not in the film. The motif is repeated on strings in ‘Necklace and Idea’ as Rio sits on the beach reflecting and thinking of Luisa which suggests that this beach scene was originally longer. The scene dissolves to show Rio practicing firing his gun as his shattered hand slowly heals.
21. Prelude to Rape – This dark, strident and menacing cue is not in the film and neither is there any scene which matches the title, which indicates another sequence cut from the film. It’s difficult to visualize which characters and under what circumstances the cue was intended – especially at this point in the film.
22. Luisa’s Confession / Confidence Regained – In the cue ‘Luisa’s Confession’ Maria speaks to her daughter having observed her sadness. Luisa tells her mother that she is pregnant by Rio. There is a fade-in back to The Point where the cue ‘Confidence Regained’ reflects the improvement in Rio’s shooting ability.
23. Compulsion – Luisa visits Rio who tells her that he intends to kill Dad; explaining that Dad left him “to rot” and that he ended up spending five years in Sonora prison. A plaintive version of Luisa’s theme underlines her distress as she begs Rio to forget his quest for vengeance and come away with her.
24. Adios Friend / Double Cross / The Ambush – Rio and Modesto agree to have nothing further to do with the bank robbery which Bob and Harvey are still planning. Rio tells Modesto that he has decided to ask Luisa to come away with him and that he hopes not to run into Dad. In the cue ‘Adios Friend’ Modesto takes his leave of Rio. However, Bob and Harvey intercept Modesto by the coastal trail in an attempt to get him to join them in robbing the bank and in the ensuing argument Modesto is shot dead. Bob then goes to see Dad at his home, falsely telling him that Rio is on his way to kill him. Only 1:00 of the ‘Double Cross’ cue which runs for 2:15 is used in the film; the music beginning at the point where Modesto is shot. The subsequent bank robbery goes wrong and both Bob and Harvey are shot dead. Dad forms a posse to capture Rio which and in ‘The Ambush’ Rio is captured and taken to the town’s jail where Dad makes it clear to him that he is going to ensure that he is hanged.
25. Confession of Love – A bittersweet and arguably the most attractive version of Luisa’s theme as Luisa speaks to Rio through the bars of his cell. Rio explains that he intended to ask her to come away with him and Luisa responds by telling him that she is expecting his child.
26. Chance to Escape / A Break for Freedom – Luisa has tried to pass a gun to Rio by hiding it in his food but Lon discovers it and drags Luisa out of the building, leaving the gun on a table. None of the ‘Chance to escape’ cue is in the film. It exactly matches the sequence as Rio, having fashioned a form of lasso from his bed materials, attempts to drag the table towards his cell: presumably the studio thought the scene was more suspenseful, in silence, without any music. The cue is dominated by plucking strings with alternate ominous music as the prison scene is intercut with shots of Dad riding into town. Rio succeeds in grabbing the gun, forces Lon to free him and locks him in the cell. Slow paced brooding music highlights the scene as Rio makes his ‘Break for Freedom’ but Lon raises the alarm from the cell window just as Dad comes riding in. The music abruptly stops as the climactic gunfight between Rio and Dad begins, resulting in Dad being killed, but not before he has fired a parting shot as Rio rides off with Luisa.
27. Finale – The original ending of the film had Dad’s shot accidentally hitting and killing Luisa. The ending was re-shot with Rio riding away from Luisa but promising to return to her. The cue presented here is clearly the original longer version before the ending was re-shot and has a more bittersweet arrangement befitting such an ending. However, despite this proposed sad finale, Friedhofer still ends the score with a glorious major orchestral statement of Luisa’s theme – the sort of ending which was common throughout Hollywood’s Golden Age but which is sadly never heard nowadays. The Alternative Finale on disc 1 track 14 appears to be an alternative for the original ending but ending on a quiet, subdued note. The Finale on disc 1 track 12 is exactly the same as the film version.