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Steiner's 'Dodge City' and 'The Oklahoma Kid'.
4-Jan-2002 - The New Year brings with it a new release from the Brigham Young University Film Music Archives. The combined cd of Max Steiner's original scores to Dodge City and The Oklahoma Kid, both 1939, is now available exclusively through Screen Archives Entertainment. The wonderful sound on the cd, derived from archival studio recordings in the Max Steiner Collection at BYU, was ably produced by Ray Faiola. Virtually all of the DODGE CITY score survived in the Steiner Collection, but not all of the cues from THE OKLAHOMA KID. The 78-minute cd is accompanied by a 72-page booklet that contains a newly-commissioned essay, "Winning the West at Warners," by noted film historian Rudy Behlmer on the making of both films; extensive music notes for each cue by John Morgan and James D'Arc, including excerpts from Steiner's marginal notes in his original sketches; and an essay "Steiner on Scoring" by James D'Arc. The booklet is heavily illustrated with color posters, lobby cards, and photographs from both films.
With Warners' DODGE CITY, filmed in Technicolor and starring Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland, Steiner was arguably the first composer to stylistically establish a fully integrated score for a big-budgeted Western film. Up until the late 1930s, Western scores either were assemblies of period tunes or received very little musical attention whatsoever. Steiner's epic, sweeping leitmotifs, more evident in DODGE CITY than in THE OKLAHOMA KID, placed the Hollywood Western solidly into an aural experience befitting an "A" budget. In a year when Steiner was working on 11 films at Warners, and GONE WITH THE WIND at Selznick, the score to THE OKLAHOMA KID was fresh, original, and particularly vigorous in enhancing the story of the 1893 Cherokee Strip land rush in Oklahoma and in keeping up with the fast-riding, fast-talking James Cagney in his first Western film.
As with the other titles in the BYU Film Music Archives Soundtrack Series, DODGE CITY/THE OKLAHOMA KID is a limited edition and is available only by mail. All proceeds from the sale of each title go directly back into the preservation of film music elements in BYU's Film Music Archives and into the production of future cd titles.

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