Music By Lalo Schifrin
Intrada Special Collection Volume 223
32 Tracks – Disc Time: 56:48 Grade: B
After starring the career shaping Spaghetti westerns of the late Sergio Leone (Fistfull of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly), Clint Eastwood would further cement his career with his role of Walt Coogan, a no-nonsense Arizona Sheriff who’s pursuing a strung out killer named James Ringerman (Don Stroud) who’s bolted for New York City. Coogan makes the long distance trip and immediately finds himself in the fish out of water role as he’s met with a tough and somewhat uncooperative NYPD Lieutenant named McElroy (Lee J.Cobb), who’s by the book bueauracracy riles Coogan. While searching for the killer, Coogan develops an attraction to Julie (Susan Clark), a probation officer who may be able to help him find his prey after Ringerman breaks out of Coogan’s custody aided by his nutty girlfriend beating him senseless in the process. The relentless Coogan will then stop at nothing to catch him and bring him back to Arizona. The film was directed by Eastwood’s long time friend Don Siegel and was a big box office draw when it was released in 1968 which also prepared both men for their legendary collaboration a few years later in Dirty Harry that is still one of the more memorable characters Eastwood has ever played.
With the important relationships of both Eastwood and Siegel firmly cemented, another one was just beginning. Composer Lalo Schifrin was in the beginning of what would be a memorable and fruitful period that included films such as The Cincinnati Kid, Che!, and Steve McQueen classic, Bullitt. Schifrin would follow the success of Eastwood with hit films such as Kelly’s Heroes, Dirty Harry, The Beguiled, Joe Kidd and Magnum Force soon after Coogan’s Bluff establishing a fruitful period with the star. The music for Coogan’s Bluff, is a fun, hip contemporary score (for its time) that has Schifrin’s trademark funk material with a touch of Western twang to it which is essentially the score’s Main Theme for Coogan, (“Main Title Part A”, “Main Title Part B”). which is somewhat of the ground work for his more developed and mature score for Dirty Harry years later. Schifrin scores Coogan’s fish out of water exploits mixing his NYC funk vibe with the Coogan theme in various different guises and tones (“The Big Apple”, “Small Talk”, “Getting Better”). Schifrin also mixes some relaxed and tender romantic material for the budding romance for Coogan and Julie (“Song For Julie”, “Five Minutes”, “Green Worms”, “Tell Me About Arizona”) that do show that Coogan isn’t the hard ass that he really appears to be.
Schifrin shows off his action licks with fun material that would be a in the vein of his work on Bullitt and Dirty Harry (“Wrong Number”, “Where’s Ringerman”, “Ringerman Chase”, “Ringerman Chase (Continued)” ) with hammering piano, rythmic guitar, percussion and aggressive brass figures, Schifrin really scored with this film because really established him as a composer who can really score any genre and do it inventively as well as memorably as he would be the go to guy for action-thriller films for the next couple of decades. Finally making its long awaited debut, Coogan’s Bluff is a neat score in the career of one of the greatest jazz, classical and film composers of the 20th century. Like the film, the music has really aged well and this release has brought it back to the forefront once again. Definitely recommended.