Ennio Morricone I Crudeli (The Cruel Ones): Music From The Original Motion Picture Score on Limited Edition Import LP
Supremely atmospheric Ennio Morricone score to a lesser known, but nonetheless stylish and satisfying Sergio Corbucci production; a cross between a Spaghetti Western and a wild west road movie, indeed, a fine example of a film that combines both Italian and American western film traditions. Joseph Cotten - the Mercury Theatre veteran renowned for his performance alongside Orson Welles in Citizen Kane - leads the murderous Hellbenders, a dissolute family regiment who ambush and massacre a convoy of union soldiers transporting a million dollars, seizing the money that Jonas dreams of using to help re-ignite the confederate cause.
After the savage opening, the film settles into an engaging sequence of scenes exploring tensions within the group and depicting the numerous challenges the Hellbenders encounter as they progress slowly through hostile territory back toward New Mexico and home; Federal soldiers, Mexican bandits, a tribe of vengeful Indians and a psychotic beggar, ("respect the dead, I don't even respect the living"). To evade detection, the Hellbenders conceal the stolen money within the coffin of a fallen Southern officer. Along the way hire a beautiful gambler (Brazilian Actress, singer, sex symbol Norma Bengell) to pose as Mrs. Ambrose Allen, the supposed wife of the supposed dead man.
Il Maestro's evocative soundtrack is an impressive conglomeration of mournful trumpets, nervous guitars and percussive, sometimes atonal atmosphere pieces which establish a suitably tense mood. Alessandro Alessandroni's I Cantori Moderni decorate the score with their characteristically eclectic vocal flourishes.