With a Hollywood history which spans in house music production, film composing and acting, the work of cinematic everyman who was Frank De Vol could easily fill a book.
While perhaps serving as a lesser-known footnote amidst the career arc of De Vol, the composer’s score for 1967’s The Dirty Dozen impresses nonetheless, particularly when given the five star Film Score Monthly treatment. Indeed, the addition of these exhaustive thematic and musical liner notes makes this Dirty Dozen experience sound even more authentic and life-like, blowing away FSM’s bare-bones competitors in the process.
Musically, De Vol’s approach here with The Dirty Dozen is surprisingly subdued most of the time, particularly considering how action packed, violent and controversial this Robert Aldritch film was upon its original release. While De Vol’s cues do occasionally mirror the explosions and gunfire from stars Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Ernest Borgnine and Telly Sevalas, the bulk of the film’s score consists of bombastic march music and Americana cues, tying into the film’s WWII, anti-Nazi, pro-Ally stance.
While some may be surprised with De Vol’s choice to utilize traditional, ‘Yankee Doodle’ type themes, the score is nicely offset with big band horns and surging strings, although quite often De Vol doesn’t seem to hold on to a nice idea for a long enough time to make a proper impact. The lack of a truly memorable/impactful theme also hampers down the score’s success, similar to Italian composer Francisco De Masi’s own score to the legendary Dirty Dozen rip off, director Enzo G. Castellari’s The Inglorious Bastards from 1978.
Regardless, De Vol’s extended score-lovingly restored here with ten bonus cues from FSM-should serve fans of the original film just fine, bringing back tons of suitably fond memories of this extremely violent and cult film.
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