John Williams‘ score for War Horse is relentless. It doesn’t just tell you what to feel at every turn — it browbeats you into each new emotional moment like a schoolyard bully. “Feel this…and now that…feel it!” And yet Dimitri Tiomkin‘s High Noon score does exactly the same thing, and I have no problem with that. It’s one of my all-time fave scores, and Williams’ War Horse score is one of my all-time peeves.
Tiomkin’s score is so consistent with that melody (“Do Not Forsake Me,” etc.) and persistent and all over you that it almost turns High Noon into a kind of musical. Emphatic out-front movie scores are so great when they work, and so awful when they don’t. Two samples: High Noon #1, High Noon #2.
For those who read too quickly: I didn’t write this to slam War Horse for the 319th time. I was pointing out an irony. I don’t like Williams’ score for mauling viewers and telling them what to feel every step of the way, but I love Tiomkin’s score for doing the exact same thing.