Friday, August 21, 2020

What's the Score? Hombre by David Rose

Carl Everett Allen recounts the series of events that began on August 12, 1884 and primarily concern John Russell—who had many names, but Allen besides to call him Hombre, which “Henry Mendez and others called him sometimes, and just means man”— in what many call Leonard’s best western novel (1961).

Optioned six years later, the story was released as a revisionist western with a screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. starring Paul Newman, Fredric March, Richard Boone, and Diane Cilento.

Music for the film was scored by David Rose, an odd choice in my book, considering his previous work, primarily as musical director for the Red Skelton Show on television.

An American songwriter, arranger, and orchestra leader best known for composing “The Stripper” and “Holiday of String," he also wrote music for Bonanza and other TV shows under the pseudonym Ray Llewellyn.

In film, Rose originally composed the music for 1955’s Forbidden Planet with some electronic elements. After hearing an all electronic score by Louis and Bebe Barron, the producers fired Rose. According to legend, the composer later destroyed his original recordings for the movie, but incidental tracks can still be found in other work he did, and on the internet.

In his work for Hombre, Rose carries through with all the dark revisionist western tropes of the time. For the main title theme here’s a strong sense of nostalgia in those strings, and loss for a West that is fading away.


But even in the more upbeat “Stagecoach” composition, there’s a melancholy that foreshadows Rose’s work on the 70’s TV drama, Little House on the Prairie.

Set alongside The Undefeated in a 2000 release by Film Score Monthly, music from Hombre is available in its Silver Age Classics line on CD from the FSM website.

After growing up on a Nebraska farm, Richard Prosch worked as a professional writer, artist, and teacher in Wyoming, South Carolina, and Missouri. His western crime fiction captures the fleeting history and lonely frontier stories of his youth where characters aren’t always what they seem, and the windburned landscapes are filled with swift, deadly danger. In 2016, Richard roped the Spur Award for short fiction given by Western Writers of AmericaRead more at


  1. A score that's a real joy to listen to especially with headphones on. Very moving.

  2. I loved the movie and became an Elmore Leonard fan, reading everything he wrote. I heard him speak at a WWA Conference and shook his hand afterwards. Great film adapted from a great writer.

  3. Hombre is one of those defining roles for Paul Newman. Your article prompted me to do a bit of looking into David Rose's life, and I discovered he was married to July Garland. (I love little snippets of this kind of trivia.) I also discovered he wrote music for many TV shows I watched in my growing-up years. Your series on western movie music themes is quite interesting. I look forward to your articles each month.

  4. I've been amazed at the difference headphones can make. LOL I really have been enjoying your series on western movie scores, Rich. Always look forward to your next installment!

  5. I am loving this series of posts about the scores of films and the composers. It really adds depth to the films when I rewatch them. Doris