Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 August 29 • Monday

The 180th Soundtrack of the Week is a Frank Cordell double feature: Khartoum and Mosquito Squadron.

First up is Khartoum, in which Charlton Heston is a Lawrence of Arabia/El Cid-type of person willing to risk his life to save the Sudanese from a violent Muslim prophet played, embarrassingly, by Laurence Olivier in brown face make-up.

Heston is quite good in the film, making no attempt to speak with a British accent. His relaxed performance is similar to Alec Guinness's similarly soft-pedalled turn as an Arab prince in Lawrence of Arabia. About Olivier, the best I can say is that he isn't on screen very much.

Cordell's music is superb, though, offering a wealth of ethereal desert music that makes use of North African and Middle Eastern modes.

These are punctuated by heroic fanfares for brass-heavy orchestra, but the album is more often lilting or eerie than it is suggestive of military pomp and crisis.

Mosquito Squadron, on the other hand, presents a program more in line with what you'd expect from a war movie. Lots of tension, action, broken here and there by various melancholy or romantic themes for a character named Beth.

Both scores are excellent.