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Khartoum/Mosquito Squadron (1966/1969)
Music by Frank Cordell
Khartoum/Mosquito Squadron Khartoum/Mosquito Squadron Khartoum/Mosquito Squadron
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $14.96
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: February 2004
Catalog #: Vol. 7, No. 2
# of Discs: 1

This CD presents two scores by English composer Frank Cordell (1918-1980): Khartoum (1966)—arguably his greatest work—and Mosquito Squadron (1969), both featuring melodic British themes pertaining to military action.

Khartoum is a widescreen historical epic starring Charlton Heston as British General Charles "Chinese" Gordon, who in 1885 defended the city of Sudanese city of Khartoum against an uprising led by the Islamic militant, the "Mahdi" (Laurence Olivier). The film is well-regarded for Heston's performance as well as those of its British stars: Olivier, Ralph Richardson (as Prime Minister Gladstone) and Richard Johnson (as Gordon's second-in-command).

Gordon's story has passed into folklore in England and Cordell aided the film's romanticized approach with a patriotic British fanfare, plus a long-lined theme for Gordon focusing on the pride and dignity of the commander. On the flipside, Cordell painted the Mahdi and his followers with sharp strokes of Egyptian exotica. Fans of John Williams (an admitted Anglophile composer) will find many similarities in Cordell's writing and orchestrations, especially the Arabic-flavored music which parallels Williams's work in the Indiana Jones films.

Mosquito Squadron is a WWII adventure starring David McCallum (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) as a fighter pilot whose leader is downed behind enemy lines. McCallum starts a tentative romance with the man's wife, then learns that his friend might be alive after all. Cordell provides aggressive, rhythmic scoring for the film's aerial missions and German assaults, a noble British melody for the RAF pilots, and evocative, romantic scoring for the love story.

The CD is entirely in stereo. Khartoum features Cordell's re-recorded LP tracks (faithful to the film orchestrations; the original soundtrack recording is lost) with a bonus track of exit music from the film itself. Mosquito Squadron is from an LP assembly that was prepared by United Artists Records but never released—until now.

Frank Cordell Scores on FSM
About the Composer

English composer Frank Cordell (1918-1980) had a successful career in the British film and TV industry and scored many notable pictures in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, among them Khartoum, Cromwell and Ring of Bright Water. He also wrote a number of concert works. He scored the horror film Demon aka God Told Me To after Miklós Rózsa declined, explaining, "God told me not to." See, where else are you going to learn this stuff but FSM? IMDB

Comments (21):Log in or register to post your own comments
For anyone who cares, here are my scans of the covers of this terrific (and under appreciated IMHO) FSM release.

These are some of my favorite FSM covers.

KHARTOUM

1400 x 1400:
http://www.albumartexchange.com/covers.php?id=244133&q=khartoum

All sizes:
http://www.albumartexchange.com/covers.php?sort=4&q=khartoum&fltr=1&bgc=&page=


MOSQUITO SQUADRON

1400 x 1400:
http://www.albumartexchange.com/covers.php?id=226903&q=Mosquito+Squadron

All sizes:
http://www.albumartexchange.com/covers.php?sort=4&q=Mosquito+Squadron&fltr=1&bgc=&page=

Thanks Scott. This is next on my to buy list thanks to the lovely samples. Beautiful cover art too. I love the white background with poster art overlay covers like Khartoum, Grand Prix, Dirty Dozen and Force 10. Whoever creates the FSM covers is very talented.

Having just seen Khartoum again on DvD I couldn't help feeling the attachment to it I felt years ago on first seeing it. Yeah, the dialogue and images are seared in memory so why watch it again? Well, I saw a statue of Gordon in London recently and feel a little sad that such a monumental historical figure is seldom remembered when he had such fortitude and courage. The themes Cordell wrote well reflect the character of the man. The notes above highlight the similarity with Williams' desert themed material in some places of the Raiders music. That says something, doesn't it? There are two distinct motifs in Khartoum's chief identifying music and that reminded me of how Williams says he fused together the two strands to the Raiders theme as one. Are these scores twins?

Also, the opening narrative leads to the Billy Hicks debacle in the desert. That's really good music being matched to the visuals of a pursuing army being rounded on after dashing itself to bits on the rocks and sand. Then I remembered Kingdom Of Heaven, which used exactly the same plot device of an army going out into the desert . . . never to return!

So I have, therefore, taken the liberty of ordering this great score.

A favourite FSM album, but I thought the Khartoum cover was a rare FSM misfire, I thought it looked crude compared to the classy LP cover. I turned the cover around to show the beautiful Mosquito Squadron artwork (& what a great find that score is). I thought the same thing about 633 Squadron, the original LP art looked much better.

I was under the impression the FSM cover was based on the original. It looks pretty good to me. The only thing is, the Mahdi (Olivier), is seen riding a horse at the top left of the artwork painting and as far as I can remember he is only ever seen in his wall to wall carpeted tent! Maybe it isn't even Olivier's character. I assumed it is because Heston's Gordon is on the other side so they'd be equal and opposites.

As for Mosquito Squadron, I saw that movie in 16mm at the first count while living in Malta, as a child. My family knew an 'RAF' family and it was on a weekend morning at a forces venue that we 'kids' were treated to a showing of MS, no bias of course :D. That distinctive opening ostinato accompanying the Mosquito formation was so easy to remember. Glad I've finally got that, too!

Reportedly, MGM and Twilight Time have unearthed the original score tracks for KHARTOUM, which will be used to provide a score-only track on their forthcoming Blu-ray. I hope someone sees fit to also produce a CD from these tracks.

Reportedly, MGM and Twilight Time have unearthed the original score tracks for KHARTOUM, which will be used to provide a score-only track on their forthcoming Blu-ray. I hope someone sees fit to also produce a CD from these tracks.[/endquote]

If "someone" does produce a CD they can count me in for a copy!

Reportedly, MGM and Twilight Time have unearthed the original score tracks for KHARTOUM, which will be used to provide a score-only track on their forthcoming Blu-ray. I hope someone sees fit to also produce a CD from these tracks.[/endquote]

Yeah, I read that. It's the composers own tape from his family, I hope the tape is in good order (& stereo?). I was just listening to the Overture on the FSM disc, just one great tune after another.


The themes Cordell wrote well reflect the character of the man. The notes above highlight the similarity with Williams' desert themed material in some places of the Raiders music. That says something, doesn't it? There are two distinct motifs in Khartoum's chief identifying music and that reminded me of how Williams says he fused together the two strands to the Raiders theme as one. Are these scores twins?[/endquote]


Gordon himself really only has one theme in the film, a very good one. If you listen carefully, there are straight shameless lifts from other pics in this film, most notably 'The Fire Burns, the Fire Burns' from North's 'Cleopatra' in the 'Gordon enters the Mahdi's Camp' cue. And some Holst (no, NOT the Planets!) in the Overture. Cordell is one of my favourite, fully mature composers but he lifted a lot. Temp-track? But then, he was also a pioneer in the pop-art movement along with his wife Magda, who 'sampled' with collage. There's also some Previn in 'Mosquito Squadron'.


I saw a statue of Gordon in London recently and feel a little sad that such a monumental historical figure is seldom remembered when he had such fortitude and courage. [/endquote]


I wouldn't say he's not remembered. He's still an icon of sorts. But GB Shaw and many intellectuals of the Edwardian era tried hard to smash his myth. Shaw thought he was a scoundrel. He was very well regarded in the Sudan, re slavery etc., but recently there's been a disturbing revisionism of Mohammed Ahmed there, and a sort of 'Neo-Mahdism' bizarrely arrived, though that gent was certainly not kosher in conventional Muslim circles. Gordon is too much bound up with colonialism, and his amazing career in China did have some misfires, he was one of those involved in the burning of the Summer Palace. He was also a quite fundamentalist sort of evangelical Christian, which doesn't click with fashion. A true eccentric, which the film alludes to, but doesn't really dwell on, there are many funny anecdotes about him. Remember too that he did really blackmail the British government into a relief operation. Late Victorians made him into a sort of Christ figure, and it was inevitable this should be questioned. A good egg overall.

But the film screenplay is really about one thing: the nature of good and evil, and how they often are a hair's breadth apart. It's very well written. The key line is 'We are so alike, you and I...' in those wonderful 'Saladin/Richard' scenes in the tent (shot in London: Larry never got anywhere near location ...!). Both men are 'narcissists' but one uses that narcissism to sacrifice himself for others, whilst the other does the opposite. The sorceror versus the prophet. The old story. There's more than a hint of the Old Testament versus the New in the screenplay's relationship between Gladstone and Gordon the sacrificial hero.




I was just listening to the Overture on the FSM disc, just one great tune after another. [/endquote]


Yes, it's the 'fate/death wish' theme - 'The Sudan/Mahdi' theme - the 'Heeland Laddie' trad. Scottish march - a big 'Imperial' fanfare - Gordon's theme - then the reprise of the Imperial theme again and Gordon's theme to coda on woodwinds.

I once heard the Royal Marines' band on TV play a composition for brass of both the Overture and Main Title together back-to-back, so that must be published somewhere. There's a bit of Holst, one of his 'Oriental' works, in the 'Sudan/Mahdi' passage of that Overture.

But it's such a great score. Very modern too, well informed by dissonance, yet Elgarian in places, great orchestration. The big Arabic parts have a Miklos Rozsa feel to them.

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