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  • Composed by Henry Mancini
  • Intrada / 2012 / 60:28

Yet another of those screwball comedy superhero espionage films, Condorman was released to little acclaim in 1981, despite its magnificent tagline: “He spies!  He flies!  He death-defies!” Frank Spencer himself, Michael Crawford, starred as the titular hero.  In 2002 an extensive BBC survey of the British people to find the greatest Britons of all time placed Crawford at number 17, just ahead of Queen Victoria, Sir Alexander Fleming and Alan Turing, which just goes to show that presiding over the largest empire the world has ever seen and the industrial revolution, inventing penicillin and inventing the computer are the most trivial of accomplishments when compared with starring in an unsuccessful Disney live action film and a mildly amusing 1970s sitcom.

The score – get on with it, Southall! – was by the great Henry Mancini.  It’s anchored around the gloriously, spectacularly silly main theme – heroic bursts of brass and manic string runs accompany the wonderfully straight-faced cries of “Condorman!” from the choir.  It brings a smile to the face each time it appears during the score (which is quite a lot!)  For the most part, other than the theme the composer plays it decidedly straight; the secondary “Natalia’s Theme” is absolutely gorgeous, its Slavic flavour giving it a distinctive touch.  There’s some lighter romantic fare on offer at times too, which is all pulled off with the usual Mancini panache.  Best of all is the action music – there’s a lot of it, and it’s thrilling (and quite brilliantly orchestrated).  It’s not really a major work in the grand scheme of things but the combination of humour, action, adventure and romance is quite irresistible and it’s one of the most entertaining archival soundtrack releases of the year.  Amazingly given Mancini’s fame, there was no soundtrack release at the time of the film, so Intrada’s 2012 presentation is the first time it’s been out on album – the sound quality is brilliant and notes by John Takis very enjoyable.  Highly recommended.  **** |

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