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The Flight of the Phoenix



Added on Tuesday, February 23, 2021   Posted by Robert Bettens

The Flight of the Phoenix

Expanded, fully-restored 2-CD release of exciting desert adventure soundtrack! Robert Aldrich directs, 20th Century Fox presents, Lukas Heller scripts, Joseph Biroc photographs. All-star cast features James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy, Hardy Kruger, Ian Bannen (Academy Award nominee), Dan Duryea. Stewart pilots his Arabco twin-engine cargo plan towards Benghazi, flying over the Sahara desert.

Expanded, fully-restored 2-CD release of exciting desert adventure soundtrack! Robert Aldrich directs, 20th Century Fox presents, Lukas Heller scripts, Joseph Biroc photographs. All-star cast features James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy, Hardy Kruger, Ian Bannen (Academy Award nominee), Dan Duryea. Stewart pilots his Arabco twin-engine cargo plan towards Benghazi, flying over the Sahara desert.

His passengers are oil workers, members of the British army, physicians and engineers. Characters are introduced, the plane travels, a sandstorm emerges forcing the engines to fail. Stewart attempts to rise above the threat but disaster is imminent.

The plane nose dives and - wham! - composer DeVol hits hard with his “Main Title”, some ten minutes into the film! The lengthy pre-credit sequence is a director Aldrich trademark. For DeVol, it affords him a stunning series of freeze-frame images with which to synchronize his taut, percussive music, playing as part thematic main title, part riveting action cue. Musical dynamite! DeVol’s primary melodic idea is a sweeping theme tinged with desert color, rising upwards then winding about.
Other melodies also make an impression, including a dignified line for Stewart’s pilot, tortured as he is for crashing his aircraft. There is also haunting use of a song, “Senza Fine” by Italian singer-songwriter Gino Paoli, (“Without End”), repurposed by DeVol for several dramatic sequences as well as heard in the composer’s arrangement for American singer Connie Francis with new lyrics by Alec Wilder.

Not merely source music, it factors into one character’s tragic storyline. The crash survivors, tired, wounded and in despair, summon the strength to rebuild the broken aircraft and fly to safety holding onto the remaining wing with one propeller. Several powerful cues play for the tension and struggle to work this miracle of courage and stamina. Spotlights definitely go to the climactic sequences where DeVol creates music of mounting power and strength, beginning with the massive pulling of the 'Phoenix' into takeoff position, bringing the engine up to speed, mounting the wing itself and ultimately scoring the thrilling lift-off.

It’s simultaneously gripping and exhilarating music! Ace mastering engineer Chris Malone builds the entire lengthy score in sequence, creating beautifully restored full stereo tracks from the original 35mm session recordings courtesy 20th Century Studios.
A wealth of previously unreleased cues appear, including alternates and all of the source music. Highlighting the unused material is a powerhouse “Main Title” alternate that eschews the primary melody in favor of the propulsive syncopated percussion rhythms and staccato brass fanfares.
Two unused finales appear as well as the film version. Informative notes from Frank DeWald plus dramatic packaging design from Kay Marshall that incorporates the original artwork campaign are further assets.

A dynamic presentation of a powerful score from 1965, a fabulous era when the “Golden Age” mastery of Steiner, Kaper, Waxman, Newman and Herrmann were merging with the newer visions of Goldsmith, Schifrin, Barry, Williams and Morricone.
Frank DeVol composes, conducts. Intrada Special Collection 2-CD set available while quantities and interest remain!


The Flight of the Phoenix soundtrack page