Ealing Studios venture into computer animation, Valiant tells
the coming-of-plumage story of a runty wood
pigeon that joins the Royal Homing Pigeon Service during World War II,
helps spoil the pecking order of enemy falcons before Britain's
feathered air force is totally plucked. With its all-star cast of vocal
talents (Ewan McGregor, Tim Curry, Ricky Gervais, John Cleese, John
Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, et al.) and backing from Walt Disney Pictures,
poorly for the film that it nosedived faster than a clay pigeon
nonetheless. It never took flight in the United States.
George Fenton's music cannot be what clipped the movie's wings. The
album makes that obvious. Even as a comedy-adventure score there is a
shortage of dramatic airspace, so the music never soars as high as it
(consider Memphis Belle
instead, another of the composer's WWII works), but there are some
action cues, most notably in a nearly 13-minute track toward the
the 'March of the R.H.P.S.', a morale-booster in the classic mode of
English armed forces, is a recurring highlight of the album, swooping
plucky performance from The Central Band of the Royal Air Force.
cover of 'Shoo Shoo Baby' is a rotten egg. The period song was once
by the Andrews Sisters; now, it receives a contemporary performance by
as some sort of Mis-Take. More authentic is Fenton's swinging set for
the two-part 'Arrival at
Camp', performed by Chris Dean & The Syd Lawrence Orchestra.
the end, George Fenton's Valiant
is no rare bird. But one need not go out on a limb to enjoy it.