SINCE YOU WENT AWAY – Max Steiner

May 25, 2015 1 comment

sinceyouwentawayMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Legendary producer David O. Selznick wanted to make a film, which demonstrated his patriotic support for the war effort. However, he was adamant that he did not want to make a traditional war movie. As such he personally adapted the screenplay from the 1943 novel “Since You Went Away: Letters to a Soldier from His Wife” by Margaret Buell Wilder. Selznick hired veteran director John Cromwell with whom he had collaborated on nine prior films, and then assembled a quality cast including; Claudette Colbert (Mrs. Anne Hilton), Jennifer Jones (Jane Deborah Hilton), Joseph Cotton (Lieutenant Commander Tony Willett), Shirley Temple (Bridget ‘Brig’ Hilton), Monty Woolley (Colonel William G. Smollett) and Lionel Barrymore as Clergyman. The movie is set in a typical American town located near a military base, where people with loved ones serving in the armed forces struggle to cope with their absence. The main storyline concerns Anne, a housewife whose husband is fighting overseas. She struggles with his absence as she tries to meet the challenges of youthful romance from their two daughters who are growing into womanhood. The film overflows with sentimentality against the somber backdrop of families coping with grief, loneliness or fear for the future. I believe Selznick achieved his ambition, as the film was both a commercial and critical success, earning nine Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Score. Read more…

A VIEW TO A KILL – John Barry

May 14, 2015 Leave a comment

aviewtoakillTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A View to a Kill is the fourteenth official film in the James Bond canon, and the seventh and last to star Roger Moore as the fictional British secret agent. In this wide ranging story which spans the globe from Siberia to Paris to San Francisco, Bond locks horns with the psychopathic industrialist Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, who hatches a plan to destroy Silicon Valley in order to gain a monopoly in the worldwide microchip market. Bond is assisted in his assignment by wealthy geologist Stacey Sutton, played by Tanya Roberts, who helps uncover Zorin’s dastardly plan after he tries to strong-arm her into selling her family’s oil company, and there is the usual cast of supporting characters, evil henchmen, beautiful women, and ingenious gadgets. The film was directed by John Glen, co-stars Patrick Macnee and singer Grace Jones, and has an original score by John Barry, the tenth of his eleven works in the series. Read more…

WOLF HALL – Debbie Wiseman

May 12, 2015 Leave a comment

wolfhallOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The name Cromwell is a notorious one in British history. Oliver Cromwell briefly turned the monarchy into a republic when he overthrew King Charles I in 1649, and he and his son Richard Cromwell ruled the country for six years during the so-called ‘Interregnum’ period, before Charles II was restored to the throne. Less well-known, but no less important, was Oliver’s ancestor Thomas Cromwell, who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII for eight years in the 1530s. Cromwell played a pivotal role in the formation of the Church of England, which was initiated by Henry’s desire to divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon, due to her failure to provide him with a male heir, and instead marry the apparently more fertile Anne Boleyn; Pope Clement VII would not allow the divorce, forcing Henry to break away and form his own church. Unfortunately, Cromwell proved to be a controversial and divisive figure who made many powerful enemies, and he was eventually arrested and executed on a litany of trumped-up charges in 1540. The BBC TV costume drama Wolf Hall, based on the historical novel by Hilary Mantel, chronicles the rise and fall of Cromwell through the corridors of power. Read more…

RED SONJA – Ennio Morricone

May 7, 2015 1 comment

redsonjaTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Cashing in on the popular success of Conan the Barbarian and the various other sword-and-sorcery epics of the early 1980s was Red Sonja, the tale of a barbarian warrior princess, based on the original story by Robert Howard, the creator of Conan, and directed by Richard Fleischer. The film starred Brigitte Nielsen, the Danish supermodel and future wife of Sylvester Stallone in her first acting job, in the title role as a woman seeking vengeance upon those who murdered her parents, while simultaneously embarking on a quest to find a magical talisman whose power could destroy the world. Despite the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a supporting role as the legendary swordsman Lord Kalidor, the film was critically decimated, receiving brickbats for its acting, writing, direction, and wooden action sequences. In fact, possibly the only member of the cast and crew of Red Sonja to escape unscathed was the legendary composer Ennio Morricone, who unexpectedly found himself scoring the movie. Read more…

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON – Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman

May 5, 2015 7 comments

avengersageofultronOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Avengers: Age of Ultron, the eleventh film in the series since the first Iron Man film in 2008, and the second film featuring all the main characters after the first Avengers movie in 2012. Directed by Joss Whedon, the film sees the six heroes – Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – teaming up to take on Ultron (James Spader), a sentient robot created as part of an Earth defense system by Stark, which achieves consciousness and decides that the only way to save the Earth is to eradicate humanity. It’s a visual extravaganza, filled with spectacular special effects, complicated action sequences, and plenty of witty banter between the protagonists, as well as a host of cameos from earlier Marvel films, and the introduction of several new characters which will play larger roles in future movies. Read more…

DAVID RAKSIN – Fathers of Film Music, Part 10

May 1, 2015 Leave a comment

David RaksinArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 4 August 1912, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Died: 9 August 2004.

David Raksin was of Russian Jewish heritage; the eldest of three sons born in Philadelphia after his parents had emigrated to America. He was blessed with a musical family as his father Isidore played the clarinet professionally while also writing and conducting music for silent films. Isidore encouraged his son’s nascent talents and instructed him in both the piano and woodwinds. Well, young David was a quick study and by age twelve he had formed his own dance band, which he later expanded for broadcasting on the local CBS radio station, WCAU. During high school his talent earned him steady employment playing the clarinet for professional dance bands. Remarkably, he taught himself orchestration and received a bona fide Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. Upon graduation he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania to study composition under Harl McDonald. He paid for his education by playing in society bands and radio orchestras. He also both arranged and conducted the first programs of improvised jazz at football games, for which he won several prizes. Read more…

THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH – Trevor Jones

April 30, 2015 Leave a comment

lastplaceonearthTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Last Place on Earth was a critically acclaimed British TV mini-series, directed by Ferdinand Fairfax, which aired over seven episodes in the spring of 1985. It charted the epic race between two teams of intrepid adventurers and their efforts to become the first men to reach the South Pole – one from the United Kingdom led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and one from Norway led by Scott’s great rival, Roald Amundsen. Their trials and tribulations caught the attention of the world in 1912, but ended in great tragedy, as the entire British party famously died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold on the return journey, having been beaten to the Pole by Amundsen by just a matter of days. The series starred Martin Shaw as Scott, Sverre Anker Ousdal as Amundsen, Max von Sydow as Amundsen’s mentor, the famed explorer Fridtjof Nansen, and Brian Dennehy as the American Arctic exploration pioneer Frederick Cook, as well as several now-popular British actors in early supporting roles, including Hugh Grant and Bill Nighy. Read more…

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