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THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR – Bernard Herrmann

October 31, 2016 1 comment

ghostandmrsmuir100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck was taken in by R. A. Dick’s 1945 romance novel A Ghost and Mrs. Muir, bought the screen rights, and commissioned Philip Dunne to adapt it for the big screen. Fred Kohlmar was assigned to produce the film and Joseph Mankiewitcz was tasked with directing. An exceptional cast was assembled, which included Gene Tierney as Lucy Muir, Rex Harrison as Captain Daniel Gregg, George Sanders as Miles Fairley, Edna Best as Martha Higgins and Venessa Brown as Anna Muir. The film offers a classic romance with powerful themes, which explore the yearning, pain and devastation of unrequited love, the sad sanctuary of solitude, and the romantic promise of spiritual liberation and transcendence through death. Mankiewicz’s biographer Bernard Dick relates that “Essentially Lucy was in love with Death; it was a love that could only be satisfied in myth, or in a dreamlike relationship with a visitor from Death’s kingdom. But mythic roles are difficult to sustain; dreams are evanescent; and art without an artist is impossible. To regain what she had with the captain, she must die.” Read more…

INFERNO – Hans Zimmer

October 28, 2016 1 comment

infernoOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Inferno is the latest in the series of films based on Dan Brown’s immensely popular Robert Langdon novels, after The Da Vinci Code in 2006, and Angels & Demons in 2009. Tom Hanks returns to the leading role as the genius Harvard University professor of religious iconology and symbology; in this story, Langdon finds himself racing around ancient historical sites in Florence and Venice, as he attempts to uncover the truth behind the suicide of a billionaire scientist, and how it relates to a missing biological weapon, and the various writings and artworks of Dante Aligheri and Sandro Botticelli that define our modern concept of hell. The film is directed by Ron Howard, and co-stars Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Ben Foster, Sidse Babett Knudsen, and Irrfan Khan; also returning to the team is composer Hans Zimmer, whose scores for The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons are amongst his most popular of the last ten years. Read more…

THE MISSION – Ennio Morricone

October 27, 2016 Leave a comment

themissionTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There are moments in film music history where you can listen to a score, and upon its conclusion sit back and be content in the knowledge that you have just experienced a genuine masterpiece. It doesn’t happen very often, because it has to be a perfect combination of everything that can possibly make a film score great. It has to fit the film, of course, carrying the story and enhancing the drama and elevating it to a point where the two seem inseparable, and where the film would be immeasurably diminished by it not being there. But then it also has to have all those things that make it excellent as pure music – everything from recurring themes that develop through the score, to orchestration, technique, and those intangibles of “beauty” and “memorability,” which of course are purely subjective, but nevertheless often affect a wide range of people in similar emotional ways. Ennio Morricone’s 1986 score for The Mission is, undoubtedly, one of those scores which ticks every box, a masterpiece on every conceivable level. Read more…

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES – Hugo Friedhofer

October 24, 2016 Leave a comment

bestyearsofourlives100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Famous producer Samuel Goldwyn became inspired to make a film that spoke to challenges facing our returning servicemen after reading an article in Time magazine, which described the difficulty experienced by Marines returning to civilian life. He hired war correspondent MacKinlay Kanto to write the story; a novella titled “Glory for Me”, and then brought in director William Wyler and Robert Sherwood, his go to playwright, to adapt it for the big screen. They assembled a first class ensemble of actors, which included Fredric March (Al Stephenson), Myrna Loy (Milly Stephenson), Dana Andrews (Fred Derry), Virginia Mayo (Marie Derry), Cathy O’Donnell (Wilma Cameron), and for authenticity, newcomer Harold Russell (Homer Parrish), a real life serviceman who had lost both his hands in the war. The story follows the reintegration struggles of Homer and two fellow soldiers into civilian life. Each of them comes from a different walk of life and each has a different family situation. The film proved to be a huge commercial and critical success, earning eight Academy Award nominations and winning seven among them, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best supporting actor and best Film Score. Two additional Oscars were awarded by the Academy; a honorary Oscar to serviceman Harold Russell for “bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance”, and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to director William Wyler, whose body of work reflected a consistently high quality of motion picture production. Read more…

PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED – John Barry

October 20, 2016 1 comment

peggysuegotmarriedTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Although he is best known for his epic gangster Godfather trilogy, and for the classic war movie Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola has made many other movies in his career, and some of them are much less dramatic and shocking. One of those is the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married, a romantic comedy-drama wish fulfillment-fantasy written by husband and wife team Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner. Kathleen Turner stars as Peggy Sue Bodell, who attends her 25-year high school reunion shortly after separating from her unfaithful husband Charlie (Nicolas Cage), her former high school sweetheart. Peggy Sue regrets many of the decisions she made in her life, such as getting pregnant by Charlie in high school, and feels that her circumstances would be different if she had the chance to do it over again. Peggy Sue faints at the reunion, and when she wakes up she magically finds herself in 1960, back in high school, and with the chance to right the wrongs of the past. The film, which co-starred Barry Miller, Catherine Hicks, Joan Allen, and a 24-year-old Jim Carrey, was both a commercial and a critical success, and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including one for Turner as Best Actress. The film also features an original score by the legendary John Barry, the second and last of his collaborations with Coppola after The Cotton Club in 1984. Read more…

THE BIRTH OF A NATION – Henry Jackman

October 18, 2016 2 comments

birthofanationOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1915 the pioneering film director D. W. Griffith released The Birth of a Nation, which he had adapted from the novel The Clansman by T. F. Dixon Jr. Looking back on it now, it is clearly one of the most groundbreaking and important films ever made, but at the same time it is one of the most abhorrent too. Despite being a silent film shot in black and white, it broke ground in terms of cinematic artistry; Griffith essentially invented many of the filmmaking tools we take for granted today, including pans and zooms, close-ups, cross-cut editing in order to tell parallel stories simultaneously, and choreographed action sequences. It also featured one of the first ever commissioned film scores, written by composer Joseph Carl Breil. As a technological achievement, the original Birth of a Nation is an absolute masterpiece. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most racist films in the history of cinema. To boil it down to its nuts and bolts, it’s a heroic tale about the Ku Klux Klan, who become righteous freedom fighters in the aftermath of the Civil War, saving the noble white folk in the south from the “insolent niggers” from the north, most of whom were played by white actors in eye-rolling, mugging blackface. Time has not been kind to Griffith’s film, and rightfully so; today most film scholars praise its technological achievements, but utterly denounce its content, although Roger Ebert did write of it: “The Birth of a Nation is not a bad film because it argues for evil. Like Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, it is a great film that argues for evil. To understand how it does so is to learn a great deal about film, and even something about evil”. Read more…

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS – Elmer Bernstein

October 15, 2016 1 comment

tencommandmentsMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille, who at 72 was nearing the end of a great career, sought to reclaim past glory with a film that would serve as his crowning achievement. After much thought, he found his answer, in his past. He announced to the world in 1952 of his intention to remake his 1923 film, “The Ten Commandments.” DeMille stated that his retelling of the story would focus exclusively on the life of Moses. This epic film’s preparation took five years, with the script alone requiring three years to write, and the actual filming taking two years. DeMille insisted on a timeless script and so hired a quartet of screenplay writers headed by Aeneas MacKenzie to accomplish the task. The team drew upon three contemporary novels; “Prince Of Egypt” by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, “Pillar Of Fire” by Reverend J. H. Ingraham and “On Eagle’s Wing” by Reverend A. E. Southon. Lastly, DeMille insisted on historical accuracy and fidelity to the ancient texts, which included the works of Philo, Josephus, Eusebius, The Midrash and The Holy Scriptures. Read more…