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BULLITT – Lalo Schifrin

February 19, 2018 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Steve McQueen was seeking a script for his next film and took a liking to author Robert Fish’s novel Mute Witness (1963). His production company Solar Productions purchased the film rights, and brought in Alan Trustman and Henry Kleiner to write the screenplay. He made a surprising choice to bring in English director Peter Yates after viewing the stunning extended car chase scene in his last movie, Robbery (1967). McQueen chose to change the film’s title to “Bullitt”, which based his character Frank Bullitt on real life San Francisco Inspector Dave Toschi, with who he studied as part of his training and orientation to police procedures and practices. McQueen would play the titular role, which would be a departure for him in that for the first time he would abandon his ‘rebel’ persona and join the Establishment as a police officer. To round out the cast, McQueen brought in Robert Vaughn as Walter Chalmers and Jacqueline Bisset as Cathy. Read more…

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THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY – Ennio Morricone

November 27, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The commercial success of the Spaghetti Westerns A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few More Dollars caught the eyes of studio executives at United Artists. They contacted Italian screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni, offered him a contract, and expressed a desire to purchase film rights for the next installment. The Italian creative team of producer Alberto Grimaldi, director Sergio Leone and Vincenzoni met and agreed to collaborate. They proposed a story set during the American Civil War, where three rogues join in an uneasy alliance in search of buried treasure. United Artists agreed to the storyline and provided a generous budget of $1.2 million. Vincenzoni joined with Leone, Agenore Incrocci, and Furio Scarpelli to create the screenplay that was not without controversy, in that it eschewed the traditional Americana romanticism. It instead offered a potent social commentary on capitalism, greed, as well as the destructiveness and absurdity of war. Its heroes are less pure, less righteous and more morally ambiguous, where the clear lines between hero and villain are blurred. Read more…

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO – Maurice Jarre

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Doctor Zhivago was adapted by screenwriter Robert Bolt from the famous novel written by Boris Pasternak. The original manuscript was smuggled out of the Soviet Union in 1957 and awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958. Director David Lean recruited a stellar cast for his film that included Omar Shariff as Yuri Zhivago, Geraldine Chaplin as his wife Tonya, Rod Steiger as Viktor Komarovsky, Tom Courtenay as General Pasha Strelnikov, Alec Guinness as Yuri’s half-brother Yevgraf and finally, Julie Christie as Lara Guishar. This timeless and epic film tells the tale of young lovers drawn together by fate, caught in the cruel currents of war, clinging desperately to each other to survive amidst the clash of empires, as they bear witness to a grand romantic age succumbing to a cruel and violent new order. It is a magnificent film of sweeping and poetic grandeur for which I am eternally grateful. The film was a critical success earning 10 Oscar nominations, winning five including Best Score for Jarre. It was also a commercial success earning $112 million, more than sufficient to cover its production costs of 11 million. Read more…

GOLDFINGER – John Barry

November 13, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman wished to capitalize on the burgeoning success of the Bond franchise, but could not proceed with the next installment “Thunderball” due to ongoing litigation between Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory over screenplay rights. As such they decided to move forward with Fleming’s next novel, Goldfinger. Guy Hamilton would return as director and was rewarded with a budget, which exceeded that of the first two Bond films combined. A fine cast was assembled, but not without significant challenges. Orson Welles was approached for the role of Auric Goldfinger, but his salary demands were too high. As such they brought in German actor Gert Frobe to play the titular role, but his poor English necessitated dubbing his lines. Sean Connery returned to reprise his role as James Bond with Honor Blackman joining as Pussy Galore, Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson, Harold Sakata as Oddjob, Bernard Lee as Department Head M, Cec Linder as CIA liaison Felix Leiter, and Desmond Llewelyn as Q. Read more…

THE PINK PANTHER – Henry Mancini

November 6, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Martin Jurow of the Mirisch Company felt the time was right to bring a sophisticated comedy to the big screen. The story would involve a jewel heist, which would pit the urbane and debonair jewel thief, Sir Charles Lytton, against the hapless and bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau. He tasked Blake Edwards to direct the project, who then personally collaborated with Maurice Richlin to fashion a hilarious screenplay. Casting went awry as Peter Ustinov, Ava Gardner and Janet Leigh all had issues, which prevented them from joining the production. Yet Blake was an experienced director who nevertheless succeeded in assembling a fine cast, which included David Niven as Sir Charles Lytton, Peter Sellers as Jacques Clouseau, Robert Wagner as George Lytton, Claudia Cardinale as Princess Dala, Brenda De Banzie as Angela Dunning, and Capucine as Simone Clouseau. Read more…

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE – Dimitri Tiomkin

October 30, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Anthony Mann of El Cid fame sought to reprise his success with another ancient epic, this time set in the waning days of the Roman Empire. He assembled a stellar cast that included Sophia Loren (Lucilla), Alec Guinness (Marcus Aurelius), Stephen Boyd (Livius), Christopher Plummer (Commodus), James Mason (Tiomedes) and Omar Sharif as Sohamus. Regretfully, the film was less epic and more a wooden documentary as it plodded through its three-hour plus running time. The story centers on the intrigue and contest for love and power in the court of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. After the emperor is assassinated, a power mad, vain and unstable Commodus assumes the throne and begins a reign of terror, ultimately banishing all who earned his disfavor including Livius, Lucilla and Tiomedes. The film was a commercial failure bringing in only 20% of its 19 million dollar production costs. The score however achieved critical success being nominated by both the Academy of Motion Pictures and The Golden Globes. Tiomkin succeeded in winning a well-deserved Golden Globe. Read more…

CLEOPATRA – Alex North

October 23, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox had descended into financial troubles in the late 1950s due to a string of poorly performing films. They decided to regain the glory of their past by remaking one of their prior gems – the 1917 film Cleopatra . They needed a producer to bring the film to fruition, and when veteran Walter Wanger approached the studio to tell the story of Cleopatra, an astounding synergy was realized. He tasked Joseph Mankiewicz with directing, and Ranald MacDougall and Sidney Buchman joined him in fashioning the script. Mankiewicz’s original conception was to make two, three-hour films; Caesar and Cleopatra, and Anthony and Cleopatra. He was however overruled by the studio who insisted on a single film. A cast for the ages was assembled with Elizabeth Taylor playing the titular role of Cleopatra. Supporting her would be Richard Burton as Marc Anthony, Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar, Roddy McDowell as Octavian, and Martin Landau as Rufio. Read more…