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Archive for the ‘Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century’ Category

BLACK NARCISSUS – Brian Easdale

September 26, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1946 director Michael Powell became aware of the 1939 novel Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden and decided that he wanted to bring its tale to the big screen. He purchased the film rights and secured financial backing from the British company General Film Distributors and a budget of $1.2 million. He and Emeric Powell would oversee production, co-direct, and write the screenplay. The film ended up creating controversy in the American Market with the National Legion of Decency, coercing several film edits deemed as “affront to religion and religious life”. Casting also caused controversy as once again white actors were cast in a number of roles for Indian characters. Deborah Kerr would star as Sister Clodagh, David Farrar as Mr. Dean, Kathleen Byron as Sister Ruth, Flora Robson as Sister Philippa, Jean Simmons as Kanchi, and Sabu as the young General Dilip Rai. Read more…

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE – Dimitri Tiomkin

September 19, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Philip Van Doren Stern was an aspiring writer trying to get his first novel, “The Greatest Gift,” published. It was rejected by major publishers and so in frustration he printed a twenty-four-page pamphlet in 1943 and mailed it to two hundred family and friends. RKO Pictures producer David Hempstead and Cary Grant’s agent both came to the conclusion that this story offered opportunity and so RKO Pictures purchased the film rights for $10,000. RKO Pictures also had a nine-film distribution contract with director Frank Capra’s production company Liberty Films and showed him the pamphlet, which captured his attention. They worked out a deal and sold Capra the film rights for $10,000 along with three other scripts. Capra moved forward with production with a budget of $3.7 million and would also direct the film. He also collaborated with Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett to fashion a screenplay. James Stewart was cast in the lead role of George Bailey, and joining him would be Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter, Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy, Henry Tavers as Clarence, Beulah Bondi as Mrs. Bailey, Ward Bond as Bert, Frank Faylen as Ernie, and Gloria Grahame Violet Black. Read more…

THE JOLSON STORY – Morris Stoloff

September 12, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the huge success of MGM’s musical Meet Me In St. Louis in 1944, Columbia Pictures decided to cash in on the genre. They chose to film a fictionalized biopic of the renowned singer, comedian, actor and vaudevillian Al Jolson, who in the 1920s self-billed himself as “The World’s Greatest Entertainer”. A team consisting of Stephen Longstreet, Sidney Buchman, Harry Chandlee and Andrew Solt were hired to create the screenplay, Sidney Skolsky was tasked with production with a budget of $2 million, and Alfred E. Green given the reins to direct. A fine cast was assembled, including Larry Parks as Al Jolson, Evelyn Keys as Julie Benson, William Demarest as Steve Martin, and Bill Goodwin as Tom Baron. Read more…

ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM – Bernard Herrmann

September 5, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Margaret Landon wrote her 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam based on the fictionalized diaries of Anna Leonowens, a mixed-race woman who claimed to have been the British governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam. The novel became a public sensation, which caught the eye of 20th Century Fox Studios executive Darryl F. Zanuck. He purchased the film rights, assigned production to Louis D. Lighton, hired Talbot Jennings and Sally Benson to write the screenplay, and provided a generous budget of $2.2 million. John Cromwell was tasked with directing, and a stellar cast was assembled, including; Rex Harrison in his Hollywood debut as King Mongkut, Irene Dunne as Anna Owens, Linda Darnell as Tuptim, Lee J. Cobb as Kralahome, Gale Sondergaard as Lady Theiang, Tito Renaldo as Prince Chulalongkorn, and Richard Lyon as Louis Owens. Read more…

DRAGONWYCK – Alfred Newman

August 29, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned 20th Century Fox Studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck, who was always looking for a new story to film, came upon an 19th century period piece novel Dragonwyck, written by Anya Seton in 1944. He believed that its film noir tale of mystery and romance could be adapted to the big screen. He purchased the film rights and would personally oversee production with a $1.9 million budget. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was tasked with directing the film, and would also write the screenplay. In assembling the cast, Vincent Price won the lead role of Nicholas van Ryn when Gregory Peck withdrew after the original director Ernst Lubitsch was replaced by Mankiewicz due to illness. Joining Price would be Gene Tierney as Miranda Wells, Walter Huston as Ephraim Wells, Glenn Langan as Dr. Jeff Turner, Anne Revere as Abigail Wells, Spring Byington as Magda, Harry Morgan as Bleecker and Jessica Tandy as Peggy. Read more…

LOVE LETTERS – Victor Young

August 22, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film arose when renown author Ayn Rand decided to adapt the novel “Pity My Simplicity” by Christopher Massie into a screenplay. Hal Wallis was sold on the story, felt it would translate well to the big screen, and decided to personally take on the project. He would use his own production company in partnership with Paramount Pictures to finance production, and tasked William Dieterle to direct. A fine cast was assembled including Jennifer Jones as Singleton/Victoria Morland, Joseph Cotton as Alan Quinton, Anne Richards as Dilly Carson, Cecil Kellaway as Mac, Gladys Cooper as Beatrice Remington and Anita Louise as Helen Wentworth. Read more…

THE ENCHANTED COTTAGE – Roy Webb

August 15, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

RKO Studio producer Harriet Parsons came across a poignant love story based on Arthur Wing Pinero’s play “The Enchanted Cottage” (1921). It had been previously performed on stage in 1922, and had a silent film adaptation in 1924. Parsons believed that she could deliver an updated version of the tale that would play well to modern audiences. Studio executives gave the project the green light to proceed, but took the film away from Parsons, instead tasking Dudley Nichols. A diatribe by renowned newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper charging sexual bias caused the company to blink and reverse its decision. As such Parsons was again assigned production, and wrote an outline of the story she wanted. Herman J. Mankiewicz and DeWitt Bodeen were hired to write the screen play, and John Cromwell was tasked with directing. For the cast included Dorothy McGuire as Laura Pennington, Robert Young as Oliver Bradford, Herbert Marshall as Major John Hillgrove and story narrator, and Mildred Natwick as Mrs. Minnett. Read more…

THE THIEF OF BAGDAD – Mortimer Wilson

August 8, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1922 actor Douglas Fairbanks decided to move beyond his usual comedic films to take on the heroic role of Robin Hood. He enjoyed the role and was rewarded as the film ended up being a stunning commercial and critical success. Now emboldened, he decided to take on another swashbuckler hero based on the iconic epic ancient tale “The Thief of Bagdad”. This was a passion project and he used his own production company, Douglas Fairbanks Pictures, to finance production. He took personal charge of production, allocated an unprecedented $1.136 million budget, and also wrote the story on which the screenplay was based. Raoul Walsh was tasked with directing, and Achmed Abdullah and Lotta Woods were hired to write the screenplay. Fairbanks would star in the lead role as Ahmed, The Thief of Bagdad supported by Snitz Edwards as His Evil Associate, Charles Belcher as Iman The Holy Man and film narrator, Julianne Johnson as The Princess, Sojin Kamiyama as Cham Shang, and Anna May Wong as The Mongol Slave. Read more…

OBJECTIVE BURMA – Franz Waxman

August 1, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studios producer Jerry Wald wanted to make a WWII film, but one which was set in another theater of the war far remote from the Pacific where most of the battles were being waged. With that in mind, he came up with a story set in Burma near the Chinese border. He pitched his idea to studio executives and was given the green light to proceed with production empowered with a $1.592 million budget. Ranald MacDougall and Lester Cole were hired to write an original screenplay, and Raoul Walsh was tasked with directing. Wald had always envisioned the film as a vehicle for MGM’s star Errol Flynn, who after some coaxing signed on to play Captain Nelson. Joining him would be James Brown as Sergeant Treacy, Henry Hull as Mark Williams, William Hudson as Hollis, Anthony Caruso as Miggleori, and William Prince as Lieutenant Sid Jacobs. Read more…

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS – Roger Edens, Georgie Stoll, Conrad Salinger

July 25, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Author Sally Benson wrote a series of popular short stories in the New Yorker Magazine under the title “5135 Kensington,” which were based on her own real-life experience. She later expanded into a novel titled Meet Me In St. Louis, which was published in 1942. MGM believed the family novel would translate well to the big screen and so purchased the film rights. Arthur Freed was assigned production with a $1.885 million budget, Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoff were hired to write the screenplay, and Vincent Minnelli was given the reins to direct. A fine cast was assembled, including Judy Garland as Esther Smith, Margaret O’Brien as “Tootie” Smith, Mary Astor as Mrs. Anna Smith, Leon Ames as Mr. Alonzo Smith, Lucille Bremer as Rose Smith, Tom Drake as John Truitt, and Marjorie Main as Katie. Read more…

WILSON – Alfred Newman

July 18, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox Studio Director Darryl F. Zanuck had long been an admirer of President Woodrow Wilson and for many years resolved to bring a biopic homage of his hero to the big screen. The film became a passion project, if not obsession, which led him to micromanage all aspects of its production. When finished it resulted in the greatest budget expenditure in the studio’s history, nearly $5 million. He personally took charge of production, hired Lamar Trotti to write the screenplay, and tasked Henry King to direct. He brought in an exceptional cast, which included, Alexander Knox as Woodrow Wilson, Charles Colburn as Professor Henry Holmes, Geraldine Fitzgerald as Edith Wilson, Thomas Mitchell as Joseph Tumulty, Ruth Nelson as Ellen Wilson, Cedric Hardwicke as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Vincent Price as William G. McAdoo, William Eythe as George Felton, and Mary Anderson as Eleanor Wilson. Read more…

RANDOM HARVEST – Herbert Stothart

June 27, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film arose in 1940 when MGM Head Story Editor Kenneth MacKenna was advised to evaluate renown novelist James Hilton’s latest book, “Random Harvest” for a possible film adaptation. The story resonated with MGM executives as the Battle of Britain raged and the studio purchased the film rights in November 1940 for $65,000. Sidney Franklin was placed in charge of production with a $1.21 million budget, Mervyn LeRoy was tasked with directing, and screenwriters Arthur Wimperis, George Froeschel and Claudine West were hired to adapt the novel. A fine cast was assembled, which included Ronald Coleman as Charles Rainier (Smithy), Greer Garson as Paula Ridgeway/Margaret Hanson, Philip Dorn as Dr. Jonathan Benet, and Susan Peters as Kitty Chilcet. Read more…

THE BLACK SWAN – Alfred Newman

June 20, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the massive success of Warner Brothers The Sea Hawk in 1940, 20th Century Fox Studios decided to cash in on the 1932 Rafael Sabatini novel The Black Swan. Production chief Darryl F. Zanuck purchased the film rights as the perfect new adventure for the studio’s star actor Tyrone Power. Robert Bassler was placed in charge of production and provided a budget of $1.494 million. Henry King was tasked with directing, and Ben Hecht and Seton I. Miller hired to adapt the novel and write the screenplay. A stellar cast was assembled, which included Tyrone Power as Jaime Waring, Maureen O’Hara as Lady Margaret Denby, Laird Cregar as Henry Morgan, Thomas Mitchell as Tom Blue, George Sanders as Billy Leech, Anthony Quinn as Wogan and Edward Ashley as Roger Ingram. Read more…

BAMBI – Frank Churchill and Edward H. Plumb

June 13, 2022 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney was in dire financial straits with his last two films, Pinocchio and Fantasia, both under-performing at the box office. He needed a hit to reverse the company’s sliding fortunes when he came across the 1923 novel “Bambi, A Life in The Woods” by Felix Salten. The novel offered violence, sexual conquest, betrayal, and blood-and-guts action by cutthroats and murderers, yet after sifting out all its unsavory elements, it spawned an idea of a family film that centered on a young fawn named Bambi. Disney purchased the film rights in 1937 and personally took charge of production with an $858,000 budget. He insisted that the voices of children be used to speak for the many forest animals instead of adults speaking as children. It would take a team of six writers led by Perce Pearce, three years, with countless revisions, to finally draft a screenplay that met Disney’s expectations. David Hand was tasked with direction, and the voice cast included Bobby Stewart as Baby Bambi, Donnie Dunagan as Young Bambi, Hardie Albright as Adolescent Bambi and John Sutherland as Young Adult Bambi. Joining them would be Peter Behn as Young Thumper, Tim Davis as Adolescent Thumper and Same Edwards as Young Adult Thumper, Paula Winslowe as Bambi’s Mother, Will Wright as Friend Owl, Cammie King as Young Faline and Ann Gillis as Young Adult Faline. Read more…

THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS – Bernard Herrmann

June 6, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Orson Welles had for some time desired to bring Booth Tarkington’s 1918 novel The Magnificent Ambersons to the big screen, a story that offered a wistful view of a dying American aristocracy. In order to gain RKO studio backing, he renegotiated his contract and granted the studio final cut rights. With their blessings, he oversaw production with a $854,000, which ballooned to over $1.18 million. He would also write the screenplay, and personally direct the film. A fine cast was assembled, which included Joseph Cotton as Eugene Morgan, Dolores Costello as Isabel Amberson Minafer, Anne Baxter as Lucy Morgan, Tim Holt as George Amberson Minafer, Agnes Moorhead as Fanny Minafer, and Orson Welles as the narrator. Read more…