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

ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Oliver Wallace

January 30, 2023 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a young man Walt Disney was fond of the two Lewis Carroll novels “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and “Through The Looking Glass”. As early as 1933 he conceived of making a film adaptation, but it did not take form until 1945 and then would require six years to bring his dream to fruition. Disney personally managed production with a budget of $3 million, a team of thirteen writers were hired to craft a screenplay based on both of Carroll’s books, and a trio consisting of Clyde Geronini, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske were tasked with directing. A fine voice cast was assembled, including Katherine Beaumont as Alice, Ed Wynn as Mad Hatter, Richard Haydn as Caterpillar, Sterling Holloway as Cheshire Cat, Jerry Colonna as March Hare, Verna Felton as Queen of Hearts, J. Pat O’Malley as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Bill Thompson as White Rabbit, Joseph Kearns as Doorknob, Sink Trout as King of Hearts, and James MacDonald as Dormouse. Read more…

ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND – Irving Berlin and Alfred Newman

January 23, 2023 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1937 composer Irving Berlin was solicited by 20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck to write a biopic about his life to be called “Alexander’s Ragtime Band, which would showcase some of his greatest songs. Berlin balked, believing such a story would be too intrusive. Zanuck pivoted and asked him if he could instead write a story, which could feature his greatest songs. He agreed, collaborated with screen writer Richard Sherman, and their story was accepted. Zanuck took personal charge of production, hired Kathryn Scola and Lamar Trotti to write the screenplay, and tasked Henry King with directing. The cast would be anchored by singers Ethel Merman as Jerry Allen, and Alice Faye as Stella Kirby. Joining them would be Tyrone Power as Alexander, Don Ameche as Charlie Dwyer and Jack Haley as Davey Lane. Read more…

THE GARDEN OF ALLAH – Max Steiner

January 16, 2023 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Garden of Allah was the brainchild of David O. Selznick, who decided to embark on a third big screen retelling of Robert S. Hichens’s 1904 novel of the same name, following on from previous versions in 1916 and 1927. His own company, Selznick International, would finance the film and he would personally manage production with a budget that ballooned from $1.6 to 1.97 million. William P. Lipscomb and Lynn Riggs were hired to write the screenplay and Richard Boleslawski was tasked with directing. For this romantic drama, Selznick decided to cast the two most carnal actors of the day, Charles Boyer and Marlene Dietrich, as Boris Androvsky and Domini Enfilden. Ironic and mystifying in their choice is that he would be playing a celibate monk, and her, a devout girl raised in a convent! Joining them would be Basil Rathbone as Count Ferdinand Anteoni, C. Aubrey Smith as Father J. Roubier, Joseph Schidkraut as Batouch, John Carradine as “Sand Diviner”, Alan Marshall as Captain de Trevignac and Lucile Wilson as Mother Superior Josephine. Read more…

PETER IBBETSON – Ernst Toch

January 9, 2023 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In early 1935 Paramount Pictures executives decided that they would adapt and bring to the big screen George du Maurier’s1891 romantic fantasy novel Peter Ibbetson. Louis D. Lighton was assigned production and provided a budget of $750,000. Henry Hathaway was tasked with directing, and a team of screenwriters lead by John Meehan were hired to write the screenplay. A fine cast was assembled, but not without controversy. Fredric March and Robert Donat were originally envisioned for the titular role, but in a dubious decision, Hathaway decided to cast against type, Gary Cooper, who had achieved fame in Westerns and heroic dramas. Joining him would be Ann Harding as Mary, Duchess of Towers, John Halliday as the Duke of Towers, and Ida Lupino as Agnes. Read more…

THE BLACK ROSE – Richard Addinsell

January 2, 2023 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Black Rose was conceived as a follow-up to the 1949 film Prince of Foxes, reuniting the two male lead actors Tyrone Power and Orson Welles in a new adventure. It would be based on the 1945 novel of the same name by Thomas B. Costain, with Talbot Jennings writing the screenplay. 20th Century Fox Studios and its British counterparts joined together to finance the film, with Louis D. Lighton assigned production, and Henry Hathaway tasked with directing. The cast included Tyrone Power as Walter of Gurnie, Orson Welles as Bayan of the Hundred Eyes, Cécile Aubry as Maryam, Jack Hawkins as Tristam Griffen, and Michael Rennie as King Edward I. Read more…

RASHOMON – Fumio Hayasaka

December 26, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned director Akira Kurosawa found inspiration for his next film from two short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa – In a Bamboo Grove (1922) and Rashomon (1915). He decided to blend the two narratives and collaborated with Shinobu Hashimoto to adapt a screenplay. Financial backing was secured from the Daiei Film company, Minoru Jingo was assigned production with a very small budget of $250,000, and Kurosawa took the reins to direct. For his cast, Kurosawa brought in Takashi Shimura as Kikori the woodcutter, Minoru Chiaki as Tabi Hõshi the priest, Masayuki Mori as Takehiro the samurai, Machiko Kyõ as the samurai’s wife Masako, and Toshiro Mifune as Tajomaru the bandit. Read more…

BROKEN ARROW – Hugo Friedhofer

December 5, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1949 Darryl F. Zanuck, Director of Film Production at 20th Century Fox decided that the 1947 novel Blood Brother by Elliot Arnold, which explored the Arizona Indian War of 1870-1872 offered a compelling story, which needed to be brought to the bIg screen. He purchased the film rights, AND assigned production to Julian Blaustein, with Albert Maltz and Elliot Arnold hired to adapt the novel and write the screenplay. Delmer Daves was tasked with directing and a cast was assembled, which would cause great controversy. Once again, the issue was criticism of white actors coopting Indian roles. James Stewart at 41 would head the cast and star in his first Western film. Joining him would be Jeff Chandler as Cochise, Debra Paget as Sonseehray, Basil Ruysdael as General Oliver Howard, Will Geer as Ben Slade, and Jay Silverheels as Geronimo. Read more…

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN – Adolph Deutsch, Roger Edens, Irving Berlin

November 28, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun”, which was based on the legendary Annie Oakley, stared Ethel Merman and had a very successful theatrical run of 1,147 performances. MGM studios took notice and decided that they would continue their parade of musicals with a new one based on Annie Oakley for their marquee star Judy Garland. They purchased the film rights, assigned production to Arthur Freed and Roger Edens with a $3.73 million budget. Sidney Sheldon was hired to write the screenplay adaptation of the novel “Annie Get Your Gun” (1946) by Herbert Fields. Filming conflicts with Garland led to the director being replaced twice, with Busby Berkeley and Charles Walters exiting and George Sidney finally taking up the reins. For the cast Judy Garland would star as Annie Oakley, however clashes with Berkeley exacerbated her health and insecurity problems and she was ultimately fired. Betty Hutton was hired as her replacement and joined by; Howard Keel and Frank Butler, Louis Calhern as Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Keenan Wynn as Charlie Davenport, Benay Venuta as Dolly Tate, and J. Carrol Naish as Chief Sitting Bull. Read more…

THE FALL OF BERLIN – Dmitri Shostakovich

November 21, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Fall of Berlin was conceived by director Michail Chiaureli as a two-part documentary that would offer a propagandist cult of personality homage to the Supreme Leader Josef Stalin as a 70th birthday present. A pamphlet distributed with the film’s release reveals its intent, stating: “It is a moving picture in which great feelings of patriotism are assembled in an epic of the people’s common struggle for freedom, independence, and for happiness… through realistic and faithful pictures in which the Soviet man is shown in his unfailing union with the Great Leader of the People”. Chiaureli and Pyotyr Andreyevitch Pavlenko collaborated on the writing the screenplay, and secured approval from the Ministry of Cinema. Mosfilm would manage production and a fine cast was assembled, including; Miheil Gelovani as Josef Stalin, Boris Andreyev as Alexsei Ivanov, Yury Tymoshenko as Kostya Zaichenko, Marina Kovalyova and as Nayasha Rumyantseva. Read more…

CINDERELLA – Oliver Wallace and Paul J. Smith

November 14, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney and his beloved studio had not achieved a commercial triumph since “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs thirteen years earlier. He was $4 million in debt and tittering on bankruptcy. He threw caution to the wind with a gamble that would either save the company, or end it; he would adapt the story “Cinderella”, a universal transcultural tale told by many throughout time beginning with Strabo in 7 B.C.E. Disney selected the French version of the tale by author Charles Perrault, and personally took charge of production with a $2.2 million budget, which ultimately swelled to $3.0 million. A team of eight animators was assembled, ten writers overseen by Ben Sharpsteen would write the screenplay, and the trio of Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wilfred Jackson would direct. The voice cast would consist of Ilene Woods as Cinderella, Eleanor Audley as Lady Tremaine, Verna Felton as the Fairy Godmother, and William Edward Phipps as Prince Charming. Read more…

PRINCE OF FOXES – Alfred Newman

November 7, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1948 20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck sought to recapture the box office success of Captain of Castile with the latest best-selling novel from author Samuel Shellabarger, Prince of Foxes. Zanuck purchased the film rights for $200,000 and envisioned studio star Tyrone Power in the lead role. Sol Siegel was assigned production, Milton Krims was hired to write the screenplay, and Henry King was tasked with directing. To create an old-world feel, Zanuck sent teams to Italy for filming in a number of palaces and gardens, which would be very expensive, ballooning the budget to over $4 million. To offset the projected costs, he made the creative decision to film in black and white, a decision opposed by King, and one he in hindsight regretted. The cast would include Tyrone Power as Andrea Orsini, Orson Welles as Caesare Borgia, Wanda Hendrix as Camila Verano, Marina Berti as Angela Borgia, and Everett Sloane as Mario Belli. Read more…

JOAN OF ARC – Hugo Friedhofer

October 31, 2022 2 comments

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The impetus of the film lay with actress Ingrid Bergman who had been lobbying Hollywood for years to make the film with her in the titular role. Well, she finally secured backing by Sierra Pictures, which was created by producer Nick Meyer specifically for this film. RKO joined, Walter Wanger was assigned production, and a budget of $4.7 million was provided. Maxwell Anderson and Andrew Solt were tasked with adapting Anderson’s Broadway play “Joan of Lorraine” for the screenplay, and Victor Fleming took the reins to direct. A fine cast was assembled to support Bergman in the titular role, including; José Ferrer as the Dauphin, Charles VII, Selena Royle as Isabelle d’Arc, Robert Barrat as Jacques d’Arc, Jimmy Lyndon as Pierre d’Arc, Rand Brooks as Jean d’Arc, Frederick Worlock as John, Duke of Bedford, Colin Kieth-Johnston as Philip, Duke of Burgundy, Francis L. Sullivan as Bishop Chaucon, and Shepperd Strudwick as Father Massieu. Read more…

OLIVER TWIST – Arnold Bax

October 24, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

After the success of his Charles Dickens film adaptation Great Expectations in 1946, director David Lean decided to adapt another of Dickens’ novels for his next film – Oliver Twist. He sold his idea to General Film Distributors who agreed to bank roll the film. Lean brought back as much of the same creative team as possible with Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan in charge of production. Lean would again direct and he and Stanley Haynes wrote the screenplay. An exceptional cast was assembled, which included; John Howard Davies as Oliver Twist, Alec Guinness as Fagin, Kay Walsh as Nancy, Robert Newton as Bill Sykes, Anthony Newley as the Artful Dodger, and Diana Dors as Charlotte. Read more…

SPRING IN A SMALL TOWN – Huang Yijun

October 17, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1947 renowned playwright and director Wu Zuguang commissioned screenwriter Li Tianji to write a screenplay to be titled “Spring in a Small Town”. Upon completion, the screenplay was presented to two production companies, Gutoi and Datong, which both declined. A third attempt with the Wen Hua Production Company was successful, and the film went into production with a very small budget as the company was near bankruptcy. Fei Mu was tasked with directing and made changes in the script to reduce the number of characters as budgetary constraints were onerous. A fine cast was assembled, which included Wei Wei as the heroine Zhōu Yùwén, Yu Shi as Yùwén’s husband Dài Lǐyán, Lei Wei as Dai Lǐyán’s childhood friend and Yùwén’s former lover Zhāng Zhìchén, Cui Chaoming as Dai and Yùwén’s loyal servant Lǎo Huáng, and Zhang Hongmei as Dai Lǐyán’s young sister Dài Xiù. Read more…

THE SPRING RIVER FLOWS EAST – Zhang Zengfan

October 10, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The film The Spring River Flows East – Yī Jiāng Chūn Shuǐ Xiàng Dōng Liú in its native language – was conceived by the director and screenplay writing team of Zheng Junli and Cai Chusheng. Its title derives from a famous line among ancient Chinese poems that uses water as a metaphor for sorrow. In the film’s story it is used to express boundless, unending sorrow, as endless as the ever-flowing river water in spring. The film was a passion project and Zheng and Cai secured financial backing from the Kunlun Film Company, which oversaw production. Zheng and Cai wrote the screenplay, would co-direct, and assembled a stellar cast, including the leading actors of the time: Bai Yang who would play Sufen, and Tao Jin who would play Zhang Zhongliang. Joining them would be Shi Xiuwen as Wang Lizhen, Shangguan Yunzhu as He Wenyuan, Yan Gongshang as Zhang Zhongliang’s father, Gao Zheng as Zhang Zhongmin and Zhou Boxum as Pang Haogong. Read more…