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NORTH BY NORTHWEST – Bernard Herrmann

July 24, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1958 Screenwriter Ernest Lehman approached Alfred Hitchcock with an offer to “make a Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures.” After brainstorming to find common ground, a plot coalesced around a case of mistaken identity, murder, romance and a cross-country chase, which ends dramatically atop Mount Rushmore. Hitchcock secured a stellar cast, which included Cary Grant as (Roger Thornhill), Eve Marie Saint as (Eve Kendall), James Mason as (Phillip Vandamm). The story concerns a Madison Avenue advertising man, Roger Thornhill, who finds himself thrust into the hidden world of spies and espionage when he is mistaken for a man by the name of George Kaplan. He is pursued and hunted by foreign spy Phillip Vandamm and his henchman Leonard who try to eliminate him. When Thornhill is framed for murder he is forced to flee from the police, boarding a 20th Century Limited bound for Chicago. On board he meets Eve Kendall, a beautiful blond who assists him to evade the authorities. Yet all is not as it seems as he discovers that Eve isn’t the innocent bystander but instead Vandamm’s lover. But in another twist Eve is revealed as a double agent and they fall in love. They then join forces and survive a harrowing dramatic escape from Vandamm on the face of Mt. Rushmore. The film is considered to be Hitchcock’s most stylish thriller and was both a critical and commercial success. Read more…

DUEL IN THE SUN – Dimitri Tiomkin

July 10, 2017 2 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Famed studio executive David O. Selznick had long sought to recapture the past glory he achieved with Gone With The Wind (1939). He at last found his film within the pages of the novel Duel in the Sun (1944) by Niven Busch. He secured the film rights and joined with screenwriters Oliver H.P. Garrett and Ben Hecht to write the screenplay. For Selznick this film was a passion project, which he would produce and distribute. King Vidor was tasked with directing, and a stellar cast was brought in, which included; Jennifer Jones as Pearl Chavez, Joseph Cotton as Jesse McCanles, Gregory Peck as Lewt McCanles, Lionel Barrymore as Senator Jackson McCanles, Herbert Marshall as Scott Chavez, Lilian Gish as Laura Belle McCanles and Walter Houston as Jubal Crabbe – The Sinkiller. The film was beset with drama and controversy from day one. Its controversial sexual content resulted in Hayes Code censoring, causing numerous editing, which disrupted its storytelling and narrative flow. In addition, Selznick’s constant interference and micromanaging resulted in numerous rewrites of the script, and reshoots, which expanded the film to over 26 hours in length! In the end, this contributed to the breakup of Selznick’s marriage with Jennifer Jones, as well as King Vidor quitting the project. In total, seven directors and six cinematographers were casualties in the making of this film. Read more…

VERTIGO – Bernard Herrmann

July 3, 2017 3 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Alfred Hitchcock had earlier taken notice of French authors Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac but was frustrated in a failed bid to secure film rights to one of their novels. When they published their next book in 1954, “D’entre les Morts” (From Among The Dead), Hitchcock would not be denied and resolutely purchased the film rights. He was jubilant and prepared to finance, produce and direct the film, which was now a passion project. Writing the screenplay however was problematic. Hitchcock rejected the efforts of Maxwell Anderson and then Alec Coppel before accepting the 3rd and final version by Samuel Taylor. For his cast he chose his favorite Vera Miles for the role of Madeleine, however she had to drop out after becoming pregnant. When his second choice Lana Turner demanded too much money, Hitchcock turned to Kim Novak. James Stewart was chosen for the lead role of John “Scottie” Ferguson, with Barbara Bel Geddes as Margaret and Tom Helmore as Gavin Elster. When all was said and done Hitchcock related that both Stewart and Novak were miscast and the cause of the film’s poor reception. Read more…

THE BIG COUNTRY – Jerome Moross

June 26, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

MGM set out to bring an epic tale of Americana to the big screen. For this massive production they hired William Wyler as director and producer. A screenplay authored my a multitude of writers created a complex narrative, which sought to move beyond the genre’s traditional narratives to explore the darker and more ambiguous psychology of old west. A stellar cast was assembled, which included Gregory Peck (James McKay), Jean Simmons (Julie Maragon), Burl Ives (Rufus Hannassey), Charlton Heston (Steve Leech), Caroll Baker (Patricia Terrill) and Chuck Connors (Buck Hannassey). The story involves romance and the battle for water and grazing rights on the high plains. We see Captain James McKay, a wealthy and now retired sea captain who has come west to marry fiancée Pat Terrill, who seems pampered and controlled by her wealthy father, Major Henry Terrill. As a military seaman McKay’s formal personal affect, values and approach to life seem culturally incongruous and pretentious. When he eschews the code of the west of settling disputes with violence he creates an instant animus with the locals, especially ranch foreman Steve Leech. His apparent cowardice also loses the respect of Pat. Read more…

THE SEARCHERS – Max Steiner

June 19, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned director John Ford had long been recognized as a master of the Western genre with successes, which included Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948) and Wagon Master (1950). He came upon a novel The Searchers (1954) by Alan Le May that he believed offered a powerful narrative, which needed to be brought to the big screen. Warner Brothers Studio approved the project, purchased the film rights and tasked Ford with bringing his vision to fruition. Frank Nugent was hired to write the screenplay and Ford assembled a stellar cast, which included; John Wayne as Ethan Edwards, Jeffrey Hunter as Martin Pawley, Vera Miles as Laurie Jorgensen, Ward Bond as Reverend Captain Samuel Clayton, Natalie Woods as Debbie Edwards and Henry Brandon as Scar. The story was set in Texas and inspired by a real life event, the 1836 kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker by Comanche Indians. She would spend twenty-four years of her life among them, bearing and raising three sons with her Comanche husband. Read more…

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS – Elmer Bernstein

June 12, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

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…

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS – Victor Young

June 5, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Ever-ambitious producer Mike Todd sought to bring an epic adventure tale to the big screen. He hired screenwriter James Poe to adapt renowned author Jules Verne’s novel “Around The World In 80 Days”. He gave the director reigns to Michael Anderson who brought in an amazing cast which included; David Niven as the classic Victorian English gentleman Phileas Fogg, Mexican icon Cantinflas as the resourceful “Jack of all Trades” Passepartout, Shirley MacLaine as the captivating Princess Aouda, her debut acting role, and Robert Newton as the redoubtable Inspector Fix. The story takes place in England circa 1872 and centers on an epic adventure taken by Phileas Fogg and his man servant Passepartout. Fogg makes the audacious claim that he can circumnavigate the world in eighty days. He offers a £20,000 wager with four skeptical compatriots of the Reform Club, thus setting the stage for the adventure. Read more…