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Posts Tagged ‘100 Greatest Scores’

ROMEO AND JULIET – Nino Rota

February 15, 2021 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Franco Zeffirelli’s first film was The Taming of the Shrew in 1967, which was adapted from the original Shakespearean play. It was a commercial success, and for his next project he conceived a new adaptation of another of Shakespeare’s famous plays, “Romeo and Juliet”. A lack of funding however drove him to pursue a television production. Yet his fortunes changed when Paramount Pictures agreed to join in partnership with BHE Films, Verona Produzione and Dino de Laurentis Cinematografia to finance a big screen release. A budget of $850,000 was provided and the British team of Anthony Havelock-Allan and John Brabourne would produce the film. For the screen play Zeffirelli collaborated with Masolino d’Amico and Franco Brusati. In an audacious casting move Zeffirelli decided to cast the lead roles as minors, assuring fidelity to Shakespeare’s original conception. Leonard Whiting, a 17-year-old, was cast as Romeo, and Olivia Hussey, a 15 year old, as Juliet. Joining them would be Milo O’Shea as Friar Laurence, Michael York as Tybalt, John McEnery as Mercutio, Natasha Parry as Lady Capulet, and Robert Stephens as the Prince of Verona. Read more…

IL GATTOPARDO – Nino Rota

January 25, 2021 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Studio executives of the Italian production company Titanus decided to bring to the big screen the popular 1958 best-selling novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Collaboration with 20th Century Fox brought the necessary financing for a budget of $2 million. Titanus producer Goffredo Lombardo was tasked with the project, and Luchino Visconti brought in to direct. Controversy arose over casting the key role of Prince Don Fabrizio Corbera of Salina as Visconti desired Marlon Brando or Laurence Olivier but the 20th Century Fox leveraged their financing of $2 million to force Burt Lancaster into the role over Visconti’s objections. Joining him would be Claudia Cardinale as Angelica Sedera, Alain Delon as Prince Tancredi Falconeri, and Rina Morelli as Princess Maria Stella of Salina. Read more…

THE WIND AND THE LION – Jerry Goldsmith

January 4, 2021 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director John Milius was a longtime admirer of President Theodore Roosevelt. By chance he came upon an article “Pedecaris Incident” by Barbara W. Tuchman in American Heritage magazine and found a fascinating story which involved President Roosevelt sending American troops to free an American citizen kidnapped in Morocco by a Berber warlord. He was intrigued by the tale and further investigatory reading of the 1924 biography Raisuli, The Sultan of the Mountains by Rosita Forbes inspired him to proceed with a film adaptation. He had always dreamed of filming a grand sprawling epic film and believed this story gave him his opportunity. Given that this was a passion project, Milius wrote the screenplay himself and related: “I consider ‘The Wind and the Lion’ my first real movie. I approached it as a David Lean film, to do it in that style, a large epic canvas, to see if I could pull off great movements of troops. The story is even written that way. Two guys, the Raisuli and Teddy Roosevelt, yelling at each other across oceans.” However, to get MGM Studios buy in, he had to romanticize the story by changing the kidnapped victim to a beautiful woman, and casting Raisuli as one of the dashing leading men of the day. Herb Jaffe was tasked with producing the film and a budget of $4.5 million was provided. Casting was problematic with Omar Sharif turning down the part of Raisuli and Faye Dunaway withdrawing due to illness. Eventually Sean Connery was cast as Sharif Mulai Ahmed Mohammed Raisuli joined by Candice Bergen as Eden Pedecaris. Joining them would be Brian Keith as President Theodore Roosevelt and John Huston as Secretary of State John Hay. Read more…

THE GADFLY – Dmitri Shostakovich

December 21, 2020 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

One day it dawned to director Aleksandr Faintsimmer that the popular 1897 novel Ovod – The Gadfly – by Ethel Voynich lent itself well for adaptation to the big screen. Its tale of revolutionary zeal, the excoriation of an anachronistic church and the unification of oppressed people in a modern egalitarian state had long been promoted by the Soviet Ministry of Culture. The book was also very popular with the populace, selling 2.5 million copies. He pitched his idea to the Ministry of Culture and secured backing after a review of the screenplay, which was written by Viktor Shklovsky. Lenfilm, a production unit of the Soviet Union, was formally authorized to produce the film. A fine cast was assembled, which included Oleg Strizhenov as Arthur Burton/Felice Rivarez, Marianna Strizhenova as Gemma, Nikolai Simonov as Cardinal Montanelli and Vladimir Etush as Cesare Martini. Read more…

THE COBWEB – Leonard Rosenman

December 14, 2020 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Vincent Minnelli was intrigued by the cinematic possibilities offered by William Gibson’s novel, The Cobweb (1954), which takes place in a psychiatric institution where both the patients and the professional staff suffer from neuroses. He sold his idea to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, John Houseman was tasked to produce, and a budget of $1,976 million was provided. Casting foundered when Robert Taylor, Lana Turner and Grace Kelly were either unavailable or declined. Eventually a fine cast was assembled, which included Richard Widmark as Dr. Stewart McIver, Lauren Bacall as Meg Rinehart, Charles Boyer as Dr. Devanal, Gloria Grahame as Karen McIver, Lilian Gish as Victoria Inch and John Kerr as Stevie. Read more…

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST – Ennio Morricone

December 7, 2020 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned Italian director Sergio Leone had achieved what many believed to be the pinnacle of success in 1966, following completion of the last film of his famous Dollars trilogy, “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. Despite receiving universal accolades, he decided that he had said everything he wanted to say, and would not be returning to the Western genre. Hollywood studios, however, had other ideas, and wanted to capitalize on his talent and record of success. United Artists offered him opportunity to make a new Western, and his choice of the leading actors of the day including Charlton Heston, Kirk Douglas or Rock Hudson. Leone declined, but when Paramount made a very generous financial offer, which also included an opportunity to work with Henry Fonda, Leone’s favorite actor, he agreed. Fulvio Morsella was tasked with producing and a budget of $5 million was provided. Leone hired Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento to assist him in crafting a screenplay. Later in the project Italian screenwriter Sergio Donati was brought in to assist with editing the film’s length as well as fine tuning the script’s dialogue. A fine cast was assembled, which included Henry Fonda as Frank, Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain, Jason Robards as Manuel “Cheyenne” Gutiérrez, Charles Bronson as “Harmonica”, Gabriele Ferzetti as Mr. Morton, Paolo Stoppa as Sam, and Frank Wolff as Brett McBain. Read more…

SHAFT – Isaac Hayes

November 30, 2020 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In the 1960s and 1970s the larger than life screen detective genre flourished with stars such as Paul Newman in Harper), Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome, and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Producer Joel Freeman and MGM Studios sought to cash in on the genre and decided to adapt novelist Ernest Tidyman’s last book Shaft. It was decided that Tidyman and John D. F. Black would collaborate in writing the screenplay. Gordon Parks was given the reins to direct and he made a truly audacious move by casting the titular character with Richard Roundtree, a black former model and actor. In the novel, Shaft is white, and this bold move would ultimately prove transformative in the Hollywood film industry, unleashing the Blaxploitation film genre. Joining Roundtree would be Moses Gunn as Bumpy Jonas and Charles Cioffi as Lieutenant Vic Androzzi. Read more…

L’ASSASSINAT DU DUC DE GUISE – Camille Saint-Saëns

November 23, 2020 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

During the 1880s a technological revolution occurred with the invention of celluloid photographic film and motion picture cameras. The first public screening of a motion picture in which an admission fee was charged occurred in New York City 1895 by the Lambda Company, founded by Woodville Latham. The idiom quickly gained popularity, and in 1907 Paul Lafitte, a wealthy novelist, publisher and financier founded the French production company Le Film d’Art to produce French films, which he hoped would gain the admiration of the cultural elite as well as the patronage of the common people. Throughout his life Lafitte had been tireless in fostering literature and the theatre. He saw motion pictures as a new way to bring education and entertainment to the masses. He recruited talented stage actors from the Comédie-Française theatre group, and in 1908 decided to produce his first film, the French historical drama L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise originally titled La Mort du Duc de Guise. The Pathé Frères company would distribute the film, and he tasked French actors Charles le Bargy and André Calmettes to direct. French dramatist Henri Lavedan was hired to write an original screenplay, and a fine cast was assembled, which included Charles le Bargy as King Henry III, Albert Lambert as Le Duc de Guise, Gabrielle Robinne as Marquise de Noirmoutier and Berthe Bovy as Le Page. The final product was a short film of 18 minutes. Read more…

TARAS BULBA – Franz Waxman

November 9, 2020 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Robert Aldrich, a producer, director and screenwriter had for many years been crafting a script for his dream project, adapting the 1895 novella Taras Bulba by Nikolai Gogol for the big screen. After five scripts he believe he had at last created a “sensational” screenplay. The project moved forward in 1959, but foundered when financing failed. Aldrich fell into debt, and was forced to sell the script to Joseph Kaufman, an agent for producer Harold Hecht for $100,000. Harold Hecht Productions would finance the film with United Artists distributing. A budget of $6 million was provided and J. Lee Thompson was brought in to direct. A fine cast was assembled, which included Tony Curtis as Andrei Bulba, Yul Brynner as Taras Bulba, Christine Kaufman as Natalie Dubrov, and Perry Lopez as Ostap Bulba. Read more…

KING OF KINGS – Miklós Rózsa

September 14, 2020 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Samuel Bronston related that the most impactful event in human history was the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. He had long nurtured the dream to bring this remarkable tale to the big screen. His conception, which was presented to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios was to make Jesus more accessible, by presenting Him as a flesh and blood man living during tumultuous times. Given the stunning success of Ben-Hur in 1959 MGM decided to cash in on the public’s love of biblical epics and gave Bronston permission to proceed. He hired writers Philip Yordan and Ray Bradbury to write the screenplay, and brought in veteran director Nicholas Ray to direct. A splendid cast was assembled, which included Jefferey Hunter as Jesus, Siobhán McKenna as Mary, Robert Ryan as John the Baptist, Ron Randell as Lucius, Hurd Hatfield as Pontius Pilate, Frank Thring as Herod Antipas, Rip Torn as Judas Iscariot, Harry Guardino as Barabbas, Carmen Sevilla as Mary Magdalene, Brigid Balzen as Salomé, and Guy Rolfe as Caiaphas. Read more…

FORBIDDEN PLANET – Louis Barron and Bebe Barron

June 15, 2020 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The massive commercial success of the science fiction film The Day The Earth Stood Still in 1951 motivated MGM executives to cash in on the emerging genre, which had captured the public’s imagination. They came upon a screenplay entitled Fatal Planet by Irving Block and Allen Adler, and believed they had found their film. Nicholas Nayfack was hired to produce, and he brought in Fred Wilcox to direct. They were not fully satisfied with the script and brought in screenwriter Cyril Hume to make adjustments, beginning with the title, which was changed to “Forbidden Planet” as it was believed to have greater mystery and box office appeal. An excellent cast was hired, which included Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Edward Morbius, Ann Francis as his daughter Altaira, Leslie Nielsen in his acting debut as Commander John Adams, Robby the Robot as himself, Warren Stevens as Lieutenant Doc Ostrow, Jack Kelly as Lieutenant Jerry Farman, Richard Anderson as Chief Quinn, and Earl Holliman as the Cook. The story draws inspiration from William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” 1610. It takes place in the distant 23rd century on the planet Altair IV. Captain Adams commands the starship C-57D on a mission to discover the fate of the starship Bellerophon, which was sent there on a mission 20 years earlier. They discover two survivors, Dr. Mobius and his daughter Altaira along with their robot Robby, who relate that an unknown entity killed the other crew members and destroyed the Bellerophon. They also learn that Dr. Mobius has discovered technology from an ancient race known as the Krell, which inhabited this planet yet disappeared in a cataclysm some 200,000 years ago. Read more…

ODNA [ALONE] – Dmitri Shostakovich

January 27, 2020 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Film-making in the 1930s Soviet Union was very tightly regulated by the state to ensure fidelity to the ideals of the revolution. Directors Leonid Trauberg and Grigori Kozintsev found inspiration in news reports of the dire challenges faced by two teachers. They conceived their film to address three political issues of the day; the State’s promotion of education, the elimination of the kulaks (land owning peasants), and the introduction of modern technology. The film was originally conceived as a silent film, but was later changed to include dialogue and music by composer Dmitri Shostakovich. With the additional demand by the State for realism in film, each actor would use their real names as the characters. Yelena Kuzima would star in the lead role as the school teacher Joining her would be Pyotr Sobolevsky as her husband, Sergey Gerasimov as the local Council Chairman and Mariya Babanova as the Chairman’s wife. Read more…

WINGS – J. S. Zamecnik

June 10, 2019 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

John Monk Saunders served in the US Air Corp during WWI as a flight instructor in Florida. He had lifelong regrets that he was never able to serve his country in combat, and so conceived a story, which would allow him to realize that ambition in film. He pitched his idea to producer Jessie Lasky who was unreceptive due to the logistics required to film aerial combat. Yet Saunders would not be denied and secured support from the War Department, which included 220 planes, and airmen, artillery, tanks, trucks and troops. Lasky was impressed and decided to proceed with his Famous Players-Lasky company financing the project and Paramount Studio securing distribution rights. A massive budget of $2 million was budgeted and Louis Lighton and Hope Loring were hired to write the screenplay. Lasky and four others would produce the film, and William Wellman was tasked with directing as he was the only director in Hollywood who had actual combat pilot experience. Securing a cast was an adventure however when Paramount’s greatest star Clara Bow, demanded a rewrite stating “Wings is a man’s picture and I am just the whipped cream on top of the pie”. Her demands were met and the story evolved into a war time romance. She would star as Mary Preston, with Charles “Buddy” Rogers as Jack Powell, Richard Arlen as David Armstrong, Gary Cooper as Cadet White, and Jobyna Ralston as Sylvia Lewis. Read more…

METROPOLIS – Gottfried Huppertz

May 20, 2019 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Fritz Lang had early access to his wife Thea von Harbou’s 1925 novel Metropolis, and was inspired to bring its bold futuristic social commentary to the big screen. The couple worked together to fashion the screenplay and secured financing from the German production company WFA and the German distribution company Parufamet, which was created by investment from Paramount and MGM studios. He pitched his screenplay to Erich Pommer, the most powerful film producer in Germany of the time, and secured his backing to produce the film. A fine cast was assembled which included Alfred Abel as the Master of Metropolis Joh Fredersen, Gustav Fröhlich as Joh Fredersen’s son, Rudolph Klein-Rogge as Rotwang the inventor, and Brigitte Helm as the unforgettable Maria. The film’s narrative offers a potent social commentary, which is set in the far future in the great city of Metropolis. The society is dystopian with an elite ruling class of capitalist industrial oligarchs who live above ground in luxurious skyscrapers and hold power over a lower working class who live impoverished underground, toiling endlessly to operate and maintain the great machines that power the city. They share not in the profits, nor any of the benefits, which go solely to the ruling elite. Freder, who is the son of the Master of Metropolis, bears witness to the misery of the working class and resolves to advocate for them. Freder meets a worker prophetess named Maria who foresees the arrival of a Mediator who will unify the workers and ruling elite of Metropolis in a new Utopia. He falls in love with Maria and aspires to assume the role of Mediator. Against this backdrop the evil inventor Rotwang creates a robot bearing Maria’s likeness to foment dissent and revolution, which will bring him to power. In the end, after much intrigue and fighting, Freder kills Rotwang and fulfills his role as Mediator. Read more…

PAN TADEUSZ – Wojciech Kilar

May 6, 2019 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Poland had a decade earlier thrown off the foreign shackles of Russian domination, yet the country was struggling to regain its identity, and find its place in the world. Against this backdrop, the great Polish director Andrrzej Wajda conceived for his next project a grand tale based on Adam Mickiewicz’s epic 1834 poem Pan Tadeusz. The poem is considered by Poles to be the greatest achievement in Polish literature and by most professors of literature to be the last epic poem in European literature. Wajda describes it as “a great story that focuses on our national characteristics. The Poles in Pan Tadeusz are the same as we are now: sometimes wise, sometimes stupid. It’s basically a picture of how we are now and allows us to look at ourselves and see who we are and where we’re going.” Wajda pitched his idea to several studios and secured funding from a conglomerate of twelve companies. He would direct and write the screenplay, and Lew Rywin would produce. A fine cast was assembled, which included; Boguslaw Linda as Jacek Soplica/Father Robak, Michal Zebrowski as Tadeusz Soplica, Alicia Bachleda-Curus as Zosia Horeszko, Grazyna Szapolowska as Telimena, Andrzej Seweryn as Judge Soplica, and Marek Kondrat as Count Horeszko. Read more…