Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Copland’

THE NORTH STAR – Aaron Copland

April 17, 2023 2 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1942 President Roosevelt created the Office of War Information (OWI) to serve as America’s official propaganda agency. The OWI pressured Hollywood studios to make war films that favorably represented the Soviet Union to generate public support given that they and America were now allies fighting Nazi Germany. Following a personal request by President Roosevelt, MGM executive Samuel Goldwyn decided to contribute with the film The North Star. Goldwyn, assisted by William Cameron Menzies, took charge of production with a $3 million budget. Lillian Hellman was hired to write the story and screenplay, and Lewis Milestone was tasked with directing. An exceptional cast was assembled, including Ann Baxter as Marina Pavlova, Dana Andrews as Kolya Simonov, Walter Huston as Dr. Pavel Grigorich Kurin, Walter Brennan as Karp, Ann Harding as Sophia Pavlova, Jane Withers as Clavdia Kurina, Farley Granger as Damian Simonov and Erich von Stroheim as Dr. von Harden. Read more…

OF MICE AND MEN – Aaron Copland

September 27, 2021 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1938 producer Lewis Milestone saw opportunity after witnessing John Steinbeck’s play Of Mice and Men achieve a milestone of 207 Broadway theatrical performances, and win the prestigious New York Drama Critics’ Circle award in 1938. He convinced Hal Roach Studios and United Artists Studios to fund and distribute the film. Milestone would also direct the and tasked screenwriter Eugene Solow in adapting the play and original novella for the big screen. A fine cast was assembled, which included Burgess Meredith as George, Betty Field as Mae, Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie, Charles Bickford as Slim, Noah Beery Jr. as Whit, and Bob Steele as Curley. Read more…

OUR TOWN – Aaron Copland

September 20, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned producer Sol Lester was impressed by the run of 338 Broadway theatrical performances of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning play Our Town by Thornton Wilder. He believed its poignant story could be successfully adapted to the big screen and decided to oversee production with his company Sol Lester Productions. Screenwriters Harry Chandlee and Frank Craven were hired to collaborate with author Thornton Wilder in adapting the play, which presented challenges given that it was performed on a nearly empty stage, and the main character dies. To adapt the play, they made the creative decision to add indoor and outdoor scenery, narration, and the third Act was altered to have a dream sequence, which would allow the main character Emily to live. Sam Wood was tasked with directing and a fine cast was assembled, which included William Holden as George Gibbs, Martha Scott as Emily Webb, Thomas Mitchell as Dr. Frank Gibbs, and Fay Bainter as Mrs. Julia Gibbs. Read more…

THE HEIRESS – Aaron Copland

November 27, 2019 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film lies with renown actress Olivia de Havilland who one night fell in love with the Broadway play The Heiress (1947). She sought out director William Wyler and pitched the idea of him directing her in a film adaptation of the play. Wyler, who had long admired de Havilland, jumped at the opportunity to direct her in this film. He obtained permission from Paramount studios executives to purchase the film rights from playwrights Augustus and Ruth Goetz for $250,000, and then hired them to adapt their play to the big screen. Wyler would produce and direct the film. Supporting Olivia de Havilland in the titular role would be a stellar cast which included Montgomery Clift as Morris Townsend, Ralph Richardson as Dr. Austin Sloper and Miriam Hopkins as Aunt Lavinia Penniman. The story takes place in New York City circa 1849 and centers on the life of Catherine Sloper, the shy, doting daughter of her recently widowed father Austin Sloper. She lives an insular life in luxury, content with embroidery and dutifully caring for her critical and unloving father. She is an heiress set for life as her mother bequeathed her a $10,000 a year stipend, which would increase to $30,000 once her father passes. Read more…

THE RED PONY – Aaron Copland

February 20, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In the 1940s Republic Pictures was struggling to find its place in the sun, and so made a concerted effort to gain equal status with the major studios of the day. To that end they began to take on serious dramas with renowned directors. Producer-Director Lewis Milestone was hired to bring George Steinbeck’s short story series The Red Pony to the big screen. Steinbeck himself was hired to write the screenplay as the multiple story lines had to be blended into a cogent narrative. Milestone brought in a splendid cast which included Myrna Loy as Alice Tiflin, Robert Mitchum as Billy Buck, Louis Calhern as Grandfather, Sheppherd Strudwick as Fred Tiflin, Peter Miles as Tom Tiflin, and Margaret Hamilton as Teacher. The story is classic Americana, set in the 1930s, and takes place in the Salinas Valley ranching communities of central California. A young boy Tom is gifted a red pony colt by his father Fred. The two are not close and Fred hopes that the gift will strengthen the father-son bond. But instead of seeking help from his father, Tom instead asks stableman Billy to help assist him in caring for the pony and in its training. Read more…