Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Alex North’

CLEOPATRA – Alex North

October 23, 2017 Leave a comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox had descended into financial troubles in the late 1950s due to a string of poorly performing films. They decided to regain the glory of their past by remaking one of their prior gems – the 1917 film Cleopatra . They needed a producer to bring the film to fruition, and when veteran Walter Wanger approached the studio to tell the story of Cleopatra, an astounding synergy was realized. He tasked Joseph Mankiewicz with directing, and Ranald MacDougall and Sidney Buchman joined him in fashioning the script. Mankiewicz’s original conception was to make two, three-hour films; Caesar and Cleopatra, and Anthony and Cleopatra. He was however overruled by the studio who insisted on a single film. A cast for the ages was assembled with Elizabeth Taylor playing the titular role of Cleopatra. Supporting her would be Richard Burton as Marc Anthony, Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar, Roddy McDowell as Octavian, and Martin Landau as Rufio. Read more…

Advertisements

SPARTACUS – Alex North

July 31, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Kirk Douglas’ pride was wounded when director William Wyler selected Charlton Heston over him for the titular role in Ben-Hur. He resolved to show Wyler and Hollywood that he could carry a Roman epic film. Fortune smiled when Edward Lewis, a studio executive in Douglas’ production company, came upon the novel Spartacus (1951) by Howard Fast. Its heroic story telling of a man who rises up to challenge the might of the Roman Empire offered a perfect opportunity for Douglas to showcase his talent. He purchased the film rights and then convinced Universal Studios to jointly finance the film. Douglas brought in Fast to adapt his own novel, but his unfamiliarity with cinematic screenplays led to his dismissal. Douglas was determined to succeed at all costs, and so stoked controversy by bringing in black listed screenplay writer Dalton Trumbo and insisting that he get screen credit. This decision was decisive in that it served to break the decade long blacklisting of writers in Hollywood. For his cast, we have one the finest ever assembled. Supporting Douglas in the titular role would be Lawrence Olivier as Crassus, Jean Simmons as Varinia, Charles Laughton as Gracchus, Peter Ustinov as Lentulus Batiatus, Tony Curtis as Antoninus, John Gavin as Julius Caesar, John Dall as Glabrus and John Ireland as Crixus. The film got off to a rocky start when Douglas fired his director Anthony Mann after one week of shooting – he felt he was in over his head. He brought in past collaborator Stanley Kubrick, and the rest is history. Read more…

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE – Alex North

March 13, 2017 1 comment

astreetcarnameddesire100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Elia Kazan had achieved widespread critical acclaim while directing Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway. At the bidding of Williams, he was exhorted to duplicate this success on the big screen. Warner Brothers bought into the idea and purchased the film rights with the proviso that Williams himself write the screenplay. Since Kazan was already quite familiar and comfortable with the Broadway cast, most of them were brought in to reprise their roles, including Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski and Karl Malden as Harold “Mitch” Mitchell. Studio executives however vetoed the talented Jessica Tandy from the Broadway cast for the lead actress role of Blanche DuBois, preferring to add the star power of Vivian Leigh. Read more…

UNDER THE VOLCANO – Alex North

December 4, 2014 Leave a comment

underthevolcanoTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Under the Volcano is a critically-acclaimed drama based on the important novel by Malcolm Lowry. Set against the backdrop of imminent war in Europe, and taking place on the Mexican fiesta celebrating the Day of Dead, the film follows one day in the life of Geoffrey Firmin, a British consul living in alcoholic disrepair and obscurity in a small southern Mexican town in 1939. The film was one of the last directed by the legendary John Huston, and starred Albert Finney as Geoffrey, Anthony Andrews as his idealistic half-brother Hugh, and Jacqueline Bisset as his ex-wife, Yvonne, who has returned to Mexico with hopes of healing Geoffrey and their broken marriage. Lost amid the blockbusters of the period, the film is largely forgotten today, despite its stellar credentials, and despite its multiple Award nominations, which included Oscar recognition for Finney’s leading role, and for its score by the great Alex North. Read more…

DRAGONSLAYER – Alex North

April 15, 2010 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Dragonslayer is a difficult score for someone like me to review, and this is why: it’s because I’m not a musicologist. You can’t review scores as intellectually challenging and musically complex as Dragonslayer in the usual way, because it’s not a standard score: despite being a fantasy film set in an ancient world of dragons, sorcerers, kings, and damsels in distress, the music is about as far removed from the genre conventions as one can imagine. I don’t have the musical vocabulary, or a deep enough knowledge of the compositional techniques Alex North employs in this score, to be able to do it justice, and any attempt by me to describe it in the usual emotional terms would be laughably futile. So let me begin with this: Dragonslayer is one of the most challenging, difficult, complicated, infuriating, disturbing, chaotic scores you are ever likely to hear. It’s also quite brilliant. Read more…