Posts Tagged ‘Alex North’


November 8, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Hal B. Wallis took notice of the success of “The Rainmaker” play by N. Richard Nash, which had a 125-performance run on Broadway. He believed that its story would translate well to the big screen and so entered a bidding war with RKO Pictures in which he outbid them and secured the film rights for $300,000. Paramount Pictures agreed to finance and distribute the film, and N. Richard Nash was hired to adapt his play. Joseph Anthony was tasked with directing and a stellar cast was assembled, which included; Burt Lancaster as Bill Starbuck, Katherine Hepburn as Lizzie Curry, Wendell Corey as Deputy Sheriff J. S. File, Lloyd Bridges as Noah Curry, Cameron Prud’Homme as patriarch H.C. “Pop” Curry, and Earl Holliman as Jim Curry. Hepburn, who was forty-nine, was terribly miscast as the young Curry daughter Lizzie who was supposed to be in her late twenties. Despite this, she turned in a stellar performance that earned her an Academy Award nomination. Read more…

VIVA ZAPATA! – Alex North

May 17, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Elia Kazan and author John Steinbeck had long been friends and shared an interest in Mexican hero Emiliano Zapata, a champion of the peons who did what few men in history have done – achieved power and walked away from it, wary of its corrupting influence. In 1949 they decided to collaborate and bring the tale of this Mexican legend to the big screen. Steinbeck was tasked with writing the screenplay and he referenced Edgcomb Pinchon’s Zapata The Unconquerable (1941) as a guide. Kazan used his clout to obtain backing from Darryl F. Zanuck who agreed to produce the film for 20th Century Fox, providing a budget of $1.8 million. A fine cast was hired which included Marlon Brando in the titular role, Jean Peters as Josefa Zapata, Anthony Quinn as Eufemio Zapata, Alan Reed as Pancho Villa, and Fay Roope as Porfirio Diaz. Read more…


February 8, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox Studio executive Peter Levathes took notice of Irving Stone’s best-selling novel 1961 The Agony and the Ecstasy with almost 51 million copies sold and saw opportunity. He purchased the film rights for $125,000, yet was unable to proceed with the project as the studio suffered significant financial reversals in 1962 due to cost overruns on several films, most notable “Cleopatra”. Industry icon Daryl F. Zanuck was brought in to save the studio, and within 12 months it was again operating in the black. This allowed him to move “The Agony and the Ecstasy” into production. Carol Reed was hired to both produce and direct the film with a $7.2 million budget. A stellar cast was hired including Charlton Heston as Michelangelo, Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II, Diane Cilento as Contessina Antonia Romola de Medici, Harry Andrews as Donata Bramente and Albert Lupo as the Duke of Urbino. Read more…


March 8, 2018 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Good Morning Vietnam was one of the greatest critical and commercial successes over the winter of late 1987 and early 1988. A showcase for the improvisational talents of the late great comedian and actor Robin Williams, the film tells the (mostly) true life story of Adrian Cronauer, a motor-mouthed DJ working for the United States Armed Services at the height of the Vietnam War in 1965. From his booth on an army base in Saigon, Cronauer uses his caustic wit and love of classic rock and roll to raise the morale of the troops – despite the misgivings of his superiors, who disapprove of his irreverent antics. The film was directed by Barry Levinson, co-starred Forest Whitaker and Bruno Kirby, and went on to bag Williams his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Read more…

CLEOPATRA – Alex North

October 23, 2017 Leave a comment


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…

SPARTACUS – Alex North

July 31, 2017 2 comments


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…


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…


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…


April 15, 2010 3 comments


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…