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Posts Tagged ‘Bernard Herrmann’

PSYCHO – Bernard Herrmann

August 7, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

After the much-heralded success of North by Northwest in 1959, Alfred Hitchcock chose to change career paths and direct his first Horror genre film. His secretary found an obscure novel, Psycho by novelist Robert Bloch, and it was exactly for what Hitchcock was seeking. He purchased the film rights for a mere $9,500, and then bought as many copies of the book as possible as he was determined to keep it’s ending a secret. He however ran into headwinds immediately when Paramount studio executives were taken aback by the sordid nature of the story. Yet Hitchcock was determined and negotiated a small budget, agreed to shoot in black and white on the Universal lots, agreed to employ his television series crews, and asked that Paramount only manage the film’s distribution. In addition he offered to take 60% of the film profits in lieu of his customary salary of $250,000. Paramount agreed as they expected the film to lose money. Remarkably, and to Paramount’s chagrin, the film was enormously profitable. In the end, Hitchcock had the final laugh, earning an astounding $15 million! Read more…

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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…

VERTIGO – Bernard Herrmann

July 3, 2017 4 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 DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL – Bernard Herrmann

March 20, 2017 2 comments

thedaytheearthstoodstill100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Julian Blaustein had long sought to make a film that would serve as a metaphor for the dark pall of fear and suspicion, which had fallen over humanity following the onset of the Atomic Age. Unfortunately after reviewing over 200 scripts he was unable to find one that suited him. He managed to obtain backing from Fox Studio Executive Darryl F. Zanuck to hire screenwriter Edmund North to adapt the short story Farewell to the Master (1940) by Harry Bates. From the story Blaustein saw opportunity arise for thoughtful moral commentary against armed conflict. He also hoped that the story’s nuanced subliminal parallels between the alien visitor Klaatu and Jesus Christ would help drive home the message. Veteran director Robert Wise was brought in to manage the project, and a fine cast was selected, including; Michael Rennie as Klaatu, Patricia Neal as Helen Benson, Billy Gray as Bobby Benson, Hugh Marlowe as Tom Stephens and Sam Jaffe as Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Read more…

THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR – Bernard Herrmann

October 31, 2016 1 comment

ghostandmrsmuir100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck was taken in by R. A. Dick’s 1945 romance novel A Ghost and Mrs. Muir, bought the screen rights, and commissioned Philip Dunne to adapt it for the big screen. Fred Kohlmar was assigned to produce the film and Joseph Mankiewitcz was tasked with directing. An exceptional cast was assembled, which included Gene Tierney as Lucy Muir, Rex Harrison as Captain Daniel Gregg, George Sanders as Miles Fairley, Edna Best as Martha Higgins and Venessa Brown as Anna Muir. The film offers a classic romance with powerful themes, which explore the yearning, pain and devastation of unrequited love, the sad sanctuary of solitude, and the romantic promise of spiritual liberation and transcendence through death. Mankiewicz’s biographer Bernard Dick relates that “Essentially Lucy was in love with Death; it was a love that could only be satisfied in myth, or in a dreamlike relationship with a visitor from Death’s kingdom. But mythic roles are difficult to sustain; dreams are evanescent; and art without an artist is impossible. To regain what she had with the captain, she must die.” Read more…

THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER – Bernard Herrmann

July 18, 2016 1 comment

devilanddanilwebster100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

1941 would prove to be a banner year for Bernard Herrmann as he was honored with two Academy Award nominations. Having completed Citizen Kane, what many believe to be his Magnum Opus, RKO Studios tasked him with a new project The Devil and Daniel Webster for director William Dieterle. Note that the studio later changed the title to “All That Money Can Buy”. From both Herrmann’s and Dieterle’s perspectives, the collaboration was collegial, and in the end, The Devil and Daniel Webster triumphed over Citizen Kane, earning Herrmann his only Academy Award win. Herrmann’s entry into the realm of film score music atop two nominated scores and an Oscar win was an outstanding achievement. Herrmann would later relate that he believed Citizen Kane was a superior score in that it was more original and better integrated into the film’s narrative – your author agrees. Read more…

CITIZEN KANE – Bernard Herrmann

June 27, 2016 1 comment

citizenkane100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Orson Welles recognized Herrmann’s talents and so when RKO Pictures signed him to a contract in 1941 he brought Herrmann along as his composer. Their first collaboration was “Citizen Kane” (1941), which earned Herrmann acclaim and his first Academy Award nomination for Best Score of a Dramatic Picture. The film is a masterpiece, set in the period of American industrialization. The brilliant screenplay by Herman Mankiewicz uses this backdrop to portray a great man’s rise and fall due to a misuse of power, which leaves him emotionally and physically isolated. Herrmann understood immediately the impetus of the film’s tragic narrative saying “it’s a picture about wealth and power… Kane, in my opinion was totally misunderstood.” Wells gave Herrmann unprecedented access and 12 weeks in which to write the score, which he used to create what I believe to be his Magnum Opus. Read more…