Posts Tagged ‘Bill Conti’


December 16, 2019 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The 1979 novel The Right Stuff by Tom Woolfe proved to be a hit with the public, which set-off a bidding war for screen rights between Universal Pictures and independent producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. Chartoff and Winkler won the day and hired screenwriter William Goldman to adapt the novel to the big screen. Goldman was inspired by the project and was seeking a patriotic Americana tale, which celebrated the Mercury 7 astronauts involved. Philip Kaufman was tasked with directing, but he disliked Goldman’s script, believing it too patriotic, with not enough focus on test pilot Chuck Yeager. Goldman left the project, Woolfe declined to adapt his novel, and so Kaufman wrote the screenplay himself. He related; “if you’re serious about tracing where the future — read: space travel — began, its roots lay with Yeager and the whole test pilot-subculture. Ultimately, astronautics descended from that point.” Kaufman brought in a fine cast, which included Fred Ward as Gus Grissom, Dennis Quaid as Gordo Cooper, Ed Harris as John Glenn, Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager, Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard, Lance Henriksen as Wally Schirra, Scott Paulin as Deke Slayton, Barbara Hershey as Glennis Yeager and Veronica Cartwright as Betty Grissom. Read more…


August 29, 2019 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Simon Wiesenthal had quite an amazing life. Born into a Jewish family in Austria in 1908, he was captured and sent to a concentration camp after the outbreak of World War II; after surviving against terrible odds, Wiesenthal spent the rest of his life as one of the world’s most famous ‘Nazi hunters,’ tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazi war criminals so that they could be brought to trial. He was involved as a key witness in the Nuremberg Trials, and instrumental in the 1960 capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust who personally sent hundreds of thousands of people to die in Auschwitz. Wiesenthal was also a writer and philanthropist, and lent his name to a research and human rights center in Los Angeles. He died in 2005, but not before this acclaimed TV movie of his life was released on HBO in 1989. The film was directed by Brian Gibson and starred Ben Kingsley in the titular role, with support from Craig T. Nelson, Anton Lesser, Paul Freeman, and Renée Soutendijk as Simon’s wife Cyla. Read more…

ROCKY – Bill Conti

April 23, 2018 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Sylvester Stallone was enduring hard times in 1975. Despite having appeared in a few movies – including The Lords of Flatbush, Farewell My Lovely, and Death Race 2000 – he had only $100 in the bank, and was seeking to sell his dog Butkus because he could not afford to feed it. Ending up on the street was a looming possibility, which focused his resolve to engineer the big career break he needed. Seeking inspiration, Stallone found it in a famous match between heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and underdog no-hoper Chuck Wepner, who somehow managed to take the legendary Ali to fifteen rounds. Over three nights Stallone wrote a quintessential American rags-to-riches story about a down-and-out boxer named Rocky Balboa. This is a classic underdog narrative, where we bear witness to a determined man, who through perseverance, guile and sheer force of will, overcomes all obstacles to achieve greatness. Entwined within the narrative is a surprisingly tender love story, which served to endear Rocky to audiences as a relatable and fallible hero, one of the common folk whose story informs us that anything is possible. United Artist producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler loved the script and bought the film rights, with Stallone leveraging its sale with the stipulation that he would star. Studio executives baulked, but when Stallone refused to blink, they acquiesced, but with a severely reduced budget of $1 million. John G. Avildsen was tasked with directing the film. Read more…


August 24, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When I was a kid, He-Man was all the rage, a staple of playgrounds the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. The franchise began as a line of toys introduced by the Mattel company in 1981, which were accompanied by mini-comic books giving each figure a backstory; this morphed into an immensely popular animated TV series which debuted in 1983, telling the story of the heroic Prince Adam, who transforms into He-Man when he holds aloft his magic sword and says ‘by the power of Greyskull,’ and his battles the evil forces of Skeletor, who wants to take over Adam’s home planet of Eternia. Naturally, a film adaptation of the story was put into production, and in the summer of 1987 Masters of the Universe opened. Directed by Gary Goddard, it starred the muscle-bound Dolph Lundgren in the leading role, with Frank Langella hamming it up in full prosthetic makeup as his bone-faced nemesis. Read more…

F/X – Bill Conti

March 17, 2016 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

F/X is an action-thriller directed by Robert Mandel, starring Australian actor Bryan Brown as Rollie Tyler, a Hollywood movie special effects expert. Rollie is approached by the US Justice Department to fake the death of a Mafia informant (Jerry Orbach), so that he can enter the witness protection program and, later, testify against his former mob bosses. Of course, as generally tends to happen in films like this, Rollie gets double-crossed by the people who hired him, and he must exploit his unique talents to clear his name and unmask those behind the conspiracy. The film co-stars Brian Dennehy, Diane Venora, Cliff De Young, and Mason Adams, and was enough of a critical and commercial success to allow for a 1991 sequel, F/X2: The Deadly Art of Illusion, and a short lived 1990s TV spinoff. Read more…


August 28, 2014 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If you say ‘wax on, wax off’ to anyone of a certain age, they will instantly be transported back to the summer of 1984, when The Karate Kid was one of the box office smashes of the year. Essentially a Rocky story for kids, which replaced boxing with karate, the film was directed by John G. Avildsen and starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel Larusso, a streetwise New Jersey kid who is uprooted and moves to Los Angeles with his mother (Randee Heller) after his parents divorce. Despite being an outsider, Daniel is immediately smitten with pretty high school cheerleader Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), but soon becomes a target for her ex-boyfriend, bully and jock Johnny (William Zabka), who attends a ruthless karate dojo run by the equally ruthless former Special Forces veteran John Kreese (Martin Kove). After being beaten up again one night, Daniel is rescued by his apartment building’s janitor, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita); astounded by the apparently aged Miyagi’s karate skills, Daniel asks to be trained so that he can fight back against the bullies – and so begins their unlikely friendship. Read more…


August 6, 1999 Leave a comment

thomascrownaffairOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

When you look at Bill Conti’s list of credits over the past five years or so – memorable titles such as Rookie of the Year, Bushwhacked, Spy Hard and Wrongfully Accused leap out – it is all the more surprising and gratifying to see him attached to such a high profile and comparatively serious movie as The Thomas Crown Affair. He has repaid the trust invested in him by director John McTiernan with an unusual, challenging, peculiarly percussive score that has generated heated debate amongst score fans, with equal amounts of admirers and detractors. Personally, I fall into the former category. While I can appreciate that Conti’s efforts were not entirely successful, and although one key musical sequence was utterly destroyed through careless digital editing, I find it refreshing that a composer such as Conti would be willing to try something so new and original at a time when most film scores are rejected if they don’t adhere to tried and tested formulas. Read more…