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Posts Tagged ‘Dimitri Tiomkin’

LOST HORIZON – Dimitri Tiomkin

February 24, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

During the filming of It Happened One Night in 1934 director Frank Capra read and became inspired by the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. He was determined to adapt it to the big screen but had to delay production when his starring actor Ronald Coleman was contractually committed to another project. He eventually received the green light to proceed from Columbia Pictures executive Harry Cohn who provided a very generous budget of $1.25 million. The film was a passion project that Capra would produce and direct. The novel was adapted to the screen by screenwriter Robert Riskin, and a stellar cast was brought in led by Ronald Coleman as Robert Conway. Joining him would be Jane Wyatt as Sondra Bizet, H. B. Warner as Chang, Sam Jaffe as the High Lama, John Howard as George Conway, Edward Everett Horton as Alexander Lovett, Thomas Mitchell as Henry Barnard and Margo as Maria. The story centers on Robert Conway a writer and soldier set to return to England to assume the Foreign Secretary position in 1935. He is currently posted to China and ordered to evacuate 90 westerners lest they be captured by approaching Chinese revolutionaries. As they depart, the plane’s pilot has been replaced and they are hijacked, which ends with them running out of fuel and crashing deep in the Himalayas mountains. They are rescued by a mysterious man called Chang who leads them to a hidden and verdant valley called Shangri-La, where people live in idyllic peace and harmony, free of disease and blessed with unnatural long life. Read more…

DIAL M FOR MURDER – Dimitri Tiomkin

January 21, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

English playwright Frederick Knott introduced his story “Dial M For Murder” in 1952 as a play for television. Its popularity led to stage productions in London and New York that were also successful. Renowned producer Alexander Korda saw opportunity and purchased the film rights, and after the success of the stage productions sold them to Warner Brothers for a handsome profit. Warner Brothers Studios had Alfred Hitchcock under contract and when his effort to film “The Bramble Bush” failed to get off the ground they directed him to begin production on “Dial M For Murder”. Hitchcock would produce and direct the film with a modest budget of $1.4 million. His first choices for the lead roles did not pan out. Cary Grant would not accept the role of a villain, and Olivia de Havilland demanded too much money for his modest budget. Despite these setbacks he never the less secured a fine cast which included Ray Milland as Tony Wendice, Grace Kelly as Margot Mary Wendice, Robert Cummings as Mark Halliday, John Williams as Chief Inspector Hubbard, and Anthony Dawson as Alexander Swann. Read more…

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE – Dimitri Tiomkin

October 30, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Anthony Mann of El Cid fame sought to reprise his success with another ancient epic, this time set in the waning days of the Roman Empire. He assembled a stellar cast that included Sophia Loren (Lucilla), Alec Guinness (Marcus Aurelius), Stephen Boyd (Livius), Christopher Plummer (Commodus), James Mason (Tiomedes) and Omar Sharif as Sohamus. Regretfully, the film was less epic and more a wooden documentary as it plodded through its three-hour plus running time. The story centers on the intrigue and contest for love and power in the court of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. After the emperor is assassinated, a power mad, vain and unstable Commodus assumes the throne and begins a reign of terror, ultimately banishing all who earned his disfavor including Livius, Lucilla and Tiomedes. The film was a commercial failure bringing in only 20% of its 19 million dollar production costs. The score however achieved critical success being nominated by both the Academy of Motion Pictures and The Golden Globes. Tiomkin succeeded in winning a well-deserved Golden Globe. Read more…

THE ALAMO – Dimitri Tiomkin

August 14, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

This historical epic directed by and starring John Wayne focuses on the famous battle at the Alamo. In 1836, Generalisimo Santa Anna and his grand Mexican Army marched into Texas, then a province of Mexico, to break a rebellion by the locals. The Texans are not fully prepared to engage Santa Anna in battle, so in order to buy time for General Sam Houston and his troops, his subordinate, Colonel William Travis, devises a bold plan. He will fortify and garrison a small mission fort called the Alamo to forestall Santa Ana’s advance northward. The odds are near impossible as they are greatly outnumbered in men, cavalry and artillery. Yet Travis is resolute in his determination to stop Santa Anna at all costs. Heroes of American folklore, the legendary Jim Bowie as well as Davy Crockett and his Tennessee Volunteers support him. And so this small band of 187 men stand their ground in the face of Santa Ana’s army of 5,000 only to find that relief is not coming. Resigned to their fate these American heroes fight an unwinnable battle, one where they will be slaughtered to the man, but a battle that will serve as a rallying cry that will inspire their fellow Texans to fight for and win independence. The movie has a stellar cast that included John Wayne (Davey Crockett), Richard Widmark (Jim Bowie) and Laurence Harvey as Colonel William Travis. The film was a critical success earning six Oscar nominations, but a commercial failure as ticket sales failed to recoup the production costs. Read more…

DUEL IN THE SUN – Dimitri Tiomkin

July 10, 2017 2 comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Famed studio executive David O. Selznick had long sought to recapture the past glory he achieved with Gone With The Wind (1939). He at last found his film within the pages of the novel Duel in the Sun (1944) by Niven Busch. He secured the film rights and joined with screenwriters Oliver H.P. Garrett and Ben Hecht to write the screenplay. For Selznick this film was a passion project, which he would produce and distribute. King Vidor was tasked with directing, and a stellar cast was brought in, which included; Jennifer Jones as Pearl Chavez, Joseph Cotton as Jesse McCanles, Gregory Peck as Lewt McCanles, Lionel Barrymore as Senator Jackson McCanles, Herbert Marshall as Scott Chavez, Lilian Gish as Laura Belle McCanles and Walter Houston as Jubal Crabbe – The Sinkiller. The film was beset with drama and controversy from day one. Its controversial sexual content resulted in Hayes Code censoring, causing numerous editing, which disrupted its storytelling and narrative flow. In addition, Selznick’s constant interference and micromanaging resulted in numerous rewrites of the script, and reshoots, which expanded the film to over 26 hours in length! In the end, this contributed to the breakup of Selznick’s marriage with Jennifer Jones, as well as King Vidor quitting the project. In total, seven directors and six cinematographers were casualties in the making of this film. Read more…

HIGH NOON – Dimitri Tiomkin

March 27, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producers Stanley Kramer and Carl Foreman had long sought to film a Western and saw their opportunity when they came across an inspiring short story “The Tin Star” by John Cunningham. Foreman adapted it for the big screen and hired European director Fred Zinnemann to direct. For the film veteran actor Gary Cooper was given the lead role of Will Kane. He was joined by Grace Kelly (Amy Fowler), Ian MacDonald (Frank Miller) and Lloyd Bridges (Harvey Pell). The story is set in 1880 in the New Mexico Territory. It is a classic morality play regarding personal honor, civic duty, and a man’s struggle to overcome his fears. The story reveals Will Kane, the Marshall of Hadleyville, who has retired after many years of service to marry his sweetheart Amy Fowler. (The casting of Cooper who was 50 years old and 30 years Kelly’s senior raised eyebrows). As he is about to depart to start a new life in another town, word comes that Frank Miller, an outlaw he brought to justice has been acquitted on a legal technicality. Miller has announced to all that he is spoiling for revenge and will arrive on the noon train. Will’s sense of honor leads to him reclaiming his badge to safeguard the town, yet his nobility is unrequited by townsfolk who all refuse to stand with him against Frank, his brother Ben and fellow outlaws Jack Colby and Jim Pierce. Even his deputy rejects him for not recommending him as his replacement. Well, the epic confrontation takes place with Will standing alone against four men. He guns down Ben and Jack, but is wounded in the process. Amy, a pacifist Quaker comes to her man’s aid and shoots Jim in the back. An outraged Frank takes her hostage to force Will’s submission. Yet Amy suddenly strikes Miller, thus distracting him and giving Will a clear shot. Will finishes his task by shooting Frank. As the relieved townspeople come out from the shadows, Will stares at them with palpable contempt. He throws his marshal’s star in the dirt with disdain and leaves the town with Amy. The film was both a critical and commercial success, including twin Oscars for Best Score and Best Song for Tiomkin. Read more…

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA – Dimitri Tiomkin

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment

oldmanandtheseaMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Old Man and the Sea was a novel written by Ernest Hemmingway in 1951 during his stay in Cuba. Warner Brothers Studio purchased the film rights, selected Fred Zinnemann to direct, hired Paul Osborne to adapt it to the big screen and used Hemmingway as a technical consultant. When live sea filming failed and Hemmingway raged against both the script and marlin prop, Zinnemann and Osborne resigned from the project. John Sturges took over directing and at Hemmingway’s insistence Peter Viertel reworked the script. Given that this was an intimate story of a man’s personal struggle, veteran actor Spencer Tracy was hired to play the lead role of Santiago, with Felipe Pazos Jr. playing the boy Manolin. Read more…

HIGH NOON – Dimitri Tiomkin

September 15, 2014 1 comment

highnoonMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producers Stanley Kramer and Carl Foreman had long sought to film a Western and saw their opportunity when they came across an inspiring short story “The Tin Star” by John Cunningham. Foreman adapted it for the big screen as High Noon, and hired European director Fred Zinnemann to direct. Veteran actor Gary Cooper was given the lead role of Will Kane. He was joined by Grace Kelly (Amy Fowler), Ian MacDonald (Frank Miller) and Lloyd Bridges (Harvey Pell). The story is set in 1880 in the New Mexico Territory. It is a classic morality play regarding personal honor, civic duty, and a man’s struggle to overcome his fears. Read more…

DIMITRI TIOMKIN – Fathers of Film Music, Part 4

September 1, 2014 1 comment

Dimitri TiomkinArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 10 May 1894, Kremenchuk, Ukraine.
Died: 11 November 1979.

Dimitri Zinovich Tiomkin was born in Kremenchuk, Ukraine during the wanning years of the imperial Russian Empire. His mother Marie was a music teacher who nurtured his nascent talent as a pianist and his father Zinovie, was a physician. At the urging of his wife, Zinovie enrolled Dimitri in the prestigious St. Petersburg Conservatory, which was overseen by renowned Russian composer Alexander Glazunov. Tiomkin’s native gifts allowed him to quickly gain prominence as a solo pianist under the tutelage of Felix Blumenfeld and Isabelle Vengerova.

The early 20th century was a rich time for music and the arts in Russia and Tiomkin would often visit the “Homeless Dog” café where he would enjoy the company of other rising artists such as fellow student Serge Prokofiev and dancer Mikhail Fokine. The café offered Tiomkin his first exposure to American ragtime, blues and jazz. The seeds of these experiences would later blossom; helping him lay the foundation of his American film music career. To supplement his income Tiomkin would provide piano accompaniment to Russian and French silent films as well as army post tours, which featured the prima ballerina Thamar Karsavina. Read more…

55 DAYS AT PEKING – Dimitri Tiomkin

November 24, 2011 4 comments

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

55 Days at Peking is an epic film which joined politics and a love story as it explored European imperialism at the dawn of the 20th century. Set in Peking (now Beijing) we see the capital city occupied and under the financial domination of eleven European countries and Japan. They exploit the populace, are immune from Chinese laws and compete for economic control. A populist peasant rebellion called the Boxers rises up with fury and covert support from the Dowager Empress to expel the foreigners and restore Chinese honor and sovereignty. Producer Samuel Bronston assembled a stellar cast that included Charlton Heston as U.S. Major Matt Lewis, Ava Gardner as Russian Baroness, Natalie Ivanoff with whom he falls in love and David Niven as Sir Arthur Robinson, head of the British delegation. Regretfully despite the grandeur of its sets, its splendor and pageantry, the film’s narrative was uninspired, its script weak, and it suffered massive production challenges; implacable hostility between Heston and Gardner (she quit the film and they were forced to kill off her character!), went through four directors and ended up being both a commercial and critical failure. Read more…

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE – Dimitri Tiomkin

October 25, 2011 7 comments

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Anthony Mann of El Cid fame sought to reprise his success with another ancient epic, this time set in the waning days of the Roman Empire. He assembled a stellar cast that included Sophia Loren (Lucilla), Alec Guinness (Marcus Aurelius), Stephen Boyd (Livius), Christopher Plummer (Commodus), James Mason (Tiomedes) and Omar Sharif as Sohamus. Regretfully, the film was less epic and more a wooden documentary as it plodded through its three-hour plus running time. The story centers on the intrigue and contest for love and power in the court of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. After the emperor is assassinated, a power mad, vain and unstable Commodus assumes the throne and begins a reign of terror, ultimately banishing all who earned his disfavor including Livius, Lucilla and Tiomedes. The film was a commercial failure bringing in only 20% of its 19 million dollar production costs. The score however achieved critical success being nominated by both the Academy of Motion Pictures and The Golden Globes. Tiomkin succeeded in winning a well-deserved Golden Globe. Read more…

THE ALAMO – Dimitri Tiomkin

September 22, 2011 2 comments

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

This historical epic directed by and starring John Wayne focuses on the famous battle at the Alamo. In 1836, Generalissimo Santa Anna and his grand Mexican Army marched into Texas, then a province of Mexico, to break a rebellion by the locals. The Texans are not fully prepared to engage Santa Anna in battle, so in order to buy time for General Sam Houston and his troops, his subordinate, Colonel William Travis, devises a bold plan. He will fortify and garrison a small mission fort called the Alamo to forestall Santa Ana’s advance northward. The odds are near impossible as they are greatly outnumbered in men, cavalry and artillery. Yet Travis is resolute in his determination to stop Santa Anna at all costs. Heroes of American folklore, the legendary Jim Bowie as well as Davy Crockett and his Tennessee Volunteers support him. And so this small band of 187 men stand their ground in the face of Santa Ana’s army of 5,000 only to find that relief is not coming. Resigned to their fate these American heroes fight an unwinnable battle, one where they will be slaughtered to the man, but a battle that will serve as a rallying cry that will inspire their fellow Texans to fight for and win independence. The movie has a stellar cast that included John Wayne (Davey Crockett), Richard Widmark (Jim Bowie) and Laurence Harvey as Colonel William Travis. The film was a critical success earning six Oscar nominations, but a commercial failure as ticket sales failed to recoup the production costs. Read more…

THE WAR WAGON – Dimitri Tiomkin

November 14, 2010 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The tale opens with Taw Jackson played by America’s defining western actor John Wayne returning from prison. This film is indeed a rarity as Wayne for the first time in his career plays a villain. He is bent on recovering his fortune which was stolen from him by antagonist Frank Pierce after being wounded in a shoot-out. At his ranch Jackson decides to make a deal with Lomax (Kirk Douglas), the very man who shot him five years ago to join forces against Pierce and steal a large gold shipment. The gold is transported in an armored stage coach called “The War Wagon” that is very heavily guarded. This is a classic example of vigilante justice as these two men collaborate in assembling a team of men to stage a hold-up to regain Jackson’s lost gold. Read more…