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THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

June 1, 2020 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studio executives saw the commercial success of Maxwell Anderson’s 1930 New York stage production of “Elizabeth The Queen,” which ran for an impressive 147 performances, and decided to purchase the film rights. Hal B. Wallis would produce the film, Michael Curtiz was tasked with directing, and Norman Reilly Raine and Aeneas MacKenzie were hired to write the screenplay. A stellar cast was assembled with Bette Davis starring as Queen Elizabeth I, Errol Flynn as Robert Devereux the Earl of Essex, Olivia de Havilland as Lady Penelope Gray, Donald Crisp as Francis Bacon, Alan Hale Sr. as Earl of Tyrone and Vincent Price as Sir Walter Raleigh. Drama arose immediately as Davis and Flynn did not like each other, something which was exacerbated by his insistence that his character be included in the film title led. This did not sit well with Davis; in a dress rehearsal scene, she purposely slapped Flynn’s face hard in front of the entire production crew instead of feigning it. Flynn did not retaliate and luckily, she did not reprise the slap during live filming. as he related in his memoirs that he would have slapped her back! Read more…

CAPTAIN BLOOD – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

March 30, 2020 2 comments

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The commercial success of Treasure Island and The Count of Monte Cristo in 1934 inspired Warner Brothers Studio executives to remake their earlier silent film of Captain Blood, which first hit the silver screen in 1923. They tasked producers Harry Joe Brown and Gordon Hollingshead to manage the project with a generous $1.24 million budget and hired Michael Curtiz to direct. They would again adapt the film from the 1922 novel Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini and hired Casey Robinson to write the screenplay. However, casting got off on the wrong foot; Robert Donat and Jean Muir were originally sought for the lead roles, but when Donat declined the offer, the studio decided to bypass Muir and recruit new young talent. 24-year-old Australian actor Errol Flynn would make his Hollywood debut, cast in the titular role supported by 19-year-old Olivia de Havilland, who would play Arabella Bishop. Joining them would be Lionel Atwill as Colonel Bishop, Basil Rathbone as Levasseur, Ross Alexander as Jeremy Pitt, and Henry Stephensen as Lord Willoughby. Read more…

KINGS ROW – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

August 1, 2016 1 comment

kingsrow100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1940 the publication of Henry Bellamann’s provocative novel “Kings Row” took the American public by storm, soaring to #1 on the best seller list. Producer Hal Wallis of Warner Brothers saw a powerful social narrative after reading the novel and immediately purchased the film rights for $35,000. Sam Wood was brought in to direct and Casey Robinson was given the unenviable Herculean task of adapting the massive 674-page novel to the screen. He rose to the task, and when compared to the novel, the film is tame, as the Joseph Breen, director of the Hays Code censored most of the more sordid and controversial elements of the plot, including all references to incest, nymphomania, euthanasia, sadism, homosexuality, casual sex and nude bathing. Wood brought in a stellar cast which included; Ann Sheridan as Randy Monaghan, Robert Cummings as Parris Mitchell, Ronald Reagan as Drake McHugh, Betty Field as Cassandra Tower, Charles Coburn as Dr. Henry Gordon, Claude Rains as Dr. Alexander Tower, Judith Anderson as Mrs. Harriet Gordon and Maria Ouspenskaya as Madame von Ein. Read more…

THE SEA HAWK – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

December 7, 2015 1 comment

seahawk100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studios was very much interested in remakes of author Rafael Sabatini’s two seafaring novels The Sea Hawk (1915) and Captain Blood (1922). After acquiring the Vitagraph company, which produced the earlier Silent Era films, the studio set in motion its plan. Captain Blood (1935) was a stunning success, which propelled Errol Flynn to stardom, however the studio shelved The Sea Hawk in favor of starring Flynn in The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) and The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex (1939). Upon completion of filming the Studio assigned Henry Blanke and Hal Wallis to produce The Sea Hawk and Michael Curtiz to direct. Howard Koch and Seton Miller were tasked with writing a swashbuckling epic to showcase Flynn’s charisma and talent. Supporting Erroll Flynn as Geoffrey Thorpe would be Henry Daniell as Lord Wolfingham, Brenda Marshall as Doña María, Claude Rains as Don José Álvarez de Córdoba, Donald Crisp as Sir John Burleson, Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth I, Alan Hale as Carl Pitt and Una O’Connor as Miss Latham. Read more…

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

November 16, 2015 Leave a comment

adventuresofrobinhood100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

I offer my heartfelt thanks to Anna Bonn, John Morgan and William Stromberg for yet another masterful rerecording of a treasured Golden Age score. Performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the sound quality is superb as is conductor Stromberg’s mastery of Korngold’s music. This expert team have once again superbly reconstructed and re-recorded the entire score with outstanding quality. This score is a rousing, rich, multi-thematic effort that offers you the regal splendor and gallantry of Medieval England. The story was Errol Flynn’s vehicle, and his brash, bold, charismatic and fiercely defiant persona animated the film. Korngold music is perfectly attenuated to his heroic persona and expertly captured his irrepressible spirit. From the fanfare of the Main Title, to the lush Love Theme where the Lady Marian succumbs to his charm, to the epic and culminating Duel, this score is a testimony to Korngold’s genius, and mastery of his craft. His countless melodies and fan fares are timeless, peerless, and continue to echo through time. Read more…

ANTHONY ADVERSE – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

July 20, 2015 Leave a comment

anthonyadverseMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studio was in the market for a period piece romance and found its inspiration in Harvey Allen’s massive 1200 page novel “Anthony Adverse” (1933), paying an amazing $40,000 for the screen rights. Veteran director Mervyn LeRoy was hired to manage the project with Sheridan Gibney and Milton Krims tasked with adapting the mammoth novel for the big screen. The stellar cast included Frederic March as Anthony Adverse, Olivia de Havilland as Angela Giuseppe, Donald Woods as Vincent Nolte, Anita Louise as Maria Bonnyfeather, Edmund Gwenn as John Bonnyfeather and Claude Rains as Marquis Don Luis. Set in late 18th century Italy, the story offers a classic morality tale abounding with treachery, betrayal and misfortune. Maria is in an arranged marriage to the rich and cruel Marquis Don Luis, who is very much her senior. She however is in love with the man her dreams, a young and dashing French Calvary officer with who she becomes pregnant. When the Marquis discovers her dishonor, he kills her lover in a duel, and after she dies in childbirth, leaves her bastard son at a convent. When young Anthony reaches manhood he falls in love and marries his sweetheart Angela. By a twist of fate they become separated, tragically he is bereft at her disappearance while she feels he has abandoned her. As Anthony seeks his fortune overseas Angela rises to become an opera star. Years later when our lovers finally reunite, Anthony discovers that Angela has bore him a son, but she fails to disclose that she is now the famous opera star Mlle. Georges, mistress of Napoleon Bonaparte. When Anthony learns her secret, he is heart-broken and departs for America with his son in search of a better life. The film was a commercial and critical success, earning seven Academy Award nominations, winning four, including Best Original Score. Read more…

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

July 6, 2015 1 comment

adventuresofrobinhoodMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1935 Warner Brothers Studio sought to bring an epic swashbuckling film to the big screen and William Keighley was hired to direct. Screenwriters Norman Reilly Raine and Seton Miller were brought in to write the script, for which they drew inspiration from the Medieval Robin Hood legends. A stellar cast was assembled including; Errol Flynn (Sir Robin of Locksley AKA Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland (Lady Marian Fitzwalter), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne), Claude Reins (Prince John), Patrick Knowles (Will Scarlett), Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck), Alan Hale Sr. (Little John) and Melville Cooper (High Sheriff of Nottingham). The story reveals that in 1,191 C.E. King Richard the Lionheart of England has been taken captive by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, as he returned from the Third Crusade. Regretfully his imprisonment provides a pretext for his treacherous brother Prince John to usurp the throne. As a member of the ruling Norman elite, he begins a reign of terror and oppression of the native Saxons, raising taxes supposedly to ransom Richard’s freedom, but in reality the money flows into his personal coffers for his own enrichment. Only one nobleman has the conscience to oppose John’s duplicity, the Saxon knight Sir Robin of Locksley. At a court dinner he boldly declares that he will do all in his power to oppose John and restore Richard to the throne. For this affront John issues an arrest warrant. With his lands and title now forfeit, Robin assembles a band of “Merry Men” who rob from the rich and provide for the poor. When Lady Marion becomes his prisoner, her initial disdain turns to admiration and then love when she sees Robin’s nobility and care for the people. Eventually Robin discovers Richard has returned and devises a plan to overthrow John. He and his men enter Sir Guy’s castle dressed as monks and succeed in winning the day, which features an epic duel with Sir Guy. Now vanquished, a contrite John begs for Richard’s forgiveness, and is exiled. Richard then pardons the Merry Men, knights Robin as Baron of Locksley and Earl of Sherwood and Nottingham. He then commands Robin to marry his ward, the Lady Marian resulting in a classic happy ending! The film was both a huge commercial success and critical success, earning four Academy Award nominations, winning three, including Best Original Score. Read more…

ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD – Fathers of Film Music, Part 2

June 1, 2014 1 comment

Erich Wolfgang KorngoldArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 29 May 1897, Brünn, Moravia.
Died: 29 November 1957

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was born of Jewish ancestry in the city of Brünn located in the province of Moravia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and is now Brno in the Czech Republic). He was the second son of renowned music critic Julius Korngold and his wife Josephine. His innate musical gifts manifested early when he played his Cantata “Gold” for composer Gustav Mahler, who was so impressed that he declared him a musical genius. When at age 11 his ballet “Der Schneemann” premiered at the Vienna Court Opera house for Emperor Franz Josef his destiny was set. His parents chose to act on Mahler’s recommendations and enrolled Erich to study under the auspices of Alexander von Zemlinsky and Robert Fuchs. To support his education Korngold made live recordings for player piano rolls, some of which survive today. Read more…

THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Prince and the Pauper was Mark Twain’s first effort to write a historical fiction novel. Director William Keighley had screenwriter Laird Doyle adapt the tale for film and hired swashbuckler star Errol Flynn (Miles Hendon) to head his cast, which included Claude Raines (Lord Hertford) and the twins Billy and Bobby Mauch. The story involves the birth of two boys who share both an uncommon resemblance and destiny: the pauper Tom and prince Edward. As a kid, Tom would often sneak into the palace garden and play with the prince. One day they change clothes with each other and are discovered by the guards, which eject the prince who they assumed, was a pauper. As the two boys struggle with their new lives, King Henry VIII dies leaving Tom under the malevolent control of Lord Hertford the duty of assuming the throne. With the assistance of mercenary Miles Hendon, Edward succeeds in interrupting the coronation and regaining his standing as rightful heir. The film did not achieve critical success but was never the less a commercial success. Read more…