Posts Tagged ‘Franz Waxman’


March 28, 2022 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

MGM Studios decided that they wanted to bring the 1843 novella “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens to the big screen. They secured the film rights and assigned Joseph L. Mankiewicz to production. Hugo Butler was hired to adapt the novel and write the screenplay, however, the studio insisted that the final product be a “Family Film” as was its historic practice with literary adaptations. As such, much of the grimmest, and scariest elements of Dicken’s tale was excised, which robbed the film of much of its potent social commentary. Edwin L. Marin was tasked with directing and after recasting the lead actor role, a great cast was assembled, including Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge, Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit, Kathleen Lockhart as Mrs. Cratchit, Terry Kilburn as Tiny Tim Cratchit and Barry MacKay as Fred. Read more…

PEYTON PLACE – Franz Waxman

November 22, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox producer Jerry Wald observed the enormous popularity of the novel Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, which sold 60,000 copies in the first ten days and soared to the top of the New York Times best sellers list, where it would remain for over a year. He convinced studio executives to back a film adaptation and purchased the film rights for $250,000. John Michael Hays was hired to adapt the novel, which ended up causing great controversy with the author. The story offers a sordid tale of moral hypocrisy and turpitude, which features scandals, murder, suicide, and incest. Hays was forced to sanitize the novel’s most lurid elements due to content restrictions imposed by the notorious Hayes Code. This “sanitation” enraged Metalious who would publicly deride the film, while taking her $400,000 share of the profits. Mark Robson was tasked with directing and provided a budget of $2.0 million. An excellent cast was assembled, which included Lana Turner as Constance MacKenzie, Diane Varsi as Allison MacKenzie, Hope Kange as Selena Cross, Arthur Kennedy as Lucas Cross, Lee Philips as Michael Rossi, Lloyd Nolan as Dr. Matthew Swain, Russ Tamblyn as Norman Page and Terry Moore as Betty Anderson. Read more…


November 15, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers studio executives decided that following the stunning commercial success of MGM’s “Quo Vadis” in 1951 and 20th Century Fox’s “The Robe” in 1953, that they would cash in on the popular religious epic genre. To that end they purchased the film rights to the popular 1952 novel “The Silver Chalice” by Thomas B. Costain. Lesser Samuels was hired to adapt the novel and write the screenplay. Victor Saville was tasked with production and directing the film with a budget of $4.5 million. Saville made the artistic decision to eschew traditional realism for the film’s visual design, instead embracing stage design with an Art Deco style by renown operatic stage designer Rolfe Gerard. It was an audacious decision, which in the end was not received well by critics or the public. A fine cast was hired, which included Virginia Mayo as Helena, Pier Angeli as Deborra, Jack Palance as Simon Magus, Joseph Wiseman as Mijamin, and Alexander Scourby as Luke. Read more…


August 16, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1936 MGM Studios decided to adapt the Rudyard Kipling’s 1897 coming of age novel Captains Courageous to the big screen. They purchased the screen rights, and management of the project was assigned to producer Louis D. Lighton who was provided a budget of $1.65 million. Screenwriters John Lee Mahin, Marc Connelly and Dale Van Every were hired to adapt the novel, and Victor Fleming was tasked with directing. For casting, of prime importance was finding the right boy to play the Harvey Cheyne role. The creative team hired Freddie Batholomew, an English-American actor who many regards as one of the greatest child actors in cinematic history. Joining him would be Spencer Tracy as Manuel Fidello, Lionel Barrymore as Captain Disko Troop, Melvyn Douglas as Frank Burton Cheyne, and Mickey Rooney as Dan Troop. Read more…

THE NUN’S STORY – Franz Waxman

March 29, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Fred Zinnemann was intrigued by Kathryn Hulme’s best-selling novel “The Nun’s Story (1956) and purchased the film rights. To his dismay, he could not obtain financial backing from any studio as they all felt that the lack of action would not resonate with audiences. All this changed dramatically when Audrey Hepburn decided she wanted to take on the role of Gaby Van der Mal. A bidding war ensued with Warner Brothers prevailing. Henry Blanke was hired to produce the film with a 3.5 million budget. Robert Anderson was tasked with adapting the novel and writing the screenplay. Zinnemann would direct and he assembled a fine cast. Joining Hepburn would be Peter Finch as Dr. Fortunati, Dame Edith Evans as Mother Emmanuel and Dame Peggy Ashcroft as Mother Mathilde. Read more…

TARAS BULBA – Franz Waxman

November 9, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Robert Aldrich, a producer, director and screenwriter had for many years been crafting a script for his dream project, adapting the 1895 novella Taras Bulba by Nikolai Gogol for the big screen. After five scripts he believe he had at last created a “sensational” screenplay. The project moved forward in 1959, but foundered when financing failed. Aldrich fell into debt, and was forced to sell the script to Joseph Kaufman, an agent for producer Harold Hecht for $100,000. Harold Hecht Productions would finance the film with United Artists distributing. A budget of $6 million was provided and J. Lee Thompson was brought in to direct. A fine cast was assembled, which included Tony Curtis as Andrei Bulba, Yul Brynner as Taras Bulba, Christine Kaufman as Natalie Dubrov, and Perry Lopez as Ostap Bulba. Read more…


July 6, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

MGM studios had purchased the film rights to the legendary comic book saga but was never able to reduce the sprawling story into a discreet screenplay. After languishing on the shelf for many years MGM allowed its option to lapse. Robert Jacks, who was the son in law of studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century Fox secured the film rights, sensing an opportunity given that swashbuckler films had been experiencing a resurgence in popularity after Ivanhoe (1952). Robert L. Jacks was given a generous budget of nearly $3 million to produce the film, which would be shot in CinemaScope. Dudley Nichols was hired to condense Hal Foster’s comic book tale into a more concise and cogent screenplay, and Henry Hathaway was tasked with directing. A stellar cast was assembled with 24-year-old heartthrob Robert Wagner playing the titular role. Joining him would be James Mason as the villain Sir Brack, Janet Leigh as love interest Princess Aleta, Debra Paget as Princess Irene, Sterling Hayden as Sir Gawain, Victor McLaglen as Boltar, Donald Crisp as King Aguar, Brian Aherne as King Arthur, and Primo Carnera as Sligon. Read more…

REBECCA – Franz Waxman

April 27, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

David O. Selznick was captivated by the 1938 novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a romantic psychological thriller, which he was determined to bring to the big screen. He purchased the film rights for $50,000, took on producing the film, and tasked Alfred Hitchcock to direct – his debut film in America. The screenplay was written by Robert Sherwood and Joan Harrison with adaptation by Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan. Selznick insisted that the film remain faithful to the novel, and friction occurred when he overruled a number of changes made by Hitchcock. Selznick’s initial choices for the lead roles were Ronald Coleman and Carole Lombard, but both declined. Nevertheless a stellar cast was assembled, which included Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs. De Winter, Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter, Judith Anderson as the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, George Sanders as Jack Favell, Reginald Denny as Frank Crawley, and C. Aubrey Smith as Colonel Julyan. Read more…

A PLACE IN THE SUN – Franz Waxman

March 6, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The film was adapted from a 1925 novel “An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser. Director George Stevens hired Michael Wilson and Harry Brown for the screenplay, and assembled a stellar cast to at last bring this tragic story to life. George Stevens (Montgomery Clift), Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) and Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters) were hired as the principles and paired with a great cast of supporting players. The film centers on George Eastman, a poor man raised by an evangelical mother, who is tragically undone by his own actions. He leaves Chicago dirt poor, determined to make a name for himself working in the company of his wealthy Uncle in California. While there he begins dating Alice, a girl he met in the plant. All seems fine until he becomes completely enamored with Angela, a drop dead gorgeous socialite whom he meets at a party. He abandons Alice without a thought and begins dating Angela. The two fall in love, yet things begin to unravel when Alice discloses to George that she is pregnant. When she threatens a public disclosure if he does not marry her, George feels cornered and so devises a plot to murder her. When the time comes to strike through a staged boat accident, his conscience prevails and he relents only to see Alice drown anyway by accident. He survives, but inexplicably fails to report her death to the authorities. As such, although innocent, circumstantial evidence and his own guilty behavior make authorities suspicious. His arrest comes just as Angela’s father grants him permission to marry his daughter. He is then tried and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Read more…


February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

sunsetboulevard100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Billy Wilder and producer Charles Brackett created a brilliant film noir screenplay, which told the story of a once proud but now aged Hollywood actress who wished to end her seclusion and regain past glory. For the principle actors, Gloria Swanson was given the part of Norma Desmond. A young William Holden was selected for Joe Gillis and Erich von Stronheim was cast as Norma’s former husband and now butler Max von Mayerling. The story tells the tale of Joe Gillis, a young screenwriter down on his luck that drives into Desmond’s estate while fleeing a car repossesor. Norma, who has written a script to propel her comeback, hires Joe to create a screenplay. She lavishes her wealth and affection on him, which he freely and shamelessly accepts. Ultimately she falls in love with Joe and when he rejects her she shoots him. The story ends as a now elegantly dressed yet mad Norma descends her grand staircase to greet the police. Halfway down she pauses and announces proudly that she is happy to be making films again, ending with “All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.” The movie was both a commercial and critical success earning eleven Academy Award nominations, winning three for Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction and Best Film Score. Read more…


October 26, 2015 18 comments

brideoffrankenstein100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Due to the tremendous commercial success of Frankenstein in 1931, Universal Studios was highly motivated to film a sequel. However, director James Whale was not interested preferring to pursue other projects, going on to make The Old Dark House in 1932 and The Invisible Man in 1933. Ultimately, he succumbed after four relentless years of badgering, and agreed to direct The Bride of Frankenstein for release in 1935. He brought in trusted screenwriters John Balderston and William Hurlbut to write the script for “The Return of Frankenstein” and he was given a budget of $300,000. Over time the story evolved leading it to be retitled “The Bride of Frankenstein”. Boris Karloff would reprise the role of the monster, while Colin Cleve would return as Henry Frankenstein. Joining them would be Valerie Hobson as Elizabeth, Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Pretorius, Elsa Lanchester as the Monster’s bride, Glavin Gordon as Lord Byron, Douglas Walton as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Dwight Frye as Karl Glutz, and Una O’Connor as Minnie. The story opens on a stormy night with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron commending Mary Shelley on the success of her novel “Frankenstein”. She thanks them and then discloses that there was much more to be said regarding the story and we shift to the fiery ending of the first film. We discover that the monster and Henry Frankenstein have apparently survived. After recuperating, Henry meets with Dr. Pretorius who reveals his successful experiments creating homunculi. They decide to collaborate in the audacious creation of a mate for Frankenstein’s monster. After much intrigue they succeed in creating the monster’s bride only to see him shattered as she summarily rejects him. The monster is unable to bear this fate and in a fit of rage destroys the laboratory killing himself and his intended bride. The film was a commercial success earning $2 million or five times its production costs of $397,000. It was also critically praised yet secured only one Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording. Read more…

FRANZ WAXMAN – Fathers of Film Music, Part 5

October 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Franz WaxmanArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 24 December 1906, Königshütte, Germany.
Died: 24 February 1967

Franz Wachsmann was born of Jewish ancestry in the city of Königshütte in Germany (now Chorzów, Poland). He was the youngest of eight children and suffered permanent impairment to his eyes from a scolding water accident in the kitchen at age three. Very early on Franz revealed a natural gift for the piano, but his development was stymied by his father, a salesman in the steel industry, who preferred that he pursue a more traditional career. As such young Franz became a bank teller and used his meager earnings to support his piano lessons.

Waxman was determined to pursue music and so in 1923, at age 16, he enrolled in the Dresden Music Academy where he studied composition and conducting. His success playing popular music on piano allowed him the means further advance his education by later enrolling in the prestigious Berlin Conservatory. During his work as a pianist with a dance band called the Weintraub Syncopaters, he met lifelong friend Frederick Hollander, who introduced him to Bruno Walter, one of the preeminent conductors of the age. Waxman’s career momentum began to build as he gained notoriety as an orchestrator for the German film industry. He got his first break to score Hollander’s film for the Marlene Dietrich “The Blue Angel” (1930). But a dark pall was descending upon German society and later that year Waxman suffered a severe beating by Nazi sympathizers in Berlin that led him to flee Germany with his wife to Paris. Read more…


March 17, 2014 4 comments

demetriusandthegladiatorsMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Demetrius and the Gladiators was the sequel to the first CinemaScope picture, “The Robe”. Twentieth Century Fox chief, Darryl F. Zanuck, decided that there was money to be made with the new revolutionary format and so production was already under way as “The Robe” premiered. Of the original cast, Victor Mature (Demetrius), Michael Rennie (Peter), and Jay Robinson (Caligula) returned to reprise their roles and were joined by newcomers Susan Hayward (Messalina) and Debra Paget (Lucia). The story unfolds as a classic tale of faith and personal redemption. Demetrius, the guardian of the Robe of Christ loses his faith when his love Lucia, is ravaged by Roman gladiators and apparently dies. When his fervent prayers fail to revive her he becomes bitter and angry with God. Demetrius abandons his faith and embarks upon a life of violence, indulgence and lust. But when he later discovers that Lucia had not died due to the grace of God he regains his faith and lives to see the day of the emperor Caligula’s death, when the long suffering Praetorian Guard at last turns on him. This sequel outperformed The Robe and was both a commercial and critical success. Read more…