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Posts Tagged ‘Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century’

DUMBO – Oliver Wallace and Frank Churchill

May 16, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The children’s story of Dumbo, written by Helen Aberson-Mayer in 1939, was presented to studio executive Walt Disney, who was inspired and so tasked screenplay writers Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, to adapt it for the big screen. After suffering loses with Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940 Disney managed production, but was tight-fisted with company financial resources and so only budgeted $813,000, which as expected expanded ultimately to $950,000. The screenplay was written by Joe Grant, Dick Huemer and Otto Englander, while Supervising Director was assigned to Ben Sharpsteen. The voice cast would consist of Edward Brophy as Timothy Q. Mouse, Verna Felton as the Elephant Matriarch, Cliff Edwards as Dandy Crow, Herman Bing as the Ringmaster, and Sterling Holloway as Mr. Stork. Read more…

DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT – Richard Addinsell

May 9, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1940 Great Britain was in the midst of WWII’s Blitz and the British production unit of RKO Radio Pictures conceived of a story of a classical concert pianist who joins the war effort to become a fighter pilot. Financial backing was secured, William Sistrom was assigned production, and Terrence Young (who would later go on to direct the James Bond films Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Thunderball) was hired to write an original screenplay, with contributions by Rodney Ackland and Brian Desmond Hurst. Hurst also was tasked with directing and assembled a cast which included Anton Walbrook as Stefan Radetzky, Sally Gray as Carole Peters Radecka, John Laurie as a British Commander. Guy Middleton as Shorty, Cecil Parker as Specialist, and Derrick De Marney as Mike Carroll. Read more…

THE SEA WOLF – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

May 2, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1940 Warner Brothers Studios decided to bring Jack London’s 1904 adventure drama novel The Sea Wolf to the big screen, only to realize that rival David O. Selznick owned the film rights. They were not deterred, negotiated purchase, and eventually paid Selznick $15,000 to obtain them. Hal B. Wallis was assigned production, provided a $1 million budget, and Robert Rossen was hired to adapt the novel and write the screenplay. Michael Curtiz was tasked with directing and a fine cast was assembled, including Edward G. Robinson as Wolf Larsen, Ida Lupino as Ruth Webster, John Garfield as George Leach, and Alexander Knox as Humphrey Van Weyden. Read more…

THE LETTER – Max Steiner

April 25, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1924 author W. Somerset Maugham wrote a short story titled “The Letter” based on a story he heard while traveling to Singapore. Impressed with its reception, Maugham adapted the story into a stage play, which resulted in 338 performances in London, and 107 on Broadway. Paramount purchased the film rights and produced a film in 1929, which underperformed. Warner Brothers believed they could do better, and so purchased the film rights from Paramount in 1938. Hal B. Wallis was assigned production and Howard E. Koch was hired to write the screenplay, and William Wyler was given the reins to direct. A fine cast was brought in, which included Bette Davis as Leslie Crosbie, Herbert Marshall as Robert Crosbie, James Stephenson as Howard Joyce, Frieda Inescort as Dorothy Joyce, and Gale Sondergaard as Mrs. Hammond. Of note is that Mrs. Hammond was changed from a Chinese wife to an Eurasian to satisfy the Hays Code, which prohibited miscegenation. Read more…

THE GREAT DICTATOR – Charles Chaplin and Meredith Willson

April 18, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of The Great Dictator film arose when renowned producer-director Alexander Korda pointed out to Charlie Chaplin that he bore a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler. Chaplin’s research revealed that they were born withing a week of each other, were approximately the same height and weight, and both emerged from poverty during their early life to achieve success. An additional stimulus to make the film came from German director Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 film Triumph of Will, which made a comic impression on Chaplin. The film would be Chaplin’s first all-talking all-sound film and he decided to finance it with his own production company, allocating a $2 million budget. He would also direct, write the screenplay, jointly compose the score, and star in the film. For his cast, Chaplin would play the Jewish barber and Adenoid Hynkel – the Great Dictator. Joining him would be Paulette Goddard as Hannah, Jack Oakie as, Henry Daniell as Benzino Napolini, Reginald Gardiner as Commander Schultz, Billy Gilbert as Herring, and Maurice Moscovich as Mr. Jaeckel. Read more…

JEZEBEL – Max Steiner

April 11, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers executives were seeking a vehicle to showcase their star Bette Davis following her 1935 Oscar win for Dangerous. They believed they found their story with the 1933 play Jezebel by Owen Davis. William Wyler was tasked with production with a $1.25 million budget, and would also direct. The team of Clements Ripley, Abem Finkel and John Huston were hired to write the screenplay and a stellar cast was assembled, including Bette Davis as Julie Marsden, Henry Fonda as Preston Dillard, George Brent as Buck Cantrell, Donald Crisp as Dr. Livingston, Fay Bainter as Aunt Belle Massey, Margaret Lindsay as Amy Bradford Dillard and Richard Cromwell as Ted Dillard. Read more…

A CHRISTMAS CAROL – Franz Waxman

March 28, 2022 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

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…

STREET ANGEL [MALU TIANSHI] – Luting He

March 21, 2022 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director-Actor-Screenplay writer Yuan Mushi was seeking to direct the second film of his career. As part of his vision, he wrote a screenplay in support of China’s “Left Wing Movement” in cinema, which sought reveal the harsh struggle and bitter life of the poor urban underclass. Filmed during tumultuous times against the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese war, the film proved to be trendsetting by its innovative use of thematic music, singing, and choreographed art. Yuan secured financial backing and distribution support from the Mingxing Film Company. Yuan would also direct the film, and brought in a fine cast, including Zhou Xuan as Xiao Hong, Zhao Huishen as Xiao Yun, Zhao Dan as Chen Shaoping, and Wei Heling as Wang. The film would be the company’s last as it was shut down by the war. Read more…

ANOTHER DAWN – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

March 14, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1935 Warner Brothers Studio executive Jack L. Warner decided that the 1919 play “Caesar’s Wife” by W. Somerset Maugham offered opportunity for a big screen adaptation. He purchased the film rights, provided a budget of $552,000, and would personally join Harry Joe Brown and Hal B. Wallis in producing the film. William Dieterle was tasked with directing and sought to capitalize on rising star Errol Flynn by casting him as Captain Denny Roark. Bette Davis was originally cast to play Julia Ashton Wister but her suspension by the studio resulted in Kay Francis winning that role; they were joined by Ian Hunter as Colonel John Wister. Read more…

FIRE OVER ENGLAND – Richard Addinsell

March 7, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1936 producer Alexander Korda came across the novel Fire Over England by A. E. W. Mason and believed it could be successfully brought to the big screen as a historical drama set in the Elizabethan era. He purchased the film rights and joined with Erich Pommer to manage production. Clemence Dane and Sergei Nolbandov collaborated on writing the screenplay and William K. Howard took the reins for directing. A fine cast was assembled including; Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth I, Raymond Massey as King Philip II of Spain, Leslie Banks as Robin, Earl of Leicester, Laurence Olivier as Michael Ingolby, Vivien Leigh as Cynthia and James Mason as Hillary Vane. Read more…

MODERN TIMES – Charles Chaplin

February 28, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Charlie Chaplin’s inspiration for the film Modern Times arose from the deplorable social and economic conditions that he found in Europe in the aftermath of the Great Depression. A personal conversation with Mahatma Gandhi about the negative effects of modern technology on people’s lives was also instrumental. In 1934 he began conceiving the film’s story, which would serve as his first ‘talkie’ film. However, he abandoned this and instead chose to make his last silent film with the Tramp character as he felt the universal appeal of him would be lost with dialogue. Once again he would oversee production, direct, write the screenplay, compose the music, and star in the film. Joining him would be Paulette Goddard as Ellen Petersen, Henry Bergman as the café proprietor, Stanley “Tiny” Sanford as Big Bill and Chester Conklin as the Mechanic. Read more…

THE THREE MUSKETEERS – Max Steiner

February 21, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

RKO Studios like its competitors of the day was seeking to remake classic films of the Silent Age. In 1934 they secured the film rights for “The Three Musketeers”, which previously had starred Douglas Fairbanks Jr in 1921. Cliff Reid was assigned production with a $512,000 budget. The film would again draw upon the famous novel 1844 The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, with Rowland V. Lee and Dudley Nichols writing the screenplay. Lee was also tasked with directing and brought in a fine cast, which included Walter Abel as D’Artagnan, Ian Keith as Count de Rochefort, Margot Grahame as Milady de Winter, Paul Lucas as Athos, Moroni Olsen as Porthos, and Onslow Stevens as Aramis. Read more…

THE LOST PATROL – Max Steiner

February 14, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer-Director John Ford saw opportunity with the birth of the new movie sound era, to remake the British silent film “Lost Patrol (1929). He decided that he would also draw upon the novel “Patrol” (1927) by Philip MacDonald, believing he could make a better adaptation of the suspenseful story for the big screen. Ford would join with Merian C. Cooper and Cliff Reid to oversee production with a $262,000 budget. Garrett Fort and Dudley Nichols were hired to write the screenplay, and Ford took on additional duties of director. Casting brought in Victor McLanglen as the Sergeant, Boris Karloff as Sanders, Wallace Ford as Morelli, and Reginald Denny as George Brown. Read more…

CITY LIGHTS – Charles Chaplin

February 7, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Entering the 1920s Charlie Chaplin had become a global sensation, his career ascendent. In 1929 he conceived a new film, “City Lights”, a passion project in which he would produce, direct, write the screenplay, compose the score, and star. Chaplin was a perfectionist and it would take him 534 days of filming to realize his vision. He faced significant resistance from his studio United Artists who were not happy with his decision to eschew a talkie film, and instead stubbornly make another silent film, although one with a synchronous and original score. For Chaplin, his art and passion was pantomime, with his Tramp character beloved by the world and legend. He saw talkie films as a harbinger for the end of his art, and so his reaction was understandable. And so, he proceeded with his vision and a budget of $1.5 million dollars was provided. The cast included Chaplin as the Tramp, Virginia Cherrill as the blind Flower Girl, Florence Lee as the grandmother, Harry Myers as the eccentric millionaire, Al Ernest Garcia as the butler, and Hank Mann as the prizefighter. Read more…

NEW BABYLON – Dimitri Shostakovich

January 31, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The film’s genesis lies with Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS), an avant-garde artists association founded in 1922 by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg. The mission of the organization was to promote a new film methodology call “Eccentrism”, which rejected the traditional aesthetics of bourgeois art, instead seeking a new path that would embrace Futurism, Surrealism and Dadaist Constructionism. To that end Kozintsev and Trauberg conceived of a film that would tell the story of the Paris Commune of 1871; the first effort to form a government committed to communist principles. Their screenplay was reviewed and they secured permission to proceed from Goskino – The Soviet State Committee for Cinematography, which would fund and distribute the film. Kozintsev and Trauberg would jointly direct and a fine cast was assembled, which included; Yelena Kuzima as Louise, Pyotyr Sobolevsky as Jean, Sergei Gerasimov as Loutro, Vsevolod Pudovkin as Baliff, Oleg Zhakov as a member of the Paris Commune, and Yanina Zhejmo as milliner Teresa. Read more…