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Posts Tagged ‘Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century’

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN – Adolph Deutsch, Roger Edens, Irving Berlin

November 28, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun”, which was based on the legendary Annie Oakley, stared Ethel Merman and had a very successful theatrical run of 1,147 performances. MGM studios took notice and decided that they would continue their parade of musicals with a new one based on Annie Oakley for their marquee star Judy Garland. They purchased the film rights, assigned production to Arthur Freed and Roger Edens with a $3.73 million budget. Sidney Sheldon was hired to write the screenplay adaptation of the novel “Annie Get Your Gun” (1946) by Herbert Fields. Filming conflicts with Garland led to the director being replaced twice, with Busby Berkeley and Charles Walters exiting and George Sidney finally taking up the reins. For the cast Judy Garland would star as Annie Oakley, however clashes with Berkeley exacerbated her health and insecurity problems and she was ultimately fired. Betty Hutton was hired as her replacement and joined by; Howard Keel and Frank Butler, Louis Calhern as Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Keenan Wynn as Charlie Davenport, Benay Venuta as Dolly Tate, and J. Carrol Naish as Chief Sitting Bull. Read more…

THE FALL OF BERLIN – Dmitri Shostakovich

November 21, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Fall of Berlin was conceived by director Michail Chiaureli as a two-part documentary that would offer a propagandist cult of personality homage to the Supreme Leader Josef Stalin as a 70th birthday present. A pamphlet distributed with the film’s release reveals its intent, stating: “It is a moving picture in which great feelings of patriotism are assembled in an epic of the people’s common struggle for freedom, independence, and for happiness… through realistic and faithful pictures in which the Soviet man is shown in his unfailing union with the Great Leader of the People”. Chiaureli and Pyotyr Andreyevitch Pavlenko collaborated on the writing the screenplay, and secured approval from the Ministry of Cinema. Mosfilm would manage production and a fine cast was assembled, including; Miheil Gelovani as Josef Stalin, Boris Andreyev as Alexsei Ivanov, Yury Tymoshenko as Kostya Zaichenko, Marina Kovalyova and as Nayasha Rumyantseva. Read more…

CINDERELLA – Oliver Wallace and Paul J. Smith

November 14, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney and his beloved studio had not achieved a commercial triumph since “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs thirteen years earlier. He was $4 million in debt and tittering on bankruptcy. He threw caution to the wind with a gamble that would either save the company, or end it; he would adapt the story “Cinderella”, a universal transcultural tale told by many throughout time beginning with Strabo in 7 B.C.E. Disney selected the French version of the tale by author Charles Perrault, and personally took charge of production with a $2.2 million budget, which ultimately swelled to $3.0 million. A team of eight animators was assembled, ten writers overseen by Ben Sharpsteen would write the screenplay, and the trio of Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wilfred Jackson would direct. The voice cast would consist of Ilene Woods as Cinderella, Eleanor Audley as Lady Tremaine, Verna Felton as the Fairy Godmother, and William Edward Phipps as Prince Charming. Read more…

PRINCE OF FOXES – Alfred Newman

November 7, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1948 20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck sought to recapture the box office success of Captain of Castile with the latest best-selling novel from author Samuel Shellabarger, Prince of Foxes. Zanuck purchased the film rights for $200,000 and envisioned studio star Tyrone Power in the lead role. Sol Siegel was assigned production, Milton Krims was hired to write the screenplay, and Henry King was tasked with directing. To create an old-world feel, Zanuck sent teams to Italy for filming in a number of palaces and gardens, which would be very expensive, ballooning the budget to over $4 million. To offset the projected costs, he made the creative decision to film in black and white, a decision opposed by King, and one he in hindsight regretted. The cast would include Tyrone Power as Andrea Orsini, Orson Welles as Caesare Borgia, Wanda Hendrix as Camila Verano, Marina Berti as Angela Borgia, and Everett Sloane as Mario Belli. Read more…

JOAN OF ARC – Hugo Friedhofer

October 31, 2022 2 comments

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The impetus of the film lay with actress Ingrid Bergman who had been lobbying Hollywood for years to make the film with her in the titular role. Well, she finally secured backing by Sierra Pictures, which was created by producer Nick Meyer specifically for this film. RKO joined, Walter Wanger was assigned production, and a budget of $4.7 million was provided. Maxwell Anderson and Andrew Solt were tasked with adapting Anderson’s Broadway play “Joan of Lorraine” for the screenplay, and Victor Fleming took the reins to direct. A fine cast was assembled to support Bergman in the titular role, including; José Ferrer as the Dauphin, Charles VII, Selena Royle as Isabelle d’Arc, Robert Barrat as Jacques d’Arc, Jimmy Lyndon as Pierre d’Arc, Rand Brooks as Jean d’Arc, Frederick Worlock as John, Duke of Bedford, Colin Kieth-Johnston as Philip, Duke of Burgundy, Francis L. Sullivan as Bishop Chaucon, and Shepperd Strudwick as Father Massieu. Read more…

OLIVER TWIST – Arnold Bax

October 24, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

After the success of his Charles Dickens film adaptation Great Expectations in 1946, director David Lean decided to adapt another of Dickens’ novels for his next film – Oliver Twist. He sold his idea to General Film Distributors who agreed to bank roll the film. Lean brought back as much of the same creative team as possible with Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan in charge of production. Lean would again direct and he and Stanley Haynes wrote the screenplay. An exceptional cast was assembled, which included; John Howard Davies as Oliver Twist, Alec Guinness as Fagin, Kay Walsh as Nancy, Robert Newton as Bill Sykes, Anthony Newley as the Artful Dodger, and Diana Dors as Charlotte. Read more…

SPRING IN A SMALL TOWN – Huang Yijun

October 17, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1947 renowned playwright and director Wu Zuguang commissioned screenwriter Li Tianji to write a screenplay to be titled “Spring in a Small Town”. Upon completion, the screenplay was presented to two production companies, Gutoi and Datong, which both declined. A third attempt with the Wen Hua Production Company was successful, and the film went into production with a very small budget as the company was near bankruptcy. Fei Mu was tasked with directing and made changes in the script to reduce the number of characters as budgetary constraints were onerous. A fine cast was assembled, which included Wei Wei as the heroine Zhōu Yùwén, Yu Shi as Yùwén’s husband Dài Lǐyán, Lei Wei as Dai Lǐyán’s childhood friend and Yùwén’s former lover Zhāng Zhìchén, Cui Chaoming as Dai and Yùwén’s loyal servant Lǎo Huáng, and Zhang Hongmei as Dai Lǐyán’s young sister Dài Xiù. Read more…

THE SPRING RIVER FLOWS EAST – Zhang Zengfan

October 10, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The film The Spring River Flows East – Yī Jiāng Chūn Shuǐ Xiàng Dōng Liú in its native language – was conceived by the director and screenplay writing team of Zheng Junli and Cai Chusheng. Its title derives from a famous line among ancient Chinese poems that uses water as a metaphor for sorrow. In the film’s story it is used to express boundless, unending sorrow, as endless as the ever-flowing river water in spring. The film was a passion project and Zheng and Cai secured financial backing from the Kunlun Film Company, which oversaw production. Zheng and Cai wrote the screenplay, would co-direct, and assembled a stellar cast, including the leading actors of the time: Bai Yang who would play Sufen, and Tao Jin who would play Zhang Zhongliang. Joining them would be Shi Xiuwen as Wang Lizhen, Shangguan Yunzhu as He Wenyuan, Yan Gongshang as Zhang Zhongliang’s father, Gao Zheng as Zhang Zhongmin and Zhou Boxum as Pang Haogong. Read more…

LIFE WITH FATHER – Max Steiner

October 3, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studios executive Jack L Warner believed that the Broadway play “Life With Father” (1939), which had a record breaking theatrical run of 2,224 performances over 401 weeks could be successfully adapted for the big screen. He purchased the film rights and assigned production to Robert Bruckner, providing a generous $4.7 million budget. Donald Ogden Stewart was hired to adapt the play and write the screenplay, and renown director Michael Curtiz was tasked with directing. A fine cast was assembled, which included William Powell as Clarence Day Sr., Irene Dunne as Vinnie Day, and Elizabeth Taylor as Mary Skinner. Read more…

BLACK NARCISSUS – Brian Easdale

September 26, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1946 director Michael Powell became aware of the 1939 novel Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden and decided that he wanted to bring its tale to the big screen. He purchased the film rights and secured financial backing from the British company General Film Distributors and a budget of $1.2 million. He and Emeric Powell would oversee production, co-direct, and write the screenplay. The film ended up creating controversy in the American Market with the National Legion of Decency, coercing several film edits deemed as “affront to religion and religious life”. Casting also caused controversy as once again white actors were cast in a number of roles for Indian characters. Deborah Kerr would star as Sister Clodagh, David Farrar as Mr. Dean, Kathleen Byron as Sister Ruth, Flora Robson as Sister Philippa, Jean Simmons as Kanchi, and Sabu as the young General Dilip Rai. Read more…

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE – Dimitri Tiomkin

September 19, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Philip Van Doren Stern was an aspiring writer trying to get his first novel, “The Greatest Gift,” published. It was rejected by major publishers and so in frustration he printed a twenty-four-page pamphlet in 1943 and mailed it to two hundred family and friends. RKO Pictures producer David Hempstead and Cary Grant’s agent both came to the conclusion that this story offered opportunity and so RKO Pictures purchased the film rights for $10,000. RKO Pictures also had a nine-film distribution contract with director Frank Capra’s production company Liberty Films and showed him the pamphlet, which captured his attention. They worked out a deal and sold Capra the film rights for $10,000 along with three other scripts. Capra moved forward with production with a budget of $3.7 million and would also direct the film. He also collaborated with Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett to fashion a screenplay. James Stewart was cast in the lead role of George Bailey, and joining him would be Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter, Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy, Henry Tavers as Clarence, Beulah Bondi as Mrs. Bailey, Ward Bond as Bert, Frank Faylen as Ernie, and Gloria Grahame Violet Black. Read more…

THE JOLSON STORY – Morris Stoloff

September 12, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the huge success of MGM’s musical Meet Me In St. Louis in 1944, Columbia Pictures decided to cash in on the genre. They chose to film a fictionalized biopic of the renowned singer, comedian, actor and vaudevillian Al Jolson, who in the 1920s self-billed himself as “The World’s Greatest Entertainer”. A team consisting of Stephen Longstreet, Sidney Buchman, Harry Chandlee and Andrew Solt were hired to create the screenplay, Sidney Skolsky was tasked with production with a budget of $2 million, and Alfred E. Green given the reins to direct. A fine cast was assembled, including Larry Parks as Al Jolson, Evelyn Keys as Julie Benson, William Demarest as Steve Martin, and Bill Goodwin as Tom Baron. Read more…

ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM – Bernard Herrmann

September 5, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Margaret Landon wrote her 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam based on the fictionalized diaries of Anna Leonowens, a mixed-race woman who claimed to have been the British governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam. The novel became a public sensation, which caught the eye of 20th Century Fox Studios executive Darryl F. Zanuck. He purchased the film rights, assigned production to Louis D. Lighton, hired Talbot Jennings and Sally Benson to write the screenplay, and provided a generous budget of $2.2 million. John Cromwell was tasked with directing, and a stellar cast was assembled, including; Rex Harrison in his Hollywood debut as King Mongkut, Irene Dunne as Anna Owens, Linda Darnell as Tuptim, Lee J. Cobb as Kralahome, Gale Sondergaard as Lady Theiang, Tito Renaldo as Prince Chulalongkorn, and Richard Lyon as Louis Owens. Read more…

DRAGONWYCK – Alfred Newman

August 29, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned 20th Century Fox Studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck, who was always looking for a new story to film, came upon an 19th century period piece novel Dragonwyck, written by Anya Seton in 1944. He believed that its film noir tale of mystery and romance could be adapted to the big screen. He purchased the film rights and would personally oversee production with a $1.9 million budget. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was tasked with directing the film, and would also write the screenplay. In assembling the cast, Vincent Price won the lead role of Nicholas van Ryn when Gregory Peck withdrew after the original director Ernst Lubitsch was replaced by Mankiewicz due to illness. Joining Price would be Gene Tierney as Miranda Wells, Walter Huston as Ephraim Wells, Glenn Langan as Dr. Jeff Turner, Anne Revere as Abigail Wells, Spring Byington as Magda, Harry Morgan as Bleecker and Jessica Tandy as Peggy. Read more…

LOVE LETTERS – Victor Young

August 22, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film arose when renown author Ayn Rand decided to adapt the novel “Pity My Simplicity” by Christopher Massie into a screenplay. Hal Wallis was sold on the story, felt it would translate well to the big screen, and decided to personally take on the project. He would use his own production company in partnership with Paramount Pictures to finance production, and tasked William Dieterle to direct. A fine cast was assembled including Jennifer Jones as Singleton/Victoria Morland, Joseph Cotton as Alan Quinton, Anne Richards as Dilly Carson, Cecil Kellaway as Mac, Gladys Cooper as Beatrice Remington and Anita Louise as Helen Wentworth. Read more…