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Posts Tagged ‘Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century’

JUAREZ – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

April 19, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1935 producer Hal Wallis sought out director Max Reinhardt’s assistance in his next project; bringing the tale of Maximilian and Juárez to the big screen. He believed that Bertita Harding’s 1934 novel The Phantom Crown was a tragic tale, which needed its story told. Jack L. Warner agreed and purchased the film rights to the novel, as well as the play “Juárez and Maximilian” by Franz Werfel. He tasked Aeneas McKenzie in writing the screenplay, and to ensure historical accuracy three hundred books were acquired on the subject and two historians were hired to assist with the script. The initial script was too massive to present in a single film, so John Huston and Wolfgang Reinhardt were hired to make the necessary edits. Progress was made and in 1938 the studio gave the green light for production with William Dieterle was given the director reins. A stellar cast was hired, with Paul Muni as Benito Juárez, Bette Davis as Carlotta of Mexico, Brian Aherne as Maximilian I of Mexico, Claude Rains as Emperor Napoleon III of France, and John Garfield as Porfirio Diaz. Read more…

THE QUIET MAN – Victor Young

April 5, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director John Ford read the story “The Quiet Man” by Maurice Walsh in the Saturday Evening Post, liked it, and purchased the film rights for $6,260 In 1944 he approached actor John Wayne and made a gentlemen’s agreement to make a film, which would be set in Ireland. However, to their dismay, every studio turned them down saying their idea was “a silly Irish story that won’t make a penny”. Undeterred they went to Republic Pictures studio executive Herbert J. Yates and negotiated a deal; if he would fund the film Wayne and co-star Maureen O’Hara would agree to first make a Western for Republic. Yates agreed and they made the successful film “Rio Grande” in 1950. They got the green light to proceed and Ford would produce and direct the film with a generous $1. 75 million budget. John Wayne would star as Sean Thornton and Maureen O’Hara would play Mary Kate Danaher. Joining them would be Barry Fitzgerald as Michaleen “Óge” Flynn, Ward Bond as Father Peter Lonergan, and Victor McLaglen as Squire “Red” Will Danaher. Read more…

THE NUN’S STORY – Franz Waxman

March 29, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

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…

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – Victor Young

March 22, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

American novelist Ernest Hemmingway’s latest novel “For Whom The Bell Tolls” (1940) offered a potent commentary on the Spanish Civil War, which many studios believed could be adapted to the big screen. However, Hemmingway’s demand of $100,000 for the film rights, and control of selecting the principal actors was a non-starter. Paramount however, thought differently having successfully produced his earlier novel “A Farewell to Arms” (1932), which agreed to pay an astounding $150,000 for the film rights and acceded to Hemmingway’s demand that he would choose the two leads – Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. After Cecil B. DeMille dropped out of producing and directing the film, Sam Wood took over the reins, and would produce and direct the film with a budget of $3 million. He brought in Louis Bromfield to rework the existing script, with Dudley Nichols finally completing the screen play. An exceptional cast was assembled including Gary Cooper as Robert Jordan, Ingrid Bergman as Maria, Akim Tamiroff as Pablo, Katina Paxinou as Pilar, and Joseph Calleia as El Sordo. Read more…

RED RIVER – Dimitri Tiomkin

March 15, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer-Director Howard Hawks had long desired to make a Western and finally found his vehicle after reading “The Chisolm Trail” (1946) by Borden Chase in the Saturday Evening post. He secured Monterey Productions to fund the project, providing a generous budget of $2.7 million. This was a passion project, and so Hawks decided to both produce and direct the film. He tasked Chase to adapt his novel and Charles Schnee assisted in writing the screenplay. A stellar cast was hired, which included John Wayne as Thomas Dunson, Montgomery Clift making his acting debut as Matt Garth, Walter Brennan as Nadine Groot, Joane Dru as Tess Millay, and John Ireland as Cherry Valance. Read more…

MOBY DICK – Philip Sainton

March 8, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

For three years director John Huston had long sought to bring Herman Melville’s classic 1851 novel Moby Dick to the big screen. Studios were resistant because the story was depressing, had no female roles, nor romance, which they believed would not resonate with the public. Ever tenacious, Huston finally secured backing by United Artists, the Mirsch brothers and Moulin Productions with the caveat that a big-name actor had to play Captain Ahab. A budget of $2.0 million was provided, which would include shooting in the Irish Sea. Huston would direct and tasked Ray Bradbury with adapting the novel, with some edits provided by Huston. To fill the “Big-name stipulation, Huston cast Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, a decision criticized as a miscast by critics and later, Peck himself. Joining him would be Richard Basehart as Ishmael, Leo Genn as Starbuck, Orson Welles as Father Mapple, and Friedrich von Ledebur as Queequeg. Read more…

ROMEO AND JULIET – Nino Rota

February 15, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Franco Zeffirelli’s first film was The Taming of the Shrew in 1967, which was adapted from the original Shakespearean play. It was a commercial success, and for his next project he conceived a new adaptation of another of Shakespeare’s famous plays, “Romeo and Juliet”. A lack of funding however drove him to pursue a television production. Yet his fortunes changed when Paramount Pictures agreed to join in partnership with BHE Films, Verona Produzione and Dino de Laurentis Cinematografia to finance a big screen release. A budget of $850,000 was provided and the British team of Anthony Havelock-Allan and John Brabourne would produce the film. For the screen play Zeffirelli collaborated with Masolino d’Amico and Franco Brusati. In an audacious casting move Zeffirelli decided to cast the lead roles as minors, assuring fidelity to Shakespeare’s original conception. Leonard Whiting, a 17-year-old, was cast as Romeo, and Olivia Hussey, a 15 year old, as Juliet. Joining them would be Milo O’Shea as Friar Laurence, Michael York as Tybalt, John McEnery as Mercutio, Natasha Parry as Lady Capulet, and Robert Stephens as the Prince of Verona. Read more…

IL GATTOPARDO – Nino Rota

January 25, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Studio executives of the Italian production company Titanus decided to bring to the big screen the popular 1958 best-selling novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Collaboration with 20th Century Fox brought the necessary financing for a budget of $2 million. Titanus producer Goffredo Lombardo was tasked with the project, and Luchino Visconti brought in to direct. Controversy arose over casting the key role of Prince Don Fabrizio Corbera of Salina as Visconti desired Marlon Brando or Laurence Olivier but the 20th Century Fox leveraged their financing of $2 million to force Burt Lancaster into the role over Visconti’s objections. Joining him would be Claudia Cardinale as Angelica Sedera, Alain Delon as Prince Tancredi Falconeri, and Rina Morelli as Princess Maria Stella of Salina. Read more…

THE WIND AND THE LION – Jerry Goldsmith

January 4, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director John Milius was a longtime admirer of President Theodore Roosevelt. By chance he came upon an article “Pedecaris Incident” by Barbara W. Tuchman in American Heritage magazine and found a fascinating story which involved President Roosevelt sending American troops to free an American citizen kidnapped in Morocco by a Berber warlord. He was intrigued by the tale and further investigatory reading of the 1924 biography Raisuli, The Sultan of the Mountains by Rosita Forbes inspired him to proceed with a film adaptation. He had always dreamed of filming a grand sprawling epic film and believed this story gave him his opportunity. Given that this was a passion project, Milius wrote the screenplay himself and related: “I consider ‘The Wind and the Lion’ my first real movie. I approached it as a David Lean film, to do it in that style, a large epic canvas, to see if I could pull off great movements of troops. The story is even written that way. Two guys, the Raisuli and Teddy Roosevelt, yelling at each other across oceans.” However, to get MGM Studios buy in, he had to romanticize the story by changing the kidnapped victim to a beautiful woman, and casting Raisuli as one of the dashing leading men of the day. Herb Jaffe was tasked with producing the film and a budget of $4.5 million was provided. Casting was problematic with Omar Sharif turning down the part of Raisuli and Faye Dunaway withdrawing due to illness. Eventually Sean Connery was cast as Sharif Mulai Ahmed Mohammed Raisuli joined by Candice Bergen as Eden Pedecaris. Joining them would be Brian Keith as President Theodore Roosevelt and John Huston as Secretary of State John Hay. Read more…

THE GADFLY – Dmitri Shostakovich

December 21, 2020 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

One day it dawned to director Aleksandr Faintsimmer that the popular 1897 novel Ovod – The Gadfly – by Ethel Voynich lent itself well for adaptation to the big screen. Its tale of revolutionary zeal, the excoriation of an anachronistic church and the unification of oppressed people in a modern egalitarian state had long been promoted by the Soviet Ministry of Culture. The book was also very popular with the populace, selling 2.5 million copies. He pitched his idea to the Ministry of Culture and secured backing after a review of the screenplay, which was written by Viktor Shklovsky. Lenfilm, a production unit of the Soviet Union, was formally authorized to produce the film. A fine cast was assembled, which included Oleg Strizhenov as Arthur Burton/Felice Rivarez, Marianna Strizhenova as Gemma, Nikolai Simonov as Cardinal Montanelli and Vladimir Etush as Cesare Martini. Read more…

THE COBWEB – Leonard Rosenman

December 14, 2020 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Vincent Minnelli was intrigued by the cinematic possibilities offered by William Gibson’s novel, The Cobweb (1954), which takes place in a psychiatric institution where both the patients and the professional staff suffer from neuroses. He sold his idea to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, John Houseman was tasked to produce, and a budget of $1,976 million was provided. Casting foundered when Robert Taylor, Lana Turner and Grace Kelly were either unavailable or declined. Eventually a fine cast was assembled, which included Richard Widmark as Dr. Stewart McIver, Lauren Bacall as Meg Rinehart, Charles Boyer as Dr. Devanal, Gloria Grahame as Karen McIver, Lilian Gish as Victoria Inch and John Kerr as Stevie. Read more…

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST – Ennio Morricone

December 7, 2020 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned Italian director Sergio Leone had achieved what many believed to be the pinnacle of success in 1966, following completion of the last film of his famous Dollars trilogy, “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. Despite receiving universal accolades, he decided that he had said everything he wanted to say, and would not be returning to the Western genre. Hollywood studios, however, had other ideas, and wanted to capitalize on his talent and record of success. United Artists offered him opportunity to make a new Western, and his choice of the leading actors of the day including Charlton Heston, Kirk Douglas or Rock Hudson. Leone declined, but when Paramount made a very generous financial offer, which also included an opportunity to work with Henry Fonda, Leone’s favorite actor, he agreed. Fulvio Morsella was tasked with producing and a budget of $5 million was provided. Leone hired Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento to assist him in crafting a screenplay. Later in the project Italian screenwriter Sergio Donati was brought in to assist with editing the film’s length as well as fine tuning the script’s dialogue. A fine cast was assembled, which included Henry Fonda as Frank, Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain, Jason Robards as Manuel “Cheyenne” Gutiérrez, Charles Bronson as “Harmonica”, Gabriele Ferzetti as Mr. Morton, Paolo Stoppa as Sam, and Frank Wolff as Brett McBain. Read more…

SHAFT – Isaac Hayes

November 30, 2020 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In the 1960s and 1970s the larger than life screen detective genre flourished with stars such as Paul Newman in Harper), Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome, and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Producer Joel Freeman and MGM Studios sought to cash in on the genre and decided to adapt novelist Ernest Tidyman’s last book Shaft. It was decided that Tidyman and John D. F. Black would collaborate in writing the screenplay. Gordon Parks was given the reins to direct and he made a truly audacious move by casting the titular character with Richard Roundtree, a black former model and actor. In the novel, Shaft is white, and this bold move would ultimately prove transformative in the Hollywood film industry, unleashing the Blaxploitation film genre. Joining Roundtree would be Moses Gunn as Bumpy Jonas and Charles Cioffi as Lieutenant Vic Androzzi. Read more…

L’ASSASSINAT DU DUC DE GUISE – Camille Saint-Saëns

November 23, 2020 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

During the 1880s a technological revolution occurred with the invention of celluloid photographic film and motion picture cameras. The first public screening of a motion picture in which an admission fee was charged occurred in New York City 1895 by the Lambda Company, founded by Woodville Latham. The idiom quickly gained popularity, and in 1907 Paul Lafitte, a wealthy novelist, publisher and financier founded the French production company Le Film d’Art to produce French films, which he hoped would gain the admiration of the cultural elite as well as the patronage of the common people. Throughout his life Lafitte had been tireless in fostering literature and the theatre. He saw motion pictures as a new way to bring education and entertainment to the masses. He recruited talented stage actors from the Comédie-Française theatre group, and in 1908 decided to produce his first film, the French historical drama L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise originally titled La Mort du Duc de Guise. The Pathé Frères company would distribute the film, and he tasked French actors Charles le Bargy and André Calmettes to direct. French dramatist Henri Lavedan was hired to write an original screenplay, and a fine cast was assembled, which included Charles le Bargy as King Henry III, Albert Lambert as Le Duc de Guise, Gabrielle Robinne as Marquise de Noirmoutier and Berthe Bovy as Le Page. The final product was a short film of 18 minutes. Read more…

TARAS BULBA – Franz Waxman

November 9, 2020 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

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…