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Posts Tagged ‘Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century’

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…

THE HOLY MOUNTAIN – Edmund Meisel

January 24, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1926 the future documentary filmmaker (and Nazi propagandist) Leni Riefenstahl was a dancer and an aspiring actress. A chance meeting between her and director Arnold Fanck was fateful as he was impressed by both her beauty and singlemindedness. As such, he began to write sketches to a film he envisioned, a love story, which would showcase her talents. Fanck took his screenplay – called Der Heilige Berg, or The Holy Mountain – to the UFA production company, who agreed to support the project. Harry R. Sokal was assigned production with a budget of 1.5 million RM. Fanck would direct and handle cinematography. His cast consisted of Riefenstahl as Diotima, Luis Trenker as Karl, Frida Richard as Mother, Ernst Petersen as Vigo, Friedrich Schneider as Coli, and Hannes Schneider as Mountain Guide. Read more…

CARMEN – Ernesto Halffter

January 17, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director, screenwriter and actor Jacques Feyder had two dozen films to his credit when he decided to bring Prosper Mérimée’s classic 1845 novel Carmen to the big screen. Georges Bizet had in 1875 made the story famous with his opera, but Feyder felt confident that he could provide a big screen retelling, which would reach far more people. Alexandre Kamenka’s production company signed on to fund the project with Les Films Armor agreeing to distribute. Feyder personally adapted the novel into a screenplay and would also direct the film. He made the artistic decision to film live in authentic locations rather than the insular comfort of the studio sets. He brought in a fine cast, which included; Raquel Meller as Carmen, Fred Louis Lerch as José Lizarrabengoa, and Gaston Modot as García “El Tuerto”. Read more…

THE BIRTH OF A NATION – Joseph Carl Breil

January 10, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1913 Director D. W. Griffith took interest in the 1905 novel The Clansman by Thomas Dixon Jr. and believed it provided an opportunity to bring an epic tale to the big screen. He secured the film rights offering 25% interest in the film and would use his own production company to produce the film, with an initial budget of $10,000, which later ballooned to $100,000. Griffith would not only produce the film, but also direct, and collaborate with Frank E. Woods to write the screenplay. Casting caused controversy as Griffith used white actors in black face to play black and mulatto people, and only used real black people in expansive scenes where extras were required. For his cast Lilian Gish would star as Elsie Stoneman, and joining her would be Mae Marsh as Flora Cameron, Henry B. Walthal as Colonel Benjamin Cameron, Miriam Cooper as Margaret Cameron, Ralph Lewis as Austin Stoneman, George Siegmann as Silas Lynch, and Walter Long as Gus. Read more…

STENKA RAZIN – Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov

January 3, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The short silent film’s genesis arose from a collaboration between two pioneers of the emerging 20th century Russian cinema; producer/cinematographer/correspondent Alexander Drankov, and director Vladimir Fedorovich Romashkov. Following the 1905 Russian revolution the country was simmering with worker and peasant discontent against the autocracy of Tsar Nicholas II and the aristocracy. In an effort to tap into public discontent, they conceived of a fictionalized account from the life of Stenka Razin, a heroic 19th century Cossack chieftain who led a peasant revolt against the oppression of the Tsar and landed nobility. The 10-minute short film would be financed by Drankov’s own production company, which he formed the year before in 1907. The screenplay was written by Vasily Goncharov, and is an adaptation from the play Ponizovaya Volnitsa. A single actor is credited, Yevgeni Petrov-Krayevsky who would play Stenka Razin. Read more…

THE GOOD EARTH – Herbert Stothart

December 27, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Irving Thalberg was keen on bringing the popular Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Good Earth” to the big screen. His initial attempt with MGM studio executive Louis B. Mayer was thwarted with his reply; “The public won’t buy pictures about American farmers, and you want to give them Chinese farmers?” Undeterred, he solicited support from Nicholas Schenck the CEO of Loew’s Theaters Inc, MGM’s parent company and was given the green light to proceed. A massive budget of $2.8 million was provided, and Talbot Jennings, Tess Slesinger and Claudine West were hired to adapt the novel and write the screenplay. In an audacious gambit, Thalberg resolved to hire only Chinese and Chinese-American actors for the film, but soon gave up on the idea conceding after much studio resistance that American audiences were not yet ready to accept a film with an all-Chinese cast. The paucity of accomplished Chinese Hollywood actors at the time was also contributory to his decision. Ultimately, the principal actors would be white, but many of the secondary supporting actors were Chinese American. Sadly, he was unable to celebrate his passion project as he died tragically in 1936 and at age 37 of pneumonia, five months before the film’s premier. Sidney Franklin was hired to direct, but casting was problematic as the Hayes Code anti-miscegenation rules forbade the casting of husbands and wives of different races. The cast included Paul Muni as Wang Lung, Luise Rainer as O-Lan, Walter Connolly as Uncle, Tily Losch as Lotus, Charles Grapewin as Old Father, Jessie Ralph as Cuckoo, Soo Young as Aunt, Keye Luke as Elder son, and Roland Lui as Younger son. Read more…

MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY – Herbert Stothart

December 20, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1934 director Frank Lloyd was impressed by the 1932 novel Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. He believed that the historically based nautical adventure tale would transfer well to the bug screen. To that end he sought the assistance of producer Irving Thalberg to persuade MGM studio executives to purchase the film rights and fund the project. Lloyd’s diligence was rewarded and he was provided a $1.95 million budget. He and Thalberg would produce the film, and he would also take on director duties. For Lloyd this was a passion project and he insisted that screenwriters Talbot Jennings, Jules Furthman and Carey Wilson stay true to the actual novel. He also constructed the Bounty from plans obtained from the British Admiralty and considered the ship an important actor in the film. A stellar cast was hired, which included Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh, Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian, Franchot Tone as Roger Byam, Movita Casteneda as Movita, and Mamo Clark as Maimiti. Read more…

THE FLAME AND THE ARROW– Max Steiner

December 13, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1949 Warner Brothers Studios had renewed interest in revisiting the swashbuckler genre, hoping to recapture the success of two of its greatest triumphs; 1935’s Captain Blood and 1940’s The Sea Hawk. Development and production of the film was given to producers Harold Hecht and Frank Ross who were provided with a budget of $1.61 million. Waldo Salt was hired to write the screenplay, and Jacques Tourneur was tasked with directing. Errol Flynn, Warner Brothers previous swashbuckler star was at age 41 beyond his prime and unable to handle the physicality demanded by the script. As such the popular Burt Lancaster who was a prior circus acrobatic performer was cast in the lead role of Dardo Bartoli. Joining him would be Virginia Mayo as Anne de Hesse, Robert Douglas as the Marchese Alessandro de Granazia, Gordon Gebert as Rudi Bartoli, Frank Allenby as Count Ulrich, and Nick Cravat as Dardo’s sidekick Piccolo. Read more…

JOHNNY BELINDA – Max Steiner

December 6, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Author Elmer Blaney Harris wrote a story titled “Johnny Belinda” in 1934 and tried unsuccessfully to secure studio backing to bring his creation to the big screen. Thwarted, he opted to instead pursue a Broadway production and the play had a successful run from 1940 – 1941. This rekindled his hope and he again approached MGM to advocate for a film adaptation, but executives were still wary of its subject matter, which involved rape. Subsequent efforts to obtain support from independent film producers also failed, but in 1946 Warner Brothers Studio producer Jerry Wald took renewed interest in the play and convinced CEO Jack Warner to purchase the film rights for $50,000. He was given the reins to produce the film with a $1.6 million budget, Jean Negulesco was hired to direct, and Allen Vincent and Irma von Cabe were tasked with writing the screenplay. A fine cast was hired with Jane Wyman as Belinda MacDonald, Lew Ayres as Dr. Robert Richardson, Stephen McNally as Locky McCormick, Charles Bickford as Black “Mac” MacDonald, and Agnes Moorehead as his sister Aggie MacDonald. Read more…