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ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND – Irving Berlin and Alfred Newman

January 23, 2023 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1937 composer Irving Berlin was solicited by 20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck to write a biopic about his life to be called “Alexander’s Ragtime Band, which would showcase some of his greatest songs. Berlin balked, believing such a story would be too intrusive. Zanuck pivoted and asked him if he could instead write a story, which could feature his greatest songs. He agreed, collaborated with screen writer Richard Sherman, and their story was accepted. Zanuck took personal charge of production, hired Kathryn Scola and Lamar Trotti to write the screenplay, and tasked Henry King with directing. The cast would be anchored by singers Ethel Merman as Jerry Allen, and Alice Faye as Stella Kirby. Joining them would be Tyrone Power as Alexander, Don Ameche as Charlie Dwyer and Jack Haley as Davey Lane. Read more…

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…