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Posts Tagged ‘Max Steiner’

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…

THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN – Max Steiner

July 11, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1941 Warner Brothers Studios decided that they wanted to bring to the big screen a biopic film, which explored the life of one of America’s most beloved writers, Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. The project was forced to reckon with Twain’s daughter Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, who was fiercely protective of her father’s legacy. Research into Twain’s life was meticulous and screenwriters Alan Le May and Harold M. Sherman eventually wrote a screenplay, which satisfied all stakeholders. Jesse L. Lasky was placed in charge of production with $1.623 million provided for the budget. Irving Rapper was tasked with directing, and an exceptional cast was assembled, including Fredric March in the titular role, Alexis Smith as Olivia Langdon Clemens, Donald Crisp as J.B. Pond, and Alan Hale as Steve Gillis. Read more…

THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON – Max Steiner

May 23, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1941 MGM commissioned a heroic script by Aeneas MacKenzie, Wally Kline and Lenore J. Coffee about the life of General George Armstrong Custer, which would allow the studio to showcase their box office megastar Errol Flynn. Hal B. Wallis and Robert Fellows were placed in control of production with a $1.358 million budget. Raoul Walsh was tasked with directing after Flynn vetoed the studio’s first choice of Michael Curtiz. Flynn would star as General George Armstrong Custer, and joining him would be Olivia de Havilland as Elizabeth Bacon Custer, Arthur Kennedy as Ned Sharp, Charley Grapewin as California Joe, Gene Lockhart as Samuel Bacon, and Anthony Quinn as Crazy Horse. 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…

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…

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…

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…

NOW VOYAGER – Max Steiner

May 24, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1942 producer Hal B. Wallis signed a four-year contract with Warner Brothers Studios tasking him to produce four films a year. He decided that adapting Olive Higgins Prouty’s 1941 novel Now Voyager to the big screen would serve as his inaugural effort. Screen rights were purchased, Casey Robinson was hired to write the screenplay, and a budget of $877,000 was provided. Irving Rapper was given the reins to direct the film, and a stellar cast was assembled, which included Bette Davis as Charlotte Vale, Paul Henreid as Jerry Duvaux Durrance, Claude Rains a Dr. Jaquith, Gladys Cooper as Mrs. Windle Vale, Ilka Chase as Lisa Vale and Janis Wilson as Tina Durrance. Read more…

SYMPHONY OF SIX MILLION – Max Steiner

May 3, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In late 1931 legendary David O. Selznick became RKO Studio’s Production Chief. He decided that his inaugural film would be the melodrama “Night Bell”, which would be adapted from the story of the same name by Fannie Hurst. He first changed the film title to “Symphony of Six Million” – a reference to the population of New York City – and then rejected the first screenplay, demanding that it reclaim the cultural sensibilities offered in the original story. He wanted his film to offer a mirror to the life of Jewish immigrants in America and the challenges created by the cultural assimilation of their children. Selznick and Pandro S. Berman would produce the film, Gregory La Cava was hired to direct, and a budget of $270,000 was provided. The cast would include Ricardo Cortez as Dr. Felix Klauber, and his family, Gregory Ratoff as his father Meyer Klauber, Anna Appel as his mother Hannah Klauber, Noel Madison as his brother Magnus Klauber, and Lita Chevret as his sister Birdie Klauber. Irene Dunne would play love interest Jessica, and John St. Polis his colleague Dr. Schifflen. Read more…

THE INFORMER – Max Steiner

April 26, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director John Ford came across a 1925 novel, The Informer by Liam O’Flaherty, which explored the dark underside of the Irish War of Independence. He felt that the story provided suspense, drama, betrayal, and tragedy, which would translate well to the big screen. RKO Studios however was reticent to proceed with the project due to its depressing subject matter and unsympathetic lead, but they relented following Ford’s great success with his prior film The Lost Patrol, which earned their trust and permission to proceed with a budget of $250,000. Dudley Nichols was hired to write the screenplay and a fine cast was assembled which included Victor McLaglen as Gypo Nolan, Heather Angel as Mary McPhillip, Preston Foster as Dan Gallagher, Margot Grahame as Katie Madden, Wallace Ford as Frankie McPhillip, and Una O’Connor as Mrs. McPhillip. Read more…

DARK VICTORY – Max Steiner

February 1, 2021 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Actress Bette Davis discovered the play “Dark Victory” and was determined to play Judith Traherne in a big screen production. She convinced Warner Brothers producers Hal Wallis and David Lewis, as well as Director Edmund Goulding to take on the project. Yet they did not have the film rights, which they had to purchase from David O. Selznick for $50,000. The film would be based on the 1934 play “Dark Victory” by George Emerson Brewer Jr. and Bertram Bloch, with Casey Robinson hired to write the screenplay. A budget of $1 million was provided and a truly stellar cast assembled. Joining Davis would be George Brent as Dr. Frederick Steele, Humphrey Bogart as Michael O’Leary, Geraldine Fitzgerald as Ann King, Henry Travers as Dr. Parsons, Ronald Reagan as Alex Hamm and Cora Witherspoon as Carrie Spottswood. Read more…

SHE – Max Steiner

October 5, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

RKO studio executives were fascinated by the film prospects presented by of Henry Rider Haggard’s 1887 novel She. The tale offered a broad canvass, which featured adventure, mystery, love, magic and immortality. They purchased the screen rights in 1932 and in 1933 assigned the project to Merian Cooper, who had just assumed his new position as Vice President of Production for RKO. He brought in Dudley Nichols and Ruth Rose to write the screenplay, and they ended up creating a story, which drew upon plot elements from all four novels of the series. Cooper had a grand vision and with a $1 million budget purchased lavish costumes and fashioned magnificent architecture sets for the city of Kor in the Art Deco design, and assigned Lansing C. Holden and Irving Pichel as directors to bring it all to life. Yet they were undone when the budget was slashed and they were forced to abandon technicolor and instead shoot in black and white. For the cast Cooper recruited opera singer Helen Gahagan for the titular role. Joining her would be Randolph Scott as John Vincey and Leo Vincey, Nigel Bruce as Professor Horace Holly, Helen Mack as Tanya Dugmore, and Gustav von Seyffertitz as Governor Billali. Read more…

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME – Max Steiner

July 13, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

RKO Radio Pictures executives saw the popularity of the 1924 short story The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, which was published by Collier’s Magazine and decided that it should be adapted to the big screen. They purchased the film rights, and assigned Merian Cooper, Ernest Schoedsack, and David O. Selznick to produce. The team of Irving Pichel and Ernest Schoedsack would direct the film with a budget of $220,000. James Ashmore Creelman was hired to write the screenplay, and a fine cast was assembled, which included Joel McCrea as Robert Rainsford, Fay Wray as Eve Trowbridge, Leslie Banks as Count Zaroff, Robert Armstrong as Ivan, Steve Clemente as Tartar, Dutch Hendrian as Servant, and William Davidson as the Captain. The story is set in 1932 off the western coast of South America. Renowned big game hunter and author Bob Rainsforth is enjoying a cruise on a luxury yacht through a channel in the remote Tierra Del Fuego. The Captain raises concerns when the channel lights vary from his charts but is ordered to proceed by the yacht’s owner. The yacht runs aground upon a shoal, sinks, and explodes, with Rainsforth the only survivor. Read more…