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THE SEARCHERS – Max Steiner

June 19, 2017 1 comment

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned director John Ford had long been recognized as a master of the Western genre with successes, which included Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948) and Wagon Master (1950). He came upon a novel The Searchers (1954) by Alan Le May that he believed offered a powerful narrative, which needed to be brought to the big screen. Warner Brothers Studio approved the project, purchased the film rights and tasked Ford with bringing his vision to fruition. Frank Nugent was hired to write the screenplay and Ford assembled a stellar cast, which included; John Wayne as Ethan Edwards, Jeffrey Hunter as Martin Pawley, Vera Miles as Laurie Jorgensen, Ward Bond as Reverend Captain Samuel Clayton, Natalie Woods as Debbie Edwards and Henry Brandon as Scar. The story was set in Texas and inspired by a real life event, the 1836 kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker by Comanche Indians. She would spend twenty-four years of her life among them, bearing and raising three sons with her Comanche husband. Read more…

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE – Max Steiner

December 5, 2016 Leave a comment

treasureofthesierramadre100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Writer-Director John Huston saw an opportunity with the novel Treasure of Sierra Madre (1935) by B. Traven to bring a timeless tale to the big screen. He convinced Warner Brothers studio executives of his vision and purchased the film rights for $6,500 from the reclusive author. He himself wrote the screenplay and he secured a first class cast for the project, which included; Humphrey Bogart as Fred Dobbs, Walter Huston as Howard, Tim Holt as Bob Curtin, Bruce Bennett as James Cody, Barton MacLane as Pat McCormick, Alfonso Bedoya as Gold Hat, and Arturo Soto Rangel as El Presidente. The theme of the story is as old as time itself – a study in human greed explored through the lives of three gold prospectors. Read more…

CASABLANCA – Max Steiner

August 8, 2016 1 comment

casablanca100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In January of 1942 story editor Irene Diamond became enamored with the unproduced stage play “Everybody Comes to Ricks” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. She convinced Warner Brothers producer Hal B. Wallis to purchase the film rights, and brothers Julius and Philip Epstein were brought in to write the screenplay. Wallis was unable to secure William Wyler to direct, and so turned to his friend Michael Curtiz to manage the project. They brought in one of the most notable casts of the day with Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo, Claude Reins as Captain Louis Renault, Conrad Veidt as Major Henrich Strasser, Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari, Peter Lorre as Signor Ugarte and Dooley Wilson as Sam. Read more…

NOW VOYAGER – Max Steiner

July 25, 2016 1 comment

nowvoyager100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Now Voyager was unusual in that it was perhaps a film before its time, the first woman’s film, what we would describe today in the vernacular as a “Chick Flick.” Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) suffers under a cruel and tyrannical mother (Gladys Cooper) until a nervous breakdown sends her to a sanatorium. A kind physician (Claude Rains) heals her psychic wounds and we witness Charlotte reborn. She begins her new life with a Latin American cruise where she at last discovers love, with the unhappily married Jerry Durrance (Paul Henreid). Their love and attraction is real, but they are reconciled to their fates. Charlotte leaves the cruise a stronger woman, and we retain hope that some day the two will reunite. It turns out that they do, through Jerry’s daughter Tina whom Charlotte helps heal, and in so doing, heals herself. The film was a critical success and firmly cemented Davis as the star of her day. Read more…

GONE WITH THE WIND – Max Steiner

November 30, 2015 2 comments

gonewiththewind100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone With The Wind caught legendary producer David O. Selznick’s eye and he saw destiny in the making. At his bidding MGM purchased the film rights for an unprecedented $50,000. This was a passion project for Selznick and no expense would defer him from realizing his vision. Screenwriter Sidney Howard was hired to do the impossible – adapt the massive 1,037-page story to the big screen. Victor Fleming was tasked with directing and a cast that has become legend were hired including Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes, Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton, Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O’Hara, Barbara O’Neil as Ellen O’Hara and Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. No movie to this date provided such a grand and epic sweep, and in the end six hours of film were shot, which featured thousands of actors. Set in the Antebellum era of the American South circa 1860, it tells a story of Scarlet O’Hara, daughter of Gerald O’Hara a wealthy cotton plantation owner. We bear witness to her many loves, her willfulness, indomitable spirit, and lastly her capacity to persevere and achieve her goals, no matter the cost. Her story unfolds at the O’Hara family plantation estate Tara on the eve of the American Civil War. The war unleashes a brutal clash of cultures, which results in desolation and ruin for the South, the ending of a way of life, and the pillaging of Tara, all swept away in its unforgiving and destructive torrents. Selznick’s vision was achieved as the film was an astounding commercial success earning $32 million or thirteen times its production cost of $3.85 million. It also received universal praise from critics and was rewarded with an unprecedented thirteen Academy Award nominations, earning eight wins including; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Art Direction. The film has a significant legacy, ranked fourth by the American Film Institutes 100 Greatest Movies list. Read more…

KING KONG – Max Steiner

October 12, 2015 1 comment

kingkongsteiner100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director and screenwriter Merian Cooper awoke one night from a nightmare of a giant gorilla terrorizing New York City. The nightmare served as the catalyst for conceiving a film, which would pit the giant gorilla against a Komodo dragon and other beasts. He pitched his idea to R.K.O. executive David Selznick who saw opportunity to lift the struggling studio out of debt and tasked Cooper with both producing and directing the film. To save money he would use stop-motion animation, as well as the huge jungle stage that had been built for The Most Dangerous Ground (1932) rather than shooting on location. A screenplay was crafted by Cooper, James Creelman and Ruth Rose, which secured Selznick’s blessing. The cast would include Fay Wray as Ann Darrow, Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham, Bruce Cabot as John Driscoll, Frank Reicher as Captain Englehorn, and Noble Johnson as the native chief. The story offers a classic “Beauty and the Beast” tale, which takes place in 1932 and is set in New York City. Famed filmmaker Carl Denham has conceived his most audacious film yet, which will be shot on an isle of legend – the uncharted Skull Island where resides an enormous best of unfathomable power. He finds Ann Darrow, a young actress down on her luck and offers her a role of a lifetime, starring in his new film to be shot on an exotic South Seas island. She jumps at the opportunity and they set sail on the Venture for Skull Island. Read more…

SINCE YOU WENT AWAY – Max Steiner

May 25, 2015 Leave a comment

sinceyouwentawayMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Legendary producer David O. Selznick wanted to make a film, which demonstrated his patriotic support for the war effort. However, he was adamant that he did not want to make a traditional war movie. As such he personally adapted the screenplay from the 1943 novel “Since You Went Away: Letters to a Soldier from His Wife” by Margaret Buell Wilder. Selznick hired veteran director John Cromwell with whom he had collaborated on nine prior films, and then assembled a quality cast including; Claudette Colbert (Mrs. Anne Hilton), Jennifer Jones (Jane Deborah Hilton), Joseph Cotton (Lieutenant Commander Tony Willett), Shirley Temple (Bridget ‘Brig’ Hilton), Monty Woolley (Colonel William G. Smollett) and Lionel Barrymore as Clergyman. The movie is set in a typical American town located near a military base, where people with loved ones serving in the armed forces struggle to cope with their absence. The main storyline concerns Anne, a housewife whose husband is fighting overseas. She struggles with his absence as she tries to meet the challenges of youthful romance from their two daughters who are growing into womanhood. The film overflows with sentimentality against the somber backdrop of families coping with grief, loneliness or fear for the future. I believe Selznick achieved his ambition, as the film was both a commercial and critical success, earning nine Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Score. Read more…