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Posts Tagged ‘Max Steiner’

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…

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE – Max Steiner

March 25, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studio executives saw the success of Paramount Studio’s Lives of a Bengal Lancer in 1935 and decided to cash in on the British Empire Adventure Tales genre. It was decided that their vehicle would be a retelling of the epic charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. Screenplay writer Michael Jacoby’s script for the story found favor with the studio and was purchased, although Rowland Leigh was brought in to make some edits. Samuel Bischoff and Hal Wallis were given the reigns to produce the film with a generous $1.33 million budget. Michael Curtiz was tasked with directing and a stellar cast was assembled, including Errol Flynn as Major Geoffrey Vickers, Olivia de Havilland as Elsa Campbell, Patric Knowles as Captain Perry Vickers, Henry Stephensen as Sir Charles Macefield, Nigel Bruce as Sir Benjamin Warrenton, Donald Crisp as Colonel Campbell, David Niven as Captain Randall, Robert Barrat as Count Igor Volonoff, and C. Henry Gordon as Surat Khan. Read more…

THE CAINE MUTINY – Max Steiner

July 17, 2017 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Stanley Kramer of Columbia Pictures found inspiration for a compelling military drama within the pages of Herman Wouk’s 1951 novel, “The Caine Mutiny”. He purchased the film rights and tasked Edward Dmytryk with directing, and Wouk to write the screenplay. All did not begin well as controversy arose regarding the script. Dmytryk was dissatisfied with Wouk’s effort, which would have required a ten-hour film, so he relieved him and hired veteran writer Stanley Roberts. While Roberts was successful in his mission, he resigned when further cuts were ordered to keep the film’s running time under two hours. As such Michael Blankfort was brought in and cut 50 pages from the script, to achieve its final incarnation. More problems arose, as the navy was initially resistant to support the film due to its narrative of an unhinged Captain and mutiny aboard a US naval vessel. The final script however won over Naval command and ship resources were dedicated to the film. There was more controversy to come as casting also got off on the wrong foot. Columbia President Harry Cohn leveraged Humphrey Bogart’s desire for the lead role of Captain Queeg to reduce his customary $200,000 salary, which caused the actor great consternation and bitterness. In the end he accepted the role and provided one of the finest acting performances of his career. He would be supported by a fine cast, which included; Jose Ferrer as Lieutenant Barney Greenwald, Van Johnson as Lieutenant Steve Maryk, Fred McMurray as Lieutenant Tom Keefer, Robert Francis as Ensign Willie Keith, Tom Tully as Lieutenant Commander William De Vriess, May Wynn as May Wynn, and E. G. Marshall as Prosecutor Lieutenant Commander John Challee. Read more…

THE SEARCHERS – Max Steiner

June 19, 2017 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

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…