Posts Tagged ‘Miklos Rozsa’

JULIUS CAESAR – Miklós Rózsa

February 22, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio executives were impressed by the commercial success of Henry V in 1944 and sought to adapt another of William Shakespeare’s plays for the big screen. They chose his 1599 work Julius Caesar and tasked producer John Houseman with the project with a generous budget of $2.0 million. Houseman had a vision for the film and hired Joseph Mankiewicz to direct, as the story would be dialogue driven, which was the type of film in which Mankiewicz excelled. Once attached to the project Mankiewicz made the creative decision to personally adapt the play and write the screenplay. Houseman did not want another lavish epic, but rather a small more intimate production, which explored the drama of ambition and power politics. Second, he insisted that the film be shot in black and white because “we wanted people to relate to the newsreels, to the Fascist movements in Europe, which were still relevant”. A cast for the ages was assembled, which included Marlon Brando as Marc Anthony, James Mason as Brutus, John Gielgud as Cassius, Louis Calhern as Julius Caesar, Edmund O’Brien as Casca, Greer Garson as Calpurnia, and Deborah Kerr as Portia. Read more…

KING OF KINGS – Miklós Rózsa

September 14, 2020 2 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Samuel Bronston related that the most impactful event in human history was the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. He had long nurtured the dream to bring this remarkable tale to the big screen. His conception, which was presented to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios was to make Jesus more accessible, by presenting Him as a flesh and blood man living during tumultuous times. Given the stunning success of Ben-Hur in 1959 MGM decided to cash in on the public’s love of biblical epics and gave Bronston permission to proceed. He hired writers Philip Yordan and Ray Bradbury to write the screenplay, and brought in veteran director Nicholas Ray to direct. A splendid cast was assembled, which included Jefferey Hunter as Jesus, Siobhán McKenna as Mary, Robert Ryan as John the Baptist, Ron Randell as Lucius, Hurd Hatfield as Pontius Pilate, Frank Thring as Herod Antipas, Rip Torn as Judas Iscariot, Harry Guardino as Barabbas, Carmen Sevilla as Mary Magdalene, Brigid Balzen as Salomé, and Guy Rolfe as Caiaphas. Read more…

IVANHOE – Miklós Rózsa

February 10, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1935 MGM Studio sought to bring Sir Walter Scott’s epic Medieval Knight tale Ivanhoe (1819) to the big screen. After crafting a screenplay, the project never got off the ground as production delays resulted in selecting two different casts, one in 1935 starring Fredric March, Loretta Young and Gary Cooper, and another in 1938 starring Robert Taylor, Myrna Loy and Clark Gable. Another setback to production occurred with the onset of WWII, which caused filming on location in England to be put hold. New energy for the project arose in 1946 when Æneas MacKenzie crafted a new script, which satisfied MGM executives. Pandro S. Berman was given a very generous budget to produce the film and he brought in Richard Thorpe to direct. A third stellar cast was hired, which included; Robert Taylor as Ivanhoe, Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca, Joan Fontaine as Rowena, George Sanders as Sir Brian De Bois-Guilbert, Emlyn Williams as Wamba and also the Narrator, Felix Aylmer as Isaac, Finlay Currie as Cedric, and Guy Rolfe as Prince John. Read more…

BEN-HUR – Miklós Rózsa

September 18, 2017 4 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a new decade dawned, MGM studio executives began searching for a grand tale to bring to the screen. They decided in 1952 to cast their lot with a remake of their epic 1925 silent film, Ben-Hur. The film’s source material would again reference Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It would take six years before producer Sam Zimbalist could bring the project to fruition. It required twelve versions of the script, from four different writers, to finally satisfy the demands of director William Wyler. Casting was also challenging as over 5,000 people needed to be hired for minor roles and extras. The studio spared no expense, ultimately providing Wyler with an astounding $15 million budget. Charlton Heston secured the titular role of Judah Ben-Hur and was supported by a fine cast, which included Stephen Boyd as Messala, Jack Hawkins as Quintus Arius, Haya Harareet as Esther, Martha Scott as Miriam, Sam Jaffe as Simonides, Hugh Griffith as Sheik Ilderim, Cathy O’Donnell as Tirzah, Frank Thring as Pontius Pilate, and Finlay Currie as Balthazar narrator. Read more…

EL CID – Miklós Rózsa

September 11, 2017 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Samuel Bronston had just finished his epic film King of Kings (1961) and decided that the time was finally right to realize his long desired ambition to bring the story of El Cid to the screen. Fredric Frank, a longtime collaborator with Cecil B. DeMille, had written a brilliant story and Bronson tasked him, Philip Yordan and Ben Barzman with writing the screenplay. Anthony Mann was given the director reigns and a stellar cast was hired. Charlton Heston was cast for the titular role and joined by Sophia Loren as Doña Chimene, Herbert Lom as Ibn Yussuf, Raf Vallone as Count García Ordóñez, Geneviève Page as Doña Urraca, John Fraser as King Alfonso VI, Michael Hordem as Don Diego, and Frank Thring as Emir Al-Kadir. Controversy among the two principle actors arose when Heston found out that Loren was being paid one million dollars more than him. He became furious and his disdain leaked out into his performance. You will notice that he consistently refuses to look at Loren, even during romantic moments, which detracted from his performance and the film’s narrative. Read more…


December 12, 2016 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Renowned director Alexander Korda had long envisioned embarking on a remake of the 1924 fantasy adventure The Thief of Bagdad. He set his plans into motion early in 1939, selecting German director Ludwig Berger to manage the project. Creative differences however led to Berger’s replacement as well as his composer Oscar Straus. British director Michael Powell was brought in, however when World War II began, he was transferred to the War Office to begin work on a morale-boosting documentary. Because of the Nazi Blitz, Korda was forced to move film production to Hollywood and American director Tim Whelan was tasked with salvaging the film. The original cast was retained, which included; Conrad Veidt as Jaffar, Sabu as Abu, June Duprez as the Princess, John Justin as Ahmed, Rex Ingram as Djinn, Miles Malleson as the Sultan. The story takes inspiration from the classic Arabian tale One Thousand and One Nights, as well as the novel The Tower and the Elephant by Robert Howard, and offers a classic villain, the love story of a handsome young prince and princess, a heroic young boy, magic, and adventure. Read more…

SPELLBOUND – Miklós Rósza

September 19, 2016 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The 1945 Alfred Hitchcock mystery/suspense film Spellbound dealt with the new field of psychoanalysis and the inner workings of the human mind. The story offers testimony to Hitchock’s supreme mastery of suspense, camera work, and cinematography. The stellar cast included Ingrid Bergman playing Dr. Constance Peterson, a psychoanalyst working at the Green Manors mental hospital and Gregory Peck playing her love interest, the dashing Dr. Edwards. This is at its crux a love story. We see a cool and analytical Constance lose her professional detachment and immediately fall in love with Dr. Edwards upon his arrival. Sadly unsettling aspects of his personality slowly begin to slowly reveal themselves. As the story unfolds she discovers that her love interest is really an imposter, an outsider trying to falsely portray himself as Dr. Anthony Edwards. Driven by love, Constance seeks to illuminate his path back to sanity by trying to resurrect repressed memories without shattering him in the process, as such the story is a classic commentary on the eternal conflict of heart vs mind. Read more…


September 5, 2016 Leave a comment

doubleindemnity100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

James Cain’s story “Double Indemnity” was first published in 1935 as an eight part serial in Liberty Magazine, but because of its sordid narrative studios were loathe buying the film rights, fearful of censoring by the Hayes Commission. When it was released as a successful novel in 1943, director Billy Wilder convinced Paramount to let him take on the project. Raymond Chandler was hired to collaborate with Wilder in writing the screenplay. Yet they clashed and Chandler stormed off the project, refusing to return unless his demands were met. The Studio agreed and work continued, although the two men detested each other. Casting was challenging as many actors were loathe to take on such reprehensible roles. Yet Wilder was persistent and eventfully secured a stellar cast, which included Fred McMurray as Walter Neff, Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson, Edgar G. Robinson as Barton Keyes, Porter Hall as Mr. Jackson, Jean Heather as Lola Dietrichson, Tom Powers as Mr. Dietrichson and Byron Barr as Nino Zachetti. Read more…

MIKLÓS RÓZSA – Fathers of Film Music, Part 6

November 1, 2014 2 comments

Miklós RózsaArticle by Craig Lysy

Born: 18 April 1907, Budapest, Hungary.
Died: 27 July 1995

Miklós Rózsa was born to upper class parents who resided in Budapest during the waning years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His mother, Regina Berkovits, was an accomplished pianist who had studied with pupils of Franz Liszt, while his father, Gyula, was a prominent industrialist. Both had a love for classical music, traditional folk songs and instilled in Miklós a love of music. His maternal uncle Lajos Berkovits, an accomplished violinist with the Budapest Opera, presented him with his first instrument, a violin at the age of five. Rózsa began formal study under Lajos Berkovits (a pupil of Hubay), which also included training with both the viola and piano. By age eight he was already composing original works and performing in public, which included a movement from a Mozart violin concerto where he dressed as Mozart, and also as conductor of a children’s orchestra where he turned in a splendid performance of Haydn’s Toy Symphony. Read more…

PROVIDENCE – Miklós Rózsa

May 22, 2013 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Providence served as the first English-language film from renowned French director Alain Resnais. True to form Resnais provides us with a drama about an unsympathetic, spiteful, alcoholic novelist, which again features his trademark playful surrealist touches and recurring use of characters shackled by recurrent memories. The story reveals Clive Langham (Sir John Gielgud) spending a painful night in his bed suffering from age ending health problems, vainly trying to create a final story based on his family played by Ellen Burstyn (Sonia), Dirk Bogarde (Claude) and David Warner (Kevin). He is an incredibly bitter man, drunken and tormented, who reveals through a series of flashbacks an unsympathetic, spiteful, conniving family. Clive makes each of his family members interact in a variety of bizarre settings – courtrooms, mortuaries and werewolf-haunted forests. It is apparent that his perceptions are distorted by a terrible bitterness and guilt, the full extent of this is not made clear until the end, when his “real” family members come to his house to celebrate his 78th birthday. The film was both a commercial and a critical success, earning the 1978 César Award for Best Film. Read more…

QUO VADIS – Miklós Rózsa

January 2, 2013 3 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Sam Zimbalist and director Mervyn LeRoy saw an opportunity to create a grand epic by adapting Henryk Sienkiewicz’s 1896 novel Quo Vadis. They hired a fine cast, which included Robert Taylor (Marcus Vinicius), Deborah Kerr (Lygia), Peter Ustinov (Nero) and Leo Glenn (Petronius). Set in imperial Rome during the reign of the maniacal emperor Nero (54 – 68 C.E.) we see a love story unfold between the pagan Marcus and the Christian Lygia. Our lovers are caught in the tide of history as an increasingly mad Nero terrorizes his court and ultimately sets Rome aflame in a stunning horrific conflagration. To cover his guilt Nero falsely blames the Christians and unleashes a reign of terror with gruesome executions in the Coliseum. Through their ensuing travails, Marcus converts and our lovers manage an escape to Sicily as an avenging mob, now aware that Nero burned Rome, storms the palace and brings Nero to a well-deserved end. The film was both a commercial and critical success, earning eight Academy Award nominations. Read more…

BEN-HUR – Miklós Rózsa

December 17, 2010 10 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

This 1959 film version of General Lew Wallace’s best-selling novel achieved Oscar legend as it went on to win 11 Academy Awards including Best Score for Miklós Rózsa. The film tells the tale of Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur, played in exemplary fashion by Charlton Heston, who lives in Judea with his family during the time of Jesus Christ circa 33 C.E. Judah’s childhood Roman friend Messala returns to Judea as an ambitious Tribune intent on achieving fame and his destiny at any cost. When Judah refuses to provide Messala with the names of local Jewish dissidents, an offended Messala contrives a pretext to exact a terrible revenge. Messala orders the arrest of Judah and his family on patently false charges. Judah is then condemned to certain death on the Roman galleys, while his mother and sister are given life imprisonment.

Doomed to die chained to a galley oar, Judah’s hatred and the desire for vengeance fuels his will to live. Soon the hand of fate intervenes and he gains his freedom. Empowered with the help of a Roman General and a wealthy Arab sponsor he returns to Judea and challenges Messala to a chariot race. In an epic struggle Judah emerges triumphant while Messala lays defeated on the track, his body mangled irreparably by horses that trampled him. Meeting for a last time as surgeons wait to amputate Messala’s legs, Judah realizes the hollowness of his victory, of how unquenching it is to drink from the cup of revenge. He leaves Messala to death and rescues his family from a leper colony. Later he sees them cured as the pounding rains born of the crucifixion storm cleanses the sores from their bodies. Read more…