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Posts Tagged ‘MMUK Classics’

TARAS BULBA – Franz Waxman

November 9, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Robert Aldrich, a producer, director and screenwriter had for many years been crafting a script for his dream project, adapting the 1895 novella Taras Bulba by Nikolai Gogol for the big screen. After five scripts he believe he had at last created a “sensational” screenplay. The project moved forward in 1959, but foundered when financing failed. Aldrich fell into debt, and was forced to sell the script to Joseph Kaufman, an agent for producer Harold Hecht for $100,000. Harold Hecht Productions would finance the film with United Artists distributing. A budget of $6 million was provided and J. Lee Thompson was brought in to direct. A fine cast was assembled, which included Tony Curtis as Andrei Bulba, Yul Brynner as Taras Bulba, Christine Kaufman as Natalie Dubrov, and Perry Lopez as Ostap Bulba. Read more…

ALL ABOUT EVE – Alfred Newman

October 19, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1949 renowned director Joseph Mankiewicz envisioned for his next project a story about an aging actress. By chance he came upon a short story “The Wisdom of Eve” by actress Mary Orr, published in the May 1946 issue of Cosmopolitan, which piqued his interest. He contacted 20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl Zanuck who was receptive, and was given the green light to proceed with the project. Zanuck agreed to produce the film and provided a generous $1.4 million budget. Mankiewicz would not only direct, but also write the screenplay, which was significantly edited to incorporate numerous suggestions for improvement offered by Zanuck. Casting the lead role was challenging to fill with Susan Hayward, Marlene Dietrich, Gertrude Lawrence and Claudette Colbert all considered before Mankiewicz finally selected Bette Davis. Joining her would be Anne Baxter as Eve Harington, Gary Merrill as Bill Sampson, George Sanders as Addison DeWitt, Celeste Holm as Karen Richards, and Hugh Marlowe as Lloyd Richards. Read more…

NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA – Richard Rodney Bennett

October 12, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Sam Spiegel had long aspired to make a film set during the Russian Revolution and decided to roll the dice after witnessing the stunning success of David Lean’s film Doctor Zhivago. His initial intent was to derive his screenplay from historical events recorded in the public domain, however he changed course and decided to adapt Robert H. Massie’s popular 1967 novel Nicholas and Alexandra. He purchased the film rights and hired James Goldman (The Lion in Winter) to write the screenplay. Yet the task was onerous with countless rewrites as four directors came and went. It was only after Franklin Schaffner came on to direct that a final screenplay was realized. Spiegel vision was to create an epic film in the tradition of Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, yet he was constrained by Columbia studio executives who were reluctant to offer a generous budget after terrible financial setbacks with The Chase and The Night of the Generals. As such he could not afford actors Peter O’Toole, Vanessa Redgrave and Rex Harrison. He did however manage to secure the services of Laurence Olivier as Count Witte. Joining him would be less familiar actors including Michael Jayston as Tsar Nicholas II, Janet Suzman as Tsaritna Alexandra, Tom Baker as Rasputin, Michael Redgrave as Sazonov, Jack Hawkins as Vladimir, Harry Andrews as Grand Duke Nicholas, Roderic Noble as Tsarevich Alexei, Ania Marson as Grand Duchess Olga, Lynne Frederick as Grand Duchess Tatiana, Candace Glendenning as Grand Duchess Marie, Fiona Fullerton as Grand Duchess Anastasia, and Irene Worth as the Dowager Tsaritsna Marie. 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 ANDROMEDA STRAIN – Gil Mellé

September 21, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Universal Studios executives saw opportunity to capitalize on the public fascination surrounding the best-selling 1969 techno-thriller novel The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, and purchased the film rights for $250,000. Renowned academy award winning director Robert Wise was brought in to both produce and direct the film and given a generous budget of $6.5 million. He hired trusted collaborator Nelson Gidding to adapt the novel for the screen and brought in a fine cast, which included; Arthur Hill as Dr. Jeremy Stone, James Olson as Dr. Mark Hall, David Wayne as Dr. Charles Dutton, Kate Reid as Dr. Ruth Leavitt. Paula Kelly as nurse Karen Anson, and George Mitchell as Mr. Peter Jackson. Read more…

KING OF KINGS – Miklós Rózsa

September 14, 2020 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

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…

FAHRENHEIT 451 – Bernard Herrmann

August 24, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Famous French Director Francois Truffaut was fascinated by the possibilities of directing a film version of Ray Bradbury’s acclaimed 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. He met with the author who was supportive and obtained the film rights. He then secured the backing of Universal Pictures for what would be the company’s first European production. Lewis M. Allen was tasked with producing the film and a modest budget of $1.5 million was provided. Austrian actor Oskar Werner was cast as Guy Montag, which proved a mistake as he would not accept Truffaut’s vision for his character. The conflict was so severe that Truffaut contemplated abandoning the project. Joining Werner would be Julie Christie in a dual role as Linda Montag and Clarisse – a decision later criticized. Cyril Cusack would play Captain Beatty and Anton Diffring would play Fabian. The story is set in a dystopian future where a totalitarian government rules the United States and uses a Gestapo-like force called the “Firemen” to seek out and destroy all books by fire in an effort to suppress dissent, and any idea that challenges the security of the governing order. It explores the life of Fireman Guy Montag who relentlessly finds and burns books believing they make people unhappy. By chance he makes the acquaintance of schoolteacher Clarisse who asks if he ever reads the books he burns. This spurs his curiosity and he begins to hide books, choosing David Copperfield by Charles Dickens to be his first read. Read more…

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH – Bernard Herrmann

August 17, 2020 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox studio executives sought to cash in on the recent commercial success of two fantasy-adventure films, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days. They envisioned a big budget CinemaScope production, which would once again draw upon a story by famous French novelist Jules Verne, in this case, his 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. Charles Brackett was given the reins to produce the film, and would collaborate with Walter Reisch to write the screenplay. Henry Levin was tasked with directing, and ultimately secured a fine cast, despite some recasting problems. James Mason would play Professor Sir Oliver Lindenbrook, with Pat Boone joining as his apprentice Alec McEwan, Diane Baker as Jenny Lindenbrook, Arlene Dahl as Carla Goteborg, Peter Ronson as Hans Bjelke and Thayer David as Count Arne Saknussemm. Read more…

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS – Bernard Herrmann

August 10, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Charles Schneer and famed stop-motion photography master Ray Harryhausen decided that their fourth collaboration would take them to the realm of the ancient Greek myths. They chose the epic hero’s quest tale of Jason and his Argonaut crew who sail to the ends of the earth in search of the Golden Fleece, born from a winged ram and a symbol of divine sanction and kingship. Schneer would produce the film using his Morningside Productions company in partnership with Columbia pictures. A very generous budget of $3 million was provided and Don Chaffey was tasked with directing. Beverly Cross and Jan Read were hired to write the screenplay and a fine cast was assembled, which included Todd Armstrong in the titular role, joined by Nancy Kovack as Medea, Gary Raymond as the villain Acastus, Laurence Naismith as Argus, Niall MacGinnis as Zeus, Honor Blackman as Hera, Jack Gwillim as King Aeetes, John Carey as Hylas, and Nigel Green as Hercules. Read more…

MYSTERIOUS ISLAND – Bernard Herrmann

August 3, 2020 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the commercial success of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Columbia Pictures signed producer Charles Schneer to a contract, in which they would distribute nine of his films. He and Ray Harryhausen were eager to launch their third collaboration and chose to adapt another Jules Verne novel, The Mysterious Island (1874). John Preeble, Daniel Uhlman and Crane Wilbur teamed up to write the screenplay, adding fantastic beasts to create drama for the story, which would allow Harryhausen to once again awe audiences with his stop-motion Dynamation photography. Veteran director Cy Endfield was tasked with directing and a fine cast was assembled including Michael Craig as Captain Cyrus Harding, Joan Greenwood as Lady Mary Fairchild, Michael Callan as Herbert Brown, Gary Merrill as Gideon Spilitt, Herbert Lom as Captain Nemo, Beth Rogan as Elena Fairchild, Percy Herbert as Sergeant Pencroft, and Dan Jackson as Corporal Neb Nugent. Read more…

THE THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER – Bernard Herrmann

July 27, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

After the critical and financial success of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad in 1958, Charles Schneer and Ray Harryhausen decided to further explore the fantasy genre drawing inspiration from a literary classic, Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel Gulliver’s Travels. Columbia Pictures would finance and distribute the film, with Schneer again producing. Harryhausen would again oversee the Dynamation stop-motion animation and special visual effects. Jack Sher was tasked with directing, and he would collaborate with screenwriter Arthur Ross to write the screenplay, which would be loosely based on Swift’s novel. For the cast, Kerwin Matthews would again play the titular role, supported by Jo Morrow as Gwendolyn, June Thorburn as Elizabeth, Basil Sydney as the Emperor of Liliput, Sheri Aberoni as Glumdalclitch, Lee Patterson as Reldresal, and Gregoire Aslan as King Brob. Read more…

THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD – Bernard Herrmann

July 20, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In the 1950s, a collaboration between producer Charles Schneer and special animation effects artist Ray Harryhausen resulted in a trio of very successful science fiction films; It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956) and 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). They decided that they wanted to explore a new genre, which had always fascinated Harryhausen – mythological fantasies. He had a story already envisioned for Sinbad the Sailor and Schneer decided to use his production company Morningside Productions partnering with Columbia Pictures to finance and distribute the film. Harryhausen would again create and manage the Dynamation special effects. Nathan Juran was tasked with directing, and he cast two young stars for the principle roles; studio contract player Kerwin Matthews as Sinbad, and Kathryn Grant as Princess Parisa. Joining them would be Richard Eyre as the Genie, Torin Thatcher as Sokurah, Alec Mango as the Caliph of Bagdad, and Harold Kasket as the Sultan. It would take Harryhausen eleven months to complete the filming of all the widescreen stop-motion animation scenes, which included the use of a flamethrower to simulate the dragon’s fiery breath. His iconic scene where Sinbad fights a skeleton continues to awe audiences to this day. 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…

PRINCE VALIANT – Franz Waxman

July 6, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

MGM studios had purchased the film rights to the legendary comic book saga but was never able to reduce the sprawling story into a discreet screenplay. After languishing on the shelf for many years MGM allowed its option to lapse. Robert Jacks, who was the son in law of studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century Fox secured the film rights, sensing an opportunity given that swashbuckler films had been experiencing a resurgence in popularity after Ivanhoe (1952). Robert L. Jacks was given a generous budget of nearly $3 million to produce the film, which would be shot in CinemaScope. Dudley Nichols was hired to condense Hal Foster’s comic book tale into a more concise and cogent screenplay, and Henry Hathaway was tasked with directing. A stellar cast was assembled with 24-year-old heartthrob Robert Wagner playing the titular role. Joining him would be James Mason as the villain Sir Brack, Janet Leigh as love interest Princess Aleta, Debra Paget as Princess Irene, Sterling Hayden as Sir Gawain, Victor McLaglen as Boltar, Donald Crisp as King Aguar, Brian Aherne as King Arthur, and Primo Carnera as Sligon. Read more…

FORBIDDEN PLANET – Louis Barron and Bebe Barron

June 15, 2020 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The massive commercial success of the science fiction film The Day The Earth Stood Still in 1951 motivated MGM executives to cash in on the emerging genre, which had captured the public’s imagination. They came upon a screenplay entitled Fatal Planet by Irving Block and Allen Adler, and believed they had found their film. Nicholas Nayfack was hired to produce, and he brought in Fred Wilcox to direct. They were not fully satisfied with the script and brought in screenwriter Cyril Hume to make adjustments, beginning with the title, which was changed to “Forbidden Planet” as it was believed to have greater mystery and box office appeal. An excellent cast was hired, which included Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Edward Morbius, Ann Francis as his daughter Altaira, Leslie Nielsen in his acting debut as Commander John Adams, Robby the Robot as himself, Warren Stevens as Lieutenant Doc Ostrow, Jack Kelly as Lieutenant Jerry Farman, Richard Anderson as Chief Quinn, and Earl Holliman as the Cook. The story draws inspiration from William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” 1610. It takes place in the distant 23rd century on the planet Altair IV. Captain Adams commands the starship C-57D on a mission to discover the fate of the starship Bellerophon, which was sent there on a mission 20 years earlier. They discover two survivors, Dr. Mobius and his daughter Altaira along with their robot Robby, who relate that an unknown entity killed the other crew members and destroyed the Bellerophon. They also learn that Dr. Mobius has discovered technology from an ancient race known as the Krell, which inhabited this planet yet disappeared in a cataclysm some 200,000 years ago. Read more…