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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…

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THE THIEF OF BAGDAD – Miklós Rózsa

December 12, 2016 Leave a comment

thiefofbagdadMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

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…

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS – Elmer Bernstein

October 15, 2016 2 comments

tencommandmentsMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille, who at 72 was nearing the end of a great career, sought to reclaim past glory with a film that would serve as his crowning achievement. After much thought, he found his answer, in his past. He announced to the world in 1952 of his intention to remake his 1923 film, “The Ten Commandments.” DeMille stated that his retelling of the story would focus exclusively on the life of Moses. This epic film’s preparation took five years, with the script alone requiring three years to write, and the actual filming taking two years. DeMille insisted on a timeless script and so hired a quartet of screenplay writers headed by Aeneas MacKenzie to accomplish the task. The team drew upon three contemporary novels; “Prince Of Egypt” by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, “Pillar Of Fire” by Reverend J. H. Ingraham and “On Eagle’s Wing” by Reverend A. E. Southon. Lastly, DeMille insisted on historical accuracy and fidelity to the ancient texts, which included the works of Philo, Josephus, Eusebius, The Midrash and The Holy Scriptures. Read more…

IS PARIS BURNING? [PARIS BRÛLE-T-IL?] – Maurice Jarre

August 29, 2016 1 comment

isparisburningMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Is Paris Burning? is based on the bestselling novel Paris brûle-t-il? by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Producer Paul Graetz liked the novel and secured film rights as he felt the story had to be brought to the big screen. For his passion project he hired a remarkable team to write the screenplay, which included Gore Vidal, Francis Ford Coppola, Claude Brulé, Jean Aurenche, and Pierre Bost. Graetz then brought in respected director René Clément to manage the project, and they assembled a stellar cast for the ages, which included Alain Delon as Jacques Chaba-Delmas, Jean-Paul Belmondo as Morandat/Pierrelot, Charles Boyer as Monod, Gert Fröbe as Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, Leslie Caron as Francoise Labe, Orson Wells as Consul Raoul Nording, Kirk Douglas as General Patton, Anthony Perkins as Sergeant Warren, Simone Signoret as Café Owner, Glenn Ford as General Omar Bradley, Robert Stack as General Edwin Sibert, Billy Fick as Adolph Hitler and Yves Montand as Marcel Versini. Read more…

CHINATOWN – Jerry Goldsmith

June 20, 2016 2 comments

chinatownMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Robert Evans of Paramount Studio was determined to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic, The Great Gatsby (1925) to the big screen. He hired trusted screenplay writer Robert Towne for $175,000 to write the script. Towne however had a different ambition and managed to convince Evans to take on his own 1930’s detective mystery thriller titled “Water and Power” for $25,000. Well, Evans liked the script saw opportunity, and so moved forward with production. He greatly enjoyed his collaboration with Roman Polanski with Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and so brought him in to direct. They assembled a fine cast, which included Jack Nicholson as detective J.J. “Jake” Gittes, Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Cross Mulwray, John Huston as Noah Cross, John Hillerman as Russ Yelburton, Perry Lopez as Lieutenant Lou Escobar, and Darrell Zwerling as Hollis Mulwray. Read more…

A LITTLE ROMANCE – Georges Delerue

June 6, 2016 2 comments

alittleromanceMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director George Roy Hill enjoyed success with the romance film The World of Henry Orient in 1964, and when he came across the novel “E=MC2 Mon Amour” by Patrick Cauvan he decided it was time to revisit the genre. He and screenwriter Alan Burns crafted the script and set about finding their cast. Renowned thespian Laurence Olivier was hired to play Julius Edmund Santorin, and provide gravitas to the film, along with the two teenage lovers, Lauren King, played by Diane Lane making her acting debut, and Daniel Michon, played by Thelonius Bernard. The story offers a coming of age romance between Lauren, a 13-year-old American with an astounding IQ of 167, and her French beau Daniel, a street wise 13 year old who loves Hollywood film and betting on the horses. They meet one day at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte and fall in love. Their romantic adventure begins when the meet septuagenarian Julius who tells them that if they board a gondola in Venice and kiss under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset as the bells of Saint Mark’s toll, they will be in love forever. Well, since they cannot cross the border as minors without an adult, they join together on this romantic quest. With Julius’ assistance, and after much intrigue and side steps, Lauren and Daniel finally achieve their supreme romantic moment! Although Lauren’s outraged parents take her back to America, the film closes with our lovers locked in a parting gaze, knowing that Venice ensures they will again be together. The film had modest commercial success and received mixed critical reaction. Never the less it secured two Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay and best Film Score, winning one, Best Film Score. Read more…

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS – Giorgio Moroder

May 23, 2016 1 comment

midnightexpressMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1976 director Alan Parker was visiting New York on a business trip. He by chance ran into his old friend, producer Peter Guber, who asked him to review a manuscript, which was based on a true story. On his plane fight back to London he read it and became convinced that this was a story which needed to be told on film. He joined Guber and his new production company, Casablanca Filmworks, and hired Oliver Stone for what would be his first commercial screenplay. Stone delivered the goods, penning a hard-hitting, raw, uncompromising narrative full of rage, and abounding in cinematic energy. For his cast, Parker brought in Brad Davis to play Billy Hayes after negotiations with Richard Gere broke down. Joining him would be John Hurt as Max, Paolo Bonacelli as Rifki, Irene Miracle as Susan, Randy Quaid as Jimmy Booth, and Paul L. Smith as Hamidou. They would shoot the film in Malta, as the Turkish government was decidedly hostile to the project. The true-life story reveals American college student Billy Hays on holiday in Istanbul with girlfriend Susan. Quite stupidly, he straps 2 kg of hashish to his torso, which he intends to smuggle back to the United States. However, Turkey is on a terrorist alert after a recent hijacking, and he is caught when they frisk him as he prepares to board the plane. He is arrested and humiliated with a strip search. A mysterious American named Tex enters the scene and encourages Billy to cooperate with the investigation for a lesser sentence. Billy agrees and fingers the man who sold him the hashish, only to be betrayed by Tex and the Turkish police. His futile attempt to escape earns him a three-year sentence for drug possession. Later, after the prosecutor appeals the verdict, he is re-sentenced to a more severe life sentence for smuggling. Read more…