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Posts Tagged ‘MMUK Classics’

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…

THE THIRD MAN – Anton Karas

June 8, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

English novelist Graham Greene became intrigued by post war events unfolding in Europe and decided to write a suspense novella titled “The Third Man”. Unlike his previous novels, he intended for this latest effort to serve as source material for a film noir screenplay set in post WWII Vienna. As part of his research, he met Elizabeth Montagu in Vienna, who served as a tour guide for traditional landmarks, but also its renowned sewers and unsavory night clubs. She introduced him to Peter Smolka, the European correspondent for the Times, who provided him with stories of Vienna’s underbelly of black markets. The tours and tales were invaluable and inspired Greene to write one of the finest stories in his career. Well he had no problem selling his handiwork, and a legendary collaboration of talent joined together to produce the film, which included Alexander Korda, David O. Selznick and Carol Reed, who was also tasked with directing. A fine cast was assembled, which included Joseph Cotton as Holly Martins, Alida Valli as Anna Schmidt, Orson Welles as Harry Lime and Trevor Howard as Major Calloway. Reed had a vision for the film and brought in Austrian expressionist cinematographer Robert Krasker who would use harsh lighting and “Dutch Angle” camera technique to create an avant-garde atmospheric black-and-white viewing experience. Read more…

THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

June 1, 2020 1 comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studio executives saw the commercial success of Maxwell Anderson’s 1930 New York stage production of “Elizabeth The Queen,” which ran for an impressive 147 performances, and decided to purchase the film rights. Hal B. Wallis would produce the film, Michael Curtiz was tasked with directing, and Norman Reilly Raine and Aeneas MacKenzie were hired to write the screenplay. A stellar cast was assembled with Bette Davis starring as Queen Elizabeth I, Errol Flynn as Robert Devereux the Earl of Essex, Olivia de Havilland as Lady Penelope Gray, Donald Crisp as Francis Bacon, Alan Hale Sr. as Earl of Tyrone and Vincent Price as Sir Walter Raleigh. Drama arose immediately as Davis and Flynn did not like each other, something which was exacerbated by his insistence that his character be included in the film title led. This did not sit well with Davis; in a dress rehearsal scene, she purposely slapped Flynn’s face hard in front of the entire production crew instead of feigning it. Flynn did not retaliate and luckily, she did not reprise the slap during live filming. as he related in his memoirs that he would have slapped her back! Read more…

JANE EYRE – Bernard Herrmann

May 18, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1941 independent producer David O. Selznick hired director John Houseman to write the script for his next project, a retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, Jane Eyre; ultimately the screenplay was realized thanks to the collaboration of fellow director Robert Stevenson and writer Aldous Huxley. However, at this point of his career, Selznick was tired and seeking a respite from producing films. As such he sold production rights for Jane Eyre and several other films to William Goetz of 20th Century Fox. Kenneth MacGowan and Orson Welles were assigned to produce the film and Robert Stevenson was tasked with directing. Welles would star as Edward Rochester with Joan Fontaine as Jane Eyre. Joining them would be a fine cast which included Margaret O’Brien as Adele Verans, Peggy Ann Garner as young Jane Eyre, John Sutton as Dr. Rivers, Sara Allgood as Bessie, Agnes Moorhead as Mrs. Reed and Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns. Read more…

REBECCA – Franz Waxman

April 27, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

David O. Selznick was captivated by the 1938 novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a romantic psychological thriller, which he was determined to bring to the big screen. He purchased the film rights for $50,000, took on producing the film, and tasked Alfred Hitchcock to direct – his debut film in America. The screenplay was written by Robert Sherwood and Joan Harrison with adaptation by Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan. Selznick insisted that the film remain faithful to the novel, and friction occurred when he overruled a number of changes made by Hitchcock. Selznick’s initial choices for the lead roles were Ronald Coleman and Carole Lombard, but both declined. Nevertheless a stellar cast was assembled, which included Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs. De Winter, Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter, Judith Anderson as the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, George Sanders as Jack Favell, Reginald Denny as Frank Crawley, and C. Aubrey Smith as Colonel Julyan. Read more…

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME – Alfred Newman

April 20, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The dawning of the new age of film with dialogue and music had arrived and Universal Studio executives decided to explore a remake of their 1923 production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A favorable fan poll in 1936 added impetus to the endeavor, but the studio was never able to assemble the lead actors to launch the project and so sold the film rights to MGM, which in turn sold them to RKO. RKO was committed to the project and built a massive recreation of Paris and the cathedral on their ranch in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles. Pedro Berman was hired to produce the film and provided a massive budget of $1.8 million. William Dieterle was given the reigns to direct the film, which would again be adapted from Victor Hugo’s famous 1831 novel Sonya Levien and Bruno Frank provided the screenplay and a fine cast was assembled, which included Charles Laughton as Quasimodo, Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Jehan Frollo, Thomas Mitchell as Clopin, Maureen O’Hara in her screen debut as Esmeralda, Edmund O’Brien as Pierre Gringoire, Walter Hampden as Archbishop Claude Frollo, and Harry Davenport as King Louis XI of France. Read more…

CAPTAIN BLOOD – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

March 30, 2020 2 comments

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The commercial success of Treasure Island and The Count of Monte Cristo in 1934 inspired Warner Brothers Studio executives to remake their earlier silent film of Captain Blood, which first hit the silver screen in 1923. They tasked producers Harry Joe Brown and Gordon Hollingshead to manage the project with a generous $1.24 million budget and hired Michael Curtiz to direct. They would again adapt the film from the 1922 novel Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini and hired Casey Robinson to write the screenplay. However, casting got off on the wrong foot; Robert Donat and Jean Muir were originally sought for the lead roles, but when Donat declined the offer, the studio decided to bypass Muir and recruit new young talent. 24-year-old Australian actor Errol Flynn would make his Hollywood debut, cast in the titular role supported by 19-year-old Olivia de Havilland, who would play Arabella Bishop. Joining them would be Lionel Atwill as Colonel Bishop, Basil Rathbone as Levasseur, Ross Alexander as Jeremy Pitt, and Henry Stephensen as Lord Willoughby. 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…

LOST HORIZON – Dimitri Tiomkin

February 24, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

During the filming of It Happened One Night in 1934 director Frank Capra read and became inspired by the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. He was determined to adapt it to the big screen but had to delay production when his starring actor Ronald Coleman was contractually committed to another project. He eventually received the green light to proceed from Columbia Pictures executive Harry Cohn who provided a very generous budget of $1.25 million. The film was a passion project that Capra would produce and direct. The novel was adapted to the screen by screenwriter Robert Riskin, and a stellar cast was brought in led by Ronald Coleman as Robert Conway. Joining him would be Jane Wyatt as Sondra Bizet, H. B. Warner as Chang, Sam Jaffe as the High Lama, John Howard as George Conway, Edward Everett Horton as Alexander Lovett, Thomas Mitchell as Henry Barnard and Margo as Maria. The story centers on Robert Conway a writer and soldier set to return to England to assume the Foreign Secretary position in 1935. He is currently posted to China and ordered to evacuate 90 westerners lest they be captured by approaching Chinese revolutionaries. As they depart, the plane’s pilot has been replaced and they are hijacked, which ends with them running out of fuel and crashing deep in the Himalayas mountains. They are rescued by a mysterious man called Chang who leads them to a hidden and verdant valley called Shangri-La, where people live in idyllic peace and harmony, free of disease and blessed with unnatural long life. Read more…

IVANHOE – Miklós Rózsa

February 10, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

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…

ODNA [ALONE] – Dmitri Shostakovich

January 27, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Film-making in the 1930s Soviet Union was very tightly regulated by the state to ensure fidelity to the ideals of the revolution. Directors Leonid Trauberg and Grigori Kozintsev found inspiration in news reports of the dire challenges faced by two teachers. They conceived their film to address three political issues of the day; the State’s promotion of education, the elimination of the kulaks (land owning peasants), and the introduction of modern technology. The film was originally conceived as a silent film, but was later changed to include dialogue and music by composer Dmitri Shostakovich. With the additional demand by the State for realism in film, each actor would use their real names as the characters. Yelena Kuzima would star in the lead role as the school teacher Joining her would be Pyotr Sobolevsky as her husband, Sergey Gerasimov as the local Council Chairman and Mariya Babanova as the Chairman’s wife. Read more…

DIAL M FOR MURDER – Dimitri Tiomkin

January 21, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

English playwright Frederick Knott introduced his story “Dial M For Murder” in 1952 as a play for television. Its popularity led to stage productions in London and New York that were also successful. Renowned producer Alexander Korda saw opportunity and purchased the film rights, and after the success of the stage productions sold them to Warner Brothers for a handsome profit. Warner Brothers Studios had Alfred Hitchcock under contract and when his effort to film “The Bramble Bush” failed to get off the ground they directed him to begin production on “Dial M For Murder”. Hitchcock would produce and direct the film with a modest budget of $1.4 million. His first choices for the lead roles did not pan out. Cary Grant would not accept the role of a villain, and Olivia de Havilland demanded too much money for his modest budget. Despite these setbacks he never the less secured a fine cast which included Ray Milland as Tony Wendice, Grace Kelly as Margot Mary Wendice, Robert Cummings as Mark Halliday, John Williams as Chief Inspector Hubbard, and Anthony Dawson as Alexander Swann. Read more…

THE RIGHT STUFF – Bill Conti

December 16, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The 1979 novel The Right Stuff by Tom Woolfe proved to be a hit with the public, which set-off a bidding war for screen rights between Universal Pictures and independent producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. Chartoff and Winkler won the day and hired screenwriter William Goldman to adapt the novel to the big screen. Goldman was inspired by the project and was seeking a patriotic Americana tale, which celebrated the Mercury 7 astronauts involved. Philip Kaufman was tasked with directing, but he disliked Goldman’s script, believing it too patriotic, with not enough focus on test pilot Chuck Yeager. Goldman left the project, Woolfe declined to adapt his novel, and so Kaufman wrote the screenplay himself. He related; “if you’re serious about tracing where the future — read: space travel — began, its roots lay with Yeager and the whole test pilot-subculture. Ultimately, astronautics descended from that point.” Kaufman brought in a fine cast, which included Fred Ward as Gus Grissom, Dennis Quaid as Gordo Cooper, Ed Harris as John Glenn, Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager, Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard, Lance Henriksen as Wally Schirra, Scott Paulin as Deke Slayton, Barbara Hershey as Glennis Yeager and Veronica Cartwright as Betty Grissom. Read more…

CHARIOTS OF FIRE – Vangelis

December 9, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Lauded English film producer David Puttnam was seeking a new film project, which offered sports heroism and dealt with matters of conscience. By chance he came upon the story of runner Eric Liddell, and found exactly the tale he wanted to tell. He hired screenwriter Colin Welland to adapt Liddell’s story, and he meticulous in his research of the 1924 Olympics. He crafted an Academy Award winning screenplay that provided the vehicle for Puttnam to realize his vision. Hugh Hudson was hired to direct and he decided early that he would cast young, unknown actors for the film’s major roles, with established actors in the supporting roles. He chose Ian Charleson to play Eric Liddell, Ben Cross as his rival Harold Abrahams, Nicholas Farrell as Aubrey Montague, and Nigel Havers as Lord Andrew Lindsay, while adding Sir John Gielgud, Nigel Davenport, Lindsay Anderson, Ian Holm, and Patrick Magee to the supporting cast. Read more…