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Posts Tagged ‘MMUK Classics’

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY – Alfred Newman

March 1, 2021 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck was seeking an epic film in the vein of Gone With The Wind, and believed he had at last found his answer in Richard Llewellyn’s popular 1939 novel How Green Was My Valley. He purchased the screen rights and tasked William Wyler to direct with an $800,000 budget. Wyler was shortly thereafter replaced by John Ford who wanted to shoot the film live in Wales, but was overruled by the studio as the raging Nazi Blitz and the Battle of Britain made it too dangerous. A set was constructed in Malibu and the film shot in black and white as the indigenous California flowers were different colors that the Welsh flowers. A fine cast was hired, including Walter Pidgeon as Pastor Gruffydd, Maureen O’Hara as Angharad Morgan, Donald Crisp as Gwilym Morgan, Roddy McDowall in his acting debut as Huw Morgan, Sara Allgood as Beth Morgan, Patric Knowles as Ivor Morgan, John Loder as Lanto Morgan, Richard Fraser as Davy Morgan, Evan Evans as Gwilym Morgan Jr., James Monks as Owen Morgan, Anna Lee as Ivor’s wife Bronwyn, and Irving Pichel as an adult Huw Morgan, who narrates the film. Read more…

JULIUS CAESAR – Miklós Rózsa

February 22, 2021 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

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…

THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY – Alex North

February 8, 2021 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox Studio executive Peter Levathes took notice of Irving Stone’s best-selling novel 1961 The Agony and the Ecstasy with almost 51 million copies sold and saw opportunity. He purchased the film rights for $125,000, yet was unable to proceed with the project as the studio suffered significant financial reversals in 1962 due to cost overruns on several films, most notable “Cleopatra”. Industry icon Daryl F. Zanuck was brought in to save the studio, and within 12 months it was again operating in the black. This allowed him to move “The Agony and the Ecstasy” into production. Carol Reed was hired to both produce and direct the film with a $7.2 million budget. A stellar cast was hired including Charlton Heston as Michelangelo, Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II, Diane Cilento as Contessina Antonia Romola de Medici, Harry Andrews as Donata Bramente and Albert Lupo as the Duke of Urbino. 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…

WHERE EAGLES DARE – Ron Goodwin

January 11, 2021 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of Where Eagles Dare lay with actor Richard Burton, whose career was in decline. His two sons exhorted him to do an adventure film where he was the hero, and did not die in the end. Burton approached producer Elliot Kastner and asked if he had any projects that would fit the bill. He did not but Kastner asked novelist collaborator Alistair MacLean for a new original script to showcase Burton. Well, MacLean delivered the goods, and financing was provided by Winkast Productions with a budget of $6.2 million. Brian Hutton was brought in to direct and a stellar cast assembled to join Richard Burton as Major Jon Smith, including Clint Eastwood as Lieutenant Morris Schaffer, Mary Ure as Mary Ellison, Patrick Wymark as Colonel Wyatt Turner, and Michael Hordern as Vice Admiral Rotland. Read more…

THE GREAT ESCAPE – Elmer Bernstein

December 28, 2020 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director John Sturges had long desired to bring the amazing true to life WWII novel The Great Escape by Paul Brockhill to the big screen but could never secure financial backing. All this changed in 1960 following his stunning critical and commercial success directing The Magnificent Seven. He secured financial backing from the Mirisch Company and United Artists, and would produce the film, as well as direct it with a budget of $3.8 million. A legendary cast was assembled, which included Steve McQueen as Virgil Hilts, James Garner as Lieutenant Robert Hendley, Richard Attenborough as Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett, Charles Bronson as Lieutenant Danny Velinski, James Donald as Captain Ramsey, Donald Pleasence as Lieutenant Colin Blythe, James Colburn as Flying Officer Louis Sedgwick, David McCallum as Lieutenant Commander Eric Ashley Pitt, and Hannes Messemer as Kommandant Oberst von Luger. 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 1 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 1 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…

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 Leave a 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…