Archive

Posts Tagged ‘MMUK Classics’

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…

FAME – Michael Gore

December 2, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

David De Silva, a New York City talent manager, happened to take in the 1976 production of “A Chorus Line”. The song “Nothing” triggered a creative spark when it referenced the prestigious New York High School of Performing Arts. He envisioned a film, which would speak to the dreams, trials and tribulations of ambitious young adolescent students trying to break in to the business and launch their careers. De Silva travelled to Florida the next year where he met famed playwright Christopher Gore. The two connected, he pitched his ideas, story and characters, and then hired Gore to draft a script with a working title of “Hot Lunch” for $5,000. De Silva was pleased with the script, sold the project to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives, who authorized $400,000 to acquire the screen rights. De Silva and Alan Marshall would produce with a generous $8 million budget and Alan Parker was hired to direct. Read more…

THE HEIRESS – Aaron Copland

November 27, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The genesis of the film lies with renown actress Olivia de Havilland who one night fell in love with the Broadway play The Heiress (1947). She sought out director William Wyler and pitched the idea of him directing her in a film adaptation of the play. Wyler, who had long admired de Havilland, jumped at the opportunity to direct her in this film. He obtained permission from Paramount studios executives to purchase the film rights from playwrights Augustus and Ruth Goetz for $250,000, and then hired them to adapt their play to the big screen. Wyler would produce and direct the film. Supporting Olivia de Havilland in the titular role would be a stellar cast which included Montgomery Clift as Morris Townsend, Ralph Richardson as Dr. Austin Sloper and Miriam Hopkins as Aunt Lavinia Penniman. The story takes place in New York City circa 1849 and centers on the life of Catherine Sloper, the shy, doting daughter of her recently widowed father Austin Sloper. She lives an insular life in luxury, content with embroidery and dutifully caring for her critical and unloving father. She is an heiress set for life as her mother bequeathed her a $10,000 a year stipend, which would increase to $30,000 once her father passes. Read more…

ON GOLDEN POND – Dave Grusin

March 11, 2019 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Jane Fonda was an avid reader, and happened to come across the novel On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson. She was captivated by the story and bought the film rights, intending for her father Henry Fonda to play the lead role of Norman Thayer. She secured financial backing for the film from Lord Grade, of the British studio ITC Entertainment. Bruce Gilbert was assigned to produce the film, and Mark Rydell was tasked with directing. Jane Fonda had always intended that this film would be a father-daughter endeavor, and so her father Henry Fonda was hired to play Norman Thayer, while she would play the estranged daughter Chelsea. The story’s father-daughter estrangement mirrored the real-life relationship of Jane and her father and ultimately proved to be cathartic, in that it restored their relationship. Joining them would be Katherine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer, Doug McKeon and Billy Ray, Dabney Coleman as Bill Ray, and William Lanteau as Charlie Martin. Read more…

THE VIKINGS – Mario Nascimbene

December 3, 2018 Leave a comment

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Kirk Douglas came upon the 1951 novel The Viking by Edison Marshall and thought it offered a great opportunity to showcase his talents as a leading man. His production company Bryna Productions purchased the screen rights, and he brought in Jerry Bresler to produce. He tasked veteran Richard Fleischer whom he had successfully collaborated with on 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954) to direct. Calder Willingham and Dale Wasserman were hired to write the screenplay, and after several incarnations, a final script was realized. To achieve his vision, Douglas insisted on authenticity and so the film was shot on location in Norway, whose harsh, damp and cold weather placed actors and crew under great duress. Douglas would play the lead role of Einar and be supported by Tony Curtis as Eric, Ernest Borgnine as Ragnar Lodbrok, Janet Leigh as Princess Morgana, James Donald as Lord Egbert, Alexander Knox as Father Goodwin, and Frank Thring as King Aella of Northumbria, with narration provided by Orson Welles. Read more…

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…

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…