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Posts Tagged ‘Oscar-Winning Scores’

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN – Adolph Deutsch, Roger Edens, Irving Berlin

November 28, 2022 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun”, which was based on the legendary Annie Oakley, stared Ethel Merman and had a very successful theatrical run of 1,147 performances. MGM studios took notice and decided that they would continue their parade of musicals with a new one based on Annie Oakley for their marquee star Judy Garland. They purchased the film rights, assigned production to Arthur Freed and Roger Edens with a $3.73 million budget. Sidney Sheldon was hired to write the screenplay adaptation of the novel “Annie Get Your Gun” (1946) by Herbert Fields. Filming conflicts with Garland led to the director being replaced twice, with Busby Berkeley and Charles Walters exiting and George Sidney finally taking up the reins. For the cast Judy Garland would star as Annie Oakley, however clashes with Berkeley exacerbated her health and insecurity problems and she was ultimately fired. Betty Hutton was hired as her replacement and joined by; Howard Keel and Frank Butler, Louis Calhern as Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Keenan Wynn as Charlie Davenport, Benay Venuta as Dolly Tate, and J. Carrol Naish as Chief Sitting Bull. Read more…

ALADDIN – Alan Menken

November 17, 2022 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The enormous success of Beauty and the Beast in 1991 ushered in what is now commonly known as the Disney Renaissance, which brought to an end a period of comparative creative and commercial failure for mouse house, and initiated what was quicky became a decade of constant growth and acclaim. Lyricist Howard Ashman, who had been a major part of Beauty and the Beast’s success alongside his composing partner Alan Menken, had also been working on a draft treatment for a potential Aladdin movie, based on the Arabic folktale of the same name from the One Thousand and One Nights, and the screenplay went through three drafts before then-Disney Studios president Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed to its production. The finished film is now one of the most beloved animated films of all time; it tells the story of street urchin Aladdin, who finds a magical lamp hidden in a cave and inadvertently releases from it a powerful genie who can grant him three wishes. Aladdin wishes to be a rich prince to that he can court the beautiful Princess Jasmine, the daughter of the sultan, but in doing so falls foul of Jafar, the sultan’s vizier advisor, who covets the power of the lamp for himself. Read more…

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – Alan Menken

November 4, 2021 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When looking back at the period now, considering their enormous success and influence, it’s easy to forget that Disney was a film studio in trouble in the 1980s. Their first four animated films during the decade – The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver & Company – had not been particularly well-received, while the success of the fifth, The Little Mermaid in 1989, was certainly not seen as a guarantor of future achievement. Everything changed with the 1991 release of Beauty and the Beast, which became the first animated film ever to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, and subsequently set in motion a decade of almost unparalleled cinematic dominance for the house that Walt built. Read more…

DUNE – Hans Zimmer

October 26, 2021 6 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the years since it was first published in 1965, Frank Herbert’s Dune has grown consistently in stature and acclaim, and is now considered one of the greatest works of science fiction in the history of the genre. It’s a story about intergalactic power and control, alliances and betrayals, prophecy and mysticism, and is focused on events on the desert planet Arrakis. Arrakis is the sole source of ‘spice,’ a hallucinogenic spore naturally found in the sands of Arrakis, the use of which is what makes interstellar space travel possible; as such, spice is the most valuable commodity in the universe. Mining spice is a dangerous task, due to the inhospitableness of the planet, the presence of giant deadly sand worms, and the constant attacks by the native Fremen population, who despise their off-world colonizers. The main crux of the story follows the noble house of Atreides, which is sent to Arrakis by the Emperor of the galaxy to take over the running of the spice mines from the house of Harkonnen, their bitter rivals. What follows is essentially a power struggle for overall control of the galaxy between the Emperor, House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and the mysterious female-led religious order of the Bene Gesserit, with Paul Atreides, the young son of the duke of House Atreides, as the focal point of it all. Read more…

A DOUBLE LIFE – Miklós Rózsa

August 2, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1946 producer Michael Kanin decided to collaborate with his brother Garson Kanin and his wife Ruth Gordon for his next project; a film noir with a Shakespearean twist. The husband-and-wife team crafted a fine screenplay and Michael Kanin used his own Kanin Productions company to fund the project, with Universal Studios agreeing to distribute the film. George Cukor was tasked with directing, and a fine cast was eventually assembled. Laurence Olivier was originally sought for the lead, but was unavailable, so a reluctant Ronald Colman was given the role of Anthony “Tony” John. He would be supported by a coach to refine his Shakespearean diction and delivery. Joining him would be Signe Hasso as Brita, Edmund O’Brien as Bill Friend, and Shelley Winters as Pat Kroll. Read more…

THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY – Dimitri Tiomkin

June 7, 2021 1 comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1952 John Wayne partnered with producer Robert Fellows to create Wayne-Fellows Productions. Director William Wellman pitched an aviation suspense drama titled “The High and the Mighty” written by Ernest Gann to Wayne who immediately purchased the film rights and Gann’s services writing the screenplay for $55,000. Wellman was tasked with directing and provided a budget of $1.47 million. A cast was assembled with Spenser Tracy offered the lead role, but he withdrew just before filming unwilling to suffer Wellman’s authoritarianism. As such, Wayne stepped in and took the role of First Officer Dan Roman to save the project. Today his performance is believed by critics to be one of the finest of his career. Joining him were; Claire Trevor as May Holst, Laraine Day as Lydia Rice, Robert Stack as Captain John Sullivan, Jan Sterling as Sally McKee and Sidney Blackmer as Humphrey Agnew. Read more…

NOW VOYAGER – Max Steiner

May 24, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1942 producer Hal B. Wallis signed a four-year contract with Warner Brothers Studios tasking him to produce four films a year. He decided that adapting Olive Higgins Prouty’s 1941 novel Now Voyager to the big screen would serve as his inaugural effort. Screen rights were purchased, Casey Robinson was hired to write the screenplay, and a budget of $877,000 was provided. Irving Rapper was given the reins to direct the film, and a stellar cast was assembled, which included Bette Davis as Charlotte Vale, Paul Henreid as Jerry Duvaux Durrance, Claude Rains a Dr. Jaquith, Gladys Cooper as Mrs. Windle Vale, Ilka Chase as Lisa Vale and Janis Wilson as Tina Durrance. Read more…

THE INFORMER – Max Steiner

April 26, 2021 Leave a comment

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director John Ford came across a 1925 novel, The Informer by Liam O’Flaherty, which explored the dark underside of the Irish War of Independence. He felt that the story provided suspense, drama, betrayal, and tragedy, which would translate well to the big screen. RKO Studios however was reticent to proceed with the project due to its depressing subject matter and unsympathetic lead, but they relented following Ford’s great success with his prior film The Lost Patrol, which earned their trust and permission to proceed with a budget of $250,000. Dudley Nichols was hired to write the screenplay and a fine cast was assembled which included Victor McLaglen as Gypo Nolan, Heather Angel as Mary McPhillip, Preston Foster as Dan Gallagher, Margot Grahame as Katie Madden, Wallace Ford as Frankie McPhillip, and Una O’Connor as Mrs. McPhillip. Read more…

SOUL – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste

January 1, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been quite fascinating to observe the gradual tonal shift in Pixar’s movies over the years. Although their earliest entries – Toy Story in 1995, A Bug’s Life in 1998, Toy Story 2 in 1999 – contained their fair share of interesting adult and emotional themes in amongst the toy-and-bug based comedy and antics, in recent years the studio has become much more interested in exploring deeply existential themes of life and death. 2017’s Coco saw its Mexican protagonist journey to the fabled ‘land of the dead’ to seek a deceased family member, while Onward from earlier this year saw two alternate-reality fantasy elves trying to spend one more day with their deceased father. Pixar’s new film, Soul, may be the most ambitious one yet. It follows the story of Joe Gardner, a middle school band teacher who dreams of being a jazz musician; after an accident on the way back from a gig audition Joe finds himself literally separated from his soul and on his way to the ‘great beyond’. However, when Joe rebels against his fate because he doesn’t believe he has achieved what he was destined to do, he instead finds himself acting as a mentor to a pre-born soul named 22 who has been unable and unwilling to find the ‘spark’ she needs in order to achieve life on Earth. The film is directed by Pete Docter and features the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, and Rachel House. Read more…

THE RIGHT STUFF – Bill Conti

December 16, 2019 1 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 1 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…

THE LITTLE MERMAID – Alan Menken

October 24, 2019 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Walt Disney Corporation is, for better or worse, probably the world’s biggest and most influential media and entertainment company. Not only does it own its own catalogue of classic live action and animated films, including those made by Pixar, it of course also owns Lucasfilm and the rights to the Star Wars universe, Marvel and the Avengers universe, and has recently bought Twentieth Century Fox and it’s entire cache of intellectual property. As I write this five of the six highest grossing films of 2019 are Disney features, and we haven’t even seen Frozen II or Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker yet, which could lock out seven of 2019’s Top 10. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always this way, and even easier to forget that the film that turned it all around was an animated feature based on a classic story by a children’s author from Denmark. Read more…

JOKER – Hildur Guðnadóttir

October 7, 2019 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In this era where super hero movies are a dime a dozen, where in the past 30 years we’ve had at least three Supermen, five Batmen, three Spider-Men, and innumerable iterations of other DC and Marvel comic book characters, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to do something completely out-of-the-box different. While the majority of these films concentrate on the heroes, perhaps the most iconic villain in all of comic book history is the Joker, the long-standing nemesis of Batman. He has been portrayed on film multiple times himself; by Cesar Romero in 1966, by Jack Nicholson in 1989, by Heath Ledger in 2008, and by Jared Leto most recently in 2016, with Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance in The Dark Knight coming to be considered the gold standard. There have been multiple origin stories for the character, but he has never been the sole focus of a film before – until now. Read more…