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Posts Tagged ‘Oscar-Winning Scores’

THE LION IN WINTER – John Barry

March 21, 2016 2 comments

lioninwinterMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Joe Levine had a contract with Peter O’Toole and was looking for a film to again showcase his talent. He found the vehicle in the Broadway play “The Lion In Winter” by James Goldman that offered dramatic dialogue, which would play to O’Toole’s thespian strengths. Anthony Harvey was brought in to direct the film and they hired an amazing cast to support Peter O’Toole (King Henry II), which included Katherine Hepburn (Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine), their three sons, Anthony Hopkins (Richard), John Castle (Geoffrey), and Nigel Terry (John). Also joining was Jane Morrow (Henry’s mistress Alais) and Timothy Dalton (King Philip II of France). Hopkins and Dalton were both making their screen acting debuts. Read more…

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE – Elmer Bernstein

March 14, 2016 Leave a comment

thoroughlymodernmillieMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Julie Andrews was the toast of Hollywood in the 1960s and her success in Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1966) made her the most popular and highest paid actress of the day. Universal Studios and producer Ross Hunter sought to capitalize on her popularity and so decided to adapt the British musical “Chrysanthemum” (1956) for her next musical. Richard Morris was hired to write the screenplay and George Roy Hill tasked with directing the film. Hill brought in a fine ensemble to support Julie Andrews (Millie Dillmount), which included Mary Tyler Moore (Dorothy Brown), James Fox (Jimmy Smith), John Gavin (Trevor Graydon), Carol Channing (Muzzy van Hossmere) and Beatrice Lillie (Mrs. Meers). Read more…

BORN FREE – John Barry

March 7, 2016 1 comment

bornfreeMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producers Carl Forman, Sam Jaffe and Paul Radin came across the book “Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds” (1960) by renowned naturalist Joy Adamson, and believed her heart-warming tale could be brought to the big screen. They purchased the film rights and hired screenwriter Lester Cole to forge the screenplay. For the cast, Director James Hill brought in veteran British actors Virginia McKenna (Joy Adamson) and Bill Travers (George Adamson) to lead an ensemble, which included Geoffrey Keen (John Kendall), Peter Lukoye (Nuru), Surya Patel (the Doctor) and Geoffrey Best as (Watson). Read more…

MARY POPPINS – Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment

marypoppinsMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney had long kept the book Mary Poppins in his office and was determined to one day bring it to the big screen for his daughters. The book series authored by P. L. Travers offered a series of fantastic tales, which unfortunately lacked a cohesive story. Disney tasked the Sherman brothers and screenplay writer Don DaGradi to create a cogent narrative. Robert Stevenson was tasked with directing the film and he secured a fine cast, which included Julie Andrews making her acting debut as Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke as Bert, David Tomlinson as George Banks, Glynis Johns as Winifred Banks, and Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber the Banks children Jane and Michael. The story tells the tale of a nanny who comes to the aid of a family in disarray. She uses her magical gifts to bring back joy into the lives of the children, but to also reconnect George with his family. The movie was both a critical and commercial success earning eight Academy Award nominations, winning five for Best Actress, Best Film Editing, Best Special Effects, Best Original Song and Best Film Score. Read more…

TOM JONES – John Addison

January 25, 2016 Leave a comment

tomjonesMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer and director Tony Richardson drew inspiration from an 18th century English novel “A History of Tom Jones, a Foundling”, by Henry Fielding. He hired John Osborne to adapt it to the big screen and cast the film audaciously, selecting rising star Albert Finney for the titular role. Rounding out the cast was Susannah York (Sophie Western), Edith Evans (Miss Western), Joan Greenwood (Lady Ballaston), Hugh Griffith (Squire Western) and making his film debut, David Warner as the villain Blifil. The story offers a classic period piece full of drama, treachery, seduction and intrigue. Squire Allworthy discovers an infant on his bed and chooses to raise little Tom Jones as if he were his own son. Tom’s grows up to become an attractive, dashing, and very popular young man with the ladies, It comes to pass that he falls madly in love with Sophie, who returns his affections. Yet there is an insurmountable impediment – Tom is stigmatized as a bastard, and Sophie’s father forbids her to wed a man below her station. Blifil who seeks Allworthy’s estate engineers Tom’s dishonor and dismissal by Squire Allworthy. An irrepressible Tom however is not to be denied, and he travels far and wide, all the time enjoying a multiplicity of women, fine food and drink along the way! As fate would have it he ultimately triumphs, overcoming all obstacles set against him, and earns Sophie’s hand in marriage when his true identity as Bridget’s Allworthy’s illegitimate son and Allworthy’s nephew is finally revealed. The film was both a commercial and critical success, earning an amazing ten Academy Award nominations, winning four, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Score. Read more…

THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Ennio Morricone

January 2, 2016 3 comments

hatefuleightOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ennio Morricone has been providing music for Quentin Tarantino’s films for a long time, but it is only recently that he has done so intentionally. Tarantino’s first six films – Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof, and Inglourious Basterds – featured an eclectic, hand-picked selection of music comprising classic rock songs and score cuts from Tarantino’s favorite movies. Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds most notably made use of music from several classic Morricone scores, including tracks from films such as Navajo Joe, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, The Big Gundown, Revolver, and Allonsanfàn, among others. Tarantino has been both praised and criticized for this approach; some love his idiosyncratic re-purposing of this music in a new and vital setting, while others say that their familiarity with some of the pieces causes a disconnect, diminishing their impact in their new context. Years ago, when questioned about his musical ideology, Tarantino said that he didn’t trust any composer enough to understand, and then musically reinterpret, his cinematic visions – the “soul of his movie”. Tarantino’s stance on this matter began to soften somewhat prior to his seventh film, Django Unchained, and at one point the rumor was that Ennio Morricone had agreed to score it – if anyone could get Tarantino to change his mind about the impact and importance of an original score, it would be Morricone. However, circumstances led to this not happening, and the final soundtrack featured an original Morricone song, “Ancora Qui,” but no original score. Read more…

OUT OF AFRICA – John Barry

December 24, 2015 Leave a comment

outofafricaTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The winner of seven Academy Awards – including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography – Out of Africa is generally considered one of the greatest romantic dramas in cinema history. Directed by Sydney Pollack, it is based on the semi-autobiographical writings of aristocratic Danish author Karen Dinesen, specifically the period in the 1910s when she moved to live on a coffee plantation in colonial Kenya with her then-husband, Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke, and had an affair with a rugged and handsome big game hunter, Denys Finch Hatton. The film is a sumptuous, visually magnificent love letter to the unspoiled African savannah, reveling in the majestic vistas of the country, and using them as a backdrop to the affair Karen engages in, as her husband becomes increasingly distant and neglectful. Anchored by the three central performances of Meryl Streep as Karen, Robert Redford as Denys, and Klaus-Maria Brandauer as Bror, the film explores such challenging themes as marital fidelity, the expectations and conventions of aristocratic society, the role of women in the 1910s, and the differences between European and African tribal cultures, as well as the threat of World War I that loomed over everything. Read more…

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S – Henry Mancini

October 5, 2015 Leave a comment

breakfastattiffanysMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Hollywood producers Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd saw opportunity beckoning with Truman Capote’s controversial 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and convinced Paramount Studios to purchase the film rights. They hired George Axelrod to write a screenplay that “softened” Capote’s edgy narrative, and Blake Edwards was given the director reigns. Edwards assembled a fine cast, which included Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, George Peppard as Paul Varjak, Patricia Neal as Emily Eustace, Buddy Ebsen as Doc Golightly, Martin Balsam as O. J. Berman, and Mickey Rooney as Holly’s landlord Mr. Yunioshi. For the 1950’s, this truly sordid story broke all the sensibilities of the day – Holly was a foul-mouthed, bisexual, social-climbing and gold-digging prostitute, who has had an abortion and smokes marijuana! The fact that the story’s narrator was gay only added to the controversy. Jurow and Shepherd knew the story as written would never fly, so they chose not to make a modern and edgy social drama. They astutely recast the story’s narrative into a more conventional, and emotionally accessible direction – a romantic comedy. Well, Holly’s love affair with struggling writer Paul succeeded on all counts and won audience hearts worldwide. The film was also a critical success, earning five Academy Award Nominations, winning two for best Original Song and Best Score. Read more…

ANTHONY ADVERSE – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

July 20, 2015 Leave a comment

anthonyadverseMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Warner Brothers Studio was in the market for a period piece romance and found its inspiration in Harvey Allen’s massive 1200 page novel “Anthony Adverse” (1933), paying an amazing $40,000 for the screen rights. Veteran director Mervyn LeRoy was hired to manage the project with Sheridan Gibney and Milton Krims tasked with adapting the mammoth novel for the big screen. The stellar cast included Frederic March as Anthony Adverse, Olivia de Havilland as Angela Giuseppe, Donald Woods as Vincent Nolte, Anita Louise as Maria Bonnyfeather, Edmund Gwenn as John Bonnyfeather and Claude Rains as Marquis Don Luis. Set in late 18th century Italy, the story offers a classic morality tale abounding with treachery, betrayal and misfortune. Maria is in an arranged marriage to the rich and cruel Marquis Don Luis, who is very much her senior. She however is in love with the man her dreams, a young and dashing French Calvary officer with who she becomes pregnant. When the Marquis discovers her dishonor, he kills her lover in a duel, and after she dies in childbirth, leaves her bastard son at a convent. When young Anthony reaches manhood he falls in love and marries his sweetheart Angela. By a twist of fate they become separated, tragically he is bereft at her disappearance while she feels he has abandoned her. As Anthony seeks his fortune overseas Angela rises to become an opera star. Years later when our lovers finally reunite, Anthony discovers that Angela has bore him a son, but she fails to disclose that she is now the famous opera star Mlle. Georges, mistress of Napoleon Bonaparte. When Anthony learns her secret, he is heart-broken and departs for America with his son in search of a better life. The film was a commercial and critical success, earning seven Academy Award nominations, winning four, including Best Original Score. Read more…

EXODUS – Ernest Gold

July 13, 2015 1 comment

exodusMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1958 Otto Preminger and United Artists studio purchased the film rights to Leon Uris’s forthcoming novel, “Exodus”. Preminger who would both produce and direct the film, felt that this was a story that needed to be told, and for him it became a passion project. He hired Dalton Trumbo who had been blacklisted as a communist by the infamous McCarthy Committee to write the screenplay. From day one he had Paul Newman in mind to play the lead role of Ari Ben Canaan. The stellar cast rounded off with Eva Marie Saint (Kitty Fremont), Ralph Richardson (General Sutherland, Peter Lawford as Major Caldwell, Lee Cobb as Barak Ben Canaan, Sal Mineo as Dov Landau and John Derek as Taha. The story is based on the actual historical events in 1947, which began with the ship Exodus, and the lead up to the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948. Nurse Kitty’s fate becomes entwined with Ari Ben Canaan a Hagannah rebel who obtains a cargo ship and smuggles 611 Jewish inmates out of the Cypriot internment camp for passage to Israel. In Israel, the British are preparing to leave, and the unfolding partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states portends war. Read more…

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

July 6, 2015 1 comment

adventuresofrobinhoodMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1935 Warner Brothers Studio sought to bring an epic swashbuckling film to the big screen and William Keighley was hired to direct. Screenwriters Norman Reilly Raine and Seton Miller were brought in to write the script, for which they drew inspiration from the Medieval Robin Hood legends. A stellar cast was assembled including; Errol Flynn (Sir Robin of Locksley AKA Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland (Lady Marian Fitzwalter), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne), Claude Reins (Prince John), Patrick Knowles (Will Scarlett), Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck), Alan Hale Sr. (Little John) and Melville Cooper (High Sheriff of Nottingham). The story reveals that in 1,191 C.E. King Richard the Lionheart of England has been taken captive by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, as he returned from the Third Crusade. Regretfully his imprisonment provides a pretext for his treacherous brother Prince John to usurp the throne. As a member of the ruling Norman elite, he begins a reign of terror and oppression of the native Saxons, raising taxes supposedly to ransom Richard’s freedom, but in reality the money flows into his personal coffers for his own enrichment. Only one nobleman has the conscience to oppose John’s duplicity, the Saxon knight Sir Robin of Locksley. At a court dinner he boldly declares that he will do all in his power to oppose John and restore Richard to the throne. For this affront John issues an arrest warrant. With his lands and title now forfeit, Robin assembles a band of “Merry Men” who rob from the rich and provide for the poor. When Lady Marion becomes his prisoner, her initial disdain turns to admiration and then love when she sees Robin’s nobility and care for the people. Eventually Robin discovers Richard has returned and devises a plan to overthrow John. He and his men enter Sir Guy’s castle dressed as monks and succeed in winning the day, which features an epic duel with Sir Guy. Now vanquished, a contrite John begs for Richard’s forgiveness, and is exiled. Richard then pardons the Merry Men, knights Robin as Baron of Locksley and Earl of Sherwood and Nottingham. He then commands Robin to marry his ward, the Lady Marian resulting in a classic happy ending! The film was both a huge commercial success and critical success, earning four Academy Award nominations, winning three, including Best Original Score. Read more…

PINOCCHIO – Leigh Harline and Paul J. Smith

June 22, 2015 Leave a comment

pinocchioMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

After reading the novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, Walt Disney felt it could be made into a fine Disney animated feature. When he picked up his honorary Oscar for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937, he advised the Academy of his intent to bring Pinocchio to the big screen. The film became a passion project and its budget ballooned from $500,000 to $2.5 million, with several major rewrites. The voice cast included Dickie Jones as Pinocchio and (Alexander the Donkey, Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket, Evelyn Venable as the Blue Fairy), Christian Rub as Geppetto, Walter Catlett as John Worthington Foulfellow the Red Fox, Charles Judels as Stromboli, Frankie Darro as Lampwick and Thurl Ravenscroft as Monstro the Whale. This film offers the classic tale of Geppetto the woodworker, who makes a wooden marionette, whom he names Pinocchio. He has no son and when he goes to bed he makes a wish that Pinocchio become a real boy. His wish is heard, and the Blue Fairy comes during his sleep, and brings Pinocchio to life, but he is not yet fully human. She advises Pinocchio that if he is brave, truthful and unselfish, he will become a real boy. She assigns Jiminy Cricket to be his conscience. Well, after a long adventure, with many struggles along the way, Pinocchio succeeds, becomes a real boy, and he and Geppetto live happily ever after. The film resonated with the public and was a commercial success. It also received critical acclaim and secured two Academy Awards for best Original Score, and Best Song “When You Wish Upon A Star”. This was the first time a film secured these two wins together. Read more…

THE SONG OF BERNADETTE – Alfred Newman

June 15, 2015 2 comments

songofbernadetteMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer William Perlberg of 20th Century Fox saw opportunity for the studio after reading the novel 1942 novel The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel, and so resolved to bring this inspired and miraculous story to the big screen. Henry King was hired to direct and veteran screenwriter George Seaton tasked with writing the screenplay. For the actors, a nationwide talent search found 24 year old Jennifer Jones, who was selected to play the title character of Bernadette Soubirous. Supporting actors included Vincent Price in perhaps his finest performance as (Prosecutor Vital Dutour), Aubrey Mather (Mayor Lacade), Charles Dingle (Chief of Police Jocomet), Charles Bickford (Dean of Lourdes) and Gladys Cooper (Sister Therese Vauzous). The film was made in 1943, as the world suffered under the dark pall of Nazism. Its narrative offers an intimate venerative, and sympathetic accounting of a young peasant girl, who one day beholds a miraculous vision of a refulgent “Beautiful Lady”. We bear witness to her stirring and remarkable journey of faith and courage, as well as a commentary against the banality of government, the skepticism of science and the dogmatism of organized religion. Bernadette’s sincerity, innocence, and purity of heart eventually overcome all critics, skeptics, and obstacles. A shrine is eventually built to commemorate the miracle of her vision of Mary, and she spends her final days secluded in a nunnery, suffering from a very painful form of tuberculosis of the bone, from which she succumbed at the young age of 35. The film was both a commercial and critical success, earning an astounding twelve Academy Award nominations, winning four for, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and best Musical Score. Read more…

SINCE YOU WENT AWAY – Max Steiner

May 25, 2015 Leave a comment

sinceyouwentawayMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Legendary producer David O. Selznick wanted to make a film, which demonstrated his patriotic support for the war effort. However, he was adamant that he did not want to make a traditional war movie. As such he personally adapted the screenplay from the 1943 novel “Since You Went Away: Letters to a Soldier from His Wife” by Margaret Buell Wilder. Selznick hired veteran director John Cromwell with whom he had collaborated on nine prior films, and then assembled a quality cast including; Claudette Colbert (Mrs. Anne Hilton), Jennifer Jones (Jane Deborah Hilton), Joseph Cotton (Lieutenant Commander Tony Willett), Shirley Temple (Bridget ‘Brig’ Hilton), Monty Woolley (Colonel William G. Smollett) and Lionel Barrymore as Clergyman. The movie is set in a typical American town located near a military base, where people with loved ones serving in the armed forces struggle to cope with their absence. The main storyline concerns Anne, a housewife whose husband is fighting overseas. She struggles with his absence as she tries to meet the challenges of youthful romance from their two daughters who are growing into womanhood. The film overflows with sentimentality against the somber backdrop of families coping with grief, loneliness or fear for the future. I believe Selznick achieved his ambition, as the film was both a commercial and critical success, earning nine Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Score. Read more…

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI – Malcolm Arnold

April 6, 2015 1 comment

bridgeontheriverkwaiMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

One day, out of curiosity, producer Sam Spiegel happened to purchase the novel “Le Pont de la Rivière Kwaï” by Pierre Boulle, which was, at the time, the talk of the day. He read the novel on a plane flight and by the time he arrived in London, he was determined to bring the story to the big screen. Complications arose immediately as his trusted screenwriters, Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman, were on the infamous McCarthy blacklist of people accused of Communist sympathies, and were forced to ghost-write, while Boulle, who could not speak, let alone write in English, was assigned the sole writing credit. Spiegel brought in David Lean to direct the film and they assembled a stellar cast for the project, including Alec Guinness as Colonel Nicholson, Jack Hawkins as Major Warden, William Holden as Captain Shears and Sessue Hayakawa as the brutal Colonel Saito. Read more…