Sunday, January 19, 2020

Max Steiner - The Charge of the Light Brigade

Michael Curtiz is single-handedly responsible for an Act of Congress.  You see, he directed the 1936 film The Charge Of The Light Brigade.  He organized a huge number of men on horses, to re-enact the charge with the cameras rolling.  While Hollywood then didn't do nearly as many explosions as Hollywood today, the scene called for Russian cannon shelling the charging troops.

But Curtiz didn't think that was enough - he wanted horses and riders falling when an explosion went off.  Tripwires were strung and 125 horses went down.  Curtiz was delighted, but 25 of the horses were killed or hurt so badly that they had to be put down.  The leading man was Errol Flynn, who loved horses.  He was so mad that he got into a fist fight with Curtiz.

Flynn wasn't the only one.  The story about the mistreatment of the horses got out and the public outcry was such that the film was withdrawn from circulation.  Congress got involved, passing a law making it illegal to mistreat animals in the making of a film.  When you watch the credits roll and see the words "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" it's all because of Michael Curtiz.

The scene was spectacular, though.  Just remember that some of those horses are getting hurt or killed:

The score was composed by Max Steiner, one of Hollywood's greatest composers (over 300 films and 24 Academy Award nominations).  And no animals were harmed during the recording of this music.

The Queen Of The World suggested that I pick some film scores for these Sunday posts.  It's an excellent suggesting because I haven't done many of those before.


libertyman said...

A remarkable scene, and yes, as you have suggested in the past, the classical music creators today do so for the film industry.

Aesop said...

The Queen Of The World is right, in that some of the greatest American composers ever wrote (and write) film scores.

And I'm sure picking The Charge Of The Light Brigade today was sheer coincidence, having no other significance beyond today's musical selection. And I have a bridge for sale, cheap.

Beans said...

One of my favorite film scores, and one I find myself humming all the time, is from the Errol Flynn's version of "Robin Hood." A rousing score, a stellar cast, and a smoking hot Olivia De Havelland (proving, once again, one can be uber-sexy while still fully clothed.)

"Charge of the Light Brigade"s score is also a rousing score. And has a stellar cast. Come to think of it, Errol Flynn was in "CotLB" also. Hmmmm.

So many great film scores from the past. And everyone thinks John Williams is the best film scorer. P-shaw.