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 Posted:   Feb 16, 2008 - 3:57 PM   
 By:   argonaut 63   (Member)

Like most towns and cities,Wallasey here in sunny, cold north west England has a small shopping mall.In this mall there is a guy who sells multiregion DVD,s of curious origin.Among the titles starring such straight to sell acting titans as Jack Scalia and Cathrine Oxenberg was a series of WW2 origonal documentary,s,Fighting Lady was one of these.Paired with famous Memphis Belle,Fighting Lady was prduced in 1944 in 16mm technicolor by Fox and narrated by Robert Taylor.The main theme is indeed "Hell and High Water" but is credited to David Buttolph.The Fighting Lady of the title was the USS Ranger and now I know where that shot of an F6F Hellcat being sliced in two comes from.Other titles included John Huston,s Report From The Alutians and a great 1966 documentary about F105 Thunderchief pilots in Vietnam.This film features a song "100 missions to be flown" to the tune of "When Johnie comes marching home".All this for £1.00($2.00)each much better than Jack Scalia!!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 24, 2013 - 9:01 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Argonaut 63 seems to have wandered of course with this old post. MEN OF THE FIGHTING LADY was a 1954 dramatization of naval aviation during the Korean War. It has nothing to do with the WWII documentary he describes.

No matter. This is as good a place as any to discuss the M-G-M film and its unusual Miklos Rozsa score, which has received little attention in these pages since being issued as filler for VALLEY OF THE KINGS on FSM 7:17. Attention should be paid for several reasons. Most current is the recent passing of Ken Schechter, the blinded pilot whose miraculous landing was the subject of the movie's climax and Rozsa's "Blind Flight."

Obituaries here:

http://www.latimes.com/obituaries/la-me-kenneth-schechter-20131221,0,3371199.story#axzz2oFkKA800

http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C02E4D91131E53BBC4053DFB366838F649EDE

And lots more about the interesting background and the music in the Rozsa Forum at
http://miklosrozsa.yuku.com/topic/1615/BLIND-FLIGHT-LAST-FLIGHT

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 25, 2013 - 12:27 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

Argonaut 63 was referring not to MEN OF THE FIGHTING LADY but to THE FIGHTING LADY which was indeed a 1944 WWII documentary directed by William Wyler. It's available on Amazon.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 25, 2013 - 2:09 AM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

Argonaut 63 seems to have wandered of course

Maybe one of his flaps was jammed.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 25, 2013 - 8:28 AM   
 By:   Jim Doherty   (Member)

I just took a peek at this one YouTube. Pretty darn good documentary. And the use of the theme later found in HELL AND HIGH WATER is an interesting find. And although the music is credited to Buttoplh, Newman is the music director. On many Fox films of that period (especially those that were not "A" pictures), more than one composer often worked on a film, with only one getting credit. So I guess Newman could have written the opening theme, with Buttolph handling the rest of the score. Of course, it might also be possible (although probably less likely) that Buttolph wrote the theme, and Newman liked it enough to appropriate it for HELL AND HIGH WATER. It would be interesting to find out for sure.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 26, 2013 - 6:35 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Argonaut 63 was referring not to MEN OF THE FIGHTING LADY but to THE FIGHTING LADY which was indeed a 1944 WWII documentary directed by William Wyler. It's available on Amazon.

Yes, but he used the title of the 1954 film, whether by accident or design. So this seems as good a place as any to hang a discussion of the latter.

Despite the CURIOUS IMDB assertion, I don't think Wyler had anything to do with the original FIGHTING LADY. He served in Europe and made two documentaries about the air war: the celebrated MEMPHIS BELLE and the virtually unknown THUNDERBOLT. Jan Herman's Wyler biography has no mention of the Navy film.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 27, 2013 - 2:44 AM   
 By:   Steve Vertlieb   (Member)

The theme for "Hell And High Water" was written by Alfred Newman, but not for that later 20th Century Fox film. It was re-used in that film by the composer, but actually written more than twenty years earlier for a 1940 RKO picture called "Vigil In The Night" with Carol Lombard, Brian Aherne, Anne Shirley and a very youthful Peter Cushing. It's a marvelously underrated picture about dedicated nurses facing seemingly insurmountable odds as a deadly disease claims the lives of numerous children in an English hospital. The film, directed by George Stevens, has a beautiful original score by Alfred Newman which features this theme.



Steve

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2014 - 5:56 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

. . . .Paired with famous Memphis Belle,Fighting Lady was produced in 1944 in 16mm technicolor by Fox and narrated by Robert Taylor.The main theme is indeed "Hell and High Water" but is credited to David Buttolph. . . ./

Interesting to catch up with the 1944 documentary (thanks to YouTube), though like most of us I'd seen many clips in the past, as they've been recycled endlessly over the years. I'm not sure if it was "produced by Fox." The credited producer is Louis de Rochement (the "March of Time" guy). It was obviously released by Fox, with a musical score applied by their music department. The main theme is indeed by Alfred Newman, though not, I think, from his top drawer. David Buttolph and other lesser figures in the Fox factory seemed to have handled this patriotic assignment.

I don't know why IMDB names William Wyler in connection with the film. It's possible that he had some post-production input.

I see that Admiral John S. McCain (father of the current U.S. Senator from Arizona) can be glimpsed in the film.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2014 - 6:03 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

actually written more than twenty years earlier for a 1940 RKO picture called "Vigil In The Night"

Presumably one of Newman's very last assignments at RKO. We all know how some RKO music (esp. from HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME) got recycled in a number of later TCF movies (notably SONG OF BERNADETTE and THE ROBE). Did Fox have to pay for this re-use? The present topic suggests a possible explanation. Did RKO perhaps donate materials to the wartime documentary effort? Might the music thus have entered the public domain?

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 5, 2014 - 12:33 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I'm not sure if it was "produced by Fox." The credited producer is Louis de Rochement (the "March of Time" guy). It was obviously released by Fox, with a musical score applied by their music department.


The film THE FIGHTING LADY was started by Lieut.-Commander Dwight Long, who in civilian life was known for his round-the-world voyages and newsreel travelogues. After entering the U.S. Navy, Long was assigned to follow the activities of an airplane carrier, the U.S.S. Yorktown. When the story became too difficult for one man to cover, the assignment was handed to a group of ten to complete.

In May 1944, the Navy donated several thousand feet of Long's 16mm Kodachrome film taken aboard the Yorktown and the Yorktown's combat planes to Twentieth Century Fox, along with a story outline by prominent screenwriter Commander Frank Wead. Producer Louis de Rochemont was then was assigned to compile the footage into a feature.

I'm not sure what qualifies as "producing," but according to company legal records, Twentieth Century Fox agreed to pay all production costs associated with the picture, including blowing up the 16mm Kodachrome footage into 35mm Technicolor, and then release the film, retaining thirty percent of the gross receipts to cover distribution charges. All profits from the film were to be donated by the studio to the Navy Relief Society and Naval Aid Auxiliary. THE FIGHTING LADY was the first film made by the U.S. Armed Forces to be released by a commercial studio. The picture was narrated by M-G-M star Robert Taylor, who was a lieutenant in the Navy at the time of production.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2014 - 8:25 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Thanks for that background, Bob.

Meanwhile, back to the 1954 movie mentioned in the title of this thread. I'm still wondering how much of Rozsa's "Blind Flight" survives in the released version. My recollection is of some rather brutal editing. I wonder if this was a case of Rozsa composing in advance instead of "to picture," as was the typical Hollywood practice. The unique prominence of the cue title (mentioned in the movie's opening credits) suggests that it was regarded as something really special at the time. Some of the major English composers were known to compose in advance (e.g. RVW on SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC). And John Williams did likewise for JFK. It can work sometimes, if the filmmaker is really in sympathy with his composer. But there are obvious pitfalls where synchronization is called for.

 
 
 Posted:   May 28, 2014 - 3:47 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

MEN OF THE FIGHTING LADY is now available on DVD for the first time, from Warner Archive. It was an early widescreen film and is being released in 1.75:1. I think TV broadcasts have always been 1.33:1.

 
 
 Posted:   May 28, 2014 - 6:02 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

MEN OF THE FIGHTING LADY is worth seeing for the extraordinary "Blind Flight" episode, perhaps the only time a musical "cue" title has been featured in the opening credits. The movie, based on writings by James A. Michener, purports to depict action involving an aircraft carrier during the Korean War. The central episode has a blinded pilot successfully "talked down" to a dangerous carrier landing by a fellow pilot. Though M-G-M based the story on an actual incident -- the real pilot, Ken Schechter, died just last year -- they took some extraordinary liberties with the facts. For starters, the actual landing didn't take place on a carrier at all! More here: http://miklosrozsa.yuku.com/reply/20784/BLIND-FLIGHT-LAST-FLIGHT#reply-20784

 
 
 Posted:   May 28, 2014 - 9:23 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

John, you state in your linked post that the opening credits say "Introducing Blind Flight....", but I seem to recall that they actually say, "Introducing the tone poem "Blind Flight..." Can anyone confirm this?

 
 
 Posted:   May 29, 2014 - 2:14 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

John, you state in your linked post that the opening credits say "Introducing Blind Flight....", but I seem to recall that they actually say, "Introducing the tone poem "Blind Flight..." Can anyone confirm this?

pp, according to LK's liner notes on the FSM CD, the credits in the film read "Introducing Blind Flight, Composed and Conducted by Miklos Rozsa". It's a very good piece on an excellent CD. Going slightly off-topic, I'm actually surprised at how much I'm enjoying VALLEY OF THE KINGS - which I know has never really been considered top-drawer Rózsa (possibly due to the potboiling nature of the film), but which is stupendously satisfying music all the way through.

 
 
 Posted:   May 29, 2014 - 9:42 AM   
 By:   sales   (Member)

I came across a reply to this a few months ago (is this a worlds record).Rozsaphile was quite right,I had just bought Men Of .... and Valley and did not think!So every one was right,however MOTFL is a superb musical achievment at a major studio in those days

 
 
 Posted:   May 29, 2014 - 9:46 AM   
 By:   sales   (Member)

Oh yes I used to be Argonaut 63 !

 
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