Hitchcock’s Music

Hitchcock’s Music

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0300136188

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


For half a century Alfred Hitchcock created films full of gripping and memorable music. Over his long career he presided over more musical styles than any director in history and ultimately changed how we think about film music. This book is the first to fully explore the essential role music played in the movies of Alfred Hitchcock.
Based on extensive interviews with composers, writers, and actors, and research in rare archives, Jack Sullivan discusses how Hitchcock used music to influence the atmosphere, characterization, and even storylines of his films. Sullivan examines the director’s important relationships with various composers, especially Bernard Herrmann, and tells the stories behind the musical decisions.  Covering the whole of the director’s career, from the early British works up to Family Plot, this engaging look at the work of Alfred Hitchcock offers new insight into his achievement and genius and changes the way we watch—and listen—to his movies.

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one of his associates) created the first of Hitchcock’s characteristic love themes, at once lyrical and MUSICAL MINIMALISM 42 understated, full of sentiment but slightly cool. Elegant woodwinds sing the tune, as they do in the love theme for the Hollywood variation on The 39 Steps, North by Northwest. Hitchcock used these romance themes sparingly, here only once. Typically, the melody is used not merely for romantic atmosphere but as a key to character development: Pamela has just realized the

one can like the drummer man.” Musical performance is the key to the mystery. In Hitchcock, staying in tune and on the beat are matters of life and death, as he explained to Truffaut: “The jittery drummer sees the policemen talking with the tramp and the girl at the other end of the ballroom. He thinks they’re looking for him, and his nervousness is reflected in the drumbeat, which is out of tune with the rest of the band. The rhythms get worse and worse.”6 The shots in this scene are similar to

the time I return, meanwhile letting Waxman proceed, without discouraging him with any knowledge that we are considering any other plan.” By January, when Selznick came back from Atlanta, some in the music department were having doubts, as indicated by a memo from R. A. Klune: “In order to have the Music Corporation estimate the cost of scoring Rebecca, using Waxman’s compositions,” Klune wrote on January 6, “it would be necessary for us to request Waxman to turn his compositions over to us for a

quotations rather than correspondences. As usual, Selznick pilfered from previous films. The musical timing sheet instructs that “a cue from Suspicion” be used with a shot “from a very high angle” as “Keane Leaves the Court,” the devastating overhead shot after Gregory Peck breaks down in public defeat and humiliation. Suspicion’s mournful, plaintive string theme gives the shot a tragic dignity after icy quiet in the courtroom. Most memorable of all is Franz Waxman’s music, his most noirish score

a passion that smolders dangerously; its musical line and unstable harmonies form a melody that is lyrical but unsentimental. In varying forms, it dominates the film, both visually and aurally, even when Maddalena is not present. In “Mrs. Paradine’s Bedroom,” it becomes a ghostly piano concerto (one that became a self-contained work on its own, the Paradine Rhapsody) as the camera pans from Maddalena’s portrait on the bed stand to a close-up of the “Appassionata” score on her piano. Rather than

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