The anatomy of aural suspense in Rope and Vertigo
in Partners in suspense
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This chapter explores the dramatic employment of music in two classic Hitchcock films, Rope (1948) and Vertigo (1958), both of which effectively sustain suspense throughout the filmic narrative. In Rope, Phillip Morgan, one of the killers, gives an on-screen performance of the first movement of Francis Poulenc's Mouvements Perpétuels (1918) during a macabre dinner party, where one of the guests lies dead in a trunk. The chapter argues that we can hear echoes of Rope’s score, based largely on Francis Poulenc’s Mouvement Perpétuel (1918) in Herrmann’s score for Vertigo. The ‘musical ambivalences’ of both scores provide counterpoints for the two film’s narrative complexities.

Partners in suspense

Critical essays on Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock


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