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.
This opening chapter explores the partnership between Hitchcock and Herrmann both as a very special professional connection between a director and composer but also as an intense Conradian relationship that was as volatile as it was productive. The chapter discusses precisely how Bernard Herrmann fits into Alfred Hitchcock’s overall musical achievement. Their personalities were dramatically opposite —Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann notoriously explosive and prone to tantrums. Yet the two were deeply sympatico: both had an uncompromising professionalism, a hatred of mediocrity, a mordant sense of humour, and a contempt for the Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval. Herrmann was Hitchcock’s ‘secret sharer’, a harbinger of energies darker and more dangerous than Hitchcock’s cool sensibility easily permitted. He pushed Hitchcock’s cinema deeper than ever into a world of anxiety and obsession.
This chapter argues that Herrmann’s Echoes owes much to Herrmann’s film work, and in particular has resonances with his scores for Vertigo, Psycho and Marnie. Taking a musicological approach to Herrmann’s concert and film score work, it finds in Herrmann’s music a potent ability to subtly support Vertigo’s narrative development and sonically make manifest its underlying psychological thrust without the need to resort to slavish and literal translation and therefore reduplication of the visual into the aural and musical. In addition, it sets Herrmann’s work within the context of Hitchcock’s oeuvre, examining firstly the musical relationship between Herrmann and Lyn Murray, and the stylistic agreement between them: Murray’s score for To Catch a Thief is more heterogeneous than that of his sometime friend, and a significant proportion is diegetic, drawing strongly on jazz and popular music, while at the same time looking to influences such as early Britten and Prokofiev.
This chapter’s ‘post-mortem’ of the Herrmann-Hitchcock collaboration focusses on what occurred between the two men during the fateful sessions in which Hitchcock fired Herrmann when he was dissatisfied with what the composer was developing for the film. However, the chapter searches more broadly for reasons why the partnership broke down, including Hitchcock’s philosophies about film scoring and exploring the history of the working relationship between the two men, looking in particular at the process of spotting and scoring Psycho that caused such friction and created a precedent for what happened on Torn Curtain, albeit with a very different outcome.
Drawing on new archival work on Hitchcock’s films, this chapter contextualises Hitchcock’s authorship around a metaphor of ‘musicality’. Plotting the structure and shot lengths of Hitchcock’s work, it argues that Hitchcock’s conception of editing was dictated by a structural ‘musicality’ that runs throughout his silent works, demonstrating the influence of Griffith and Eisenstein, into the partnership with Herrmann and beyond, to the Herrmann-inspired work with John Williams in Family Plot. The chapter traces this historical aspect of Hitchcock’s authorship, and its interactions with the work of several composers, including Herrmann, to demonstrate how the mathematics of Hitchcock’s editing can be argued to be a musical structure that runs throughout the body of his work. Charting these structures as musical notation, the chapter demonstrates that ‘music’ was a central component of Hitchcock’s work, despite his numerous collaborations with different composers, of which Herrmann is a privileged case, and can be charted right from his silent work to his final works.
This final chapter explores the enduring legacy and fascination surrounding the Hitchcock branding. Since his death in 1980, Hitchcock has continued to fascinate audiences, scholars, critics and culture in general. By exploring the repeated rereleases of Hitchcock’s work on DVD (despite the relative youthfulness of the format, Psycho has already been released in seven different DVD editions in the UK alone), and Varese Sarabande's series of reissues of Herrmann soundtracks on CD, this chapter looks at how the co-authorship of Herrmann and Hitchcock has been contextualised, narrativised and conceptualised in different ways by the artefacts included in the reissued, remastered and recontextualised versions of Hitchcock’s work with Herrmann (and Herrmann’s work without Hitchcock). Drawing on recent scholarship on the DVD as ‘auteur machine’ by Catherine Grant, and new work on authorship by C. Paul Sellors, the chapter argues that the digital reconceptualization of authorship struggles to account for a notion of collaboration.
The introduction examines the significance and history of Alfred Hitchcock’s partnership with Bernard Herrmann. It also demonstrates the enduring appeal and legacy of the partnership in cinema from the 1970s onwards, especially as Herrmann worked with other directors steeped in the Hitchcock tradition.
As the title of this chapter testifies, it takes a Lacanian approach to Herrmann’s work with Hitchcock. Drawing on Kristeva’s Lacanian pre-Symbolic notion of ‘the specular,’ Brown finds Herrmann’s music, not just his film work with Hitchcock, but also his concert and radio music, to demonstrate the full specular potential of the cinema. Drawing on Laura Mulvey’s theories, the chapter examines the way in which Herrmann’s deployment of the Hitchcock chord (as referenced above) in Vertigo and Psycho in particular, remove film’s Symbolic discursive attachments, in a manner similar to atonal or experimental music, and returns it to its specular potential.
This chapter explores the rejection of Herrmann’s score for Torn Curtain and offers an historical overview of the last Hitchcock-Herrmann collaboration on the film that ended the legendary relationship. Due to the rejected score, the film is now considered by many to be an artistic and commercial failure, which may not be entirely true if we examine contemporary reviews and box-office returns. In particular, however, this chapter examines the musical legacy of Herrmann’s Torn Curtain score. Despite being rejected by Hitchcock, the unused music has become increasingly influential, having been re-recorded several times and its material has been re-used in scores such as Battle of Neretva (Herrmann), Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear (Elmer Bernstein adapting material from Herrmann) or Torment (an early score of Christopher Young). Overall, this chapter aims to provide new perspectives in discussing rejected scores with more objectivity than previous research.
This chapter assesses the partnership’s working relationship by addressing their ninth film project together, Torn Curtain, for which Hitchcock rejected Herrmann’s score, dramatically bringing forth the end of their successful period of collaboration, giving background to the artistic conflict over Torn Curtain that resulted in the feud between Hitchcock and Herrmann, and ultimately saw the film rescored by John Addison. It discusses the effect this change had upon the film by drawing particular attention to what is perhaps the most famous scene, the murder of Gromek. Discussion addresses three different versions of the same scene; the final film version, in which there is no musical score, and Herrmann and Addison’s musical interpretations of this scene which were both rejected by Hitchcock. Drawing direct comparison between these three ways of viewing Gromek’s death, enables an analysis between the appropriateness of Herrmann and Addison’s music for Hitchcock’s filmmaking, and the ultimate effect created by the final scoreless version of the scene. By examining the discarded musical artefacts of Hitchcock’s relationship with Herrmann, we are able to reach a more thorough understanding of their working partnership, and the ways in which Herrmann could truly affect the reception of a Hitchcock film.