Charles Barr

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.

in Partners in suspense
Open Access (free)
Pat Jackson’s White Corridors
Charles Barr

White Corridors, a hospital drama first shown in June 1951, belongs to the small class of fictional films that deny themselves a musical score. Even the brief passages that top and tail the film, heard over the initial credits and the final image, were added against the wish of its director, Pat Jackson. Jackson's first wartime assignment was a short film released in November 1940, Health in War, an early example of the type of documentary that takes the enforced changes of the time as the foundation for a better future. The achievement of White Corridors is to find both an appropriate topical subject in the National Health Service (NHS) and an absorbing way of dramatising it as a commercial project. White Corridors can be seen as an unofficial sequel both to Health in War and to the unrealised Beveridge film.

in British cinema of the 1950s