Elmer Bernstein / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Torn Curtain

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This film music (on the out-of-print vinyl WB BSK 3185 or FMC-10) was to be the last that Herrmann wrote for an Alfred Hitchcock movie; they had collaborated from 1955 through 1965, and viewing the films without their soundtrack, one can tell that the dramatic and suspenseful impacts were due as much to the music as to the actors and scenarios. The studios in the mid-'60s had begun to ask for scores which would could conceiveably contain a hit tune or hummable theme song, and wanted composers to provide scores reflecting some of the pop music styles. Herrmann refused to do this and instead wrote a bold symphonic score for a large and unusual ensemble: 12 flutes (alternating with piccolos), 16 horns, nine trombones, two tubas, two sets of tympani, eight cellos and eight basses -- a perfect sound for the coldly objective, paranoid, Orwellian film noir spy thriller, and almost the opposite timbre of the string orchestra employed for Psycho which depicts a frightening and enclosed, internal world. A momentous argument at the recording session ensued between Hitchcock and Herrmann, and marked the end of their work together. Another, milder score and lots of silence were eventually used for the movie, which in turn suffered from having no underpining for its dramatic acting. It is possible now to view the film with some of the initially recorded parts of Herrmann's score in synchronization and realize what the work could have been.

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