Citizen Kane: The Essential Bernard Herrmann Film Music CollectionSilva America (SSD 1093)
Review: Torn Curtain
0 / 5 Stars
Torn Curtain, Alfred Hitchcock\'s 50th movie, will forever be associated with his break-up with Bernard Herrmann, thus ending the joint career of one of the greatest director-composer duos. The rejection of Herrmann has been attributed to more things from a wish to have a somewhat more light-hearted score to a request for a romance theme (preferably a love song) for the Armstrong couple, but thanks to the efforts of Elmer Bernstein and Joel McNeely, Benny\'s rejected music has gained wide recognition and is now regarded a worthy member of his canon. In fact, it has become so well-known that its status overshadowed the actual score, composed by Academy Award winner John Addison. His work accomplishes the goals set by the producers, but the difference between the two scores is so large that they work on different levels.
The most obvious difference is of course Addison\'s "Main Title". The piece is not deprived of tension, yet this more playful opening takes some of the movie\'s edge away; at least it\'s easily adaptable for other sequences (like the "Murder of Gromek" and the tracks featuring "Pi-Bus"). Addison\'s score is also much shorter and relies heavily on this main title theme and the aptly titled "The Love Theme", while the secondary thematic material is surprisingly Herrmann-esque down to the psychotic swirling strings as can be heard in "Introduction to Pi". The shorter score also means that many scenes which were intended to have Herrmann\'s music under them (such as the lunch of the Armstrongs and the duel of the professors at the blackboard) sadly lack the necessary tension.
One of the most interesting key scenes of the movie is the murder of East German agent Gromek, which has this silence-handicap. Herrmann wrote a great piece to it which was rejected with the rest of his work. Addison also wrote a cue for it which can be heard on the soundtrack (being the real standout track), but it was also left out of the movie which doesn\'t feature any music in this crucial sequence. This was done on Hitchcock\'s insistence (he didn\'t want music for the shower scene of Psycho either), but the lack of underscore makes the scene drag after a while, especially that the parts of whole sequence were cut to the music seem unnecessarily overdone.
This being said, there are just too few Hitchock-scores released to totally give up on this disc without a listen. The love theme is engaging if a bit generic and the versatile main title theme gets a fair share of the spotlight in at least half of the tracks. These two main themes also get their own "variation" tracks, which might seem intriguing but these are just edited badly-edited chunks of longer compositions. What really brings down this disc is the tagged on song for the end – a badly-dated love ballad performed by Green Years. Apparently the desire to have a song like this was the reason Herrmann was kicked off the movie; considering that it doesn\'t even appear in the film, I can honestly say it didn\'t worth it.
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