Pick Of The Week

[Pick Of The Week - Torn Curtain - by Bernard Herrmann]
It is widely accepted that composer Bernard Herrmann and director Alfred Hitchcock were one of the best composer-director pairings of modern cinema. It is unfortunate that such a wonderful association and friendship would be utterly decimated over a film.This film, TORN CURTAIN, would be the final collaboration between Hitchcock and Herrmann - but it wouldn't even survive to see its completion. Hitchcock wanted a score with a riveting title and love theme. Herrmann did just the opposite - he wrote a score which "reflected the gray, hopeless style of life behind the Iron Curtain", in which the film took place. Herrmann was removed from the project, and he never spoke with Hichcock again.

It was during that first scoring session that only a few cues were recorded - that was all that had existed. But Herrmann had finished writing the score, and now, 32 years after it was written, the complete unused score to TORN CURTAIN has been released on CD. The man who brought this to us is, of course, Joel McNeely. Renouned as one of the worlds leading interpreters of Herrmann's music, McNeely has brought us re-recordings of VERTIGO, PSYCHO, and the upcoming CITIZEN KANE.

The score to TORN CURTAIN is exactly as Herrmann wanted it - monotonous drab, and boring. Occasionally teasing us with large chords that build to nothing, and minimal use of the "full" orchestra, it is this reviewer's opinion that Hitchcock made mistake in removing Herrmann from the project. The tone is perfect for the film - however, it doesn't have any large action sequences worthy of, say, NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Unfortunately, while it may work in the film, this CD is probably one of the most boring CDs I've listened to in a while. There is nothing to "grab" me, and keep me wanting to listen. Sadly, this is a case where the score works better in the film than as music to listen to - but it wasn't used in the film, and as such is hard to listen to at all.

McNeely has impressed us all with his understanding of Herrmann's work, and TORN CURTAIN is no exception. It's just too bad that we will have to wait until October to hear another good Herrmann score: CITIZEN KANE.

Track Listings

1. Prelude (2:19)
2. The Ship (:54)
3. The Radiogram (2:28)
4. The Hotel (1:02)
5. The Phone (2:01)
6. The Bookstore (2:16)
7. The Book (1:17)
8. Valse Lente (1:47)
9. The Travel Desk (2:46)
10. The Blurring (:29)
11. Hotel Berlin (1:05)
12. Sarah (1:10)
13. Dawn (:49)
14. Gromek (1:51)
15. The Farmhouse (2:09)
16. The Killing (2:01)
17. The Body (2:46)
18. The Street (:35)
19. The Toast (:38)
20. The Photos (2:10)
21. The Sausage (:34)
22. The Fall (:24)
23. The Cab Driver (1:00)
24. The Hill (2:14)
25. The Search (:40)
26. Discovery (1:00)
27. The Blackboard (2:26)
28. The Formula (1:21)
29. The Corridor (1:30)
30. The Bicycles (1:24)
31. The Bus (1:29)