What do Citizen Kane, Psycho, Taxi Driver, and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XX have in common? They all were graced with music by film composer Bernard Herrmann. Imagine the shower scene in Psycho, the desperate fight on the face of Mt. Rushmore in North by Northwest or De Niro driving through the New York night in Taxi Driver without Herrmann’s remarkable scoring. The impact of these movies in inseparable from his music.
Herrmann’s collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, in particular, was remarkable. Which brings me back to the annual Treehouse of Horror Halloween show on The Simpsons. The first episode of Treehouse XX titled Dial M for Murder or Press # to Return to Main Menu, was a black and white parody of several Hitchcock films. They wisely used Herrmann’s music from Psycho and North by Northwest as background, and it reminded me again of the power of his music to set a mood.
But I’d have to say my favorite Herrmann score is Vertigo. Not only is it gorgeous music, but it completely captures the spellbinding quality of the movie. Listening to this CD while driving, I’ve had the uncanny feeling of being pulled into the music as if I were Jimmy Stewart driving the streets of San Francisco in the throes of obsession. Now that’s great film music!