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Psycho (1960)

Bernard Herrmann 

Released in:

More Popular Than The Holy Bible!
WorkingWithKnives (September 27, 2006)

Films regards the brutal murder of a frustrated office worker on the lam for stealing fourty thousand dollars.

Holed up for the night at a roadside motel she strips to her all around with the intent of taking a nice soozing shower.

Thats when Norman and Herrmann come in with their own idea of what life is all about.

Dressed in drag and wielding a butcher knife Norman creates a masterpiece of murder while Herrmann slashes away with sound emutated a thousand times over in lesser cinematic excitement.

As the embezzling wench lay dead in the tub with the still running shower washing it all down the drain Norman and Herrmann work together beautifully as the audience witnesses the clean up and attempted cover up unfold.

A high point in cinematic history the score by composer Bernard Herrmann shall forever remain a defining moment in the annals of premeditated sound for the silver screen! *****

An Innovative and Influential Masterwork
filmfactsman (January 20, 2005)
Probably the most important music contribution to a film in motion picture history, "Psycho" is a work that film composers dedicated to their profession can use for a textbook. I'm still amazed that this score wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award (the nominees that year were "The Alamo", "Elmer Gantry", "The Magnificent Seven", "Spartacus", the winner being "Exodus"). In fact, Bernard Herrmann would have to wait another sixteen years to be recognized by the Academy ("Obsession" and "Taxi Driver", both nominated for music score in 1976). But by that time, he had passed away the previous Christmas Eve 1975.

The team of director Alfred Hitchcock and composer Bernard Herrmann was similarly innovative and influential in the early 1960s. Herrmann was no Hollywood newcomer, having started his career in movie scoring with "Citizen Kane" (1941). Nonetheless, in 1960 the veteran Herrmann proved ready and willing to embrace innovation and to strike out in new directions. He composed a chilling and haunting score for "Psycho" that was performed solely by an orchestral string section. Indeed, Herrmann's scoring choice prevailed over Hitchcock's instinct about the film's music. Because of Herrmann, "Psycho" left a legacy that guided the composing of music for movie thrillers for decades to come. In its overall influence on the American feature film industry, the impact of the veteran Herrmann's creativeness in scoring "Psycho" very much paralleled the impact of the editing work by the veteran George Tomasini in the same film.

I personally rate "Psycho" as the best film ever made but I wonder how I (and others) would rate it if Hitchcock has gone with a jazz score as he originally intended (probably inspired by "Touch of Evil"). I shudder to think! Thank heaven that the score is available on CD in mulitple versions (including the actual recorded score lifted from the film's soundtrack). I'll always commend Jerry Goldsmith for his originality in scoring "Psycho II" and not trying to duplicate Herrmann (as so many others have done). I only wish Herrmann had lived to score the sequel.

So good, it deserves to be cliche!
Bret Wheadon (January 23, 2002)
Bernard Herrmann wrote this intensely thrilling and memorable score while simultaneously scoring the diametrically different music for Ray Harryhausen's "The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver," and showcased his prowess for both genres, although "Psycho" would be celebrated much more, and deservedly so.

Although the screeching violins which puncuate the murders throughout the film are the most well-known and imitated device Herrmann used in the film, the rest of the score deserves mention as well for masterfully building up tension, from the swirling oboes and violins used in the opening scenes, to the darker colors that rumble beneath the intermediary scenes.

Although it's a pity that the original film score as directed by Herrmann is unavailable on CD, the Varese Sarabande recording with Joel McNeely and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is stunning, with terse, moody playing and tempos that are close to perfect.

This is a classic score that deserves to be in every serious collection.

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