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Posts Tagged ‘Alfred Hitchcock’

Psychos, Pencils, and Fines

August 8, 2012 | by

  • This terrific German blog gives the pencil its due (and, perhaps, then some).
  • In a time when e-books outsell their paper counterparts, NPR wonders whether cover design is a dying art.
  • In a gesture of either great magnanimity or great desperation, the Chicago Public Library waives all fines.
  • Movies you may not have known were inspired by books. (In the case of Psycho, probably because Hitchcock tried to buy up all the copies so there’d be no “spoilers.”)
  • On the one hand, we take issue with some of the rankings on this list of the hundred greatest young-adult novels. On the other, it’s encouraging to know kids are voting. (At least, we hope that’s the explanation.)
  • In obligatory Fifty Shades of Grey news, author E. L. James is curating an album of the classical music featured in the trilogy. (For the uninitiated: in addition to being the world's youngest billionaire and most accomplished lover, Christian Grey is also a world-class musician.)
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    Browbeaten: The Eyebrow

    June 7, 2012 | by

    My first “boyfriend” broke up with me at camp in a letter that read, “You look like the girl from Planet of the Apes—I mean the ape she played, not the girl who played her.” He meant Helena Bonham Carter in the Tim Burton version that had come out that summer. More specifically, he meant that for an eleven-year-old, I had very unruly and freakishly thick eyebrows.

    Having kempt mine since that summer (on a necessarily frequent basis), I notice eyebrows more often than is normal; they bear special significance to me. Midway through Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, Charlie confronts her uncle about his awful secret life as a woman strangler. Sitting across from him at a seedy bar, she watches his hands painfully wringing a napkin, then she tells him all that she knows: wordlessly, she raises a single eyebrow. The plot hinges on that one thin line of hair. Read More »

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    Rushdie Is Bored, Pynchon Goes Public

    May 8, 2012 | by

  • The creator of publishing tumblr Real Talk has unmasked herself! It’s GOOD magazine executive editor Ann Friedman.
  • Salman Rushdie pronounces Middlemarch boring.
  • A great what-if: Bond by Hitchcock.
  • The seven best dinner parties in literature? We say Anna Karenina was robbed!
  • Brace yourselves for Pynchon in Public Day.
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    Who is Bernard Herrmann?

    June 23, 2011 | by

    The name Bernard Herrmann may not be as familiar as Aaron Copland or Samuel Barber, but you’d know his music instantly. Some of it—the shrieking strings from Psycho’s shower scene, for instance—is as famous as anything written in a classical idiom this century.

    Herrmann wrote film scores—most notably, nine for Alfred Hitchcock, including VertigoNorth by Northwest, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. But despite his music’s indirect fame, Herrmann (whose centenary is June 29) has yet to get his due as a serious composer. And he was one. His life had the dramatic arc of a great twentieth-century maestro: expulsion from Juilliard, works commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, major awards, an underappreciated symphony, friendship with Charles Ives, a feud with Leonard Bernstein.

    The word centenary usually implies fanfare—live performances, retrospective essays, new biographies competing for the cover of the New York Times Book Review. But scrolling through the News and Events section of bernardherrmann.org is underwhelming. There’s a smattering of concerts, mostly abroad (Edinburgh, Bristol, Frankfurt) and nothing from the New York Philharmonic that once performed his music. Herrmann’s estate is once again trying to sell the original score to Psycho (in 2009, it was sheepishly withdrawn from auction when it failed to garner a minimum bid). The Minnesota Opera is staging Herrmann’s forgotten opera based on Wuthering Heights. Perhaps a headline in the Twin Cities Daily best sums up the state of affairs three decades after the composer’s death: Who in the world is Bernard Herrmann?

    I recently bought a few Herrmann sound tracks but, after listening to them, found them disappointing. Something was conspicuously absent. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was listening to the sound track of a missing movie.

    Is there a way to free film scores—especially those as artistically rich as Herrmann’s—of their film-cue obligations without deflating them? Can casual listeners appreciate Herrmann without the aid of Jimmy Stewart following Kim Novak around 1950s San Francisco? Maybe scores could thrive in a different context. In honor of Herrmann, I conducted an experiment. I loaded two scores, Psycho and Vertigo, onto my iPod and tried them out as personal sound tracks for wandering around New York.

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