Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Tuesday, May 28

John Williams and Alfred Hitchcock

Synopsis

Unless you’re Tony Soprano, if your boss turns to you and says, “Murder can be fun,” the prudent reaction would be to: a) start looking for a new job, and b) wait for a discrete opportunity to call the police.

But in 1975, when Alfred Hitchcock made that statement to composer John Williams, Williams probably just nodded in agreement. After all, it was a great honor to be asked by Hitchcock to write music for what would turn out to be the last film completed by the famous Master of Suspense.

That film was “Family Plot,” and Williams completed its music for recording sessions at Universal Studios early in 1976. Williams recalled that the already-ailing Hitchcock stayed just an hour, pronounced the music “fine,” and said, “I’ll leave this to you,” before departing.

Now, film buffs will recall that Hitch, a notorious micro-manager, had abruptly fired composer Bernard Herrmann, his legendary former collaborator, during a recording session for his 1966 film “Torn Curtain,” when Hitchcock realized Herrmann had NOT followed his instructions for a trendy pop music score.

“Family Plot,” was shown at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival but was not officially entered in the competition. Still, it’s ironic that on today’s date that year, the Festival’s top prize, the coveted Palme d’Or, was awarded to “Taxi Driver,” a film by Martin Scorsese, with—you guessed it—music by Bernard Herrmann.

Music Played in Today's Program

John Williams (b. 1932) Closing Credits music, from Family Plot Utah Symphony Varese-Sarabande VCD-47225

Additional Information

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