Hitchcock's Music Jack Sullivan

Publication date:
30 Jan 2007
Yale University Press
384 pages: 235 x 156 x 27mm
30 b/w illus.


For half a century Alfred Hitchcock created films full of gripping and memorable music. Over his long career he presided over more musical styles than any director in history and ultimately changed how we think about film music. This book is the first to fully explore the essential role music played in the movies of Alfred Hitchcock.
Based on extensive interviews with composers, writers, and actors, and research in rare archives, Jack Sullivan discusses how Hitchcock used music to influence the atmosphere, characterization, and even storylines of his films. Sullivan examines the director’s important relationships with various composers, especially Bernard Herrmann, and tells the stories behind the musical decisions.  Covering the whole of the director’s career, from the early British works up to Family Plot, this engaging look at the work of Alfred Hitchcock offers new insight into his achievement and genius and changes the way we watch—and listen—to his movies.

Jack Sullivan is director of American Studies and professor of English at Rider University.  He is the author of New World Symphonies: How American Culture Changed European Music, published by Yale University Press. He lives in New York City.

A wonderfully coherent, comprehensive, groundbreaking, and thoroughly engaging study of perhaps the most underexamined important element of Hitchcock's artistry."—Sidney Gottlieb, editor of Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews

"Hitchcock's sophistication about and control of film music is an important aspect of his greatness, and one that separates him from other pantheon directors. This deeply researched and keenly written book fills a void and should be indispensable to passionate Hitchcock scholars—and fans."—Patrick McGilligan, author of  "Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light"

"Hitchcock was a master of film music as well as cinema suspense, and Sullivan's spirited study lives up to its fascinating topic on every page. A milestone in Hitchcock criticism."—David Sterritt, author of "The Films of Alfred Hitchcock" 

"Jack Sullivan shows in arresting detail how Hitchcock and his gifted composers used music ingeniously not only to build suspense and punctuate the action but to amplify the whole emotional atmosphere of his films."—Morris Dickstein, CUNY Graduate Center






"A richly evocative study that combines important new scholarship with sparkling sensibility. Sullivan vividly documents Hitchcock's restless eclecticism and bold interweaving of musical styles—popular, classical, avant-garde, and electronic."—Camille Paglia, author of Sexual Personae and The Birds (BFI Film Classics)

"We might think Hitchcock needed music less than other filmmakers, but Jack Sullivan, in this lovingly researched and articulated book, shows he needed it more. Music said everything Hitchcock couldn't say, even in pictures, and Mr. Sullivan expertly proves that the master's every soundtrack tells an intricate and often romantic story."—Michael Wood, Princeton University