The score invested “the most banal images — a suitcase on a bed, a car on an empty highway — with dread.” Hitchcock himself “said that the music raised Psycho’s impact by 33 percent.” The film was the sixth Hitchcock-Hermann collaboration but Hitchcock later came to feel “that his style was too dependent on Herrmann’s music, and that may have wounded his pride,” suggests John Williams, another Hitchcock composer. Hitchcock eventually fired Herrmann for misbehaving again by writing music where Hitch had demanded silence for the big murder scene in Torn Curtain in 1966.
Q: There is a scene in Torn Curtain, which contains a lot of tasteless violence. It surpasses Psycho, even. I think it’s a wonderful film, just very violent. Could you comment on this?
AH: I would say that one of the scenes shows how difficult it is to kill a man. It is a messy business. It is a horrible business. It should be a deterrent because it’s not all that easy. They usually show killings on the screen that are very simple – a gun shot and, “Bang! You’re dead.” If you don’t have a gun, it just shows you what a horrible, awful thing it is to kill someone. Especially, as you see at the end, at Auschwitz.
Q: Are you surprised that people laugh at that particular scene?
AH: That’s the usual reaction.
See below, with music (not Hermann’s) added. View with sound down to watch as intended: