Hangover Square is a 1945 American film noir directed by John Brahm, based on the 1941 novel of the same name by English author Patrick Hamilton. The screenplay was written by Barré Lyndon (pseudonym of Alfred Edgar), who made a number of typical Hollywood changes to Hamilton’s pre-WWII black comedy novel, which sympathetically portrayed the denizens of London’s seedier bedsitters and pubs—the most notorious changes being 1) turning alcoholic protagonist George Harvey Bone into a classical composer-pianist; 2) turning down-and-out Hangover Square into a fakey-English-fakey-genteel neighborhood; and 2) setting the story in the early 20th-century, complete with tailcoats, corsets, chandeliers, the works.
The film was released in New York City on February 7, 1945, two months after its star Laird Cregar suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 31. His idiosyncratic career lives on in his films—The Lodger, most notably, and this one.
Above Cregar’s mad composer: Bernard Herrmann’s composition by a mad composer, played by Ben Dawson and backed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of my beloved John.
From FilmScore.com, 2011: John Wilson, the current enfant terrible of British conductors, was in Glasgow yesterday, Sunday 18th September, to conduct Music To Be Murdered By: a varied selection of Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, Miklos Rozsa, David Raksin, Richard Rodney Bennett and Constant Lambert film music with the Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
The rousing Overture from North By Northwest started off this marvellous concert and showed what both the orchestra and conductor were capable of. Then a short suite from David Raksin’s Laura (John) gave us another side of film music: soft, sweet and completely entrancing. More Herrmann next with the Prelude-Nightmare-Love Scene from Vertigo, superbly played with just the right amount of tension and tempo.
The Overture to All About Eve, Alfred Newman’s 1950 20th Century Fox classic film score followed and then pianist Ben Dawson joined Wilson and the BBCSSO to perform brilliantly the Concerto Macabre (John), the climax to Herrmann’s spine-tingling score from Hangover Square. The first act finale was Parade of the Charioteers from Ben Hur (John), Miklos Rozsa’s masterpiece—the orchestra and Wilson brought the house down with this rousing and spectacular performance.
More Herrmann started Part Two: Prelude-Murder-Finale from Psycho (John) . Just the right amount of brio and flair showed the appreciative audience just what a great conductor John Wilson is—he nailed this suite with consummate ease. He might have been channelling Bernard Herrmann here—one of the best performances of this music I have heard.
A suite from Anna Karenina, Constant Lambert’s (John) underrated score from the 1948 British film came next and Wilson told the audience that Bernard Herrmann had originally recorded this for a Decca Album, Great British Film Music. Then the thrilling Main Title from Marnie gave us more classic Herrmann and the concert concluded with the Christopher Palmer adapted Herrmann Suite from Taxi Driver and Richard Rodney Bennett’s Overture and Waltz from Murder On the Orient Express for orchestra, piano and…fire extinguisher! (simulated steam noise for the engine in this well-played piece).
The afternoon was a great addition to Bernard Herrmann’s centennial—and the almost-full auditorium at Glasgow’s City Hall proved that the audience certainly appreciated Herrmann, the Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Wilson, whose love of film and film music gave us a performance to treasure—and remember. ~Alistair Kerr
- “The Story So Far, with Conductor John Wilson”
- “The Story So Far; Or, Conductor John Wilson—His Limits”
- Read my small writing on MEDIUM here
- Free pdf of my book JOHN WILSON: AN ENGLISH CONDUCTOR here
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- Free pdf / epub of my romantic backstage comedy FEET ON THE GROUND here
- Free pdf of my screenplay BOLDEN: THE UNTOLD STORY OF JFK’S ASSASSINATION here