“We know people like to be frightened or scared in movies, ” says Eva Marie Saint, the actress who won an Academy Award in 1955 for “On the Waterfront.” But there’s something about being scared by Alfred Hitchcock. It isn’t when, he always said. That’s not the scary part. It’s what leads up to the scary part.”
Though an Oscar-winner for her “Waterfront” performance, Eva Marie Saint was easily more identified for the role of Eve Kendall in “North By Northwest, “ her only Hitchcock film.
She played a seemingly innocent woman on a train, who helps Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), a suave accountant wrongly accused of murder, hide from the police. Little does Thornhill know, she’s actually working for a shadowy syndicate that would like nothing more than to kill him. But when her own life becomes endangered by the same people, Eve and Thornhill conspire to stop a conspiracy involving hidden microfilm. And, of course, they fall in love. While Saint’s career was largely cast in the shadow of “North by Northwest, ” she went on to further acclaim and decades later won an Emmy.
Eva Marie Saint doesn’t remember the first Hitchcock movie she ever saw, but the 90-year-old star does recall the most indelible Hitchcock movie moment. “I remember Janet (Leigh) and I were talking about it once, and she said she couldn’t take a shower without locking the door, ” Saint told about “Psycho’s most infamous scene. “I said, I have a secret, I can’t either. I take baths. It was so dynamic and the music has so much to do with it.”
The music had everything to do with it thanks to the master of suspense and film composers such as Dimitri Tiomkin, Alfred Newman, and, of course, Bernard Herrmann, whose music for “Psycho“ slices like a steak knife through the popular imagination.
“When people think of a Hitchcock movie, it isn’t just the visual, it’s the sound, ” Saint says. “It plays a crucial role in enhancing the movie’s tension.”
In fact, according to Hitchcock himself, “There are so few good, honest murderers left. Most of them are hoodlums or neurotic wrecks with no sense of style or form and certainly no interest in good music. I realize there may be a few who whistle while they work but that is hardly the same thing. This modern notion that all murders should be performed a cappella simply has no historical basis. You don’t think Nero was fiddling for his own amusement, do you? Certainly not!”
Those are a portion of liner notes — written by Alfred Hitchcock — on a 1958 record album, titled “Music to be Murdered By.” Eventually, inevitably, it ended up on CD.
But now this amusing oddity is back where it belongs, on vinyl. This week, “Music to Be Murdered By” (click on the title for more information) will be available on a big 33 1/3 record, with the original cover of the famed director holding a gun and a hatchet to his head.
The album has 20 tracks, including songs such as “I’ll Never Smile Again” … “After You’ve Gone” … “Body and Soul” … “Lover Come Back to Me” and the soundtrack to one of the great scare films of the era, “Circus of Horrors.”
You might also like: