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After all, do I look like a murderer? Music and the subjective art of detection in 'Suspicion'

Haworth, Catherine (2010) After all, do I look like a murderer? Music and the subjective art of detection in 'Suspicion'. In: RMA Research Students' Conference, January 2010, University of York. (Unpublished)

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The film 'Suspicion' (d. Hitchcock, 1941) is constructed almost entirely around the subjective viewpoint of Lina, who suspects that her husband Johnny is trying to kill her. Lina moves between various roles during the film – she is alternately the emotionally troubled heroine of the female gothic, the hapless and naïve victim, and the watchful and active investigator, depending on how advanced her suspicions of Johnny are. Her point of view is stressed throughout, and this is key to the suspense that underpins the narrative.

Franz Waxman’s musical score plays a key role in articulating the ambiguous nature of the film. The soundtrack has a ‘classical’ thematic structure at its base, but its primary function is as an aural manifestation of Lina’s subjectivity, thereby engaging with and extending the shifting generic spaces and characterisation of the film. 'Suspicion’s' emphasis on Lina’s subjectivity also acts to simultaneously create and undercut her agency and credibility within the narrative. This technique is also seen elsewhere in Hollywood’s treatment of the problematic figure of the female investigator during the 1940s, and raises questions about the function and effect of the cinema soundtrack in a wider sense, particularly in scores for narratives of suspense, crime and detection.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Catherine Haworth
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 13:37
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 11:11


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