Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Flinn, Carol. "Male Nostalgia and Hollywood Film Music: The Terror of the Feminine." Canadian Music Review 10 (Summer 1990): 19-26.

The score to Edgar G. Ulmer's 1945 film Detour exemplifies the duplicitous portrayal of women through the employment of music that strongly evokes nostalgia and longing. Detour belongs to the 1940s detective film genre known as film noir, which often uses music to support references to the past. Flashback narrative structures are commonly used in film noir to explain the present or the film as a whole. Women are often portrayed in this genre as either the good and wholesome virgin-mother or as the undermining villainous beauty. The song "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me," by Jimmy McHugh, becomes a reoccurring leitmotif for nostalgic references to the character's past throughout the film, played on the jukebox and later scored off-screen by blending from the song to a Brahms lullaby. "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me" is especially effective at evoking nostalgia as a 1927 Tin Pan Alley song, performed by Count Basie, Earl Hines, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bing Crosby; the 1945 filmgoers recognized the tune not as a current hit, but one of the past. Brahms's Waltz in A flat, Op. 39, No.15, is used to signify the intensification of the obsession with nostalgia as the villainous heroine abandons the detective. Home Sweet Home is later used to reinforce the sense of nostalgia as the detective is reunited with the heroine.

Works: Leo Erdody: score to Detour (19).

Sources: Jimmy McHugh: I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me (20); Brahms: Waltz in A flat, Op. 39, No. 15 (23); Henry R. Bishop: Home Sweet Home (23).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Kathleen Widden

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