Dr. Jack Sullivan's narrative script for 'Hitchcock!,' the first installment of the New York Philharmonic’s Art of the Score series, was read at Lincoln Center by Alec Baldwin and Sam Waterston on September 17 and 18.
Sean Ramsden

Dr. Jack Sullivan is considered the preeminent United States scholar on the subject of Hitchcock's film scores.

Imagine having some of the brightest names in Hollywood read your words live at Lincoln Center. Would Alec Baldwin and Sam Waterston do?

For Rider’s Dr. Jack Sullivan, this was the scenario when The New York Philharmonic paid tribute to the musical scores of Alfred Hitchcock films on September 17 and 18 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

Sullivan, a professor of English and the director of the American Studies program at Rider, wrote the narrative script for Hitchcock!, the first installment of the Philharmonic’s Art of the Score: Film Week at the Philharmonic.  

Considered the preeminent United States scholar on the subject, Sullivan was an apt choice when he was asked by the Philharmonic to author the script. He is the author of Hitchcock’s Music, which analyzes the way the master of suspense complemented his filmed images with equally gripping musical scores. The book, published in December 2006 by Yale University Press, earned him an award at the 40th ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards Ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York in 2008.

In successive nights, Baldwin and Waterston narrated Sullivan’s script detailing Hitchcock’s use of music in films such as To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, Dial M for Murder, and North by Northwest. Chosen clips from each movie were screened while the Philharmonic performed selections from the original scores corresponding to the scenes. The narration, which Sullivan calls “terse synopses of the scenes,” also provided insight into lesser-known facts from the production of the films. Alec Baldwin hosted on September 17, with Waterston following on the 18th.

“It came out of nowhere,” said Sullivan of his commission to author the narrative. “They already had a script in place, but ultimately rejected it.”

He had to work fast, however. Sullivan said the request came the day after Labor Day, and he only completed the script this week.

“I was still working on Monday,” he said.