Alex North's Score for "A Streetcar Name Desire"

Project Details


Matched Leave Award

Key findings

An analytical and historical study of the score for the 1951 film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire. The project explored this important score in the context of Alex North's career as a composer of music for the concert hall, for dance, and for films. In addition it presented for the first time a detailed discussion of the censorship of particular cues in North's score for the film, and the context surrounding the production company's self-censorship of the film as a result of anxiety concerning the influence of the Catholic League of Decency. I argue that despite having to rewrite a hugely significant cue in the film (for the stair case scene), North provided an alternative cue that was ultimately more subversive than the original, in terms of the film's ending. This is the first study that documents fully the genesis of the film's production and post-production in relation to its score. In addition, the research for the project also resulted in important revelations concerning the debut stage production of the play on Broadway in 1947 in relation to its music and sound effects. A number of court cases were involved, as well as a long-fought battle with the American Federation of Musicians concerning first the status of music in the play (which resulted ultimately in a significant change to the formulae by which the cost of music/musicians for stage productions on Broadway was calculated) and second, in relation to the AFM's second recording ban in 1948. This is the first article to explore the stage production in relation to its music since the producer's papers were opened and as such brought to light a considerable amount of new information about the production.
Effective start/end date1/01/0730/04/08


  • AHRC: £28,408.00


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