Dramatic Vocalise Database

Rózsa, Miklós (1907–95)

The Red House (1947)

“After the enormous success of Spelbound and, the next year, The Lost Weekend, the composer was ‘typed’ . . . A crop of similar films came his way, all somehow related to the ‘psychological melodrama’ genre, among them The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), The Macomber Affair (1947), and Kiss the Blood off my Hands (1948). The two best scores are those for The Red House (1947) and The Secret Beyond the Door (1948).” 1

The soundtrack to The Red House includes the use of theremin. Rózsa also used dramatic vocalization in the scores to The Thief of Bagdad (1940), Quo Vadis (1951), Julius Caesar (1953), Knights of the Round Table (1953), Ben-Hur (1959), King of Kings (1961), and El Cid (1961).



Looking for the Red House

[~33'–35'] Nath, Tibby, and Meg wander in the woods looking for the Red House, only to find another dead end. The music suddenly changes—including dramatic vocalization—after Tibby complains of the heat, accompanying a long still shot of Meg’s face. As Tibby resumes complaining, the music returns to its former state. Meg’s suggestion to return to her farm for a swim includes dramatic vocalization, like the first shot of her.

Dramatic vocalization in this case suggests the innocent nature of Meg as compared with Tibby, since the former’s music is “angelic” in nature, and the latter’s is tainted with dissonant outbursts in the brass instruments. Prior to this scene Meg was greatly interested in the hike with Nath, whereas all Tibby does during it is complain. Tibby is supposed to be Nath’s girlfriend, yet jealousy permeates the three characters together. At the end of the movie it is Tibby who betrays Nath, Meg staying true. This bit of vocalization foreshadows its use later in the movie to provide a connective link within the characters’ psychological development.

Meg in the Woods/Finding the Red House

Pete gives Meg a watch as a gift, but with the implied stipulation that she never visit the woods again. Yet she disobeys him, eventually finding the Red House, accompanied in that moment by dramatic vocalization. The section of dramatic vocalization in this clip is the same as that in the first one.

Final Climax

The limited section of dramatic vocalization in this clip is the same as in the previous two.


1 Christopher Palmer, The Composer in Hollywood (New York: Marion Boyars, 1990), 201.