Hangover Square (film)

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Hangover Square
Hangover Square.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Brahm
Produced by Robert Bassler
Screenplay by Barré Lyndon
Based on Hangover Square
1941 novel 
by Patrick Hamilton
Starring Laird Cregar
Linda Darnell
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Joseph LaShelle
Edited by Harry Reynolds
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • February 7, 1945 (1945-02-07) (United States)
Running time
77 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Hangover Square is a 1945 film noir directed by John Brahm, based on the novel Hangover Square (1941) by Patrick Hamilton. The screenplay was written by Barré Lyndon who made a number of changes to the novel, including the transformation of George Harvey Bone into a classical composer-pianist and filming the story as an early 20th-century period piece.[1]

The movie was released in New York City on February 7, 1945, two months after its star, Laird Cregar, suffered a fatal heart attack.


In Victorian London (the date 1899 is shown in the opening scene), the police suspect that a composer who suffers from periods of amnesia may be a murderer.

The period setting creates a dark mood, especially in the key scene when Bone (portrayed by Laird Cregar), having strangled Netta (Linda Darnell) on Guy Fawkes Night, carries her wrapped body through streets filled with revelers and deposits it on top of the biggest bonfire.

The final scene shows Cregar as Bone, playing his piano concerto (composed by Bernard Herrmann), unmindful of the conflagration around him, as flames consume all.



Cregar at one stage refused the role and was put on suspension. Glen Lanagan was announced as his replacement. But Cregar then changed his mind.[2]

American composer Stephen Sondheim has cited Herrmann's score for Hangover Square as a major influence on his musical Sweeney Todd.[3]


Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed reviews. The staff at Variety magazine liked the film and wrote, "Hangover Square is eerie murder melodrama of the London gaslight era—typical of Patrick Hamilton yarns, of which this is another. And it doesn't make any pretense at mystery. The madman-murderer is known from the first reel...Production is grade A, and so is the direction by John Brahm, with particular bows to the music score by Bernard Herrmann."[4] The New York Times claimed, "There is not a first-class shiver in the whole picture."[5]

CD release of Herrmann's music[edit]

In 2010, the British label Chandos released a CD that includes a 17-minute concert suite from Hangover Square, assembled by Stephen Hogger. The film's musical tour-de-force is a sonata movement for piano and orchestra in the Lisztian style (where the scherzo and adagio movements, which are typical as succeeding movements in a concerto, are compressed and presented in place of a central development). Slightly revised by the composer in 1973 for Charles Gerhardt's RCA film music series and retitled Concerto Macabre, it has been recorded by RCA, Naïve, Koch and Naxos, in addition to the recording paired with Hogger's suite. Save for that released by RCA, all of the recordings of the Concerto relied on the version edited and engraved in 1992 by Christopher Husted, editor of the Bernard Herrmann Edition. The disc also includes Stephen Hogger's extended suite based on Herrmann's incidental music for Citizen Kane (1941).


  1. ^ Hangover Square at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Alexis Smith Gets Role of Nora in 'Human Bondage' -- Two New Films to Arrive Today Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Aug 1944: 16.
  3. ^ National Theatre: Platform Papers: Stephen Sondheim. June 1993. Last accessed: July 16, 2008.
  4. ^ Variety. Staff film review, February 7, 1945. Accessed: August 6, 2013.
  5. ^ Mank, Gregory William (1994). Hollywood Cauldron: Thirteen Horror Films from the Genre's Golden Age, p. 347. McFarland & Company, Inc.

External links[edit]

Streaming audio[edit]