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Soundtrack review: 5 fingers (Bernard Herrmann – 1952)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: 5 fingers (Bernard Herrmann – 1952)


“5 fingers” is a 1952 American spy film based on the true story of Albanian-born Elyesa Bazna, one of the most famous spies of World War II. He worked for the Nazis in 1943–44 while he was employed as valet to the British ambassador to Turkey, Sir Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen. He used the code name Cicero. He would photograph top-secret documents and turn the films over to Franz von Papen, the former German chancellor, at that time German ambassador in Ankara, via the intermediary Moyzisch, a commercial attaché at the embassy. The score by Bernard Herrmann was released by Krtizerland coupled with “Hangover square”.

It’s nice to discover a more subdued Bernard Herrmann. He’s always such an intense and heavy composer and I usually need time to recover after I hear one of his scores. But this is a spy film and the music needs subtlety; it needs to be able to hide and sneak up and follow and sometimes even not be noticed. These are the only spy qualities the music borrows. For me a great spy movie score needs to have that cool jazzy sound from the likes of “Mission: Impossible” or “The man from U.N.C.L.E.”.

Unfortunately, this score is way too quiet for me. It’s not quiet in the dreamy minimalistic kind of way that I love but in the “so quiet I forgot I was listening to it” kind of way. Sure the music is nice and melodic and the quality itself cannot be argued (especially for the “Romance” theme) but there’s nothing in here to grab me or intrigue me… this record spins almost in vain for me and it even sounds like an old record. I could look at this score as a collection of the more forgettable cues from all the James Bond movies, the ones I would exclude from my playlists.

If you like a score that is nothing by slow burning suspense you will like this one. The suspense doesn’t build up to anything, there’s no climax or change in the pace so I find it a little useless. I had a real hard time connecting with “5 fingers”. The music stayed in the background all the time and rarely dared to come out and try to convince me of something.

Cue rating: 70 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 1 / 33

Album excellence: 8%




Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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