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Re: "Murder by Contract" (1958) Low budget noir undermined by musical score
My guess is that you are solidly in the minority on this one, Dan. A sizable number of folks cite the minimalist score by Perry Botkin as a key aspect of the off-beat, almost post-noir feel of M by C, including Eddie Muller in his commentary about the film when it was screened on TCM last year. To these ears it anticipates some of the music produced for 60s French noirs by Georges Delerue and Michel Magne.
My sense is that the “ensemble acting” of the law firm of Edwards, Bernardi and Pine would come off as much too broad with an ordinary score, and that Botkin’s minimalist approach shifts the tone in a way that sets up the bizarre plot twist that produces Claude’s unexpected unraveling. Of course, YMMV…