Mastering a legendary master

Dr. Jack Sullivan, author of Hitchcock’s Music, enlightens one of his American studies classes on the different aspects of film study and analysis.By Oliver Joszt

From teaching to appearing on television to writing books, Dr. Jack Sullivan is a Jack-of-all-trades.

A professor in the English Department and head of the American Studies program, Sullivan is known for frequently taking students to plays and other cultural events around the country in order to develop real-world experience. He is also known for being an expert on all things Alfred Hitchcock.

In 2006, Sullivan wrote Hitchcock’s Music, a book that has garnered him praise from the likes of The New York Times, The San Diego Tribune and other widely read publications.

Recently, the widespread attention caught the eye of CBS News Sunday Morning, which includes significant coverage of important news issues, fine and performing arts and topics that are usually not covered by network news.

“I was flown to Hollywood to a set called CBS Television City to do the interview on the same set [where] they film Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, The Price is Right and many other shows,” Sullivan said.

He was interviewed on a wide range of topics pertaining to Hitchcock, especially about how the director has shaped cinema and his visual impact.

Not only was he interviewed, but a CBS News Sunday Morning crew also flew from California to Rider to film Sullivan’s summer class, Alfred Hitchcock in America.

“The people who came to film the class were very calm and made everyone feel at ease,” he said.

The class was in for a treat from one of the members of the crew.

“One of the people working was the guy who worked on the titles for many of Hitchcock’s films,” Sullivan said. “He even talked about his experiences in front of the classroom.”

Sullivan was also honored to appear on Universal’s re-release of several Hitchcock classics. Universal has re-released a variety of DVDs, which are arguably the three best Hitchcock films: Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958) and Psycho (1960). It is a part of Universal’s ever-expanding Legacy Series, where the sound quality is enhanced and special features are added.

Sullivan appears on one of the special features called “Breaking Barriers: The Sound of Hitchcock,” which provides in-depth analysis on sound and music from several of Hitchcock’s films.

Sullivan was not interviewed about one specific film on the DVDs; instead, he was interviewed on a variety of movies.

“On some of the DVDs, I talked about Hitchcock in general,” he said. “In Psycho the subject is scary movies; with Vertigo, it is [composer] Bernard Herrmann and the whole collaboration between the two; and in Rear Window it is the whole idea of Hitchcock’s soundtrack and how meticulous and how preplanned all of the sounds are.”

More of the Universal Legacy Series on Hitchcock’s films, with insight from Sullivan, will be released over time, such as The Birds.

“I’m happy I got this opportunity,” Sullivan said. “[Both the Universal Legacy Series and appearing on CBS were] an amazing and worthwhile experience.”

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