Listen to the rejected ‘Exorcist’ score William Friedkin allegedly threw out a window

02.08.16 2 years ago

It's hard to track down the original source of this story so probably best to treat it as a rumor, but according to legend, famously strident Exorcist director William Friedkin literally threw composer Lalo Schifrin's partial score for the film out a window to demonstrate his displeasure. In a 2005 interview with The Score, Schifrin describes the would-be collaboration as “one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life” and further suggests that Friedkin may have sabotaged his work on the project by deliberately failing to pass along a critical note from the studio:

What happened is that the director, William Friedkin, hired me to write the music for the trailer, six minutes were recorded for the Warner”s edition of the trailer. The people who saw the trailer reacted against the film, because the scenes were heavy and frightening, so most of them went to the toilet to vomit. The trailer was terrific, but the mix of those frightening scenes and my music, which was also a very difficult and heavy score, scared the audiences away. So, the Warner Brothers executives said Friedkin to tell me that I must write less dramatic and softer score. I could easily and perfectly do what they wanted because it was way too simple in relevance to what I have previously written, but Friedkin didn”t tell me what they said. I´m sure he did it deliberately. In the past we had an incident, caused by other reasons, and I think he wanted vengeance. This is my theory. This is the first time I speak of this matter, my attorney recommended me not to talk about it, but I think this is a good time to reveal the truth.


Finally, I wrote the music for the film in the same vein as that of the trailer. In fact, when I wrote the trailer I was in the studio with Friedkin and he congratulated me for it. So, I thought i was in the right way… but the truth was very different.

While the veracity of the window-tossing anecdote is difficult to confirm, it's nevertheless a juicy story that's recently bubbled back up on the interwebs, along with a 14-minute clip of the Schifrin score and the trailer that allegedly caused audiences to vomit (both of which are readily available on YouTube).

While I actually think that Friedkin's decision not to use the score was the right one — the visuals are terrifying enough on their own and might have actually lost some of their power if they'd been paired with music — the first couple minutes of the score in particular are incredibly jarring and unsettling. It's interesting to ponder whether the film would have been just as successful had things with Schifrin turned out differently.

(via Bloody Disgusting)

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