Journal of the Society for American Music

Research Article

Song, Genre, and Transatlantic Dialogue in Gosford Park



Hidden in plain sight, the five songs in the middle of, Gosford Park (2001) prepare the audience for the untangling of sordid relationships and the resolution of a murder mystery at the end of the film. This article presents a detailed analysis of the film's central musical sequence using video captures, reception history, transcriptions, and other approaches from music history and film studies. As is shown, the close relationship between music and image reflects the fascination of US audiences with British-themed films and the equally complicated appeal of Hollywood films to British audiences. Additionally, the songs provide a surfeit of narrative information crucial to the resolution of the multiple story lines. Lastly, the songs complicate and expand the work's seemingly straightforward murder-mystery genre to include such incompatible models as the British heritage film, Hollywood musicals, melodramas, and the double feature. Informing this musical sequence, and the entire film, is a complex, reciprocal transatlantic exchange founded on mutually inaccurate, yet often irresistible, myths of history and identity.


My thanks for valuable suggestions and editorial assistance to the anonymous readers for the Journal of the Society for American Music, Ellie Hisama, Benjamin Piekut, and Daniel Goldmark. I am grateful as well to Jeffrey Magee for his insight, encouragement, and practical support in the writing of this article. This article is dedicated to my mother, Gwen Sherwood.