UK quad film poster
Directed byAlan Gibson
Screenplay by
Based onAlfred Shaughnessy
(from an original screenplay)
Produced byMichael Carreras[1]
CinematographyPaul Beeson[1]
Edited byChris Barnes[1]
Music byMalcolm Williamson[1]
Distributed byWarner Bros.[2]
Release dates
  • 7 June 1970 (1970-06-07) (United Kingdom)
  • November 29, 1972 (1972-11-29) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom[2]

Crescendo is a 1970 British horror psychological thriller film directed by Alan Gibson and starring Stefanie Powers, James Olson, Margaretta Scott, Jane Lapotaire and Joss Ackland.[3] It was made by Hammer Film Productions.


Drawn to the spectacular south of France to research the late composer Henry Ryman, music student Susan Roberts encounters his son, drug-addicted Georges and his eccentric family. Investigating the haunting strains of an unfinished Ryman concerto leads Susan to discover an empty piano and a brutally savaged mannequin. Georges tells her she's the lookalike of his lost love. But Susan may not be the only one at the villa with an eerie doppelgänger.



Alfred Shaughnessy wrote the script in the mid-'60s. In 1966, Michael Reeves approached Hammer Films with the script. James Carreras tried for two years to make it with Joan Crawford but could not get financing. In 1969, the project was reactivated, with Jimmy Sangster hired to rewrite the script and Alan Gibson to direct.[4]


Crescendo premiered in London on 7 May 1970 at the New Victoria Theatre.[1] It received a general release on 7 June 1970 by Warner-Pathé in support of Taste the Blood of Dracula.[1] It was distributed in the United States by Warner Brothers on 29 November 1972.

Home media

The film was released to DVD by the Warner Archive Collection in March 2009.


Box office

Its performance at the box office was disappointing.[5]

Critical reception

In a contemporary review, The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "Another Hammer horror, and within its own terms quite a spirited offering. Given a plot somewhere between Fanatic [1965] and Taste of Fear [1961], director Alan Gibson has injected a gratuitous amount of sex into the story but otherwise presents the usual mixture with a sure style and a good eye for colour. The dream sequences – like Georges' nightmarish premonition that his insane brother will eventually kill him – are particularly effective. The dialogue does creak somewhat, but the next Hammer surprise is never very far away: even the butler turns out to have been a frequent inmate of asylums, though he seems about as normal as anyone else in the film. Jane Lapotaire overacts rather gratingly as the maid, but Margaretta Scott moves from sanity to insanity with gracious ease, and Stephanie Powers is an attractive heroine, though the thesis never gets very far."[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Fellner 2019, p. 74.
  2. ^ a b c "Crescendo". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 37, no. 437. British Film Institute. June 1970. p. 127.
  3. ^ "Crescendo". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  4. ^ Marcus Hearn, The Hammer Vault, Titan Books, 2011 p117
  5. ^ David Hanks Crescendo at EOFFTV 2009 accessed 14 April 2014
  6. ^ "Crescendo". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 37 (432): 127. 1 January 1970 – via ProQuest.