Going the “Distance”: Scoring Serling’s Bittersweet Masterpiece

It’s one of the most vital aspects of any movie or TV show, and one of the easiest to overlook: the score.

Music can make or break a film. Alfred Hitchcock, for example, had planned for the shower scene in “Psycho” to be silent (save for the sounds of running water and Marion’s screams) … until Bernard Herrmann played his iconic shrieking violins for the Master of Suspense, who agreed that it greatly enhanced its effectiveness.


Herrmann’s talents also made their way to the small screen. The legendary composer wrote scores for seven episodes of The Twilight Zone (and his musical cues were recycled in many others), including one that leads many top 10 lists: Serling’s bittersweet masterpiece “Walking Distance.”

I’ve covered the episode in a previous post and praised Herrmann’s theme music for Season 1. But on the 54th anniversary of “Walking Distance”, I simply wanted to highlight Herrmann’s score, which adds so much to the heartbreaking mood that Serling was trying to create. It is a beautiful marriage of words and music. Enjoy:


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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 10/30/2013, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. What’s great about an exquisite musical score (like this one) is that you may hear a portion of it throughout your lifetime, and you will always be transported back to that magical image on the screen & that part of your life.

    What was so amazing about Bernard Herrmann was his ability to know exactly what would work for each film, for each scene, despite the director’s occasional hesitation (as in Psycho). We were chatting on Frank’s blog earlier about the lack of music in the movies of the early 30s, yet in 1963, we get Hitchcock’s “The Birds” – no music, only very jarring sound effects! And who was in charge of the sound? Bernard Herrmann!

    • Yes, very true! The best artist in any field has a natural grasp for what the material needs, and Herrmann’s wide-ranging career proves he was one of the best.

      And yes, it’s remarkable how music can take you right back. If I hear the theme to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” for example, I’m right back there with my father, watching it as a little kid. :)

  2. Music is amazing. No words…just SOUND…and it can move people to tears, or psyche one up for an event. Soothe the savage beast. And it doesn’t even take many notes to DO this.

    No WORDS.

    And it can change a person’s state of mind.

    It’s utterly amazing.

    Great post, Paul!

    • Thanks, Frank! The score to this episode is such a masterpiece that I had to take note of it, and a short post on its anniversary seemed a perfect time to do it.. Combined with Serling’s words, it’s utter magic. It really is. :)

  3. Gorgeous! The end portion is heartbreaking. Herrmann wrote the score for one of my favorite films, Jane Eyre. He’d worked a few times with Orson Welles. His musical style is unmistakeable.

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