Why has no one ever told me about the Film Sound site? Wow. SO thorough. There's a whole section devoted to the cinetrix's below-the-line boyfriend Walter Murch's articles! Squee! [The female analogue is Thelma Schoonmaker, if you must know.] I could happily spend days clicking through the various categories.
Needless to say, the cinetrix will be slinging a link onto her online course resources STAT, but she thought it'd be nice to share a bit with you while she's at it. So, from the film sound cliche section on language and voice, your friend and miiiiiiiiine, the Wilhelm scream:
A series of short painful screams performed by an actor were recorded in 1951 for the Warner Brother's film Distant Drums. They were used for a scene where a man is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator. The recording was archived into the studio's sound effects library -- and it was used in many of their films since.
Star Wars Sound Designer Ben Burtt tracked down the scream recording - which he named "Wilhelm" from a character who let out the same scream in Charge at Feather River (1953). Ben has adopted the scream as sort of a personal sound signature, and has worked it into as many films as he can.
- Steve Lee's list of films using the Wilhelm scream
- Free Dictionary's list of films using the Wilhelm scream
- L. Mangue's Wilhelm Scream List (at Nerf-Herders Anonymous.net)
- NPR Wilhelm Scream feature tells much of the story of the Wilhelm Scream. (includes link to RealAudio file)
- The scream de la scream (Guardian Unlimited)
- The Wilhelm Scream - in WAV format, 170 KB
- Video compilation of The Wilhelm Scream Clips - in MOV format, 48 MB