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Strange what the passage of time can do to a film. I remember seeing
portions of "Psycho" when I was very young on local TV; when our
household became cable-ready a few years later and AMC showed actual
movie classics, Hitchcock's film was regular on the rotation. I
remember being shocked and impressed by Janet Leigh's shower demise and
Martin Balsam's staircase tumble, but not too wild about the actual
narrative. When you're less than 10 years old, you take for granted a
lot of the nuances of film-making that only make sense when you're
And "Psycho" is almost entirely nuance and technique. From Anthony Perkins' legendary performance as the quiver-lipped, boyish Norman Bates to Bernard Herrmann's piercingly authorative, all-strings score to Hitchcock's intersection of characters (where misunderstandings and misplaced responsibility are the norm), the film is a masterful blend of all the elements that make for quality cinema. And for all its pop-culture influence (as it was one of the first 'psychological horrors' put on screen), "Psycho" remains extremely subtle and surprising, even if you know all the plot turns in advance.
See Marion. See Marion embezzle $44 grand from her boss. See Marion on the run from her own guilt. See Marion make a fateful stop at the Bates Motel. See Norman. See Norman talk about his abusive, domineering mother... (I needn't go any further.)
Since there is really no creative way to write about a film that has already been so extensively written on, I offer some of my personal favorite moments: The head-on shots of Marion (Janet Leigh) driving away from responsibility, listening to dialogues taking place far away, her facial expressions our only indicator of emotion. The judgmental look of the used-car salesman. The way Norman leans his head forward in the parlor, becoming somber and defensive over the word 'someplace.' The shriek of strings as the shower curtain is pulled back. Norman's awkward reaction to Private Investigator Arbogast (Martin Balsam)'s casual questioning. Arbogast's oblivious, seemingly slow-motion ascent of the staircase. Mrs. Bates' closing monologue, delivered in an acrid voice whose tone will literally make your skin crawl.
And there's a lot more. As much as it's been said already, I will have to concur that "Psycho" is probably Hitchcock's masterpiece (I haven't seen all of his films), a near-seamless blend of story, character, irony, and technique.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Knowing all of Hitchcock's little quirks makes watching one of his films
more interesting. His preference of blondes, his obsession with the
bathroom and the letters BM are just a few. Hitchcock liked to use
foreshadowing also in his films, which makes the film more interesting to
the viewer because while some would think it distracts from the element of
surprise, it's done in such a subtle way that it only makes a difference if
the viewer is looking for it. The viewer isn't sure what will happen next
but there are little clues to add more of the mystery element to the
suspense story. Also, the actors play their scenes well
Perkins who seems to have schizophrenia down to a science.
Janet Leigh does well as a confused girl gone bad, (Not so much a good girl because she has hotel rendezvous with a certain non-committal man.) her character Marion Crane, takes a drastic measure in hopes to seal the deal with her boyfriend and things don't work out so well for her. In this process Janet has to act out the famous `shower scene' and does so very well; it has to be difficult to play a naked woman in a distressed situation but the viewer wouldn't guess so from her performance. Anthony Perkins, who plays Norman Bates, also does very well, he is truly an amazing actor. When Anthony plays the actual Norman he's so convincing as a charming young man, as a female viewer it's almost hard to not fall for the boy-next-door facade he puts on; then there is Norman's alter-ego, his other half, that the viewer gains full details about at the conclusion of the film. This alter ego is not displayed until the ending also in a very creepy moment that takes the cake for this performance.
The little clues that Hitchcock places in the story are very subtle but are fun to think about after viewing the movie, for instance, Norman's love for stuffing things and keeping them `alive' so to speak; after watching the film it puts a few more pieces of the puzzle together. Another of Hitchcock's quirks is to show up in his film at random spots, one of which is in front of the business where Marion works. Hitchcock has a hat on and is standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street in the scene when Marion comes back from her lunch break. The work scene also displays yet another of Hitchcock's loves: blondes. There are two secretaries in the office, Marion the blonde and her opposite the brunette who doesn't even get named. A very wealthy businessman comes into the workplace and immediately gives his attention to Marion, not only that but her opposite is a complete ditz. She doesn't sound very intelligent and seems very oblivious, especially when she makes the comment that Mr. `Wealthy' must have seen her wedding ring that's why he didn't flirt with her. (When in fact it's obvious that she's NOT very attractive.
All in all this movie was very good, the suspenseful moments are very effective and this viewer found herself plugging her ears and turning her head at some moments. Psycho has received many outstanding reviews and they are justly given, this reviewer would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys suspenseful movies even if some of the `fight' scenes are a little corny. (It is filmed in the 60's) Just be prepared to avoid motel showers in fear of being `all washed up'.
Not much to be said about this that hasn't been said before. Only the
second Hitchcock film I've ever seen, and so far there isn't a single
positive thing that's been said about him that I can disagree with.
someone 'The Master' is terminology that I would usually frown upon as
too dismissive of other greatly talented people, but after witnessing the
directing, the cinematography, the subtle performances, the inimitable
atmosphere and the quiet genius of this masterpiece, I find myself forced
agree. The notorious shower scene manages to be shocking, brutal and
understated all at once, and its infamy on the pages of motion picture
history is well-deserved. Anthony Perkins is subtly explosive, like a
waiting to be struck. He plays Bates with a boyish, grinning charm that
generally belies his chilling insanity. Also worthy of mention is Bernard
Herrmann's incredible score, possibly one of the best I've ever
In a curious way, the one thing I find disagreeable about this movie is, indeed, its legend. I cannot imagine how much I would have enjoyed it had I not known any of the plot twists beforehand, and could have gone into it unknowingly. Still, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, the legend is completely due, because this film's merit becomes obvious when you consider that first-time viewers of my generation (I'm 21 years old), who have become inundated with the blood, gore and overblown special effects of today's blockbusters, can still find its subtle ingenuity chilling and scary in equal measure. Beautiful. 10/10
This is one of the best movies ever created and Alfred Hitchcock is one of
the most intriguing film makers ever to live. (in my opinion) There's just
so much to say about this film I hardly know where to start.
I first saw this movie about five years ago and wasn't impressed at all. Of course, I was about ten years old at the time. I didn't think that the famous shower scene was anything to frightening and the characters seemed a little boring. A little less than a year ago, I became very interested in the history of the film and not so much of the film itself. I read articles, reviews, anything that I could get my hands on. Then, Psycho was shown on AMC and I immediately thought that it was a masterpiece. Shame on me for not appreciating it sooner.
The film as a whole is spectacular, but I like to break it down into little sections. First, I was very surprised and impressed with the actors that played Marion Crane and Norman Bates. Janet Leigh isn't given to much exposure to the film since she is killed off in about the middle of it. I thought that she did a good but not great job. On the other hand, Anthony Perkins blew me away. Both Norman and Anthony are very interesting. Norman's life that is set up and shown to us is so well depicted that I can't imagine anybody else playing the part. All of the characters including Arbogast, Lila, and Sam are so well created.
Obviously, the plot is so unique and odd that you can't help but smile at it. A young woman on the run after stealing $40,000, and then accidentally falls into the wrong hands of a psychopath. It's great! The best thing is that nobody has ever done anything quite like it, and they won't be able to because then the magic will be gone.
Even though the ever so famous shower scene is said to be one of the most chilling death scenes in history, I think that it may be a little overrated. I love it as much as the next person, but it's not all that scary. Who said it was supposed to be scary? Nobody, I know. But the majority of the Psycho audience gathers it to be very frightening. I do still think that it is one of the greatest and shocking scenes ever.
The setting is very well set up as well. The Bates motel and house is so cleverly created that it brings a special atmosphere to the audience. It has something about it that you just can't forget.
Finally, that music played throughout the film is one of the most spookiest sounds I have ever heard. Great job to the music composers and to Hitchcock for this scary addition to the movie.
I think it's safe to say that everybody has heard of Psycho, but not everyone has seen it. For those of you who still haven't seen this amazing flick, go see it! It's a must see.
In reading the comments of some, I think that to have seen Hitchcock's Psycho when it opened in '60, is to fully understand its impact today. It was a masterpiece then and remains a masterpiece today. Superior direction and camera work, and as one person commented, the film was released at a time when [psychological] monsters in the form of the "boy next door," was not explored in films. Yes, Psycho started slow by today's standards, but the style back then was to move from the pleasant familiar to the darkest of horrors. Hitchcock understood how to create atmosphere and mood. His shower scene, while some today wonder what the hoopla is all about, set a standard of horror in an ordinary setting. How many films have copied this scene? I remember as a kid, fearing showers and hotels after seeing this flick. Hitchcock reportedly said that it was a good thing he didn't place Crane on the toilet (sic), or people would have a phobia about toilets. Ironically, in Psycho 3 (?), a character was killed while on the toilet. The remake of two years ago sucked--big time. Hitchcock's Psycho not only had the master at the helm, but it was also a matter of timing in cinema history. Those elements cannot be duplicated.
I feel that this movie is superior to Alfred Hitchcock's other films and that it, rather than "Vertigo", should be considered his masterpiece. Even though it was shot on a small budget, its suspense, thanks to Hitchcock's direction, Tomasini's flawless editing, and Bernard Herrmann's still holds up on multiple viewings. Also important to the film is solid acting from Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and Martin Balsam and John L. Russell's constantly under-rated photography.
I have been reading some of the comments about Psycho and was shocked to
read that some of the viewers thought that it was rubbish. You have to
realise that for its day it was a shocker. It broke all the conventions of
the horror films in that day. Every shot was carefully thought out, for
example, because of film laws, Hitchcock couldn't show the knife touch the
body in Shower scene, but the way that it was shot made you believe that
were seeing it.
Many people prefere the new version because it is in colour. Colour films had been around for quite some time when the film was made. Hitchcock decided to make it in Black and White for a reasion. You have to agree that it makes the film very scary. The shadows are enhanced on the house and Norman's face appears to be horribly hollow, just like the final image of his mother.
In my opinion, the new version is good, but the use of colour changes the initial image that Hitchcock wanted to put across.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first Alfred Hitchcock film I saw was The Birds and I thought it was a film which couldn't be beaten in its genre, until I saw, "Psycho." (There are a few spoilers here.) Horror films usually leave you cold and chilled and as shocking and disturbing Psycho is, it's a film you can somehow warm to. The shower scene is a scene like no other. Its more shocking than frightening, the instant when the curtain draws back and you are faced with a shadowy figure clutching a knife sucks the adrenalin out you like a sponge, after Marion is viciously stabbed she clutches the shower curtain and falls to the floor, so simple yet so powerful. The full story which is one that you really need to know nothing about to get the full affect. Unfortunately I knew quite a bit about it before I saw it. If there ever was a film with a plot twist this film would top the list. If you haven't seen it then go, go, go and rent it now, in fact buy it ! You won't be disappointed.
I saw Psycho last night at the campus movie theatre and it was great, not to mention scary. I mean I had never seen it before (except for parts on TV when I was small) and had no clue about the plot or the ending. Untill the final scene I still thought it was the mother. Now I'm one of those guys who can pick out the ending like half way through the film, but Psycho had me fooled all the way to the end. Psycho may be great to watch again and again, but its even better the first time.
Only a sinister organization such as the Academy would bypass Alfred
Hitchcock as Best Director in 1960. Psycho is a masterpiece and Hitch will
be remembered for centuries regarding his classic portrayal of a young
Norman Bates, his run-down motel, and the mysterious relationship and
of his Mother. From Sam Loomis, Marion and Lila Crane, Detective Arbogast,
Mr. Lowry, and even the used car salesman, Psycho is filled with
characters, suspenseful plot twists, and a climax that would make every
child in America think twice before entering the basement.
Alfred Hitchcock was an American icon and Psycho is a true reflection of his genius. To his day, Psycho remains one of best films of its genre. Further, Hitchcock's talent has stood the test of time, ultimately earning him the most honorable surname "The Master of Suspense".
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