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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
PSYCHO (1960) ****
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, Janet Leigh, and John McIntire Director: Alfred Hitchcock Running time: 109 minutes Rated R (for scenes of strong violence)
By Blake French:
Alfred Hitchcock is easily one of the most acclaimed directors in film history--right up there with Stanley Kubrick and Steven Speilberg. His films defined horror for generations, especially with what many people are still calling the scariest movie of all time: "Psycho." Over the years, the movie has been given much praise. It has had the honor to be placed in the American Film Institute's best 100 movies of all time list. The film has had the privilege to be re-created in 1998 by great director Gus Van Sant, who also added new actors and coloration to this classic tale. "Psycho" also has had the fortunate pleasure to have been followed up by several time-lapsing sequels, although not equal in quality, which continued the story and characters beyond the original film's restrictions. On top of all this, the movie has a unique story line, unusual characters, imagination-provoking motives, and manages to conduct its rare structure like no other film. "Psycho" is one of the better thrillers of our time.
First lets take a look at the unique but perfectly organized structure of this classic horror tale. It beholds what I call a false first act. The first act opens by introducing a character named Marion Crane, sister of Lila Crane, who steals $40, 000 from her employer one day and is in the process of leaving town when her situation is complicated even more. Marion is pulled over by a mysterious police man, who checks out the circumstances, and then allows her to continue on with her journey. He then follows her many miles to a car dealer, where Marion cleverly trades her current car in for a used junkie to camouflage herself from peering foes. Marion then continues to drive along the busy highway until a shielding rainstorm persuades her to stop to rest at The Bates Motel. (spoilers ahead) Then she meets the owner, Norman Bates, who explains to her that his mother is a lunatic. Marion then goes to her cabin where she is stabbed to death in the shower by an unknown predator who looks like an old woman.
Extraordinary, a simply flawless false first act. The movie introduces a character, a problem, and complicates it for the character involved. Then the conclusion (the murder of Marion) solves the first initial problem, throwing us off balance. While we recover, the filmmakers open a brand new series of events, this time detailing the missing Marion Crane. A detective, Milton Arbogast, who tries to investigate Norman's mother, is also killed in the process of doing so. Lila's investigation of her own evolves the second act problems, all winding towards the same awe-inspiring denouement, which I will not have the audacity to reveal to you.
Now for some nice pointers for "Psycho": The opening scene develops Marion Crane's romantic characteristics as well as her personal morals. The scene in which Marion decides to commit theft is never explained to us through dialogue like many lesser films would do, but through Marion's complex stares at the cash and her reactions to it. The police officer's behavior is a whole plot in itself, and since the character's point of view is so focused, we know nothing more about this suspicious man than Crane herself. The Atmosphere of the Bates Motel is one of the creepiest moods I have ever experienced in the movies. Not to mention the famous shower scene, certainly the most shocking and grisly slasher moment of all time. The investigation of Marion's disappearance has a specific odyssey to it--intriguing and unsatisfying. All these minor elements contribute to making "Psycho" the most talked about films ever.
There is a small, but quite noticeable, opinion flaw in the last ten minutes of "Psycho," however. It is the scene where the detective explains the disturbing behavior of Norman Bates to the film's remaining characters, but also to the audience. This scene has never been necessary. The picture would have ended with much more controversy and fantasy if the writers would have left the strangeness of Norman to the imagination rather than explaining elements to us, not to mention the fact that all answers are revealed in the many sequels. I think it would have been interesting to see what happened if Gus Van Sant would have left that sequence out of his re-make, after all, he added a lustful masturbation scene, so why couldn't he have taken out some unneeded material as well. Oh well, I guess, until another actor attempts to master the terror found in the eyes of Anthony Perkins, we'll just have to juggle around these ideas in our minds of how this near-perfect movie could have been better. Don't you love it when movie's make you do that!
Brought to you by Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures.
Alfred Hitchcock's crisp efficiency is not unlike that of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the dutiful son who cleans up after his mother in the landmark thriller "Psycho." Not only is this a masterfully directed suspense chiller, it actually set standards by which all fright films since have been measured. The cinema has produced some great scores, but Bernard Herrmann's music is incredibly enhancing and simply unforgettable, one of the best ever (and it did not even get an Oscar nomination for Best Score). The more I watch "Psycho," the more I prefer the first half, with its sense of dread and a fascinatingly cool Janet Leigh (Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress). Hitchcock, of course, never won the Best Director Oscar, but was nominated for "Psycho," one of 1960's biggest box-office hits. Shockingly, Anthony Perkins, in a career-making role and one of the most famous performances in screen history, failed to win a Best Actor nomination -- probably because the performance was too edgy and disturbing (which is what made it great). Some scenes are dated, of course, but this film almost never falters. It gets a "9" (and a very high nine at that) from me.
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is a god tier horror movie and I'd say its probably the best example of classic horror. The story has at this point been told and remixed 1000 different ways over the years but because of Alfred's understanding of human fear and his incredible skill as a director no other film maker can come close to creating as captivating of a psychopath as the infamous Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). I love the symbolism in the very last scene where Norman sits alone in the chair and claims he'd never hurt a fly. Very clever and unorthodox camera angles keep the viewer on the edge of their seat while watching this film especially during the scenes where Norman attacks his victims and the famous shrieking sound effect begins to play. If you have never seen this movie and enjoy horror movies it is definitely worth watching. Even though compared to current film it may seem dated because of the lack of special effects and computer animation the rawness and great use of music and sound effects by Hitchcock make this slasher flick stand the test of time.
Welcome to the Bates Motel. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies. What are you doing here? Running from the police? Alright, well enjoy your stay and see you in the morning. Or maybe not. Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most influential and fiendishly wonderful movie makers of the twentieth century. Before "Psycho", I had seen exactly 22 of Hitchcock's pictures. Most of them I enjoyed but none of them were as memorable as this piece of work. It is not just a cinematic accomplishment but also of successfully portraying someone who is indeed psycho. This movie was a shock when released in 1960 because of the way the movie was laid out. For example, it was unthinkable for a main character to be killed so early in the film. The goal was to put the audience on edge to the point where they had no idea what would happen next. And Hitchcock indeed pulled it off. In fact, he was sure to make clear that no one would be admitted into the theater after the movie had begun. You must watch it from beginning to end. I am not going to tell you the plot because the less you know, the better. They don't call Alfred Hitchcock the master of suspense for nothing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favourite directors and I've seen a lot
of his movies and this is truly his best work. I mean before I saw
Psycho, all I really knew about it was the famous shower scene which I
saw references to in parodies or cartoons or something like that. But
this movie turned out to be one of my all-time favourites even though
I'm not that big into horror films.
I like how Hitchcock decided to do the film in black-and-white because it makes it darker and suspenseful. The story starts out somewhat slow, but I like the conversations going on as Marion is driving on the highway, one of the most suspenseful parts of the movie. But the magic really begins when it gets to the Bates Motel.
I'm surprised Anthony Perkins never got an Oscar or even a nomination for his portrayal of Norman Bates, I mean he was born to play that role! I can't imagine any other actor playing him. I mean you can see that there's something suspicious about Norman but you can't figure it out. But he just seems like a nice, friendly person who "wouldn't even hurt a fly." And what surprises me even more is that he didn't star in any other well-known movies after Psycho. That just shows how underrated he is as an actor. But I'm glad at least Janet Leigh got a nomination for playing Marion Crane and won a Golden Globe.
The one scene that really freaked me out, and still does, is when Lila Crane discovers Norman Bates's mother's corpse in the fruit cellar, and then Norman comes in dressed as his mother and carrying a knife and revealing that he is the murdering mother. I wasn't expecting that in anyway at all. I can just imagine what people would've thought about that because movies were much tamer back then. This movie makes me afraid of walking in a dark room because I always have the feeling a shadowy figure might pop out and stab me to death.
I've also watched the two Psycho sequels that were made in the 80s and they're good enough to watch but they're nothing compared to the original. But I still think the work well.
Overall this movie has everything that makes a movie a masterpiece: excellent acting, excellent directing, excellent writing, excellent cinematography, excellent suspense and even an excellent twist. It's pretty much perfect in every way.
In conclusion, thank you Alfred Hitchcock for creating this movie and may you rest in peace.
Hitchcock is one of those rare cases where the status of his most
popular films is justified to some extent. What, you think one of his
numerous identical, disposable "on the run" thriller type movies is
better than Psycho or Vertigo? OK.
This might not be too flattering, but I think what I really like about Psycho is that besides some signature stuff, it doesn't really FEEL like Hitchcock. (I'm not his biggest fan, if you can't tell.) It's somewhere between neo-noir, horror and art-house, and is fortunately free of lame attempts at humor, as well as that schmaltzy, dishonest, fake Hollywood handle of romance I count among Hitchcock's numerous flaws. Also, watch this for a lesson in how the camera is an instrument of emotional communication just as much as actors, music or any other aspect of a film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The whole movie it was intense, from the music to the actual camera work. I never understood why she left in the first place but that was a minor detail. In my class we saw a documentary on Hitchcock and a couple scenes were in the documentary, so I knew the son was crazy but I never could have imagined that he killed his mother and had split personality disorder. The opening scene was really intimate and interesting because it showed a versatile side of the main character. Some of the camera work was over the top but it is meant to be that way. I found that the more complex the story got, the more I felt bad for the bad guy in the movie, even though you are not supposed to.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's 1960. Alfred Hitchcock had just seen huge success with North by
Northwest, and he was considered a master of slow burning, suspense
cinema. He could have had any budget he wanted, any cast he wanted - in
fact he could have done anything he wanted.
So what did he do? He took a cheap TV crew, a virtually unknown cast and a script that a lot of people weren't keen on and he filmed it. He was the only one sure that it would work - so sure that he traded his standard paycheck for 60% of the net profits (earning him the equivalent of $150 million in today's money).
The result...? The original slasher film that instantly changed the concept of horrors, thrillers and villains. This might not be as complex as Vertigo, or as relevant as Rear Window, but this is the film that changed cinema and paved the way for the likes of The Exorcist, Scream and most other slashers, horrors and thrillers. Hitchcock created a piece of cinema history with this film, and you would be hard pressed to find any film maker since who hasn't at some point used Psycho for reference.
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is a lost woman. She wants to get away from everything - her job, her home, her boyfriend, her life. Her chance comes one afternoon when a rich tycoon leaves $40,000 in cash as a deposit for a house. Instead of taking the money to the bank, Marion steals it and goes on the run. After two days, she finds herself a little lost, but near a motel - The Bates Motel. She meets Norman Bates, a shy man who is looking after his invalid mother. She and Norman have a conversation, where she decides that she should go back home and face up to what she has done. However, that night, she is violently murdered by someone, and this coincides with an investigation into her disappearance - an investigation that leads to the best of Hitchcocks's climaxes.
What makes this film so good? Well, Hitchcock said it best himself "It wasn't a message that stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance...they were aroused by pure film." This film exists only to terrify us, entertain us, move us, thrill us. There is no message, there is no moral lecture. This film is about one director's vision to take an audience on a roller-coaster ride of thrills and chills. And this film does that to perfection. Nearly all of Hitchcock's most memorable action is in this film (the infamous shower scene is just one), and they are handled so incredibly well that even now they can't cease to entertain. The direction is the winner here. The carefully planned shots, the black and white images, the lighting, the shadows - nothing here has been left to chance and everything has been thought out so, so well. Stanley Kubrick is often accredited with the 'Kubrick stare'. Yet it might well be that he took that idea from Hitchcock, who's final shot of Norman Bates is one of the most chilling and unforgettable shots in film.
Of course, whilst this film is brilliant almost exclusively because of Hitchcock's expert direction, we can't forget the cast. Janet Leigh was immortalised in her role as the ill-fated Marion Crane and she does a wonderful job as the woman who is essentially lost in her own life. Martin Balsam adds a touch of class with his portrayal of Arbogast, the private detective. And Vera Miles is strong and effective as Marion's worried sister.
But, this acting in this film is virtually owned by Anthony Perkins as the truly chilling Norman Bates, who is arguably the best villain in film. Every second that he is on screen, you know there is something wrong, you know that this sweet, innocent, shy man is hiding a terrible secret. You're afraid to know what it is, but Perkins uses the screen to tease, to make you want to know more about him even though you know it's horrific. Perkins was so good in the role that it actually typecast him and hindered the rest of his career.
Between Hitchcock's direction and Perkins acting, there is enough horror to last a lifetime. But added to the strong cast, the wonderful plot and the exceptional soundtrack by Bernard Herrman, and what we have here is something that is truly original, truly groundbreaking and remains a huge milestone in cinema.
This is pure cinema at its best. No lectures, no messages. Just action.
this movie is one of Hitchcock's best if anyone says Alfred Hitchcock you should think psycho the reason why this is is because it is a true masterpiece when i saw this in 2011 i loved it the black and white gave a classic feel to it that you don't get anymore all scenes are executed perfectly especially the shower scene this is my favorite scene of all time when Alfred gives a good movie changing experience through a simple stabbing scene this scene really pops out to me because it isn't just like other stabbing sequences it really gives you great camera angles great shots and perfect execution of a great scene and the whole movie is like this not once was i bored because it keeps throwing you surprises this is my favorite movie and so far nothing has made it close except the godfather
'Psycho' is a Terrific Film, in all respects. It's chilling, it's
captivating & it's memorable. Directed by Maverick Filmmaker Alfred
Hitchcock, this 1960 classic, is indeed time-less!
'Psycho' depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, hiding at a secluded motel after embezzling money from her employer, and the motel's disturbed owner and manager, Norman Bates, played shockingly by Anthony Perkins, and the aftermath of their encounter.
Adapted from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, 'Psycho' begins with a bang, and ends with some haunted images. Norman Bates is a person, who is described as disturbed & neglected. In my opinion, Norman Bates is a person, who became the animal he was, because he lost his innocence too soon. He wanted to live, but when he thought he couldn't survive anymore, he took up violence to breath. It's a twisted personality, that shocks you & leaves you numb!
Joseph Stefano's Adpated Screenplay is nearly flawless. There is hardly a moment when the film loses it's momentum. Alfred Hitchcock's Direction is spell-binding. The master storyteller directs this psychological thriller, most convincingly. John L. Russell's Cinematography is chilling. Each Frame looks haunted. The Lens-Man has done a masterful job. Editing by George Tomasini, is superb! Art-Direction, is scary!
Performance-Wise: Anthony Perkins plays Norman Bates, shockingly. What Perkins achieves by playing Norman Bates, is nothing short of an embodiment. Perkins performs as if Norman Bates, was actually waiting for him to play him on celluloid. It's a Hall-Mark Performance, that is above any praise! Janet Leigh is fantastic. Vera Miles, John Gavin & Martin Balsam leave a mark, as well.
On the whole, 'Psycho' is much more than it's infamous shower scene. It's a film that leaves you haunted, with it's sheer power!
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