Psycho (1960)

psycho movie poster 1960
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Amazing editing, great acting

A little pop-psychology and not as fun for current viewers who know the surprise ending

 
Movie Info

Movie Name: Psycho

Studio: Shamley Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): June 16, 1960

MPAA Rating: R

psycho-1960-house

Don’t worry, I’ll be right back after I talk to Mother

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) has made a mistake.  In an attempt to be with her secret lover Sam Loomis (John Gavin), Marion has stolen money from her boss that she was meant to deposit and now she is on the run.  With a stopover at an out of the way hotel called the Bates Motel, Marion is now reconsidering her mistake…but it is too late.  Killed in the shower, Marion becomes another missing person.  When the police seek out Marion, her sister Lila (Vera Miles), a detective named Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam), and Sam Loomis must track Marion…and see what the Bates Motel and its manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) might be hiding.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho continued Hitchcock’s reign as the master of suspense.  Following Hitchcock’s North by Northwest in 1959, the movie shocked movie-goers, sensors, and critics but was received well.  Psycho was nominated for Best Director for Hitchcock, Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh, and Art Direction, and Cinematography.

psycho-1960-shower

The room service here really sucks

The movie is shot in black-in-white and very stylized (like most of Hitchcock’s work).  The classic scene of course in Psycho is the shower scene which is a masterpiece of editing.  All the cuts and quick edits even led to controversy. Censors claimed to have seen Leigh’s breast in the scene, and Hitchcock had to prove it wasn’t shown.  In addition to the shower scene however there are other great scenes including Arbogast’s death on the stairs and the big reveal of Norman’s mother.  The angles and use of lighting is amazing.

It is interesting to see how different the release of a film is today compared to 1960 when Psycho was released.  In the pre-internet days, even an adaption of a book can be hidden.  Hitchcock kept viewers in the dark about the plot of Psycho and made people think the movie was about Janet Leigh despite Robert Bloch’s already published novel.  The results were amazing and made her shocking death even more of a surprise.  The British movie Peeping Tom (also featuring a confused killer) had been destroyed by the press just a few months before and it is reported that Hitchcock chose not to screen Psycho for critics as a result so the audience could judge it.

psycho-1960-norman

We all go a little mad sometimes

Janet Leigh does a great job in her short role, but I also feel that Vera Miles and John Gavin aren’t given enough credit as her sister and lover.  The meat of the movie has to belong to Anthony Perkins however.  He has to be nice, innocent, and cold at the same time.  The idea of incest, murder, crossdressing, and necrophilia are pretty shocking subjects and in that it is also rather brave of him take on a role like Norman.  The pop-psychology ending of the movie never quite seems to pay off where they are forced to explain why Norman acts the way he does, but it was a different time and things like that weren’t on every episode of Law & Order.  Perkins evil chilling smile sums up the story nicely in his last appearance in the film.

psycho-1960-hitchcock

It’s Hitch! (Hitchcock’s Psycho cameo)

Psycho isn’t the most glamorous or creative of Hitchcock’s films, but it does connect to some common terrors.  The idea that you aren’t safe in your own room, home, or even shower is something that can terrify people.  Psycho taps into this fear.  It was followed by two big screen sequels and a third made-for-television movie, all starring Anthony Perkins but obviously not as well received.  The sequels turn Psycho into more of a horror film than the mystery/suspense aspect of the original.  In 1998 in a completely bizarre turn of events, Gus Van Sant did a shot-for-shot remake of the movie…it bombed…proving the original is still a masterpiece.  Hitchock followed Psycho with The Birds in 1963.

Related Links:

Psycho II (1983)

Psycho III (1986)

Psycho IV:  The Beginning (1990)

Psycho (1998)

Bates Motel—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Buy it on Amazon.com or stream it now:

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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