In the year 1960, audience around the world were introduced to a suspense thriller that shocked them beyond words. Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock, in order to bring out the best viewing experience, set some “rules” to watch this film. The theater restricted people from entering after the movie began. Another show was arranged for those late comers who already bought the ticket. There were many sign boards that said; “It is required that you see Psycho from the beginning” and others that said; “No one, but no one will be admitted to the theater after the start of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho…. even if it is the queen of Great Britain herself, god bless her“. What’s even surprising is Hitchcock’s indirect request to the audience, asking them not to reveal the suspense of this film to their friends or family.
This type of marketing is mathematically impossible in this time and decade, thanks to the internet and social media. The plot lines go viral on the first day after the release. Personally, the network wasn’t prevalent when the whole story was narrated to me. *Sigh*. Even then I was intrigued and I wanted to watch this film at all cost.
Psycho was a movie phenomenon. Every other films with a good twist owes everything to this product, from the minds of Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Bloch. This black and white suspense thriller is still considered as one of the best films of Alfred Hitchcock. And the movie contains every typical flavor seen in a Hitchcock film;
- Quick cameo of Mr. Hitchcock,
- Strong female character
- A troubled lead character
- Blonde female lead
The movie is about Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) stealing a large sum of money (40,000$ of the 1960s) from a flirty customer to help her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin) get rid of his debts. On her way, due to heavy rain, she pulled into the parking lot of the Bates Motel. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who is attracted to her offers room and a light dinner. That night, while taking a quick shower Marion gets stabbed to death by a shadowy figure of a woman, who comes from behind the curtains.
Rest of the plot deals with how Norman handles the crime committed by his mother and how Marion’s case is investigated.
Psycho is one of the first films that experimented with the shifting of POV. From Marion (until her death) to Norman and people involved in the investigation; including her sister Lila (Vera Miles) and Marion’s distraught boyfriend Sam. This shifting could appear uncomfortable, and that’s the filmmakers aim in general. They want to you to dislike Marion for committing a crime, then you will feel sorry for her. Norman on the other hand is a man of many shades.
Anthony Perkins is impeccable and desirable as Norman Bates. He was perfect for that role in many ways ranging from his good innocent looks to the effect of the transgression committed by his character. Who is Norman Bates? Every Horror movie geek knows exactly why he is so terrifying. With what? With his boyish good looks and innocence? Well, the reason is what makes this character so iconic. Janet Leigh was good as the ravishing Marion Crane. She deserved that Academy award nomination for her performance. The best part was the scene where she’s recollecting the reactions of her colleagues, after discovering her guilt. She was looking straight at the camera in her car with hardly any blinking. Vera Miles was convincing and delivered a controlled performance. John Gavin was Hitchcock’s least favorite actor in this movie claiming that his acting was too stiff. Mr. Gavin did his part pretty well with apt reactions and expressions. The only factor leads to inhibition for someone to watch this film is this movie being black and white. It is apt to undergo the creepy feel of the suspense. The cinematography is top class with different varieties of angles and shots. The shower scene is one the scariest sequences with Marion Crane being vulnerable to the imminent attack. The montage made the whole stabbing process look real with Leigh’s frightened performance.
Psycho had many achievements in AFI, with the entry of the movie in it’s 100 years 100 movies list, entry of Norman Bates in the best villains list, the exemplary soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann and of course, the haunting quotes like; “A boy’s best friend is his mother”, “We all go a little mad sometimes” and my personal favorite one liner “She wouldn’t even harm a fly”.
Psycho is a must watch thriller for every movie lover.
Disclaimer: this is an updated review that was initially published in Author’s personal blog.
Featured image credit: liberal America