Psycho (1960)

The poster features a large image of a young woman in white underwear. The names of the main actors are featured down the right side of the poster. Smaller images of Anthony Perkins and John Gavin are above the words, written in large print, "Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho".We all go a little perfect sometimes

Secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) wants nothing more than to marry her lover, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), so after getting the chance, steals $40,000 from her boss' client and drives off. Along the way, she comes across the secluded Bates Motel, and meets the owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins).

Before this film, I had never seen a single film of Alfred Hitchcock's, despite constantly hearing of the praise given towards him. After watching this film, I can definitely see why such regard is held towards Alfred Hitchcock's name alone. He does some masterful work directing this film, with some extraordinary camera work and the perfect score accompanying the film.

The opening relationship between Marion and Sam is one that I can very much buy into, thanks to the great chemistry that John Gavin and Janet Leigh share in their scenes together, which makes me buy into Marion's choice to steal the money even more. The dialogue spoken is quite engaging, and manages to expand upon the characters and their lives. I especially like how Hitchcock chose not to show the characters reacting to the aftermath of Marion stealing the money, but rather run their voices over the visual of Marion driving away which is quite different from what I expect from films, but I found it to be more effective than extra scenes.

 Anthony Perkins is utterly amazing as the infamous Norman Bates. He plays the character very charmingly, giving off a certain sweetness about him that, upon initial viewing, makes it hard to believe that this kind fellow would dress in his mother's clothing and murder people. With that being said, the transition Perkins makes from playing charming and sweet to creepy and frightening is pulled off with such ease that I very much look forward to exploring Perkins' other film roles. Norman's motivation's and backstory is explained very well in a way that answers many lingering questions and manages to not feel like an infodump. Hitchcock had the right idea here by detailing Norman's backstory, because by letting the creator of the character make the backstory, it saves the character from getting the type of ridiculous backstory which ruins the character in an unneeded prequel, which is not a dig at Psycho IV: The Beginning, as I have not actually seen that film.

It says something about the writing when the main character steals money from her boss and remains to be quite the likable character. In fact, the entire film does not seem to have one character who you find dull or unlikable. Detective Arboghast, who is investigating the disappearance of Marion, comes across the Bates motel and slyly manages to trip up Norman up by asking all the right questions in order to catch him out, while Marion's sister, Lila (Vera Miles), and Sam manage to follow up Arboghast and inquisitively ask all the right questions in order to get the answers they so desire.


I cannot write a review about 'Psycho' without discussing one of the most famous scenes in film history, the shower scene. The tension is built up expertly as we see a shadowed figure moving ever closer to the unsuspecting Marion Crane. What follows is then a daring scene where the main character is killed off half-way into the movie, proving how ahead of his time and revolutionary Hitchcock truly was. What's astounding about this movie is how it was regarded as a very graphic scene, despite never showing a single shot of the killer's knife making any contact whatsoever with Marion Crane's body. This is because the scene is much more horrific due to the viewer's imagination of what is happening, as opposed to actually showing the knife plunging into the heroine's body, and it is because of that this one single scene in a horror film made over 50 years ago is much more effective at providing horror than any of the numerous gory money shots which accompany 21st century horror flicks. The scene's horror is also accentuated by the famous score, piercing it's way into the viewers eardrums from the opening of the shower curtain, to the end of Marion, followed only by the sound of running water, and the shots of Marion's lifeless body. Upon viewing such a brilliant scene, you will immediately understand why it is held in such high regard.

And upon after Marion's murder, her body is hidden within the trunk of a car along with her belongings, including the stolen money, and the car is then buried within a swamp. So Marion's greed set off a chain reaction which resulted with her death, and the money, which set off this entire film and sent Marion running from her home and her boss into the Bates Motel, ended up not within the hands of the villain, but in the bottom of a swamp, where nobody would be able to get the money.

Psycho is an amazing classic horror film that does everything right, thanks to Alfred Hitchcock's masterful direction. If you ever find yourself sighing at the awful horror films that are released in this 21st century, do yourself a favor and watch this film to remind yourself of how perfect Hitchcock got it.


Anonymous said…
Hey! I agree totally with your review. I love watching Hitchcock movies for the obscure, awesome techniques he utilized to make his story come alive on the big screen. I look forward to your next post. (If I can figure out a way to follow it.) Cheers!
James Rodrigues said…
@yaykisspurr cheers for that, i'll be sure to follow your blog, and if you can, please do check out some of my other reviews on here, thank you
James Rodrigues said…
@yaykisspurr and as for following my blog, you could try using google connect, which is located in my followers section
Tom_Film_Master said…
wow I'm surprised this is your first Hitchcock film! I strongly suggest you check out some of these:
Strangers on a Train
Terrific review of a damn good film!