Even as I saw this film again, I wanted to warn Norman's victims before it is too late. Marion, of course, but also Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam). Don't be fooled! He really isn't the nice young man he seems to be! And for God's sake, don't go near the house! Perhaps only Hitchcock could engage and then sustain such emotions, and do so at such a high level of anxiety. That is not the case, at least for me, with The Birds. Oh sure, a few moments which still have some bite (no pun intended) but without the seamless continuity to be found in Psycho.
Many think this is a great film, period. I think it is among the greatest of horror films. It redefined the rules for that genre. When first released, it defied so many conventions concerning adultery, nudity, and physical violence. What it suggests is even more frightening than what it portrays visually. Spielberg must have studied this film with great care. With all due respect to several moments in Jaws when, during my first viewing, I literally came up out of my seat in terror, it is the sense of infrequently seen but ever-present danger which captures our attention from the first underwater shot at night (I can still hear the cellos) until almost the very end of the film.
I have seen most of the horror films which preceded this one. With only minor deviations, they tend to follow a formula. Even at an early age, I realized that violent thunderstorms with lightning illuminating a castle against the late-night sky, especially with a sound track featuring violin music, indicate that SOMETHING REALLY BAD is about to happen. The moment I became fond of a minor character, I knew that character was doomed. These films were almost completely predictable. The only question is "When?"
Not so with Psycho, at least when viewed for the first time. And as I indicated earlier, Hitchcock still gets me emotionally involved even if by now I almost know the screenplay by heart. How does he accomplish that? I have yet to come up with answer that satisfies me. Meanwhile, I will continue to appreciate his art and especially films of his such as this.
Thanks to the DVD format, both image and sound are much clearer. I also appreciate having supplementary materials such as the documentary "The making of Psycho" featuring new interviews with Janet Leigh, Hitchcock's daughter Patricia Hichtcock O'Connell, writer Joseph Stefano and Hilton A. Green; one censored scene; newsreel footage; and the shower scene both with and without music. Excellent stuff!
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Psycho is a 1960 American suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film is based on the screenplay by Joseph Stefano, who adapted it from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was based on the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein.
The film depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who is in hiding at a motel after embezzling from her employer, and the motel's owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and the aftermath of their encounter.
Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted a re-review which was overwhelmingly positive and led to four Academy Award nominations. Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock's best films and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics. The film spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake, and an unsuccessful television spin-off.