Unit 4 Film Review: Psycho (1960) Dir.

, Alfred Hitchcock

Poster Image

Anthony Perkins
Norman Bates

Marion Crane

Janet Leigh

Vera Miles Lila Crane

Unit 4 Film Review: Psycho (1960) Dir., Alfred Hitchcock

John Gavin
Sam Loomis

Martin Balsam
Milton Arbogast detective

John McIntire
Chambers the sheriff

‘Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece blends a brutal manipulation of audience identification and an incredibly dense, allusive visual style to create the most morally unsettling film ever made’. Kehr D., (2007) Psycho may be the perfect film. Certainly the perfect Hitchcock film. The audience is played from the opening credits. Using the experience he gained on Rope, Rear Window and Vertigo, Hitchcock takes every participant by the hand and leads them into a series of nightmarish shock sequences that appear to have no end.

The film starts with an intricate panning shot that zero’s in on the window of an apartment containing two young lovers enjoying their post coital throes. In a very tender and intimate scene that is erotic, but not explicit, Marion Crane and John Gavin (Janet Leigh and Sam Loomis) discuss the shortcomings in their relationship and their aspirations for their future. Having successfully spent her lunch break Marion returns to work to complete a business transaction worth forty thousand dollars. Marion, as a trusted employee soon finds herself in possession of the money with instructions to have it deposited in the company account. Through a series of

Unit 4 Film Review: Psycho (1960) Dir., Alfred Hitchcock

circumstances she then finds herself running from town, attempting to avoid the attentions of the police and purchasing a new car to try and cover her tracks. Fear drives her to the Bate’s motel and into the arms of the naive and outwardly charming Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). This is a good time to mention Perkins performance. I cannot think of a more perfect combination of actor and role. He keeps his teeth behind his smile so perfectly that audiences must have been nauseated on discovering his true nature. His easy charm, his mask of sanity slips in a notable scene after clumsily answering the queries of private detective Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam). After watching the gumshoe leave he shares a private smile with himself, and audience. Finally hinting at the lengths he is prepared to go to retain his liberty and special way of life. ‘Hitchcock's manipulative classic of "pure cinema" does have a heart that pumps human blood, in its sublime parlor scene between Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh’. Weber B., (2010) Bill Weber is right to draw attention to this scene. Perfectly crafted as only Hitch would allow we see Bates teasing at Marion Crane’s backstory whilst sharing a light supper. We have an insight into the loneliness of Perkins’s character, and a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle hint of his menace. Those of keen eyes will notice Leigh’s shots contain rounded feminine objects, pictures, mirrors, light fittings. Perkins however shares his scenes with stuffed fauna, the smaller products of his ghastly hobbies. ‘Director Hitchcock bears down too heavily in this one, and the delicate illusion of reality necessary for a creak-and-shriek movie becomes, instead, a spectacle of stomach-churning horror’. Critic T., (2008) I disagree with TIME Magazine’s critic. Hitchcock stopped far short of stomach churning horror, he could after all have filmed in colour, been more explicit in the way he told his story. If anything Psycho seems to be a template for aspiring storytellers everywhere. It is not necessary to cover the audience with blood, a menacing intention goes much further. If in doubt the iron fist in the velvet glove will out.

Unit 4 Film Review: Psycho (1960) Dir., Alfred Hitchcock

Critic Bibliography Critic T., (October 7, 2008). ‘TIME Magazine’, rottentomatoes.com Kehr D., (September 19, 2007). ‘Chicago Reader’, rottentomatoes.com Weber B., (October 27, 2010). ‘Slant Magazine’, rottentomatoes.com Image List Poster Image: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/psycho/

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