Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Joseph Stephano from a novel by Robert Bloch
Repeat viewing/My DVD collection
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
I would give anything to have seen this, uncontaminated, on opening night. I knew the ending before I ever saw the film and had seen it several times before this viewing. Then again, familiarity only leaves room to appreciate the excellencies of all its elements.
As the film begins, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is enjoying the “last” of her lunch-time liaisons with Sam (John Gavin), a divorced lover who cannot afford to marry her. She announces she can’t take any more hiding. When she returns to her work as a secretary in a real estate agency, opportunity falls into her lap in the form of $40,000 cash with which a client is paying for a property. He is such an old lech that she feels little guilt in misappropriating the money, which she has been tasked to deposit in the bank. She heads for Sam’s place in California.
On a dark and stormy night, she is forced to stop at an isolated motel en route to her destination. There she befriends the awkward young manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins).
When Marion fails to report to work on Monday, her sister (Vera Miles) and a private investigator (Martin Balsam) begin to search for her and the missing $40,000. With Patricia Hitchcock as an irritating co-worker.
This far from my favorite Hitchcock. The ending is anti-climactic and the climax is gimmicky, especially when you are expecting it. But the elements are all so brilliant! The famous shower scene is breathtaking, especially when the camera descends on Leigh’s frozen eye as it ends. The score has never been topped. Perkins was unfortunately so convincing that he was mostly condemned to reprising this role for the rest of his career. Highly recommended.
Psycho was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Leigh); Best Director; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White.