Psycho (1960)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Joseph Stephano from a novel by Robert Bloch
Shamley Productions
Repeat viewing/My DVD collection
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Norman Bates: I think I must have one of those faces you can’t help believing.

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.


Sink the Bismarck!

Sink the Bismarck!
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Written by Edmund H. North from a book by C.S. Forrester
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
First viewing/YouTube


Edward R. Murrow: This is London, Ed Murrow reporting. This island, which is no stranger to bad tiding, received news today that HMS Hood largest warship in the British fleet and pride of the British navy, has been sunk by the German battleship Bismarck. From the Hood’s compliment of 1500 men, there were three survivors.


This WWII sea battle epic could have been so much more compelling than it was.

This true story was changed by inserting the fictional character of Captain Shepard (Kenneth More) in place of the actual line officer in charge of the effort to sink the Bismark. The Bismarck was the pride of Germany’s fleet.  Her builders and officers believed her to be unsinkable.  As the movie begins, she is seen to be preparing to break out into the North Atlantic to wreak havoc on British supply lines.

The story details the long and perilous effort to put the Bismarck out of commission. Between battles, we follow the saga of Captain Shepard, who has become cold and all-business since the death of his wife in the Blitz.  Aide Anne Davis (Dana Wynter) offers him unwanted sympathy.  But the captain is forced to care again when his RAF pilot son in dragged into the battle.

The real drama in this movie comes from the troubles of Captain Shepard whereas the actual naval campaign should have been more than enough excitement for one film. We get a lot of special effects but no real tension.  The film was OK but never really grabbed me.