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Psycho
Year:
1960
Country:
USA
Genre:
Thriller, Mystery, Horror
IMDB rating:
8.6
Director:
Alfred Hitchcock
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Vera Miles as Lila Crane
John Gavin as Sam Loomis
Martin Balsam as Milton Arbogast
John McIntire as Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers
Simon Oakland as Dr. Fred Richmond
Vaughn Taylor as George Lowery
Frank Albertson as Tom Cassidy
Lurene Tuttle as Mrs. Chambers
Patricia Hitchcock as Caroline
John Anderson as California Charlie
Mort Mills as Highway Patrol Officer
Storyline: Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam's California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.
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Reviews
Best black and white horror ever
I watched this movie because it was Hitchcocks anniversary and it was one of those films I'd been dying to see and I thought it was great {I didn't think it was as good as a lot of people had told me though}. The twist about mother was cool, second best in history next to the Sixth Sense. I thought 2 and 3 were cool too. Anthony Perkins was really good as Norman Bates.
1999-11-24
great
This is one Hitchcock's best, except for that dumb final speech, which is entirely unnecessary. But it redeems itself with that final shot. Can you believe they've made another "Psycho?" This is the worst thing to happen to movies since Ted Turner wanted to colorize "Citizen Kane," but that never happened. This is happening. This just sickens me to think about it. And of course we're going to get those geeky teenagers that will make the film a profit. Gus Van Sant used to be a good director, now he's just another make-movies-for-profit-only director. SELL OUT!
1998-10-29
Masterpiece
A masterpiece. The ultimate thriller, and the movie that created the template for slasher-horror movies.

Solid plot, but the genius behind this is Alfred Hitchcock's direction. Hitchcock builds the tension and constantly keeps you on your toes. His use of camera angles is superb. This, all while keeping the movie moving along at a brisk pace. At no stage does it drift, or get bogged down.

Hitchcock is aided by some excellent performances. Anthony Perkins is calculating menace personified as Norman Bates. Janet Leigh shines and deserved her Oscar nomination.

Truly a classic, and one of the greatest movies of all time.
2014-04-19
since everyone knows the story, let's talk about camera angles and such...
I checked the spoiler box because I think that even any discussion about camera angles will give the ending away. For starters, when Marion and Norman first meet, you can see Norman's reflection in the window, as if there's two of him. When Marion and Norman are eating dinner in the room with the stuffed birds, you can see that some of the birds are positioned so that their beaks look almost as if they're pecking at both Marion and Norman; something is eating at Norman, and we get to see a premonition of Marion's impending fate. When Norman looks through the hole (which incidentally is behind a picture of two people attacking a woman), we get a POV shot; when Marion is in the shower, we get a POV shot. When Norman pushes Marion's car into the swamp, half of his face is in a shadow, as if he has two sides.

On the subject of those birds, there are several references to birds throughout the movie: Marion's last name is Crane, she comes from Phoenix, and finally, the stuffed birds. The truth is, Hitchcock had a keen interest in avians; in "Sabotage", a woman finds her strength after watching "Who Killed Cock Robin?", then the bird references in "Psycho", and finally, the ornithological uprising in "The Birds". Speaking of the characters' names, there's Crane (a bird), Bates (bait), Loomis (gloom), and Arbogast (aghast).

Another thing that Hitch does in this movie is play with the audience. First, the movie focuses on Marion. When she steals the money, you're not sure whether to root for her, because she is the main character and you want her to succeed, but do you want her to steal? Then, the movie focuses on Norman. When he hides Marion's murder, you want him to succeed, but succeed in hiding a murder? Finally, the focus shifts to Lila.

Everyone remembers the shower scene, but what does it mean? It seems as though Marion, by flushing the paper down the toilet, was washing away her misdeeds, and taking a shower consecrated that.

The dialogue is of course a key part. Obviously, "Mother...what's the phrase...isn't quite herself today." and "A boy's best friend is his mother." are premonitions, but there are others. In the discussion of institutions, Norman talks about "...the cruel eyes studying you." Then, when he looks through the hole, his eyes study Marion. At the end, you might say that there are three explanations: first, the bombastic psychiatrist explains Norman's mental state; then, "mother" describes how her son is guilty; and finally, the car is towed out of the swamp, as though they have dug into the putridity of Norman's mind. They have penetrated Norman's mind, just like the knives penetrated Marion's and Arbogast's bodies.

On the DVD, you should watch the original trailer, which has Hitch showing us around the motel and house. He was really playing with the audience there. First off, he looked into a toilet. No movie had ever portrayed a toilet (but everyone knew why toilets existed), so what must the audience have thought about that? Also, he looks in a closet, looks surprised, and closes the closet. Did he see something in there? I try to imagine being someone who saw that trailer, and then saw the movie, waiting to see what would happen.
2005-07-14
Movie At The Crossroads Of Time
What can you say about a film that's been talked about to death? Just this: If you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so, not because it's a way of paying homage to the one true master of modern film, but because it's so fun to watch.

Janet Leigh plays a bored office drone who decides to steal some loot from her boss's obnoxious client and parlay it into a new life with her all-too-distant boyfriend. All is going more or less according to plan until she stops in at the wrong motel, where she befriends a friendly if somewhat nerdy desk clerk only to find it causes problems with that clerk's possessive mother, who as her boy explains, "is not herself today." I'll say she isn't, and so would Leigh's Marion Crane, who maybe should have put up that "Do-Not-Disturb" sign before taking a shower.

You can feel the decade literally shifting out of '50s and into '60s with this one. Even the opening shot, where the camera looks over a Western U.S. city in the middle of the afternoon and zooms in on what looks exactly like the Texas School Book Depository overlooking Dealey Plaza. Norman Rockwell touches abound, like the decor of the motel, but look at what's going on around it. People dress well, they still wear fedoras and jackets, but in their tense conversations and hooded gazes you can feel the culture just ticking away like a time bomb waiting to explode.

Most especially, there's Anthony Perkins, who plays motel clerk Norman Bates in a very oddly naturalistic way, complete with facial tics and half-swallowed words, not the polished image one expected to see then. Just compare him with John Gavin, who plays Marion's boyfriend in the standard-actor-of-the-day way. Perkins manages to be so weirdly magnetizing, even in small moments like the way he stumbles on the word "falsity" or notes how creepy he finds dampness to be.

He shines in bigger scenes, too, like his tense chat with Martin Balsam's boorish but diligent private detective character, Arbogast, who along with Perkins and Leigh delivers a landmark performance. The way both actors play out the awkwardness in their conversation makes you literally sweat. Then again, you're always uneasy around Norman. You definitely feel wary of him right away, but you find yourself liking him, too, even when he's busy covering up "Mother's" misdeeds. Not since Bela Legosi played Dracula did you get a horror movie with such a compelling central figure.

If you are sampling the many other comments here, be sure to look up Merwyn Grote's. He makes an interesting, compelling case for how director Alfred Hitchcock used his television series as a template for "Psycho." Certainly "Psycho" looks more like early 1960s television than any of the more sumptuous fare Hitchcock had been bringing to screen at the time. Not only is it in black-and-white, not color, but the sets; a ramshackle motel, a mothbally old house, a couple of cheap looking bedrooms, a bathroom in a used-car dealership, are deliberately low class.

It's thrilling to see Hitchcock move so effectively outside his normal element, and move things along with such clinical detachment and low-key technical finesse. Thrilling, too, to realize this is one of his most accomplished products; made by a man who was experienced enough to know how the game was played, and daring enough still to break the rules; indeed, start a whole new ballgame.

Is it the best Hitchcock movie? It's definitely one of his best, right up there with "The 39 Steps" and "Strangers On A Train" and "Sabotage" and "Shadow Of A Doubt." He only once again came close to making as good a film, with "The Birds," while Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins never escaped the greatness they helped create here. Poor John Gavin had to quit the biz entirely, and became an ambassador.

Often imitated, parodied, referenced, and analyzed to death, "Psycho" still isn't played out nearly 45 years after it came out. You owe it to yourself to pay a visit to the Bates Motel; Norman has a room ready.
2004-08-10
"A Psychiatrist Doesn't Lay The Groundwork ... He Merely Tries To Explain It."
A respectable 30-year-old spinster steals $40,000 from her workplace and takes off on a solo car journey to nowhere. She makes the fateful mistake of staying overnight at the Bates Motel ...

There is a difference between a great film, where the cast and technicians seem inspired and the project is carried along on the energy of its ideas, and a merely good film, in which the cleverness is calculated, and the tricks are consciously inserted. "Psycho" is merely a good film.

But what cleverness! The incidental music of Bernard Herrman, Hitchcock's composer of choice, has a discordant, staccato leitmotif in the strings which repeats constantly, building almost hypnotically towards the shrill climax of the shower scene. Hitchcock deploys a battery of subtle devices to keep the viewer feeling vaguely uneasy. Sexual frankness was a shocking thing in a mainstream movie in 1960, and the opening scene (showing Marion's "extended lunch hour" with Sam) is so sexually honest that it cannot have failed to disturb contemporary cinema audiences. Faces are lit from below or the side, creating an inchoate sense of foreboding. Owls and ravens, traditional omens of evil, preside silently over Norman's parlour. The windshield wiper which fails to clear the rain is a symbol of Marion's guilty conscience.

The film's abiding mood is one of creepy uneasiness, and this is reinforced at every turn by Hitchcock's system of visual imagery. There is, of course, the Old Dark House, but far less obvious techniques are also at work. As Arbogast mounts the stairs, the camera retreats disconcertingly before him. The tines of the rakes in Sam's store are raised like bony, clutching fingers behind Lila's head. Marion's unblinking eyeball is compositionally echoed by the circular plughole, the water draining out as her life force ebbs away.

In the long dialogue scene between Norman and Marion ("We all go a little mad sometimes"), the rhythm of the cutting is exquisite. Sometimes we see the speaker, sometimes the listener, as the rapidity of the cuts forms a counterpoint to the text, and emphasises the discomfort of the characters (Marion wary but self-possessed, Norman outwardly affable but painfully shy).

The cinematic axiom, "Show it, don't tell it", is beautifully illustrated in the scene in Marion's bedroom. The camera closes in on the bundles of banknotes lying on the bed, then pans to the packed suitcase, telling us without the need for words that she has decided to take the money and run.

Then something puzzling happens. The film seems to lose all belief in its own precepts, and the rich visual symbolism is abruptly abandoned. Lila opines, "I'll feel better when all this is explained," but she is wrong. The explanation is a huge let-down. We get Dr. Simon, a psychiatrist, lecturing us at tedious length about Norman's condition. "Show it, don't tell it" flies out of the window. Maybe Stefano, the scriptwriter, realised that the running time was already over two hours and the thing needed its loose ends tied up rapidly. Perhaps the flat, prosaic ending is the price Hitch has to pay for the slow painstaking build-up in the early reels (it is almost half an hour before Norman makes it onto the screen). Whatever the reason, I for one found the closing section very disappointing.

2000-12-30
Astonishing!
At last! i had already seen the movie i had been dying to see. Psycho is probably one of the best horror movies that makes sense ( take note ). Anthony Perkins is great as the mama's boy Norman Bates with his ultimate freakish character and suspensful smile. This movie, although not as violent as i expected to be, is extraordinarily intense in a way that it produces a psychological effect on its viewers. Since the beginning, tension already builds up as the spine-chilling sound of strings being sawed off its neck. An absolute must-see ( if you dare ) 9/10
1999-12-26
Hithcock masterpiece in his most accomplished and perfect movie
This famous film with known story tells about Marion Crane(Janet Leigh),she works in a Phoenix(Arizona)office,when his employer trusts her a money.Seeing the opportunity to take the cash and beginning a new life along with her fiancée Sam(John Gavin).Larcenous Marion leaves Phoenix and heads with her car toward California where her lover with debts is owner a store.When is caught in a storm and pursued by a policeman,she leaves the highway and enter to Bates hotel.The hotel with twelve rooms (and 12 showers) is managed by a strange young who seems to be submitted by his overbearing mother,she's leaving into a creaky mansion nearly to hotel.Then,rare thing start to happen.Later a detective named Arbogast(Martin Balsam),her sister(Vera Miles) and Sam(John Gavin) are looking for to Marion,asking help to sheriff(John McIntire).

Psycho was not only Hitchcock's biggest successful movie,but was a phenomenon in its own right.The picture is a magnum opus of the terror genre and its immediate impact and its future influence was enormous and cannot be over emphasised.It's the quinta-essential shocker that initiated an authentic sub-genre about psycho-killers continuing until nowadays.The shower images is one of the most studied ,copied and analysed sequences in cinema history and has obtained a notoriety what exceeds of the movie itself.Terrific performance by Anthony Perkins in an immortal role as Norman Bates and sensational Janet Leigh with Oscar nomination included that was the only one of her career.Inventive and superbly constructed plot,filled with delicious black humor, by Joseph Stefano based on Robert Bloch's novel.The highlight film is,of course,the shower scene,it was made 70 cameras to shot the 45 seconds of footage and the creepy sound effects were realized by stabbing a knife into a melon.Magnificent main titles by Saul Bass,he's usual on Hitcock films.Excellent black and white-Hitch thought it would be gory in colour- cinematography by John Russell.Bernard Herrmann'legendary musical score copied and endlessly imitated aids to create a thrilling atmosphere.Film is directed with exquisite taste and intelligence by the master Hitchcock who makes an impeccable control of every scene and maneuvers your emotions, infusing with a deliciously macabre wit,it makes ¨Psycho¨far superior to the several movies what tried duplicate,these are the following: PsychoII(1983)Richard Franklin,PsychoIII(1986)Anthony Perkins and for cable television:PsychoIV(1990)Mick Garris.Psycho'Hitchcock belongs his best period in the 5os and 60s when he produced his finest work,perfecting the art of suspense in a series of masterpieces,Dial M,Rear widow,Vertigo,North by Nortwest,Birds and specially Psycho what are still studied and copied today.Rating: Indispensable and essential classic movie.
2007-06-26
Hitchcock's Best Movie Ever!
Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favourite directors and I've seen a lot of his movies and this is truly his best work. I mean before I saw Psycho, all I really knew about it was the famous shower scene which I saw references to in parodies or cartoons or something like that. But this movie turned out to be one of my all-time favourites even though I'm not that big into horror films.

I like how Hitchcock decided to do the film in black-and-white because it makes it darker and suspenseful. The story starts out somewhat slow, but I like the conversations going on as Marion is driving on the highway, one of the most suspenseful parts of the movie. But the magic really begins when it gets to the Bates Motel.

I'm surprised Anthony Perkins never got an Oscar or even a nomination for his portrayal of Norman Bates, I mean he was born to play that role! I can't imagine any other actor playing him. I mean you can see that there's something suspicious about Norman but you can't figure it out. But he just seems like a nice, friendly person who "wouldn't even hurt a fly." And what surprises me even more is that he didn't star in any other well-known movies after Psycho. That just shows how underrated he is as an actor. But I'm glad at least Janet Leigh got a nomination for playing Marion Crane and won a Golden Globe.

The one scene that really freaked me out, and still does, is when Lila Crane discovers Norman Bates's mother's corpse in the fruit cellar, and then Norman comes in dressed as his mother and carrying a knife and revealing that he is the murdering mother. I wasn't expecting that in anyway at all. I can just imagine what people would've thought about that because movies were much tamer back then. This movie makes me afraid of walking in a dark room because I always have the feeling a shadowy figure might pop out and stab me to death.

I've also watched the two Psycho sequels that were made in the 80s and they're good enough to watch but they're nothing compared to the original. But I still think the work well.

Overall this movie has everything that makes a movie a masterpiece: excellent acting, excellent directing, excellent writing, excellent cinematography, excellent suspense and even an excellent twist. It's pretty much perfect in every way.

In conclusion, thank you Alfred Hitchcock for creating this movie and may you rest in peace.
2012-11-14
A classic essential cinema!
"Psycho" is the most astounding, daring, and successful scary film ever made... Hitchcock uses pure cinema to arouse audience emotions...

For the first forty minutes he cautiously builds up sympathy and audience identification with a troubled fugitive, a young estate secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) who wants to marry Sam Loomis (John Gavin) but neither can afford it... Entrusted, by a wealthy customer, with $40,000 to put in a safe deposit box in a bank, she succumbs to temptation and steals the money in order to start a new life with her lover... So the motive is love!

We begin to feel the tension when she's spotted – leaving Phoenix, Arizona – by her boss who thinks she remains in bed with a headache... Then, when she pulls off the highway to take a nap and is awaken by a suspicious patrolman – in disturbing dark glasses – who trails her... Hitchcock's trademark— paranoia about the police is here at his best...

Frightened and tired by a violent rainstorm, she stops at Bates Motel and has a small talk with a twitchy cordial motel keeper Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins-in an outstanding performance), an attractive shy young man who seems uneasy around her and can't even bring himself to pronounce the world bathroom...

The movie turns dark and claustrophobic when she overheard the voice of Norman's mother speaking sharply with her son, and after she learns Norman's strong devotion to his irritable mother...

Alone in the room, she strips to shower… Safe and relaxing, the hot air rises as the water cascades over her… Suddenly she turns at a sound, her eyes dilate with horror and her repeated screams rend the air as a hand from nowhere holding a long knife plunges it repeatedly into her body… Her blood, mingling with the water, flushes down the drain in one of the most terrifying images of modern cinema…

No one who saw the film will forget the shock effect of that scene... Not only because of its terrifying realism, with the blood gushing and swirling on the shower floor; but also because Leigh was a sympathetic and star figure… Although she had stolen, we felt involved with her (as we were involved with Marnie); we wanted her to get away; and here, with two-thirds of the film still to got we watched helplessly as the life and the beauty and the hopes were butchered out of her…

The movie is only off one third when Hitchcock's spiral close-up of her unmoving eyeball reveals the nightmare... But the movie does really begin after her murder because once she is killed, we never stop thinking about her...

With Marion Crane gone, our attention is shift to the sensitive Norman with a passion for birds and mother... They are very close and he guards her jealousy...

As three people began to investigate, our sympathies were subtly maneuvered to the good-looking young man who, it seemed, must try to protect a homicidal mother… We see him distraught, cleaning up and disposing of Marion's car, with her body and cash, into a swamp...

We have no reason to think that he himself have done the dirty work... So could his crippled old mother be the vicious murderer? Or do we have some other reason to suspect that Norman's abusive mother does not exist? We heard the old woman talking constantly to him and we see Norman carrying her to the cellar... Or is it another Hitchcock's trick? But the knife comes out again striking and killing... The high angle shot shows perfectly her mad menacing rush from her bedroom...

Hitchcock's version is definitive, a terrifying insinuating thriller with only two sudden and vicious murders... A classic essential cinema with his rich, vivid and effective imagery in the use of light and shadow; his voyeurism when Perkins spies on Leigh in a black bra (The first time he shows a lady disrobed); his 'metaphysical vertigo' in the overhead shot as Norman drags his mother down to the cellar...
2005-10-14
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