Psycho“A boys best friend is his mother.”  Whoa, creepy statement on several levels.  Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic is an iconic film and a must see for everyone.  It is rated 99% at Rotten Tomatoes, 4.5 stars at, and ranked at #14 on AFI’s top movie list of all time.  Famed for the infamous shower scene that has been replayed and parodied countless times, the horror/suspense in the film isn’t overwhelming visually.  The horror and creepiness comes from the under-tone of the story and dialogue.  The few critics of the film are typically those looking for the same horror techniques that didn’t come out until the 70’s & 80’s with heavy amounts of blood & gore.  However, Psycho was one of the predecessors of those techniques.  The script is excellent and builds tension from start to finish.  The acting keeps you on edge the entire time.  And, the ending makes you look at those around you and wonder…could they really be “normal”?  I still give my wife that questioned look sometimes.

Plot – Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is having a discreet romance with Sam Loomis (John Gavin).  They want to marry, but can not due to Sam being in heavy debt.  Desperate, she steals $40,000 from her office and heads to Sam, who lives far away.   Along the way, her suspicious behavior draws the attention of highway police.  She exchanges cars and continues on stopping at the Bates Motel off the main road.  She meets Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and checks in.  He invites her to dinner at the house, but she over hears an argument between Norman & his mother.  Instead, they eat in the hotel office where Norman tells her that his mother can not care for herself so he stays with her despite the abuse.  After eating, Marion goes to her room to take a shower.  A shadowy figure appears and stabs Marion to death.  Norman finds the body and hides it, assuming his mother did it.  A few days later, Marion’s sister, Lila, and private investigator, Arborgast, track down Sam and question him, but he hasn’t seen her.  Arbogast tracks Marion to the Bates Motel and questions Norman.  His answers were not convincing.  Arbogast thinks Norman’s mother may know something, so he heads to the house over Norman’s refusal.  As he climbs the stairs, he’s attacked and killed by a female figure.  When Arbogast disappears, Sam & Lila head to the Bates Motel to search.  Norman hides his mother in the cellar to keep her from being found.  Sam questions Norman intensely while Lila heads to the house.  Norman figures it out, hits Sam over the head, and goes after her.  Lila sees him coming and hides in the cellar, finding Norman’s mother.  The female figure enters brandishing the knife, but Sam catches her from behind revealing the real killer.  The ending is the cops revealing what’s behind the killing.

Commentary –  Again, the film is a classic and considered one of the best all time.  The story is strong and will keep you engaged throughout.  Of course, the shower scene is legendary in film history.  While on the lighter side of the horror genre, you will still get that classic creepiness that only Alfred Hitchcock can deliver.

Trivia – There are several notable facts about the film that is fun.  For instance, Marion wears a white bra and carries a white purse originally because Hitchcock wanted to portray her as “angelic”, but once she steals the money, she has a black purse and wears a black bra indicating that she had done something wrong.   Ironically, the $40,000 that Marion steals is the same amount reportedly paid to Anthony Perkins for his role in the movie.  And, that famous shower scene can’t be left without something interesting about it.  It was very impactful.  Although Janet Leigh had no problems filming this iconic scene, once she saw it on screen, she realized how vulnerable a woman was in the shower and preferred to take baths from that day forward.

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2 Comments on “Psycho”

  1. oreore says:

    when i was a kid, my mother was (still is, I guess) very particular about hair being left on the bathroom floor and this movie was the reason why she was that way, she told.
    According to her, the shower scene grossed her out, but i don’t recall much of hair running into the drain… do you?
    Anyhow, even my mother was once young and that naive, I conclude.

    • Ha ha…I don’t know about her being naive, but in that time, this was a truly scary film. Many people were impacted by it. Even the actress herself, as I posted. Hair did not run into the drain. It was blood. Supposedly, Hitchcock used chocolate syrup to be the blood, but it might have appeared like hair as the film was in black & white. Maybe your mother just wanted to be look good and leave a clean impression….just in case.

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