Monday, August 16, 2010


It's hard to believe that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho premiered 50 years ago today.

Arguably the best psychological thriller ever made, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) is a masterwork of suspense and horror. The acting, cinematography, editing and music in this low-budget, studio-bound film are superb. The movie shows two grisly murders and paints a disturbing portrait of a psychopathic killer.

Anthony Perkins gives a brilliant performance as Psycho's main character, Norman Bates. At first Norman seems to be an attractive, vulnerable and likable young man living with his domineering mother. But as Norman says, "We all go a little mad sometimes."

Janet Leigh is unforgettable in a key role, but she does not appear in the film's last hour. Leigh plays a secretary who steals $40,000, goes on the lam and checks into the isolated Bates Motel ("Twelve cabins, 12 vacancies."), which is run by Norman.

As Psycho winds down, there's a scene where a psychiatrist explains the psychology behind the murders. Critics often object to this scene on the grounds that it is heavy-handed exposition, but it is thought-provoking and indicates that the filmmakers want the viewer to recognize that the killer is not so much an evil man as he is a sick man.

After watching Psycho as a teenager for the first time, I was unable to take a shower for a few weeks without being a little freaked out. Even now I make sure that every door is locked securely before I take a motel shower.

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