Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Psycho (1960) (Not Rated)

Psycho (1960) (Not Rated)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

Daughter Says:

I'm about as big a fan of Hitchcock's films as I am of Quentin Tarantino films. I think he is a brilliant film director, and Psycho really proves me right. He knows how to control his audience. I love it so much. He can make you feel happy one minute and nervous the next. It's great.

I won't give too much away but Hitchcock really does have the magic touch. Like for example, when the main character is being followed by the police officer. The intensity was so nerve-wracking. Was she going to be found out? Would the cop try to pull her over? Was she going to be arrested? All these questions were swarming through my mind every second of the scene. That isn't the only part that does that to me, but I won't give any more away.

I've heard many people consider this movie to be a horror film, but compared to all the other horror films this movie doesn't stand a chance. There is no goriness in this movie at all. Hitchcock kept his film very clean. So if I have to classify this film it would be more of a thriller/suspense/mystery. But it is definitely not a horror film. I still really enjoy watching this movie even if it doesn't scare me all that much.

I also really enjoy watching the cinematography, because like I said before, Hitchcock isn't gory in his movie. He gives you the basics and he lets your brain do the rest.

I seriously recommend this movie to anyone who wants to try Hitchcock's style of directing or if you're looking for a good mystery. This is definitely the movie for you. Psycho brings the mystery of an old worn down motel and the suspense of stealing to life. That's why Hitchcock's Psycho deserves this rating.

Rating for Psycho: *****.

Daddy Says:

I agree with my daughter in that compared to other horror films, Psycho is probably in the mild category. But for its time, I'm sure this was considered to be an incredibly shocking film. And the shower scene to this day continues to be one of the most terrifying 45 seconds of film to have to sit through.

I actually did a dissertation on Psycho back in college in one of my media courses. I don't claim to be an expert on the film, but I did watch it many, many times to see what I could discover as to how Hitchcock manipulates the audience. And boy does he. We know right away that Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is the main character. We see her and her boyfriend Sam enjoying a lunchtime tryst in a hotel. He complains that he doesn't have the money to support her properly, that their life together would be no fun, only hard work. Later back at the office, a wealthy investor flirts with her, and gives her $40,000 dollars in cash which her boss tells her to drop off at the bank before the weekend. Who wouldn't be tempted by a quick and easy getaway in such a situation? And so, we are drawn in along with Marion. We hear her thoughts on what other people will say about her when they find out what she's done. We feel the terror when her boss crosses the street in front of her car as she's leaving town. We feel her nervousness when the police officer sticks his face in her car window, filling the frame yet hiding behind his sunglasses, questioning her about why she's sleeping on the side of the road.

And then she meets Norman Bates. The name has become part of our vocabulary, but back then he was an unknown. Just a quirky young man with some mommy issues and a hobby of stuffing birds. He seems kind, but is quick to take offense when someone questions his mother. I appreciate my daughter trying to keep from spoiling anything for you, but it's hard to imagine that even if you haven't seen this classic film that you've somehow missed what happens next. With about 90 cuts in only 45 seconds, Marion is brutally murdered a little less than halfway through the film. This was unheard of at the time, and I can't think of another film that has had the guts to kill off it's main character in the middle of the film. Up until this point, Marion was our audience surrogate, the character we identified with. Now who are we supposed to identify with?

The answer is obvious at once: Norman Bates. He is shocked when he sees what his mother has done and cleans up after her. When he pushes the car with Marion's body in it into the swamp and it stops sinking with part of the car still sticking out, we feel the suspense from Norman's point of view, wondering what'll we do now? And when the car resumes its slow sinking into the swamp, the audience feels the same relief that Norman feels. We want that car to disappear and take all of its horror down with it.

And when people start showing up to investigate Marion's disappearance, we still identify with Norman and want him to get away with it. Right up until the point... well, if by some chance you've still somehow avoided seeing this absolutely incredible film, what are you waiting for? This is one of the best movies ever made. Stop what you're doing and go watch it immediately.

Rating for Psycho: *****.

1 comment:

  1. I don't like to be scared. I hate it. Childhood issues, anyway. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!! I like several of Mr. Hitchcock's movies, but this one is arguable his best!! Even if you don't like black and white films, you will soon forget you are watching one. He adds color with his brilliant directing.