Thriller, Mystery, Horror
IMDB rating:
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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Resolution 1920x1040 px
File Size 13069 Mb
Codec h264
Bitrate 192 Kbps
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I guess it's never too late to thrown in your own love and admiration for a classic film...
I have to admit that I have a terrible habit of getting around to watching classic movies when it's really late in the game. I guess my excuse is that I'm only 23, and most of the so-called "classic" movies of the 20th century were made well before I was even born. I'm ashamed to say that I fell in love with both "Jaws" (1975) and "Halloween" (1978) just last year; this year, just about a half-hour ago, I had the great pleasure to see Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1960 suspense-thriller "Psycho."

A lot has already been said about this film, so I won't comment too much on what it's actually about, and instead I'll only comment on significance and my reactions to it. "Psycho" has a plot based heavily in reality: adapted from the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, the book and film were loosely based on the crimes of real-life Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. "Psycho" finds its story revolving around Marion Crane (the late Janet Leigh), a lowly Phoenix, Arizona, secretary who embezzles $40,000 from her boss and hits the road, later stopping in at the isolated Bates Motel, and meets the owner and sole employee of the establishment, Norman Bates (the late Anthony Perkins).

The rest of the plot is well-known to anyone who has seen the film, so I won't describe it. Plus, to really describe the rest of the plot in any sort of detail at all will ruin the shocks and surprises that the film has in store for the viewer (most notoriously, the infamous "shower scene," which has to be seen to be believed, and experienced). The "shower scene" itself is one of the chief reasons to see this picture; it's shocking, Bernard Herrmann's theme slices away at your eardrums, and it's one of the iconic death scenes - one of the most iconic scenes, period - in movie history.

"Psycho" is a phenomenal piece of film, from a master filmmaker and an equally talented cast and crew; it's a true cinematic landmark. Most importantly, and the reason why I now hold this film to the high degree that I do now, is that "Psycho" is partially (or is it entirely?) responsible for influencing entire generations of filmmakers, particularly those in the horror genre. "Psycho" has almost single-handedly influenced, and given rise to, the slasher sub-genre of horror, which of course gave rise to, and is populated by the likes of, Leatherface (from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" series), Michael Myers (from the "Halloween" series), Jason Voorhees (from the "Friday the 13th" series), my personal favorite movie slasher Fred Krueger (from the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series), and countless other imitators. "Psycho" would itself become fodder for the slasher genre nearly two decades after its release, when it was followed up by three vastly inferior sequels, with Anthony Perkins reprising his signature role as Norman Bates in all three films.

"Psycho" has also been the subject of a lot of psychiatric and psychological analysis, for those interested in understanding the criminal mind and how it functions. As a criminal justice major in college, in my studies I've across several opportunities to study "Psycho" (but never did) and exactly how it influenced the slasher genre and why it's fascinated criminology experts in the decades since its release, thus having even greater influence outside of the film community and American pop culture.

Alfred Hitchcock proved that he was a cinematic genius with "Psycho," since I understand that it is arguably his best and most popular film. At least now I've finally had a chance to see a movie that I've heard so much about and never previously got the chance to watch.

dark, chilling and full of suspense
I saw this movie for the first time in 1974 at age 16 and Anthony Perkins' chilling portrayal as mama's boy Norman Bates frightened me throughout the whole film. It also shed a new light on taking showers alone at home. Even today, in 1999 at age 41 I still get nervous when I hear strange noises while taking a shower.
Pure Cinema
The hardest movies to review are the accepted classics. What can be said that hasn't already been said? And how can I write a glowing review that offers up genuine love and appreciation for the film, and not just regurgitate some propaganda that Psycho is the greatest slasher ever made? Well, here goes nothing . . .

From imitation and its popularity among film scholars and horror buffs, Psycho has no more surprises left – that's a given. However, Sir Alfred Hitchcock foresaw this problem and infused Psycho (as well as his other pictures) with the more effective element: suspense. We know where, why, and when the murders take place. So what? The key to Hitchcock's famous bomb analogy is that suspense comes from the audience's knowledge of the bomb, not a lack of knowledge. We know, but the characters do not. That's suspense.

I watched Psycho again just recently, and felt an unprecedented excitement as those famous Bernard Herrmann strings began playing and Saul Bass' credits filled the screen. I was watching one of my favorite movies again, and I couldn't wait to dive into the film, itself. I couldn't wait for that opening shot of Phoenix – I looked forward to seeing that look of horror on Marion Crane's face as her bosses crosses the street in front of her car while she's escaping to Fairvale. I wanted to see Anthony Perkins to appear on screen with his brilliantly subdued performance of Norman Bates, and I leaned closer to the screen and smiled when he says, "We all go a little crazy sometimes."

Needless to say, I love this movie.

What amazes me about Psycho, and I didn't consciously realize this until reading the Truffaut book "Hitchcock", is how the film manages to smoothly switch protagonists midway through the film (from Marion to Norman). As Hitchcock and Truffaut talk in the book, when the car is pushed into the swamp and it stops – the audience's heart stops. We want the car to sink, and we want Norman to succeed. More amazingly is how even after knowing all the revelations the film has to offer – the truth about Norman Bates and his mother – we still want that car to sink. We still sympathize with Norman Bates in that moment.

That, in my opinion, is what truly separates Hitchcock's Psycho from the pack. Sir Alfred actually made us care about his killer. I can't think of any other slasher film that attempts this and succeeds. Most slashers are content to have a killing machine under a mask, but only Hitchcock has the balls to show us the face of his killer. Only Hitchcock would dare to make his killer a full-fledged characters with intelligent thoughts and complex emotions, and only Hitchcock was good enough to pull it off.

As if that's not enough, in the final act Hitch plays the audience like an organ and switches our sympathies once again (from Norman to Lila) – and all the while, the audience never really consciously recognizes that their loyalties fly from character to character on a whim. We want Marion to succeed because the man she's stealing from is a prick, we want Norman to succeed because of the love for his mother and his humanness in reacting to the murder, and we want Lila to succeed because we want to know the truth behind Norman Bates' mother.

One of my favorite moments in all of cinema occurs in Psycho. Watch the film while Sam Loomis is searching and calling out for Detective Arbogast at the Bates' motel. Then Hitch cuts to a slow fluid push in on Anthony Perkins at the swamp, and Perkins looks up at the camera with a mixture of emotions in his eyes. It's one of the simplest camera movements in the film. Perkins doesn't say a word - he just quietly looks on. Yet it's one of the most effective shots in the entire film. A simple movement and silent look is all Hitchcock needs.

When the marketing gimmicks have all been forgotten, when all the surprises are known, and when imitators have sucked away and blatantly stolen whatever they can get to work for 45 years, Psycho still stands as solid as ever. It did not need the shock of killing its star, nor did it need the shocking revelation at the end, it didn't need the gimmick that "audiences won't be admitted after the start of the picture." Psycho works just as well without them because Hitchcock delivered great characters played by competent actors, and he let the audience know there's a bomb waiting to go off that none of those characters know about.
It's the Little Things
So much has been written about this film that all I can do is add my own voice of approval and say that I consider it to be a masterpiece, and add a few things often overlooked or not commented on that add so much to the movie's cumulative power. It's often the little things that make a film work. Here are a few examples:

a.) The absolute realism of the first twenty minutes of so, which are so true to life that they might have come from a documentary on how people lived in America forty years ago. There isn't a false note,--or a missed one--as each vocal inflection and raised eyebrow carries great meaning even if, on the surface, not much appears to be happening.

b.) Marion and the motorcycle cop. The cop is dark and sinister in appearance, due mostly to the bright desert sun, and never takes off his sunglasses. His conduct is at all times professional; he never raises his voice, and comes across as calm and rather perceptive; and he seems truly concerned over Marion Crane's fate, though he is unaware of her actual predicament. Marion is, alas, a bad actress, and the cop sees through this, if not to the heart of the matter, yet we don't want him to follow her. Despite his appearance the cop is not the angel of death but rather Marion's last chance. Had she confessed to her crime she would have escaped the fate that awaited her; and if she had just been a little less clever, and driven more slowly, and the skies remained clear, he might have followed her to the motel and intervened on her behalf.

c.) California Charlie. John Anderson is wonderful as the fast-talking, semi-streetwise small town used car salesman. At the end of almost every other line of dialogue he seems on the verge of discovering who Marion really is, then pulls back or comes to the wrong conclusion. He senses that she is being watched by the cop; but he also wants to make a sale. The scenes at the used car lot are both highly realistic,--and perfectly acted and timed--and also a little frightening, from the opening, "I'm in no mood for trouble", to the final "hey!" just before Marion drives away. We know that something isn't right, but the problem isn't with the car lot; it's Marion's plight casts a dark shadow over all her scenes there, despite the brightest sunlight imaginable.

d.) Chitchat with Norman. Once Marion and Norman settle down for a light meal in the parlor their conversation turns to general things, and Norman is a good observer, if a bit awkward socially. Without actually lying Marion gives herself away with a throwaway line ("Sometimes just once is enough", in a reference to private traps) and Norman seems to catch her drift, if not the actual meaning of what she's saying, and allows it to pass. We can see that he is moody when he angrily leans forward and delivers an angry, though controlled tirade against putting people in institutions. Every camera angle and line of dialogue in this scene has meaning and carries enormous weight, and yet the drama plays out in a light, relaxed mode, and the performers seems truly connected to one another at its conclusion, strangers no more. This is in my opinion the best written and most beautifully acted, edited and photographed scene I have ever seen in a movie. The handling of every nuance is prodigal and masterful, and the end result nothing less than staggering.

e.) The sheriff's house. When Sam and Lila wake up the sheriff and his wife in the middle of the night we see a splendid example of people talking to one another without either party understanding what is in fact going on. The result is a mini-comedy of manners; but it is also good exposition, as we learn of Mrs. Bates' death (and the dress she was buried in, "periwinkle blue"). John McInyre's sheriff dominates this scene (and no other), and expertly delivers its punchline, "Well if that's Mrs. Bates in the window, who's that buried up in Greenlawn Cemetary".

f.) Arbogast and Norman. The private detective's interview with Norman is played low-key, and yet we sense the tension in Norman's voice and manner, and know that Arbogast does, too. Something is amiss. This is beyond the question of who killed Marion. The stakes feel very high in this sparring match, and though Norman wins on a technicality, we know that Arbogast is coming back for more.

g.) The shrink's explanation. This part of the film has been criticized by many for being a sop thrown to the audience. I disagree. After all, the movie came out in 1960, and by the standards of the time some explanation seems in order, and Dr. Simon Oakland is as good a man for the job as I can imagine. His analysis of Norman's pathology is cogent and extremely well delivered. Yet throughout his speech, with all its Freudian brilliance, the doctor offered a take on the story that we in the audience, even if we can accept it, can never be satisfied with. He can explain the character of Norman Bates rationally, but he cannot make our response to his story and its effect on us feel ultimately safe, feel somehow in control and finalized. Yes, one can put people like Norman under the microscope, and even dissect what one sees, but this doesn't stop such events as unfolded in the movie any less likely to occur. Ask Milton Arbogast.

In conclusion I'd like to say that great films are made up of outstanding little things, not just big moments or fancy effects. There is in fact nothing fancy about Psycho, which is on the surface is a somewhat plain-looking movie. Only when one looks beneath the surface does one see the teeming millions of small things,--gestures, glances, sudden changes in lighting, razor-sharp editing, and all above the refusal on the part of the director to let any one factor dominate--that we understand the meaning of the word genius, the meaning of the word creative.
Still Remarkable To This Day
What a fantastic movie! A visual stunner with great camera work, superb acting, a wonderful script, and one of the greatest scores of all time. The term "masterpiece" gets thrown around a lot today but in this instance the glove fits. Hitchcock pulled out all the stops for this one and made a horror movie that can still frighten an audience today. Anthony Perkins' performance is fascinatingly perfect as Norman Bates. The duality of his role must have been difficult to act with but he pulls it off beautifully.

The one qualm I have is a common one. The exposition scene towards the end where the psychologist practically spells out the movie for you as if the audience are idiots who haven't been paying attention at all. I guess at the time psychological thrillers were far less common and the 1960's audience needed an explanation as to why Norman would dress up like his mother, but today this scene sticks out like a sore thumb. Despite this, I still give this movie a 10/10 for an (almost) perfect hour and a half of cinema.
"A boy's best friend is his mother. "
Without a doubt one of the most influential films of all time. Timeless classic.

Whether this is a true slasher film is debatable, but it's influence on the genres of horror and suspense/thriller is undeniable.

This masterpiece uses amazing black and white cinematography and a very low bodycount (yes, that's correct, a very low bodycount) to weave a fascinating story of a woman caught in a criminal web of her own doing who stops off at the wrong motel on a wet and rainy night. She meets the inn-keeper, a fragile and soft spoken young man who is emotionally and verbally pushed around by his overbearing mother.

What follows is a tension filled and horrifying tale of psychological suspense. I have heard others comment that this film is not really "scary", and I beg to differ. Nothing to me could be more terrifying than the reality that people like some of those presented in this film truly exist in our world. It takes a lot more than fake blood and overly-gory special effects to impress me, and the sad thing is that today's "horror" films and even some claiming to be suspense films rely too much on the supernatural or just plain disgusting to achieve their affect. None of that for me thanks.

One of my true pleasures is to see someone view this film for the first time. Moments in the film tend to shock or surprise people who think they've seen it all. Those who have seen enough knock-offs (and there are a TON of them) may figure out some of the story's plot before it is revealed, but only because so many films have shamelessly ripped this one off. See it for the first time (and even a tenth) and enjoy a master director at the peak of his craft.
a classic, but hardly Hitch's best
The first time I saw this film I was quite disappointed. So much of it has become cliché in the four decades since its release, including the famous shower scene, Perkins' oedipal relationship with his mother, and even Bernard Herrmann's unsettling score. I had known the identity of Perkins' "mother" even before I saw the film and had to be told by a sibling that the audience was not supposed to be aware of this up to the last. It was like knowing the punch line in advance and not really getting the joke once it was actually told. It is, to be sure, a tribute to Hitchcock that this film has become so much a part of North American popular culture, but the downside is that the element of shock that so affected audiences back in 1960 is almost entirely lost on a later generation of viewers. One thus has to imagine what it would have been like to see it during its first run in the movie theatres.

Had I been there at its opening, I think I would still have judged this film to be inferior to the string of excellent Hitchcock offerings preceding it during the previous decade–from "Strangers on a Train" to "North by Northwest." Why? So much of his previous work had relied on the use of suspense to draw the viewers into the plot. A good thriller builds this up carefully and deliberately until the final climax at or near the end of the film. Good suspense leaves much unstated and works its way subtly into the imagination. It's what you don't see that's the scariest. Think, for example, of the murder in "Rear Window." You hear a crash and a short, shrill scream followed by ominous silence, but you're not really sure what's happened until much later. Here, on the other hand, Hitch kills off his heroine brutally near the beginning of the film, leaving little if anything to the imagination, and largely putting aside the issues we had been misled to think the plot was building up to.

Moreover, despite Hitch's tongue-in-cheek claim that he had intended it as a comedy, there is little of the director's famous humour so much in evidence in the immediately preceding film, "North by Northwest." There is not much humour to be found in shock, while there is great humorous potential in suspense. He should have stuck with suspense and left shock to a lesser director.

I alluded to Herrmann's score. Without it, I think this would have been judged a far less effective film and less the classic it is generally reputed to be. Imagine Leigh driving along the highway without the composer's jittery music in the background–or, perhaps more accurately, the foreground. In such scenes it is the music that almost entirely creates the suspenseful atmosphere. Without it there is nothing of the sort–just Leigh driving and looking in her rear view mirror. Period. Not very scary.

Is it a classic then? It is, insofar as it influenced a whole generation of movie-goers and film makers who sought to imitate it. But on its own merits, I don't think so.
Probably, the most terrific thriller made. A film that terrifies even 50 years after it's made.
Probably, the most terrific thriller made. A film that terrifies even 50 years after it's made.

To pigeonhole this as a thriller would be wrong as per me. It has a murder mystery, a psychological thriller, a huge amount of drama, and even a family backdrop. With all such elements, it would be wrong if I were to categorize this as merely a thriller. Yes, it is filled with thrills and for the 110 minutes of running time, there is hardly any dull moment.

I have seen this movie, a number of times before and each time it had a terrific impact. Also, I have always found something new, maybe a new frame, new shot or a new background sound. The discovery does not seem to stop. This I attribute to the many elements that are involved in this film.

From placing the camera, composing the shot, revealing the right emotion and making the audiences wait till the shocking aspect is revealed, Hitchcock is at his best in this film. This is indeed one of the more simpler stories he dealt. Yet, he made it so impact full that it continues to surprise audiences even today. Thanks to the music by Bernard Hermann, whose contribution to the film is very important. I cannot imagine this film without the music and I believe that it's because of the music, that the resonance was acquired.

If it's the shower scene that is most talked about in this film, I believe there are couple or more scenes that are under rated yet very impact full. Now, I do not want to reveal those and give away some details. I can simply say, I was terrified by the climax shot where the mother is shown, more than anything else.

The cast is perfect equally, Anthony Perkins does a wonderful job as Norman Bates. He is cold blooded and yet looks so deceptively humane as an extremely caring human. This film and "The Trial" are perhaps the most important films in his career.

It is the first psychological thriller of it's kind as I read in various other sites and perhaps it is also the most violent films made. Though the violence comes for less than 10 minutes, it haunts so brutally, as if it was there all through the film.

It's a definite 5/5 for one of the finest films of all time by one of the greatest directors.
One of the best movies ever!
Stunning performances, especially by Anthony Perkins who was never in the future so good. Great photography in b/w. Hitchcock's best film and a masterpiece of directing. The chilling music from Bernard Herrmann I can't forget. I love the scene in the shower, which was later in dozens horror films and the killing of detective Arbogast. I must see Psycho soon again. The sequel was also good, but the color was for me disturbing. Parts 3 and 4 was bad and the new version was very bad. Why make the same movie with bad actors? Vince Vaughn (as new Norman Bates) is better in the film Clay Pigeons. There he is also villain and I can this movie also recommend.
This is what good movies are all about.
This is one of the best movies ever created and Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most intriguing film makers ever to live. (in my opinion) There's just so much to say about this film I hardly know where to start.

I first saw this movie about five years ago and wasn't impressed at all. Of course, I was about ten years old at the time. I didn't think that the famous shower scene was anything to frightening and the characters seemed a little boring. A little less than a year ago, I became very interested in the history of the film and not so much of the film itself. I read articles, reviews, anything that I could get my hands on. Then, Psycho was shown on AMC and I immediately thought that it was a masterpiece. Shame on me for not appreciating it sooner.

The film as a whole is spectacular, but I like to break it down into little sections. First, I was very surprised and impressed with the actors that played Marion Crane and Norman Bates. Janet Leigh isn't given to much exposure to the film since she is killed off in about the middle of it. I thought that she did a good but not great job. On the other hand, Anthony Perkins blew me away. Both Norman and Anthony are very interesting. Norman's life that is set up and shown to us is so well depicted that I can't imagine anybody else playing the part. All of the characters including Arbogast, Lila, and Sam are so well created.

Obviously, the plot is so unique and odd that you can't help but smile at it. A young woman on the run after stealing $40,000, and then accidentally falls into the wrong hands of a psychopath. It's great! The best thing is that nobody has ever done anything quite like it, and they won't be able to because then the magic will be gone.

Even though the ever so famous shower scene is said to be one of the most chilling death scenes in history, I think that it may be a little overrated. I love it as much as the next person, but it's not all that scary. Who said it was supposed to be scary? Nobody, I know. But the majority of the Psycho audience gathers it to be very frightening. I do still think that it is one of the greatest and shocking scenes ever.

The setting is very well set up as well. The Bates motel and house is so cleverly created that it brings a special atmosphere to the audience. It has something about it that you just can't forget.

Finally, that music played throughout the film is one of the most spookiest sounds I have ever heard. Great job to the music composers and to Hitchcock for this scary addition to the movie.

I think it's safe to say that everybody has heard of Psycho, but not everyone has seen it. For those of you who still haven't seen this amazing flick, go see it! It's a must see.
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