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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My favorite film!!!
Although it is extremely difficult to pick a single film as one's favorite, this would be my pick if I were forced to choose. No, it is not because it is the most shocking or original film ever made (as if there could be). In 40 years, the film has lost much of what made it revolutionary in 1960. It is simply a fantastic screenplay that keeps me on the edge of my seat at all times.

This is Hitchcock's best work as a director in my opinion. Though he rarely made a bad film, most of Hitch's films are commercially-directed. I think of North By Northwest, Suspicion, Notorious and The Man Who Knew Too Much as examples. Though each is a fantastic film, they are not terribly stimulating too watch and have minimal artistic merit. Psycho, by contrast, is a true work of art. No one could have expected it to be a hit at the time and was a great departure from Hitch's 1950s films. There are no Cary Grants or Jimmy Stewarts here. Just minor stars like Anthony Perkins and Martin Balsam.

The two aspects of Psycho that set it apart are its cinematography and score. There are no panoramic views typical of great cinematographic works. In fact, the whole film has the feel of a B movie. One need only watch the famous shower scene to understand what I am talking about. It is perhaps the most breathtaking 2 minutes ever put to film. Hitch's close up shot of Marion's eye is still jolting today. Imagine watching the scene on the big screen in 1960! I guess what truly sets this film apart is the score. Perhaps no film is as tied to its score. Bernard Herrmann may be the best there ever was at his profession. His scores for Vertigo and Marnie are also top notch.

Just watch this film. If you've never seen it, it will provide a unique and surprising experience. If you've already seen it, watch it again and enjoy Hitch at his best! If you love Psycho as I do, check out Polanski's Repulsion, the French film Diabolique, and Hitch's first talkie Blackmail.
Psycho, The Great Cinematic Poem
The strings of Bernard Herrmann combined with the screams of Janet Leigh, the knife of Norman Bates and the cuts of Alfred Hitchcock makes the movie moment that penetrated pop culture like no other.

My impression is that Psycho is perceived as purely a great piece of craft and entertainment, but in my mind what makes Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho such a singular work is the deep and personal poetry it contains.

Hitchcock was completely fearless in his ideas at this point. He makes his most radical and innovative film. The movie is heightened from his famous thrillers to a pure and modern horror movie. The visual universe is now dirty and grim as opposed to beautiful and glamorized. The icy and sophisticated blonds are gone and there are no traces of sympathetic heroes.

Everyone who has seen an interview with Alfred Hitchcock knows that he hides behind an inflated and parodic character. In his interviews he is very secretive and doesn't revel anything about himself. The opposite is true in his films. In his movies he is often completely open and naked. He exposes the most shameful truths about himself and his life. In Psycho he does a personal examination on a level beyond anything I've ever seen. He puts himself in the space where he is the most vulnerable. He offers a "peeping hole" into the darkest corners of his personality. The movie is extremely revealing, but in very subtle ways. One has to work to find the treasures of Psycho.

Psycho is like a novel in the way images are often suggested and has to be completed in the heads of the audience. The sexual and violent scenes are never explicit. This makes the movie even more disturbing than it ever could be if we had seen the images, and this was also the only way Hitchcock could convey what he wanted to convey and still get past the ridiculously strict American censorship laws of the time.

Sexuality is always a theme in a Hitchcock movie, but he never explored it as profoundly or intimately as he did in Psycho. The shower scene for example feels like a rape as much as it does a murder(the feeling intrusion, the nakedness and so on). Norman desperately desires Marion Crane. He is sexually satisfied by killing her(it might be a stretch, but I see the knife as a symbol of the male sex organ). This scene is all about the childish shame of Normans sexuality. Norman, or the mother side of him, tries to suppress his sexuality completely. This is one of the examples of the openness of Hitchcock in this movie. His catholic upbringing would suggest a lot of shameful sexuality in his life as well. Something he has in common with his biggest contemporary director hero, Luis Bunuel. Bunuel are one of very few directors who explored his own sexuality with anything close to the amount of honesty of Psycho.

Psycho is such a rich movie. It is filled with details. I believe you could watch it fifty times over and still find something new the fifty first time you watch it. Pay for example attention to all the little symbols and metaphors scatterd all over every single frame. Notice all the fascinations or "fetishes" of Hitchcocks that he put into it. The stuffed birds and the way they mirror Normans mother. The way food and eating connects with murder and sex. The peeping hole as a symbol for voyeurism and the movie camera. The cellar as a symbol of the suppressed and the shameful truths about Norman Bates. I really want to go into all these details, but like I said, there are too many and too much to discuss. It wont fit into the format of an IMDb review...

If you don't see the same things I do in this movie, please watch it again. Even more than the magnificent "Vertigo" Psycho has the ability to grow immensely on a second viewing, and continue to grow on the third, fourth, fifth, sixth... In my heart it has grown to be one of the absolute best films in movie history.
Anthony Perkins is perfect. Oh yeah so is Hitchcock.
Perkins in my view should have won best actor and Joseph Stefano should have won best screenplay . This movie brought us to the point where anyone could die even the good guys . Without this movie we would be stuck with The Blob & The Thing for scary movies . Now that would be a real life horror.
Two Words: Hitchcock's Best (...and you know that's no small feat!)
Yes, everything you've heard is true. The score is a part of pop culture. The domestic conflict is well-known. But nothing shocks like the experience itself.

If you have not seen this movie, do yourself a favor. Stop reading thse comments, get up, take a shower, then GO GET THIS MOVIE. Buy it, don't rent. You will not regret it.

"Psycho" is easily the best horror-thriller of all time. Nothing even comes close...maybe "Les Diaboliques" (1955) but not really.

"Psycho" has one of the best scripts you'll ever find in a movie. The movie's only shortcoming is that one of the characters seems to have little motivation in the first act of the movie but as the story progresses, you realize that Hitchcock (GENIUS! GENIUS! GENIUS!) in a stroke of genius has done this on purpose, because there is another character whose motivations are even more important. Vitally important. So important that you totally forget about anything else. I was lucky enough to have spent my life wisely avoiding any conversation regarding the plot of this movie until I was able to see it in full. Thank God I did! The movie has arguably the best mid-plot point and climactic twist in thriller history, and certainly the best-directed ending. The last few shots are chilling and leave a lingering horror in the viewer's mind.

Just as good as the writing is Hitchcock's direction, which is so outstanding that it defies explanation. Suffice it to say that this movie is probably the best directorial effort by film history's best director. I was fortunate enough to see this movie at a big oldtime movie house during a Hitchcock revival. Janet Leigh, still radiant, spoke before the film and explained how Hitchcock's genius was in his ability to 1) frighten without gore and 2) leave his indelible mark on the movie without overshadowing his actors (like the great Jean Renoir could never do). "Psycho" is clearly its own phenomenon, despite all the big-name talent involved.

Hitchcock does not disappoint by leaving out his trademark dark humor. His brilliance is in making a climax that is at once both scary and hilarious. When I saw it in the theatre the audience was both gasping in disbelief while falling-on-the-floor laughing.

One more thing...

Tony Perkins. Janet Leigh got much-deserved accolades for this film, but it is Perkins who gives what remains the single best performance by an actor in a horror movie. He is so understated that his brillance passes you by. He becomes the character. The sheer brillance of the role is evidenced by the ineptitude of the actors in Gus Van Sant's 1998 (dear God make it stop!) shot-for-shot "remake." Though the movies are nearly identical, Hitchcock's is superior mostly because of the acting and the atmosphere (some of the creepiness is lost with color). This is made obvious by the initial conversation between Leigh's character and Perkins, a pivotal scene. The brilliance of Perkins in the original shines even brighter when compared with the ruination in the remake even though the words and the shots were exactly the same. The crucial chemistry in this scene lacking in the remake gives everything away and mars our understanding of upcoming events. The fact that Perkins could never escape this role - his star stopped rising star as it had done in the 50s - proves that he played the part perhaps too well.

I keep using the word brilliant, but I cannot hide my enthusiasm for this movie. It is wholly unlike the overblown, overbudget, overlong fluff spewing all-too-often out of Hollywood today. "Psycho" is simple, well-crafted and just the right length.

Eleven-and-a-half out of ten stars.
Legendary, in both a good and a bad way
Not much to be said about this that hasn't been said before. Only the second Hitchcock film I've ever seen, and so far there isn't a single positive thing that's been said about him that I can disagree with. Calling someone 'The Master' is terminology that I would usually frown upon as being too dismissive of other greatly talented people, but after witnessing the directing, the cinematography, the subtle performances, the inimitable atmosphere and the quiet genius of this masterpiece, I find myself forced to agree. The notorious shower scene manages to be shocking, brutal and understated all at once, and its infamy on the pages of motion picture history is well-deserved. Anthony Perkins is subtly explosive, like a match waiting to be struck. He plays Bates with a boyish, grinning charm that generally belies his chilling insanity. Also worthy of mention is Bernard Herrmann's incredible score, possibly one of the best I've ever heard.

In a curious way, the one thing I find disagreeable about this movie is, indeed, its legend. I cannot imagine how much I would have enjoyed it had I not known any of the plot twists beforehand, and could have gone into it unknowingly. Still, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, the legend is completely due, because this film's merit becomes obvious when you consider that first-time viewers of my generation (I'm 21 years old), who have become inundated with the blood, gore and overblown special effects of today's blockbusters, can still find its subtle ingenuity chilling and scary in equal measure. Beautiful. 10/10
Technique that defined an art
This definitely contains **SPOILERS**, and is intended only for those who have seen the film, although it's hard to imagine many of you out there who haven't already seen this remarkable film.

Let's start with what is probably the most amazing scene in the film, the conversation between Norman and Marian in the motel office parlor. Anyone interested in learning how to develop dramatic, and/or psychological tension, should study this scene. Sharp dialog, mood swings, marvelous camera angles and great character reactions permeate the scene. Much of the scene, and it's darkly humorous lines, hint at the truth about Norman and his mother without actually revealing it. For example, as Norman is bringing the tray of food into the office for Marian after an argument with mother, he says, "My mother is ...what's the phrase...she isn't quite herself today". In the parlor while Marian eats, Norman defends his mother with, "We all go a little mad sometimes". And just before Marian leaves the office she tells Norman, "I stepped into a private trap back there. I'd like to go back and pull myself out of it...if it's not too late". The irony being that Marian may have decided to try to escape her trap, but she has already, unknowingly been ensnared in Norman's private trap. Yes Marian, it is too late.

In another sequence while Norman and Marian are talking in the parlor, the camera is at eye level on both characters. Suddenly, when Marian brings up the subject of Norman's mother, the camera angle changes. Norman is now being viewed from a lower angle. We are looking up at Norman and, in the background, his stuffed owl with it's wings spread, clearly in an attack posture. At the same time, we are now seeing Marian at slight downward angle. Norman has become the predator and Marian the prey!

Now, how about lighting? In a scene very near the end of the film, Marian's sister has made her way into the fruit cellar, lit by one bare bulb, where mother sits in a wheelchair. Lila touches her shoulder, the wheelchair swings around revealing mother's well preserved corpse. Lila screams and draws her hand back hitting the light bulb, causing it to swing wildly. The end result is that the remainder of the scene is played out in alternating light and shadow due to the swinging bulb: Lila's terrified face, mother's corpse, Norman running into the cellar in mother's clothes wielding a butcher's knife, Sam running in behind Norman and dragging him to the floor, Norman's face becoming a twisted mask of despair as the knife falls to the floor and the wig slips from his head. It all has the look of a nightmare...macabre, surreal, and sheer genius!

I have always loved Hitch's brand of humor, dark or otherwise. Here are some of my favorites from this film: Marian talking to Sam in the motel room at the beginning of the film, "You make respectability sound...disrespectful". Charlie the used car salesman, speaking to Marian, who is obviously intent on trading in her car, "First time I ever saw the customer high pressure the salesman". Arbogast, the private detective, speaking to Norman at the motel, "If it doesn't gel, it isn't aspic...and this ain't gelling". Norman speaking to Sam, after Sam has implied that Marian may have made a fool of him, "She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother". Lila to Sam, defending her decision to try to talk to Norman's mother, "I can handle a sick, old woman". How about the fact that Norman's hobby is stuffing birds, and in cleaning up mother's mess he stuffs a "Crane" into the trunk of a car. Classic Hitch!

Let me leave you with one last tidbit. In the final scene of the film Norman is sitting in a cell, wrapped in a blanket, and we hear mother's thought that is the last line of the film, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly". The scene then dissolves to a shot of Marian's car being dragged from the swamp. Just as Norman's image disappears from the screen, look closely and you will see the face of mother's corpse superimposed over Norman's face for a fraction of a second. One last little (subliminal?) chill from the master! I can see you all rushing to your VCR's now. Enjoy!
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!
The scariest ever...
I saw this movie as a teenager when it was first released in the 1960's. The promotional hype for the film ensured you did not have a clue what it was about and people who had seen the movie were asked not to reveal the ending. You went to see it anticipating something scary and thats what you got. Even 30 years later I still remember sitting in a dark theatre with my heart pumping and everyone, and I mean everyone, screaming their lungs out.

The movie set a new and very high standard in horror movies which I don't believe has ever been equaled. The characters were great, the direction perfect and the music, which I thought was absolutely fantastic, made this a classic.

I still get scared when I see it on TV.
Creepy, Excellent, and Amazing Horror Flick! Best Thriller Ever!!
The first time I saw this movie it scared me incredibly. I have been an avid fan of the "Scream" movies since they first came out, and I must say, this movie surpasses them to be #1 on my favorite horror movies.

I wasn't expecting many scares from a movie made in 1960, but once again, Alfred Hitchcock proves why he is the Master of Suspense.

I don't know how the upcoming remake can accurately mimic the original's creepy and frightening feeling, but I'll still be there on opening weekend. BTW, make sure you watch the original BEFORE watching the remake.

I know you've heard it a thousand times, but if you haven't seen this movie, MAKE IT A TOP PRIORITY! It's simply incredible.
From the point of view of a Media Student
I am an A-Level student studying this film for part of my total grade. There is so much you can get from this film, as can be seen by anyone who has watched the film. This was the first film to be made where people couldn't come in halfway through and then watch the end, followed by the start. There is, of course, the perhaps urban myth of Hitchcock being phoned by a desperate cinema manager telling him that there was a queue round the block, it was raining, and could he let them in? Hitchcock, undaunted, made him buy everyone umbrellas.

Hitchcock himself called Psycho a comedy, and it has comic sections in it, although it is an extremely black comedy. At the end, you really don't expect the psychiatrist, when asked if Norman killed those people, to say "Yes...."turn of head, raise of eyebrow"and no!". This made the entire cinema, consisting fully of A-Level students, laugh. You don't expect half of the things that happen in the film to happen, but that doesn't make it necessarily bad. Of course, there was the 3 sequels including a made for TV one, and practically everyone had a go directing, including Perkins himself. Mind you, no-one can beat the master.
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