Review by J.T. Johnson
In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock decided to adapt Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel, “Psycho”. Due to the content, Hitchcock had trouble finding a studio to finance the film and he ultimately had to make a low-budget film. Also, in order to get around the more “violent” scenes in the movie, Hitchcock also chose to shoot the movie in black-and-white.
We pick up by joining Marion Crane, played by the legendary Janet Leigh. Marion is in a secret relationship with Sam Loomis (John Gavin), a man who has already been through a nasty divorce and claims that he doesn’t have enough money to support the both of them. In order to get their relationship to the next level, the desperate Marion steals $40,000 and sets out to join Sam in California.
At first, most of the tension in the film comes from watching Marion as she tries to get out of Phoenix and get to Sam. She is tailed by a cop who is curious about why she acts so suspiciously and some of the drama comes from Marion’s own head as she imagines everyone’s reaction to her stealing the money. After this, though, Marion finds her way to the now infamous Bates Motel.
This is where she meets Norman Bates, a peculiar man played by Anthony Perkins in what would become his most famous role. At first, he seems like a quiet yet strange man whose mother lives in the house up the hill from the hotel. Eventually, Norman’s mother kills Marion in the now famous shower sequence with the loud and familiar musical theme.
From here on out, the tension of the movie is about how Norman Bates deals with Marion’s murder. If you’ve ever seen any horror film where you follow a character that you think is the main character only to have them die too soon in the movie, then this is the film you should be thanking. Hitchcock knew that by killing off the main character early on that the audience would be on the edge of their seat wondering what would happen next.
The movie works as a stellar piece of thrilling entertainment. Even today, the movie is tense-filled and even though I have seen the film several times before, I still get a kick out of it every time I put it on. One of the biggest highlights of the film, though, is Perkins’ performance as Norman.
Perkins has the features of a leading man and, at first, we really like Norman. Yes, he is a little odd with his love of taxidermy and his seemingly close relationship to his mother, but there are very few signs of where the movie will end up. Perkins does a great job of playing someone that is not entirely there mentally and he also helps sell the film’s biggest and most known twist.
I can’t really say much more that hasn’t already been said before. So much of what this film did has inspired hundreds of other films, including such examples as “Halloween” and “Scream”. If you get the chance and you’re a true fan of horror and thriller films, I definitely recommend Hitchcock’s “Psycho”!