Psycho


1h 49m 1960
Psycho

Brief Synopsis

A woman on the run gets mixed up with a repressed young man and his violent mother.

Film Details

Also Known As
Psyche
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Release Date
Aug 1960
Premiere Information
New York opening: 16 Jun 1960; London opening: 4 Aug 1960; Los Angeles opening: 10 Aug 1960
Production Company
Shamley Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
California Highway 99, California, USA; North Hollywood, California, USA; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Bakersfield, California, United States; Fresno, California, United States; North Hollywood, California, United States; Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch (New York, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1, 1.85 : 1
Film Length
9,751ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

On a Friday afternoon in Phoenix, Arizona, Marion Crane and her lover, Sam Loomis, are having a romantic rendezvous at a hotel when Marion complains that she is tired of meeting Sam under such sordid circumstances. Sam, who runs a hardware store in Fairvale, California, assures her that they can marry after he pays his debts, but Marion longs for immediate respectability. Upon her return to the real estate office where she works as a secretary, Marion learns that her boss, George Lowery, is with oil tycoon Tom Cassidy. When the men return, the lecherous Cassidy brags to Marion that he is paying $40,000 in cash to buy a house for his daughter. Lowery, worried about leaving the money in the office over the weekend, tells Marion to take it to the bank, and Marion asks to go home afterward. After rebuffing Cassidy again, Marion departs, but at her apartment, stuffs the money into her purse and leaves with a suitcase. Driving until exhaustion forces her to pull over, Marion falls asleep on a lonely stretch of road. She is awoken on Saturday morning by a highway patrolman, who is suspicious of her irritable manner. After the policeman dismisses her, Marion, afraid that he will remember her, goes to a used car lot and trades in her vehicle for one with California plates. Later, during a fierce rainstorm, Marion misses the turnoff to Fairvale and stops at the Bates Motel, where the proprietor, Norman Bates, welcomes her and offers to fix her dinner at his home, a looming structure on the hill behind the motel. Marion accepts, but as she hides the cash in a newspaper she had purchased, she hears an old woman loudly berate Norman for attempting to bring a girl into her home. When Norman returns with sandwiches, he explains to the apologetic Marion that his mother is "not quite herself." Norman then invites her into his parlor behind the office, where Marion is nonplussed by the birds Norman has stuffed in pursuit of his hobby, taxidermy. Marion chats with the shy Norman, who confesses how alone he is, except for his mother. When Marion asks if Norman has any friends, Norman replies that "a boy's best friend is his mother," although he admits that he wishes he could run away, as Marion is apparently doing. Norman relates his belief that everyone is in a trap of some kind, and that his mother is mentally ill due to the deaths of his father and later, her lover. When Marion suggests that Norman could lead a life of his own if he put his mother in an institution, he reacts bitterly, stating that his mother is harmless and that he could never abandon her. Relaxing, Norman asserts that "we all go a little mad sometimes." Realizing that she has gone mad herself, Marion tells Norman that she has to return to Phoenix, in hopes of escaping a private trap. Marion then goes to her room, unaware that Norman is watching her undress through a peephole. While Marion writes a note calculating how much of the stolen money she has spent, Norman strides to the house, resolved to assert himself. Norman's strength fades, however, and as he sits dejectedly at the kitchen table, Marion tears up her note, flushes it down the toilet and enters the shower. As Marion enjoys her shower, a shadowy female figure enters the bathroom and repeatedly stabs her. A few minutes later, in the house, Norman screams out to his mother about the blood, then rushes to find Marion, lifeless on the bathroom floor. Sickened but determined to protect his mother, Norman wraps Marion's body in the shower curtain and after cleaning the room, deposits her corpse and belongings into the trunk of her car. Norman also tosses in the newspaper, which he does not know holds the money, then sinks the car in a swamp behind the house. A week later, as Sam is writing to Marion, he is interrupted by her sister Lila, whom he has never met. Sam is baffled by Lila's frantic questioning about Marion and is prevented from answering by the arrival of Milton Arbogast, a private investigator. Arbogast and Lila explain to Sam about Marion's theft, and although Sam maintains his innocence, Arbogast remains suspicious that he is involved. Promising Lila that he will find her sister, Arbogast then spends two days searching the area. When he reaches the Bates Motel, he interrogates Norman, who stammers that he has never seen Marion. Arbogast uncovers Norman's lie, however, and after Norman admits that Marion was at the motel, the detective appears to accept his statement that she left early in the morning. When Arbogast sees Mrs. Bates sitting in a window of the house, he wants to question her, but Norman orders him to leave. Unsettled, Arbogast calls Lila and relates everything that Norman said, then states that he will return to Fairvale after interrogating Mrs. Bates. As Arbogast climbs the stairs in the house, however, he is stabbed to death by a woman. Soon after, Norman sinks Arbogast's car in the swamp, while in Fairvale, Lila grows impatient about the detective's absence and Sam eventually takes her to see Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers. Convinced that Arbogast got "a hot lead" from Norman, then left to chase Marion and the money, the skeptical Chambers dismisses Lila's concerns, especially when she mentions Mrs. Bates. Chambers explains that, ten years earlier, Norman's mother poisoned her lover upon discovering that he was married, then committed suicide. After Chambers telephones Norman, who confirms that Arbogast left suddenly, Norman confronts his mother, telling her that she must hide in the fruit cellar for her own protection. Over her loud objections, Norman then carries her downstairs. Unsatisfied by Chambers' remarks, Lila and Sam drive to the motel the following day and check in. After sneaking into the room in which Marion stayed, Lila finds a piece of the paper on which Marion had written. Convinced that Norman hurt Marion to steal the money, Sam detains him in the office while Lila searches for Mrs. Bates. Norman, irritated by Sam's insinuations, retreats to his parlor and upon hearing Sam's mention of his mother, knocks Sam unconscious. Meanwhile, Lila has been exploring the house, in which she finds Mrs. Bates's immaculate bedroom and her bed, which bears the imprint of her body. Lila also snoops around Norman's squalid room, which contains his childhood toys and a small cot. Returning to the first floor, Lila sees Norman running up to the house and hides downstairs. As Norman goes upstairs, Lila creeps down to the fruit cellar, where she finds Mrs. Bates sitting with her back to the door. Lila inches forward to tap the old woman on the shoulder, but when she swings around, Lila is horrified to find herself staring at a decaying corpse. As she screams, Lila turns around to see Norman, wearing a wig and one of his mother's dresses. Shrieking "I am Norma Bates," Norman lunges toward her with a knife, but Sam arrives in time to overpower him. Later, as Sam and Lila wait with Chambers and other officials at the courthouse, Norman is examined by a psychiatrist, Dr. Richmond. Richmond explains that Norman, who suffers from a split personality, has been taken over by the dominant personality, that of his mother, and that Norman himself no longer exists. Richmond states that after the death of his father, Norman was overwhelmed by his domineering mother, and that when she took a lover, Norman killed them both. Unable to bear the guilt, Norman preserved her corpse, then, to heighten the illusion that "Mother" was alive, began dressing and speaking as her. Believing that his mother would be as jealous of him as he was of her, Norman subconsciously allowed the Mother side of his personality to murder any woman whom he found attractive. As they discuss the case, Norman sits in a nearby room, huddled in a blanket, while the Mother side of his personality thinks to herself that she could not allow her son to brand her a killer. Noticing a fly on her hand, Mother cunningly declares that she will not swat it, so that anyone observing her will know that she would not even harm a fly.

Crew

Robert Aldridge

Phoenix loc grip

Jack Austin

Phoenix loc grip

Curtis Baessler

Assistant props

Eugene Barragy

Phoenix loc grip

Jack Barron

Makeup Supervisor

Saul Bass

Pictorial consultant

Saul Bass

Titles Designer

Lester Berke

2d Assistant Director

Robert Bertrand

Mike man

Walter Bluemel

Phoenix loc Camera Assistant

Bob Bone

Props

Virginia Boyle

Stand-in

Everett W. Brown

Technical Advisor

Robert Burkett

Phoenix loc Camera op

Florence Bush

Hairstylist

Norman Cassidy

Best Boy

Clarence Champagne

Special Effects

William Clark

Assistant Camera

Robert Clatworthy

Art Director

Helen Colvig

Costume Supervisor

Eugene Cook

Stills

George Cook

Assistant Props shop

Bill Craemer

Stills

Alan Davey

Camera Operator

Robert Dawn

Makeup Supervisor

Ann Dore

Double for Anthony Perkins

John Drake

Stand-in for Anthony Perkins

Margo Epper

Double for Anthony Perkins

Larry Germain

Hair

June Gleason

Stand-in for Vera Miles

Charles S. Gould

Phoenix loc Director

Hilton A. Green

Assistant Director

Walter Hammond

Special Effects

Frank Harper

Key grip

Jere Henshaw

Casting Director

Bernard Herrmann

Music

Melvin Hilgenfeld

Technical Advisor

Alfred Hitchcock

Producer

Joseph Hurley

Art Director

Myra Jones

Stand-in for Janet Leigh

Dick Kindelon

Stand-in

Lew Leary

Unit Manager

Dave Lee

Props shop

Harold Lockwood

Stand-in for Martin Balsam

Paul Mathews

Stand-in for John Gavin

George Meerhoff

Gaffer

Jim Merrick

Unit Publicist

George Milo

Set Decoration

Ted Parvin

Wardrobe man

Marli Renfro

Double for Janet Leigh in shower seq

Rita Riggs

Wardrobe woman

Peggy Robertson

Assistant to Alfred Hitchcock

John L. Russell

Director of Photography

William Russell

Sound Recording

John Ruth

Cableman

Marshall Schlom

Script Supervisor

Saul Selznick

2d company grip

Jim Sloan

Assistant Camera

Joseph Stefano

Screenwriter

Herb Steinberg

Paramount Director of Publicist

Dolores Stockton

Secretary to Alfred Hitchcock

Richard Sutton

Grip

George Tomasini

Editing

Harold Tucker

Recording

Frank Vinci

Photo double

Waldon O. Watson

Sound Recording

Tommy Wilson

Electrician

Rex Wimpy

Phoenix loc Camera

Harold Wolf

Leadman

Photo Collections

Psycho - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Psycho (1960). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Psycho (1960) - These Extended Lunch Hours Producer-Director Alfred Hitchcock letting designer Saul Bass and composer Bernard Hermann drive, the opening to Psycho, 1960, then introducing already-disrobed Janet Leigh as Marion and John Gavin as her lover Sam, in a cheap Phoenix hotel room.
Psycho (1960) - Of Course I'm Glad To See You! We had little idea Marion (Janet Leigh) would make off with the $40,000 cash her boss gave her for safe keeping, imagining what her debt-ridden lover (John Gavin) will say, and she didn’t expect to see the boss (Vaughn Tyler) as she departs Phoenix, early in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, 1960.
Psycho (1960) - Cabin Number One Following the murder (in the shower) of Marion (Janet Leigh, not seen), evidently by his crazed elderly mother, lonely motel manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) gets busy hiding the evidence, not noticing her stolen cash in the newspaper, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, 1960.
Psycho (1960) - Nobody Ever Stops Here Panicked because she’s stolen $40,000 from her employer, Marion (Janet Leigh) has wandered off the main road in a rainstorm and found the Bates Motel, where Norman (Anthony Perkins, his first scene) explains that’s the only way they get any business, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, 1960.
Psycho (1960) - We All Go A Little Mad Having fallen into an intense impromptu discussion, especially about institutionalizing his disturbed mother, nervous Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) has inadvertently persuaded rare motel guest Marion (Janet Leigh) that she needs to return the money she stole, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, 1960.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Promo

Film Details

Also Known As
Psyche
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Release Date
Aug 1960
Premiere Information
New York opening: 16 Jun 1960; London opening: 4 Aug 1960; Los Angeles opening: 10 Aug 1960
Production Company
Shamley Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
California Highway 99, California, USA; North Hollywood, California, USA; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Bakersfield, California, United States; Fresno, California, United States; North Hollywood, California, United States; Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch (New York, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1, 1.85 : 1
Film Length
9,751ft (12 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1960

Best Cinematography

1960

Best Director

1960
Alfred Hitchcock

Best Supporting Actress

1960
Janet Leigh

Articles

The Essentials - Psycho


SYNOPSIS

Marion Crane lives a discontented life in Phoenix, working at a dull job for a real estate company and carrying on an illicit affair with Sam Loomis, who lives in California. Deciding to take a bold step for her future, Marion steals $40,000 from her office and heads west to start a new life with Sam. Exhausted and driven off the main highway by a fierce storm, Marion checks into a deserted motel displaying a vacancy sign. She is befriended by the shy, nervous manager, Norman Bates, who lives in the old house next door with his domineering, invalid mother. After sharing a light supper and conversation with Norman, Marion decides to take the money back. [Spoiler alert] But while taking a shower, she is brutally stabbed to death by a knife-wielding figure. Norman discovers Marion's dead body and, to cover what he believes is his mother's crime, puts the corpse in her car and sinks it in a swamp. The next day, however, there are others to contend with: Marion's erstwhile boyfriend Sam, her sister Lila, and Arbogast, an investigator hired by Lila to find her. And then there's Mother who....isn't quite herself these days.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch
Cinematography: John L. Russell
Editing: George Tomasini
Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy, Joseph Hurley
Original Music: Bernard Herrmann
Cast: Janet Leigh (Marion Crane), Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Vera Miles (Lila Crane), John Gavin (Sam Loomis), Martin Balsam (Milton Arbogast).
BW-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

Why PSYCHO is Essential

Psycho is more than familiar to us today; it is one of those pop culture artifacts that has seeped far into the general consciousness and vernacular. Who hasn't, at some point, jokingly made a stabbing motion accompanied by a vocal imitation of those shrieking violins, or regarded with trepidation a rundown motel off the beaten path? It may be difficult, then, to recall just how shocking, even revolutionary, it seemed in 1960. Here was a very popular and respected director of suspenseful entertainments turning away from big budget Technicolor productions to make what looked and felt like a low budget exploitation film with suggestions of illicit sex, nudity, transvestism, and insanity; some conservative reviewers even accused it of being pornographic. Perhaps most audacious of all, Hitchcock killed off his star less than halfway through the story in a moment of horrific violence so artfully done that audiences swore they saw more than was actually shown; some even believed the film had switched from black-and-white to color revealing the victim's red blood gushing from deep knife wounds. Psycho was the most talked about movie of its day, and nearly fifty years later, film lovers still discuss it. Despite one critic's dismissal of it as a "miserable peep show," it was a huge box office success at the time of its release despite generally mixed reviews, and has attained the status of true classic.

What's remarkable about Psycho, however, is that no matter how many times we've seen it and are fully aware of all the twists and shocks Hitchcock urged us not to reveal during its initial run, the film still has the power to jolt us. It also continues to make viewers laugh (it works as a black comedy and a horror flick) and at the same time move and fascinate us. It works so well because Hitchcock is an expert at manipulating an audience's identification and point of view like no other filmmaker before him. He makes us voyeurs to a tawdry sexual liaison, then complicit in a theft, and eventually co-conspirators in a tense escape. Just when our identification with and sympathy for the "main" character is at its highest, he tears the very screen apart, removing this central figure in a single, shocking scene. It abruptly ends the plot we thought we were following, and transfers our point of view to that of a psychotic killer.

Hitchcock put it best when he said that viewers of Psycho are "aroused by pure film." Beyond the story, beyond the characters, beyond the themes critics have read into it and the influence it has had on succeeding generations of filmmakers, what carries us along is cinematic technique at its most inventive. It is so skillful and wickedly playful that we return to it again and again, delighting in its brilliant execution. Just ask director Gus Van Sant, who made an experimental near shot-for-shot remake/homage in 1998.

One last essential ingredient in Psycho's success must be mentioned when discussing the picture and that is Bernard Herrmann's unforgettable score. Hitchcock himself admitted that at least a third of the movie's impact depended on the music. Like the film as a whole, the score has been imitated, parodied, referenced innumerable times, and absorbed into the cultural subconscious. The music for Psycho is a prime example of one of the most successful and masterly collaborations between director and composer in film history.

by Rob Nixon
The Essentials - Psycho

The Essentials - Psycho

SYNOPSIS Marion Crane lives a discontented life in Phoenix, working at a dull job for a real estate company and carrying on an illicit affair with Sam Loomis, who lives in California. Deciding to take a bold step for her future, Marion steals $40,000 from her office and heads west to start a new life with Sam. Exhausted and driven off the main highway by a fierce storm, Marion checks into a deserted motel displaying a vacancy sign. She is befriended by the shy, nervous manager, Norman Bates, who lives in the old house next door with his domineering, invalid mother. After sharing a light supper and conversation with Norman, Marion decides to take the money back. [Spoiler alert] But while taking a shower, she is brutally stabbed to death by a knife-wielding figure. Norman discovers Marion's dead body and, to cover what he believes is his mother's crime, puts the corpse in her car and sinks it in a swamp. The next day, however, there are others to contend with: Marion's erstwhile boyfriend Sam, her sister Lila, and Arbogast, an investigator hired by Lila to find her. And then there's Mother who....isn't quite herself these days. Director: Alfred Hitchcock Producer: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch Cinematography: John L. Russell Editing: George Tomasini Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy, Joseph Hurley Original Music: Bernard Herrmann Cast: Janet Leigh (Marion Crane), Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Vera Miles (Lila Crane), John Gavin (Sam Loomis), Martin Balsam (Milton Arbogast). BW-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Why PSYCHO is Essential Psycho is more than familiar to us today; it is one of those pop culture artifacts that has seeped far into the general consciousness and vernacular. Who hasn't, at some point, jokingly made a stabbing motion accompanied by a vocal imitation of those shrieking violins, or regarded with trepidation a rundown motel off the beaten path? It may be difficult, then, to recall just how shocking, even revolutionary, it seemed in 1960. Here was a very popular and respected director of suspenseful entertainments turning away from big budget Technicolor productions to make what looked and felt like a low budget exploitation film with suggestions of illicit sex, nudity, transvestism, and insanity; some conservative reviewers even accused it of being pornographic. Perhaps most audacious of all, Hitchcock killed off his star less than halfway through the story in a moment of horrific violence so artfully done that audiences swore they saw more than was actually shown; some even believed the film had switched from black-and-white to color revealing the victim's red blood gushing from deep knife wounds. Psycho was the most talked about movie of its day, and nearly fifty years later, film lovers still discuss it. Despite one critic's dismissal of it as a "miserable peep show," it was a huge box office success at the time of its release despite generally mixed reviews, and has attained the status of true classic. What's remarkable about Psycho, however, is that no matter how many times we've seen it and are fully aware of all the twists and shocks Hitchcock urged us not to reveal during its initial run, the film still has the power to jolt us. It also continues to make viewers laugh (it works as a black comedy and a horror flick) and at the same time move and fascinate us. It works so well because Hitchcock is an expert at manipulating an audience's identification and point of view like no other filmmaker before him. He makes us voyeurs to a tawdry sexual liaison, then complicit in a theft, and eventually co-conspirators in a tense escape. Just when our identification with and sympathy for the "main" character is at its highest, he tears the very screen apart, removing this central figure in a single, shocking scene. It abruptly ends the plot we thought we were following, and transfers our point of view to that of a psychotic killer. Hitchcock put it best when he said that viewers of Psycho are "aroused by pure film." Beyond the story, beyond the characters, beyond the themes critics have read into it and the influence it has had on succeeding generations of filmmakers, what carries us along is cinematic technique at its most inventive. It is so skillful and wickedly playful that we return to it again and again, delighting in its brilliant execution. Just ask director Gus Van Sant, who made an experimental near shot-for-shot remake/homage in 1998. One last essential ingredient in Psycho's success must be mentioned when discussing the picture and that is Bernard Herrmann's unforgettable score. Hitchcock himself admitted that at least a third of the movie's impact depended on the music. Like the film as a whole, the score has been imitated, parodied, referenced innumerable times, and absorbed into the cultural subconscious. The music for Psycho is a prime example of one of the most successful and masterly collaborations between director and composer in film history. by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture 101 - Psycho


The commercial success of Psycho resulted almost immediately in a flood of low-budget shockers, many of which deliberately recalled the title of this classic with names such as Homicidal (1961), Maniac (1963), Strait-Jacket (1964), Hysteria (1965), Berserk! (1967), Deranged (1974, also based on the real-life Ed Gein case), Spasmo (1974) and Schizo (1976).

Joan Crawford, star of both Strait-Jacket and Berserk!, also made another horror film that recalled elements of Psycho. In I Saw What You Did (1965), the top-billed Crawford is killed after only a limited amount of screen time. There is also a shower murder scene with a slight twist on the original.

Psycho is responsible, in some ways, for inspiring dozens of "slasher movies," which became particularly popular in the 1980s. Many of them also had some sort of sexual angle (although far less subtle), much more blatant gore, and rarely the artistry or mastery of the medium displayed in the original.

The real-life case of Ed Gein has inspired several other films, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and all its sequels and remakes and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

In the horror comedy Ed and His Dead Mother (1993), Steve Buscemi plays a nerdy young man who revives his dead mother, to whom he was strongly attached, only to have her embark on a series of gruesome acts.

References and homages to Psycho, including lines from the film, character traits and plot points, and most often, homages to and parodies of the shower scene, have turned up in TV shows and movies too numerous to mention. Among the most famous and most obvious are the films of Hitchcock fan Brian De Palma, who opens both Carrie (1976) and Dressed to Kill (1980) with disturbing shower scenes. In the latter picture, De Palma stages the murder of the nominal star less than halfway through the movie in an elevator, recalling Janet Leigh's death in the confined space of the tub. In De Palma's Raising Cain (1992), John Lithgow watches a car sink slowly into a lake, a direct reference to the similar scene with Norman Bates disposing of Marion Crane's car.

Bernard Herrmann's influential score has been imitated for both horror and comic effects in numerous movies, including Robert Altman's Images (1972), Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), Creepshow 2 (1987), Monsters, Inc. (2001), and Jackass: The Movie (2002). The shrieking violins theme of the shower scene, the most famous and most imitated cue in movie music history, has become part of common vernacular. Most people, in fact, can recall themselves or someone they know vocalizing it at some point. Characters in movies such as Donnie Darko (2001) and the television sitcom Friends have also referenced the famous shower theme vocally.

When Janet Leigh, as a character named "Norma," first appears in the horror film Halloween H20 (1998), a few bars of Herrmann's musical motif is heard on the soundtrack.

In his Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety (1977), Mel Brooks is attacked in the shower by a motel employee wielding a newspaper. The ink running off the wet paper flows down the drain like the black-and-white "blood" in the original.

Perhaps no television show has referenced Psycho more times than The Simpsons, which has featured the music, the Bates house, and Norman's name, among other connections, often in the show's popular annual Halloween episodes.

In the early Rainer Werner Fassbinder film Love Is Colder Than Death (1969), a character expresses her desire to get some sunglasses like the ones the cop wears in Psycho.

When he hosted the popular comedy show Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, Anthony Perkins spoofed his role in Psycho in a skit called "The Norman Bates School of Motel Management," in which he portrayed the character asking a series of multiple choice questions about ordinary decisions a motel manager must make in the course of a day to meet customers' needs. The correct answer option to each situation was "Hack her to pieces with a kitchen knife." Other allusions to Psycho abounded throughout the episode.

Psycho spawned two sequels, one in 1983, in which Vera Miles reprised her role as Lila Loomis, and another in 1986 directed by Anthony Perkins, who played Norman again in both movies. A prequel was made for television, Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990), featuring Perkins one last time (the actor died two years later) and co-starring Henry Thomas as the young Norman and Olivia Hussey as his mother.

Gus Van Sant made a shot-for-shot tribute remake in color in 1998 with Vince Vaughn as Norman, Anne Heche as Marion, Julianne Moore as Lila, and Viggo Mortensen as Sam.

A made-for-TV film, Bates Motel (1987), featured Bud Cort as a former asylum roommate of Norman's who inherits the motel and tries to reopen it, only to face strange occurrences.

Janet Leigh previously played a young woman menaced in a remote, seedy hotel in Orson Welles's Touch of Evil (1958). In that movie, Dennis Weaver played a nervous, twitchy motel manager.

Janet Leigh had a long and fruitful career in cinema that included 80 movies and television shows between 1947 and 2005, among them such notable and popular films as Little Women (1949), My Sister Eileen (1955), Touch of Evil, The Manchurian Candidate (1962), An American Dream (1966), and The Fog (1980). Her identification with this role and the fame it brought her was so overwhelming that when her obituary appeared in the New York Times on October 5, 2004, the headline read: "Janet Leigh, 77, Shower Taker of Psycho."

Leigh remarked that once the picture went into widespread television distribution, she began receiving piles of crank mail, some of them threatening her with the gruesome death of the shower scene. The letters were always turned over to the FBI. "I didn't get scared by the shower scene, but these cranks could haunt me the rest of my life," she said.

A Hitchcock attraction was installed at Universal Studios theme park in Florida, featuring the Bates house and an interactive shower scene. The Universal Studios tour in California drives past the original set of the Bates house.

Janet Leigh wrote about her experiences in making this film in the 1995 book Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller (Harmony), co-authored with Christopher Nickens. Several book-length studies of the film have been published, and Robert Bloch's original novel remains in print and continues to sell.

Some film analysts have noticed a similarity between the close-up of Arbogast's murder to that of the bloodied woman with the lorgnette in the Odessa Steps sequence of Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin (1925).

In addition to Psycho and others mentioned above, many bands and musicians have taken their names or songs from the true life facts of Ed Gein's life.

by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture 101 - Psycho

The commercial success of Psycho resulted almost immediately in a flood of low-budget shockers, many of which deliberately recalled the title of this classic with names such as Homicidal (1961), Maniac (1963), Strait-Jacket (1964), Hysteria (1965), Berserk! (1967), Deranged (1974, also based on the real-life Ed Gein case), Spasmo (1974) and Schizo (1976). Joan Crawford, star of both Strait-Jacket and Berserk!, also made another horror film that recalled elements of Psycho. In I Saw What You Did (1965), the top-billed Crawford is killed after only a limited amount of screen time. There is also a shower murder scene with a slight twist on the original. Psycho is responsible, in some ways, for inspiring dozens of "slasher movies," which became particularly popular in the 1980s. Many of them also had some sort of sexual angle (although far less subtle), much more blatant gore, and rarely the artistry or mastery of the medium displayed in the original. The real-life case of Ed Gein has inspired several other films, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and all its sequels and remakes and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). In the horror comedy Ed and His Dead Mother (1993), Steve Buscemi plays a nerdy young man who revives his dead mother, to whom he was strongly attached, only to have her embark on a series of gruesome acts. References and homages to Psycho, including lines from the film, character traits and plot points, and most often, homages to and parodies of the shower scene, have turned up in TV shows and movies too numerous to mention. Among the most famous and most obvious are the films of Hitchcock fan Brian De Palma, who opens both Carrie (1976) and Dressed to Kill (1980) with disturbing shower scenes. In the latter picture, De Palma stages the murder of the nominal star less than halfway through the movie in an elevator, recalling Janet Leigh's death in the confined space of the tub. In De Palma's Raising Cain (1992), John Lithgow watches a car sink slowly into a lake, a direct reference to the similar scene with Norman Bates disposing of Marion Crane's car. Bernard Herrmann's influential score has been imitated for both horror and comic effects in numerous movies, including Robert Altman's Images (1972), Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), Creepshow 2 (1987), Monsters, Inc. (2001), and Jackass: The Movie (2002). The shrieking violins theme of the shower scene, the most famous and most imitated cue in movie music history, has become part of common vernacular. Most people, in fact, can recall themselves or someone they know vocalizing it at some point. Characters in movies such as Donnie Darko (2001) and the television sitcom Friends have also referenced the famous shower theme vocally. When Janet Leigh, as a character named "Norma," first appears in the horror film Halloween H20 (1998), a few bars of Herrmann's musical motif is heard on the soundtrack. In his Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety (1977), Mel Brooks is attacked in the shower by a motel employee wielding a newspaper. The ink running off the wet paper flows down the drain like the black-and-white "blood" in the original. Perhaps no television show has referenced Psycho more times than The Simpsons, which has featured the music, the Bates house, and Norman's name, among other connections, often in the show's popular annual Halloween episodes. In the early Rainer Werner Fassbinder film Love Is Colder Than Death (1969), a character expresses her desire to get some sunglasses like the ones the cop wears in Psycho. When he hosted the popular comedy show Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, Anthony Perkins spoofed his role in Psycho in a skit called "The Norman Bates School of Motel Management," in which he portrayed the character asking a series of multiple choice questions about ordinary decisions a motel manager must make in the course of a day to meet customers' needs. The correct answer option to each situation was "Hack her to pieces with a kitchen knife." Other allusions to Psycho abounded throughout the episode. Psycho spawned two sequels, one in 1983, in which Vera Miles reprised her role as Lila Loomis, and another in 1986 directed by Anthony Perkins, who played Norman again in both movies. A prequel was made for television, Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990), featuring Perkins one last time (the actor died two years later) and co-starring Henry Thomas as the young Norman and Olivia Hussey as his mother. Gus Van Sant made a shot-for-shot tribute remake in color in 1998 with Vince Vaughn as Norman, Anne Heche as Marion, Julianne Moore as Lila, and Viggo Mortensen as Sam. A made-for-TV film, Bates Motel (1987), featured Bud Cort as a former asylum roommate of Norman's who inherits the motel and tries to reopen it, only to face strange occurrences. Janet Leigh previously played a young woman menaced in a remote, seedy hotel in Orson Welles's Touch of Evil (1958). In that movie, Dennis Weaver played a nervous, twitchy motel manager. Janet Leigh had a long and fruitful career in cinema that included 80 movies and television shows between 1947 and 2005, among them such notable and popular films as Little Women (1949), My Sister Eileen (1955), Touch of Evil, The Manchurian Candidate (1962), An American Dream (1966), and The Fog (1980). Her identification with this role and the fame it brought her was so overwhelming that when her obituary appeared in the New York Times on October 5, 2004, the headline read: "Janet Leigh, 77, Shower Taker of Psycho." Leigh remarked that once the picture went into widespread television distribution, she began receiving piles of crank mail, some of them threatening her with the gruesome death of the shower scene. The letters were always turned over to the FBI. "I didn't get scared by the shower scene, but these cranks could haunt me the rest of my life," she said. A Hitchcock attraction was installed at Universal Studios theme park in Florida, featuring the Bates house and an interactive shower scene. The Universal Studios tour in California drives past the original set of the Bates house. Janet Leigh wrote about her experiences in making this film in the 1995 book Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller (Harmony), co-authored with Christopher Nickens. Several book-length studies of the film have been published, and Robert Bloch's original novel remains in print and continues to sell. Some film analysts have noticed a similarity between the close-up of Arbogast's murder to that of the bloodied woman with the lorgnette in the Odessa Steps sequence of Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin (1925). In addition to Psycho and others mentioned above, many bands and musicians have taken their names or songs from the true life facts of Ed Gein's life. by Rob Nixon

Trivia - Psycho - Trivia & Fun Facts About PSYCHO


Hitchcock can be spotted in his expected gag cameo in Psycho outside Marion's office, wearing an oversized Stetson.

Hitchcock said he put the date and time at the beginning of the film to suggest that Marion has to sneak off on her lunch hour to carry on an illicit affair with her lover, Sam, and also to allow the viewer to be a Peeping Tom.

Psycho was Alfred Hitchcock's last Academy Award nomination for Best Director. He was nominated four times previously––for Rebecca (1940), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), and Rear Window (1954)––but never won. In 1968, he was given the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, presented to producers, not directors, for their consistent high quality of motion picture production.

Bernard Herrmann is considered one of the most important and innovative film composers in cinema history. His first musical score was for Orson Welles's landmark debut film Citizen Kane (1941). He went on to do a number of important pictures before his friend and fellow composer Lyn Murray (who scored Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, 1955) suggested him to the director. His first score for Hitchcock was The Trouble with Harry (1955), followed by The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Wrong Man (1956), Vertigo (1958), and North by Northwest (1959). After Psycho he worked with Hitchcock again on The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964), as well as several episodes of the Hitchcock TV series. In later years he contributed to other thrillers, such as Sisters (1973) and Obsession (1976), both directed by Hitchcock devotee Brian De Palma. His last memorable score, completed before his death in 1975, was for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976).

Bernard Herrmann received no awards or nominations for composing one of the most famous and influential scores in film history. Hitchcock, however, acknowledged the importance of his score by giving Herrmann the second most prominent billing in the credits, right before his own directing credit.

Psycho was the first movie adapted from a novel by Robert Bloch (1917-1994), and despite its great success, he only received $9,000 from selling the film rights to his novel. However, the movie helped his career tremendously, and he wrote for a number of films and television shows over the next three decades, most of them in the horror/thriller/suspense genre, such as The Night Walker (1964) starring Barbara Stanwyck, and Strait-Jacket (1964) with Joan Crawford.

Although Hitchcock disliked John Gavin as an actor, he was cast in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on television, but they were not directed by Hitchcock. Gavin left acting in the early 80s after he was appointed Ambassador to Mexico by President Ronald Reagan. He served in the post until 1986. Since then he has been engaged in various business ventures.

Hitchcock's daughter Pat made her third and final appearance for her father in Psycho as a co-worker of Marion Crane's in the beginning of the film. Pat had previously played supporting roles in Stage Fright (1950) and Strangers on a Train (1951). She also appeared in several episodes of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents between the mid 50s and 1960.

Observers have pointed out that, relevant to Norman's hobby of stuffing dead birds, Marion Crane's last name is that of a bird.

The painting that Norman removes from the wall to spy on Marion undressing is a replica depicting the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders; it is about a virtuous young woman who is spied on by two old men while she bathes. The elders then try to blackmail her into having sex with them.

The policeman attending to Norman in the final scene of Psycho was played by Ted Knight, who would become famous in the 1970s as bumbling anchorman Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Many reviewers reacted negatively to Hitchcock's insistence that they see Psycho with audiences instead of in advance special screenings. This decision may have angered some of them and contributed to accusations of Psycho as being "cruel," "sadistic," and even "pornographic."

According to Hitchcock, when Psycho was shown in Thailand, they did not dub it or use subtitles. "They shut off the sound and a man stands somewhere near the screen and interprets all the roles, using different voices," he told Francois Truffaut.

"Even though I knew what was going to come, I screamed. And even though I knew I was sitting there in that screening quite alive and well, it was a very emotional thing to see your own demise." – Janet Leigh on viewing the film for the first time.

"My main satisfaction is that the film had an effect on the audiences, and I consider that very important. I don't care about the subject matter; I don't care about the acting; but I do care about the pieces of film and the photography and the soundtrack and all of the technical ingredients that made the audience scream. I feel it's tremendously satisfying for us to be able to use the cinematic art to achieve something of a mass emotion. ... It wasn't a message that stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance or their enjoyment of the novel. They were aroused by pure film. ... That's why I take pride in the fact that Psycho, more than any of my other pictures, is a film that belongs to filmmakers, to you and me." – Alfred Hitchcock to French director Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock (Simon & Schuster, 1983).

Memorable Quotes from PSYCHO

TOM CASSIDY (Frank Albertson): Well I ain't about to kiss off forty thousand dollars! I'll get it back, and if any of it's missin' I'll replace it with her fine, soft flesh!

NORMAN (Anthony Perkins): Oh, we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.

NORMAN: You-you eat like a bird.
MARION (Janet Leigh): (looking around at the stuffed birds in the room) And you'd know, of course.
NORMAN: No, not really. Anyway, I hear the expression "eats like a bird" – it-it's really a fals-fals-fals-falsity. Because birds really eat a tremendous lot. But I-I don't really know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things. You know––taxidermy.

NORMAN: She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?

NORMAN: Uh-uh, Mother-m-mother, uh, what is the phrase? She isn't quite herself today.

NORMAN: You know what I think? I think that we're all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.

NORMAN: A boy's best friend is his mother.

NORMAN: Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood!

DR. RICHMOND (Simon Oakland): I got the whole story, but not from Norman. I got it from his mother. Norman Bates no longer exists. He only half-existed to begin with. And now, the other half has taken over. Probably for all time.
LILA (Vera Miles): Did he kill my sister?
DR. RICHMOND: Yes...and no.

NORMAN/MOTHER: They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly."

Compiled by Rob Nixon

Trivia - Psycho - Trivia & Fun Facts About PSYCHO

Hitchcock can be spotted in his expected gag cameo in Psycho outside Marion's office, wearing an oversized Stetson. Hitchcock said he put the date and time at the beginning of the film to suggest that Marion has to sneak off on her lunch hour to carry on an illicit affair with her lover, Sam, and also to allow the viewer to be a Peeping Tom. Psycho was Alfred Hitchcock's last Academy Award nomination for Best Director. He was nominated four times previously––for Rebecca (1940), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), and Rear Window (1954)––but never won. In 1968, he was given the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, presented to producers, not directors, for their consistent high quality of motion picture production. Bernard Herrmann is considered one of the most important and innovative film composers in cinema history. His first musical score was for Orson Welles's landmark debut film Citizen Kane (1941). He went on to do a number of important pictures before his friend and fellow composer Lyn Murray (who scored Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, 1955) suggested him to the director. His first score for Hitchcock was The Trouble with Harry (1955), followed by The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Wrong Man (1956), Vertigo (1958), and North by Northwest (1959). After Psycho he worked with Hitchcock again on The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964), as well as several episodes of the Hitchcock TV series. In later years he contributed to other thrillers, such as Sisters (1973) and Obsession (1976), both directed by Hitchcock devotee Brian De Palma. His last memorable score, completed before his death in 1975, was for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976). Bernard Herrmann received no awards or nominations for composing one of the most famous and influential scores in film history. Hitchcock, however, acknowledged the importance of his score by giving Herrmann the second most prominent billing in the credits, right before his own directing credit. Psycho was the first movie adapted from a novel by Robert Bloch (1917-1994), and despite its great success, he only received $9,000 from selling the film rights to his novel. However, the movie helped his career tremendously, and he wrote for a number of films and television shows over the next three decades, most of them in the horror/thriller/suspense genre, such as The Night Walker (1964) starring Barbara Stanwyck, and Strait-Jacket (1964) with Joan Crawford. Although Hitchcock disliked John Gavin as an actor, he was cast in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on television, but they were not directed by Hitchcock. Gavin left acting in the early 80s after he was appointed Ambassador to Mexico by President Ronald Reagan. He served in the post until 1986. Since then he has been engaged in various business ventures. Hitchcock's daughter Pat made her third and final appearance for her father in Psycho as a co-worker of Marion Crane's in the beginning of the film. Pat had previously played supporting roles in Stage Fright (1950) and Strangers on a Train (1951). She also appeared in several episodes of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents between the mid 50s and 1960. Observers have pointed out that, relevant to Norman's hobby of stuffing dead birds, Marion Crane's last name is that of a bird. The painting that Norman removes from the wall to spy on Marion undressing is a replica depicting the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders; it is about a virtuous young woman who is spied on by two old men while she bathes. The elders then try to blackmail her into having sex with them. The policeman attending to Norman in the final scene of Psycho was played by Ted Knight, who would become famous in the 1970s as bumbling anchorman Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Many reviewers reacted negatively to Hitchcock's insistence that they see Psycho with audiences instead of in advance special screenings. This decision may have angered some of them and contributed to accusations of Psycho as being "cruel," "sadistic," and even "pornographic." According to Hitchcock, when Psycho was shown in Thailand, they did not dub it or use subtitles. "They shut off the sound and a man stands somewhere near the screen and interprets all the roles, using different voices," he told Francois Truffaut. "Even though I knew what was going to come, I screamed. And even though I knew I was sitting there in that screening quite alive and well, it was a very emotional thing to see your own demise." – Janet Leigh on viewing the film for the first time. "My main satisfaction is that the film had an effect on the audiences, and I consider that very important. I don't care about the subject matter; I don't care about the acting; but I do care about the pieces of film and the photography and the soundtrack and all of the technical ingredients that made the audience scream. I feel it's tremendously satisfying for us to be able to use the cinematic art to achieve something of a mass emotion. ... It wasn't a message that stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance or their enjoyment of the novel. They were aroused by pure film. ... That's why I take pride in the fact that Psycho, more than any of my other pictures, is a film that belongs to filmmakers, to you and me." – Alfred Hitchcock to French director Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock (Simon & Schuster, 1983). Memorable Quotes from PSYCHO TOM CASSIDY (Frank Albertson): Well I ain't about to kiss off forty thousand dollars! I'll get it back, and if any of it's missin' I'll replace it with her fine, soft flesh! NORMAN (Anthony Perkins): Oh, we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies. NORMAN: You-you eat like a bird. MARION (Janet Leigh): (looking around at the stuffed birds in the room) And you'd know, of course. NORMAN: No, not really. Anyway, I hear the expression "eats like a bird" – it-it's really a fals-fals-fals-falsity. Because birds really eat a tremendous lot. But I-I don't really know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things. You know––taxidermy. NORMAN: She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you? NORMAN: Uh-uh, Mother-m-mother, uh, what is the phrase? She isn't quite herself today. NORMAN: You know what I think? I think that we're all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch. NORMAN: A boy's best friend is his mother. NORMAN: Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood! DR. RICHMOND (Simon Oakland): I got the whole story, but not from Norman. I got it from his mother. Norman Bates no longer exists. He only half-existed to begin with. And now, the other half has taken over. Probably for all time. LILA (Vera Miles): Did he kill my sister? DR. RICHMOND: Yes...and no. NORMAN/MOTHER: They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly." Compiled by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea - Psycho


On November 17, 1957, police in Plainfield, Wisconsin, investigating the robbery of a local hardware store and the disappearance of its owner, Bernice Worden, arrived at the dilapidated farmhouse of 51-year-old Ed Gein, the last person seen at the store. They found Worden's body––and much more: furniture made of human body parts, female genitalia in a shoebox, a human head, a suit made entirely of skin. Gein admitted to one other murder, although he was believed responsible for the deaths of a number of women missing from the area over the previous decade. What really attracted the media's attention throughout the country, however, was Gein's practice of exhuming the bodies of women from graveyards and using their body parts in bizarre fetishistic rituals. Gein admitted to only two murders, but he also dug up the bodies of middle-aged women from the graveyard who reminded him of his abusive mother; her death in 1945 had left him alone and grief-stricken. He had sealed off her rooms exactly as they were when she was alive and preserved them untouched as a shrine.

By the time of the gruesome discoveries at Ed Gein's farm, Robert Bloch had already established himself as a popular and prolific writer of crime stories and science fiction for more than a decade. Intrigued by the case without delving into the details or researching the case, he began writing a novel focusing on the possibility of a quiet, unassuming small-town man who turns out to be a fiend. He said he was surprised years later to discover just how closely the character he created, Norman Bates, resembled Gein in his acts and motivation.

Bloch's novel, Psycho, was published in 1959. It started with the introduction of the chubby, middle-aged alcoholic Norman Bates, a taxidermy hobbyist and manager of a dilapidated motel. Then it relates the story of Mary Crane, who stops at the motel on her way to meet her lover, Sam Loomis, after she has embezzled $40,000 from her company. Hitchcock's adaptation follows the novel very closely in most of the details, and some of the movie's most famous dialogue came directly from the book.

The book was brought to Alfred Hitchcock's attention by his production assistant Peggy Robertson. He bid on the rights anonymously, assuming Bloch and the publisher would ask for more if they knew it was Hitchcock, and got them for $9,000.

"I think the thing that appealed to me [about the book] and made me decide to do the picture was the suddenness of the murder in the shower, coming, as it were, out of the blue," Hitchcock later commented to director Francois Truffaut in their famous set of published interviews.

Hitchcock wanted to make a radical departure from the big budget widescreen color thrillers he had recently turned out, such as Vertigo (1958) and North by Northwest (1959), and Bloch's novel was the ideal subject matter. He wanted to make a movie using the crew from his television series, including cinematographer John L. Russell, assistant director Hilton Green, and costumers Helen Colvig and Rita Riggs. Hitchcock reasoned that if the final film was denied a theatrical release, he could always edit it and distribute it on television.

Hitchcock decided to finance Psycho himself under his production company Shamley and bring in Paramount as the distributor. Some film historians claim, however, that he was forced to finance it himself after Universal balked at producing the film.

James P. Cavanagh, who wrote for the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, was hired to adapt the novel, but Hitchcock was dissatisfied with his work. Joseph Stefano, who had penned two films (Fast and Sexy [1958], The Black Orchid [1958]) and a handful of TV episodes to his credit, was then hired to work on the script, and retained the screen credit for it.

Hitchcock and Stefano changed key aspects of the story. The location was moved from the Midwest to California and Phoenix, Arizona. Norman was changed from an overweight, middle-aged man to a handsome but neurotic young man. Norman's introduction was also saved until well into the story, and the first part of the script focused only on Bloch's subplot about Mary Crane's theft of $40,000. "Mary" ultimately became "Marion."

Two scenes were added that did not appear in the book - the ones involving the highway patrol officer and the car salesman.

Stefano originally wrote longer scenes, such as one in which dialogue establishes a growing bond between Marion's boyfriend and her sister Lila. Hitchcock eliminated most of that, cutting the scene down to about 20 seconds of expositional dialogue in order to keep the story moving.

by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea - Psycho

On November 17, 1957, police in Plainfield, Wisconsin, investigating the robbery of a local hardware store and the disappearance of its owner, Bernice Worden, arrived at the dilapidated farmhouse of 51-year-old Ed Gein, the last person seen at the store. They found Worden's body––and much more: furniture made of human body parts, female genitalia in a shoebox, a human head, a suit made entirely of skin. Gein admitted to one other murder, although he was believed responsible for the deaths of a number of women missing from the area over the previous decade. What really attracted the media's attention throughout the country, however, was Gein's practice of exhuming the bodies of women from graveyards and using their body parts in bizarre fetishistic rituals. Gein admitted to only two murders, but he also dug up the bodies of middle-aged women from the graveyard who reminded him of his abusive mother; her death in 1945 had left him alone and grief-stricken. He had sealed off her rooms exactly as they were when she was alive and preserved them untouched as a shrine. By the time of the gruesome discoveries at Ed Gein's farm, Robert Bloch had already established himself as a popular and prolific writer of crime stories and science fiction for more than a decade. Intrigued by the case without delving into the details or researching the case, he began writing a novel focusing on the possibility of a quiet, unassuming small-town man who turns out to be a fiend. He said he was surprised years later to discover just how closely the character he created, Norman Bates, resembled Gein in his acts and motivation. Bloch's novel, Psycho, was published in 1959. It started with the introduction of the chubby, middle-aged alcoholic Norman Bates, a taxidermy hobbyist and manager of a dilapidated motel. Then it relates the story of Mary Crane, who stops at the motel on her way to meet her lover, Sam Loomis, after she has embezzled $40,000 from her company. Hitchcock's adaptation follows the novel very closely in most of the details, and some of the movie's most famous dialogue came directly from the book. The book was brought to Alfred Hitchcock's attention by his production assistant Peggy Robertson. He bid on the rights anonymously, assuming Bloch and the publisher would ask for more if they knew it was Hitchcock, and got them for $9,000. "I think the thing that appealed to me [about the book] and made me decide to do the picture was the suddenness of the murder in the shower, coming, as it were, out of the blue," Hitchcock later commented to director Francois Truffaut in their famous set of published interviews. Hitchcock wanted to make a radical departure from the big budget widescreen color thrillers he had recently turned out, such as Vertigo (1958) and North by Northwest (1959), and Bloch's novel was the ideal subject matter. He wanted to make a movie using the crew from his television series, including cinematographer John L. Russell, assistant director Hilton Green, and costumers Helen Colvig and Rita Riggs. Hitchcock reasoned that if the final film was denied a theatrical release, he could always edit it and distribute it on television. Hitchcock decided to finance Psycho himself under his production company Shamley and bring in Paramount as the distributor. Some film historians claim, however, that he was forced to finance it himself after Universal balked at producing the film. James P. Cavanagh, who wrote for the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, was hired to adapt the novel, but Hitchcock was dissatisfied with his work. Joseph Stefano, who had penned two films (Fast and Sexy [1958], The Black Orchid [1958]) and a handful of TV episodes to his credit, was then hired to work on the script, and retained the screen credit for it. Hitchcock and Stefano changed key aspects of the story. The location was moved from the Midwest to California and Phoenix, Arizona. Norman was changed from an overweight, middle-aged man to a handsome but neurotic young man. Norman's introduction was also saved until well into the story, and the first part of the script focused only on Bloch's subplot about Mary Crane's theft of $40,000. "Mary" ultimately became "Marion." Two scenes were added that did not appear in the book - the ones involving the highway patrol officer and the car salesman. Stefano originally wrote longer scenes, such as one in which dialogue establishes a growing bond between Marion's boyfriend and her sister Lila. Hitchcock eliminated most of that, cutting the scene down to about 20 seconds of expositional dialogue in order to keep the story moving. by Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera - Psycho


Except for some shots filmed on backroads in Southern California (the scenes of Marion fleeing Phoenix), Psycho was produced on the backlot at Universal Studios. According to various sources, Paramount either had no space available or refused to give Hitchcock any. At any rate, he was happy to work at Universal, where his Psycho crew regularly worked on his TV series.

Because he was working with a low budget, Hitchcock did not want to use top marquee names with the exception of Janet Leigh. But he hired her because he knew audiences would be shocked to see a star of her stature killed off early in the movie. (There is a slight giveaway in the credits, however, where instead of first billing, her name appears last as "And Janet Leigh as Marion Crane.") She was paid $25,000 for the role.

Despite the perception that Hitchcock used only one real star in the cast, the rest of the players were hardly unknowns. Anthony Perkins was a fast-rising young actor with a number of important pictures to his credit prior to Psycho including Friendly Persuasion [1956] for which he received an Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He was paid $40,000 for his work, almost twice what Janet Leigh received and coincidentally the sum that Marion Crane steals in the story.

Vera Miles was cast as Marion's sister Lila, in part because of a slight resemblance to Leigh. But Miles had already made a Hitchcock film, gaining good notices as Henry Fonda's tormented wife in The Wrong Man (1956). She was supposed to have played the female lead in Vertigo (1958), but just before shooting began, she discovered she was pregnant. Hitchcock then cast Kim Novak in the part but remained furious with Miles. She was not happy making Psycho and felt that Hitchcock was punishing her by giving her an unflattering wardrobe that made her look matronly, never mind that it was designed by the famous Hollywood designer Edith Head. For her work, Miles received $1,700 per week.

John Gavin was also not an unknown actor prior to Psycho, having just appeared in the successful, big budget soap opera Imitation of Life (1959), opposite Lana Turner. Hitchcock did not care for Gavin and wanted one of his first choices for the role - either Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Brian Keith, Cliff Robertson, or Rod Taylor – but Universal (to whom Gavin was under contract) forced the young actor on him. All through the production, Hitchcock referred to Gavin as "the stiff" and became frustrated over having to do so many takes of the opening scene; Gavin eventually performed it to his satisfaction.

Several well-known character actors were brought in for supporting parts, including John McIntire, the former March of Time newsreel announcer who had appeared in many films and television shows beginning in the late 1940s.

McIntire's wife, actress Jeanette Nolan, was one of the uncredited actors who provided the voice of Mrs. Bates. Hitchcock also used a man, Paul Jasmin, and Virginia Gregg, who voiced the character in the sequels as well.

To mislead moviegoers and newspaper reporters about Mrs. Bates's true identity, Hitchcock leaked stories that he was considering such stars as Helen Hayes and Judith Anderson for the part.

In addition to the trusted TV crew members, Hitchcock also hired Saul Bass, who had worked on Hitchcock's previous two feature films [Vertigo, North by Northwest, 1959], to design the titles and act as "pictorial consultant." He also hired Bernard Herrmann, who had written the scores for five previous Hitchcock films, including memorable ones for Vertigo and North by Northwest.

Principal photography began in November 1959. The first scene to be shot was the one in which Marion, asleep in her car, is awakened by a highway patrolman.

Hitchcock and Russell regularly used two cameras to get most of the shots in Psycho, rather than resetting to get different angles, a common practice in television but rare for feature films.

The camera used to shoot Norman's point of view as he watched Marion undress through the peephole required a circular mask on the lens.

Although Hitchcock rarely allowed improvisation on his sets, Anthony Perkins and Martin Balsam, as private eye Arbogast, were encouraged to interact spontaneously during their scene on the porch.

The shower scene in Psycho required 78 shot set-ups and took seven days to film. The set was built so that any of the walls could be removed, allowing the camera to get in close from every angle. Although other scenes were shot with more than one camera, this one used only one cameraman.

The shower scene was originally written to see only the knife-wielding hand of the murderer. Hitchcock suggested to Saul Bass, who was storyboarding the sequence, a number of angles that would capture screenwriter Joseph Stefano's description of "an impression of a knife slashing, as if tearing at the very screen, ripping the film."

Janet Leigh wore thin moleskin to cover the most intimate parts of her body in the shower. Hitchcock kept a closed set during the shooting of the murder. Even so, Leigh later noted, "Security was a constant source of trouble. Even though I wore the moleskin, I was still pretty much 'on display,' so to speak. I didn't want strangers lurking around, hoping to get a peek in case of any accidental mishap."

Marli Renfro was paid $400 as Leigh's body double for some shots (according to some reports, she was only used for the scene of Marion's body being wrapped in the shower curtain). Although Leigh said for many years that there was never anyone actually naked in the shower, she admitted late in her life that Renfro did some shots nude. She also mentioned in her autobiography that she was nude in some scenes as the flesh-colored moleskin was washed away from her breasts. "What to do? ...To spoil the so-far successful shot and be modest? Or get it over with and be immodest. I opted for immodesty."

Reportedly, a fast-motion reverse shot was used to give the impression that the knife actually enters Marion's abdomen.

To achieve the effect of the water coming out of the shower head and streaming down past the camera on all sides, Hitchcock had a huge shower head made to order and shot with his camera very close to it.

Hitchcock has said that one reason he shot Psycho in black-and-white was because he thought the bloody murder might be too much for audiences. He used chocolate syrup as the blood swirling down the drain. Nevertheless, some audience members swore the scene was in color and that they saw red blood.

Perkins was not on the set during the filming of the shower scene. Instead he was in New York rehearsing a play he would open after Psycho was completed.

Perkins was very excited about the role and, according to a friend, was convinced the part would be an important career move for him. He was right, yet despite fine work in dozens of other pictures, he would always be indelibly linked to Norman Bates in the minds of moviegoers. He was so involved in his role, he kept coming up with new bits of business for Norman; it was Perkins's idea to have the character nibbling on candy all the way through the movie.

According to some reports, Hitchcock jokingly terrorized Janet Leigh by having the model of Mrs. Bates corpse placed in her dressing room.

The look of the tall vertical mansion on the hill contrasted with the low, long motel was a deliberate composition choice. Yet Hitchcock said it wasn't his intention to create a mysterious atmosphere with the big Gothic house but to recreate the kind of older architecture that existed in the Northern California setting of the story.

According to Hitchcock, Saul Bass only contributed one storyboard, covering the scene of Arbogast going up stairs to find Mrs. Bates. Because he was out with a fever, Hitchcock told his cameraman and assistant to shoot the scene the way Bass had laid it out. However, upon seeing it, he realized the intercut close-ups of the detective's hands and feet on the railing and stairs made it appear sinister, as if Arbogast were the murderer stalking his prey. So he reshot it.

For the high angle above the stairs in the Arbogast murder scene and the shot of Norman carrying "Mother" to the fruit cellar, the camera was placed in a cage hung from rails on the ceiling.

The shot of Arbogast falling backward down the stairs was a process shot of the actor (Martin Balsam) sitting stationary and waving his arms, as if losing his balance, in front of a screen projecting a previously filmed dolly shot moving down the stairs.

Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho was written for strings only, a departure for film music; strings had been mostly associated with romantic stories, not horror, which depended more on such musical devices as crashing symbols, screeching clarinets, ominous horns, and throbbing timpani. Herrmann called his score "black-and-white music."

A veteran of numerous pictures, including Citizen Kane (1941) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Herrmann had a particular understanding of Hitchcock's needs: "One has to create a landscape for each film, whether it be the rainy night of Psycho or a picture such as Vertigo....Hitchcock deals rarely with character portrayal, or has little or no interest in people's emotions....His interest in music is only in relation to how the suspense can be heightened."

Herrmann achieved the shrieking sound of the shower scene by having a group of violinists saw the same note over and over. He called the motif "a return to pure ice water."

Hitchcock originally wanted the shower scene to play with no music. In post production, while the director was out of town, Herrmann composed the famous theme and showed it to Hitchcock with the music upon his return. Hitchcock had to admit his original notion was an "improper suggestion."

Herrmann wrote the main title theme for Psycho before Saul Bass created the opening credit sequence. Bass animated it to the music, creating the stabbing, wrenching look in which the credits are ripped in half.

Herrmann related how the shots of Marion driving away after taking the money looked very ordinary. Hitchcock thought of having the soundtrack convey anxious voices in her head to add to the action and tension. Herrmann noted, however, that it still didn't work until he suggested bringing back the main title music. All in all, Hitchcock was delighted with Herrmann's very significant contribution to the film, giving the composer an unusual amount of credit (for Hitchcock) and stating openly that "33 percent of the effect of Psycho was due to the music."

Shooting wrapped February 1, 1960, nine days over schedule. A rough cut was finished by April, at which point Hitchcock was convinced his "experiment" had failed. He was ready to cut Psycho down to a TV episode, but handed it to Herrmann to score. After he saw the completed film with the music, he was very pleased.

During post-production, Hitchcock had several wrangles with the censors over scenes they considered objectionable, including the opening scene (with Leigh in bed in her bra after obviously having had an afternoon tryst with Gavin), the suggested nudity and brutality of the shower sequence, and both the visual and aural depiction of a toilet. He managed to mostly get his own way, however, although he later said the opening scene should have featured Leigh's bare breasts.

A shot of Marion removing her black bra before her shower was removed by the U.S. censors while the scene remained intact in the U.K.

by Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera - Psycho

Except for some shots filmed on backroads in Southern California (the scenes of Marion fleeing Phoenix), Psycho was produced on the backlot at Universal Studios. According to various sources, Paramount either had no space available or refused to give Hitchcock any. At any rate, he was happy to work at Universal, where his Psycho crew regularly worked on his TV series. Because he was working with a low budget, Hitchcock did not want to use top marquee names with the exception of Janet Leigh. But he hired her because he knew audiences would be shocked to see a star of her stature killed off early in the movie. (There is a slight giveaway in the credits, however, where instead of first billing, her name appears last as "And Janet Leigh as Marion Crane.") She was paid $25,000 for the role. Despite the perception that Hitchcock used only one real star in the cast, the rest of the players were hardly unknowns. Anthony Perkins was a fast-rising young actor with a number of important pictures to his credit prior to Psycho including Friendly Persuasion [1956] for which he received an Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He was paid $40,000 for his work, almost twice what Janet Leigh received and coincidentally the sum that Marion Crane steals in the story. Vera Miles was cast as Marion's sister Lila, in part because of a slight resemblance to Leigh. But Miles had already made a Hitchcock film, gaining good notices as Henry Fonda's tormented wife in The Wrong Man (1956). She was supposed to have played the female lead in Vertigo (1958), but just before shooting began, she discovered she was pregnant. Hitchcock then cast Kim Novak in the part but remained furious with Miles. She was not happy making Psycho and felt that Hitchcock was punishing her by giving her an unflattering wardrobe that made her look matronly, never mind that it was designed by the famous Hollywood designer Edith Head. For her work, Miles received $1,700 per week. John Gavin was also not an unknown actor prior to Psycho, having just appeared in the successful, big budget soap opera Imitation of Life (1959), opposite Lana Turner. Hitchcock did not care for Gavin and wanted one of his first choices for the role - either Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Brian Keith, Cliff Robertson, or Rod Taylor – but Universal (to whom Gavin was under contract) forced the young actor on him. All through the production, Hitchcock referred to Gavin as "the stiff" and became frustrated over having to do so many takes of the opening scene; Gavin eventually performed it to his satisfaction. Several well-known character actors were brought in for supporting parts, including John McIntire, the former March of Time newsreel announcer who had appeared in many films and television shows beginning in the late 1940s. McIntire's wife, actress Jeanette Nolan, was one of the uncredited actors who provided the voice of Mrs. Bates. Hitchcock also used a man, Paul Jasmin, and Virginia Gregg, who voiced the character in the sequels as well. To mislead moviegoers and newspaper reporters about Mrs. Bates's true identity, Hitchcock leaked stories that he was considering such stars as Helen Hayes and Judith Anderson for the part. In addition to the trusted TV crew members, Hitchcock also hired Saul Bass, who had worked on Hitchcock's previous two feature films [Vertigo, North by Northwest, 1959], to design the titles and act as "pictorial consultant." He also hired Bernard Herrmann, who had written the scores for five previous Hitchcock films, including memorable ones for Vertigo and North by Northwest. Principal photography began in November 1959. The first scene to be shot was the one in which Marion, asleep in her car, is awakened by a highway patrolman. Hitchcock and Russell regularly used two cameras to get most of the shots in Psycho, rather than resetting to get different angles, a common practice in television but rare for feature films. The camera used to shoot Norman's point of view as he watched Marion undress through the peephole required a circular mask on the lens. Although Hitchcock rarely allowed improvisation on his sets, Anthony Perkins and Martin Balsam, as private eye Arbogast, were encouraged to interact spontaneously during their scene on the porch. The shower scene in Psycho required 78 shot set-ups and took seven days to film. The set was built so that any of the walls could be removed, allowing the camera to get in close from every angle. Although other scenes were shot with more than one camera, this one used only one cameraman. The shower scene was originally written to see only the knife-wielding hand of the murderer. Hitchcock suggested to Saul Bass, who was storyboarding the sequence, a number of angles that would capture screenwriter Joseph Stefano's description of "an impression of a knife slashing, as if tearing at the very screen, ripping the film." Janet Leigh wore thin moleskin to cover the most intimate parts of her body in the shower. Hitchcock kept a closed set during the shooting of the murder. Even so, Leigh later noted, "Security was a constant source of trouble. Even though I wore the moleskin, I was still pretty much 'on display,' so to speak. I didn't want strangers lurking around, hoping to get a peek in case of any accidental mishap." Marli Renfro was paid $400 as Leigh's body double for some shots (according to some reports, she was only used for the scene of Marion's body being wrapped in the shower curtain). Although Leigh said for many years that there was never anyone actually naked in the shower, she admitted late in her life that Renfro did some shots nude. She also mentioned in her autobiography that she was nude in some scenes as the flesh-colored moleskin was washed away from her breasts. "What to do? ...To spoil the so-far successful shot and be modest? Or get it over with and be immodest. I opted for immodesty." Reportedly, a fast-motion reverse shot was used to give the impression that the knife actually enters Marion's abdomen. To achieve the effect of the water coming out of the shower head and streaming down past the camera on all sides, Hitchcock had a huge shower head made to order and shot with his camera very close to it. Hitchcock has said that one reason he shot Psycho in black-and-white was because he thought the bloody murder might be too much for audiences. He used chocolate syrup as the blood swirling down the drain. Nevertheless, some audience members swore the scene was in color and that they saw red blood. Perkins was not on the set during the filming of the shower scene. Instead he was in New York rehearsing a play he would open after Psycho was completed. Perkins was very excited about the role and, according to a friend, was convinced the part would be an important career move for him. He was right, yet despite fine work in dozens of other pictures, he would always be indelibly linked to Norman Bates in the minds of moviegoers. He was so involved in his role, he kept coming up with new bits of business for Norman; it was Perkins's idea to have the character nibbling on candy all the way through the movie. According to some reports, Hitchcock jokingly terrorized Janet Leigh by having the model of Mrs. Bates corpse placed in her dressing room. The look of the tall vertical mansion on the hill contrasted with the low, long motel was a deliberate composition choice. Yet Hitchcock said it wasn't his intention to create a mysterious atmosphere with the big Gothic house but to recreate the kind of older architecture that existed in the Northern California setting of the story. According to Hitchcock, Saul Bass only contributed one storyboard, covering the scene of Arbogast going up stairs to find Mrs. Bates. Because he was out with a fever, Hitchcock told his cameraman and assistant to shoot the scene the way Bass had laid it out. However, upon seeing it, he realized the intercut close-ups of the detective's hands and feet on the railing and stairs made it appear sinister, as if Arbogast were the murderer stalking his prey. So he reshot it. For the high angle above the stairs in the Arbogast murder scene and the shot of Norman carrying "Mother" to the fruit cellar, the camera was placed in a cage hung from rails on the ceiling. The shot of Arbogast falling backward down the stairs was a process shot of the actor (Martin Balsam) sitting stationary and waving his arms, as if losing his balance, in front of a screen projecting a previously filmed dolly shot moving down the stairs. Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho was written for strings only, a departure for film music; strings had been mostly associated with romantic stories, not horror, which depended more on such musical devices as crashing symbols, screeching clarinets, ominous horns, and throbbing timpani. Herrmann called his score "black-and-white music." A veteran of numerous pictures, including Citizen Kane (1941) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Herrmann had a particular understanding of Hitchcock's needs: "One has to create a landscape for each film, whether it be the rainy night of Psycho or a picture such as Vertigo....Hitchcock deals rarely with character portrayal, or has little or no interest in people's emotions....His interest in music is only in relation to how the suspense can be heightened." Herrmann achieved the shrieking sound of the shower scene by having a group of violinists saw the same note over and over. He called the motif "a return to pure ice water." Hitchcock originally wanted the shower scene to play with no music. In post production, while the director was out of town, Herrmann composed the famous theme and showed it to Hitchcock with the music upon his return. Hitchcock had to admit his original notion was an "improper suggestion." Herrmann wrote the main title theme for Psycho before Saul Bass created the opening credit sequence. Bass animated it to the music, creating the stabbing, wrenching look in which the credits are ripped in half. Herrmann related how the shots of Marion driving away after taking the money looked very ordinary. Hitchcock thought of having the soundtrack convey anxious voices in her head to add to the action and tension. Herrmann noted, however, that it still didn't work until he suggested bringing back the main title music. All in all, Hitchcock was delighted with Herrmann's very significant contribution to the film, giving the composer an unusual amount of credit (for Hitchcock) and stating openly that "33 percent of the effect of Psycho was due to the music." Shooting wrapped February 1, 1960, nine days over schedule. A rough cut was finished by April, at which point Hitchcock was convinced his "experiment" had failed. He was ready to cut Psycho down to a TV episode, but handed it to Herrmann to score. After he saw the completed film with the music, he was very pleased. During post-production, Hitchcock had several wrangles with the censors over scenes they considered objectionable, including the opening scene (with Leigh in bed in her bra after obviously having had an afternoon tryst with Gavin), the suggested nudity and brutality of the shower sequence, and both the visual and aural depiction of a toilet. He managed to mostly get his own way, however, although he later said the opening scene should have featured Leigh's bare breasts. A shot of Marion removing her black bra before her shower was removed by the U.S. censors while the scene remained intact in the U.K. by Rob Nixon

Psycho (1960)


In these days of blood-splattered slasher films, it's easy to forget that Alfred Hitchcock's precedent-setting Psycho seemed downright exploitive back in 1960. Having long been considered the master of suspense, Hitchcock, in a move that was perverse even by his standards, seemingly veered into schlock-meister William Castle's territory. He even went so far as to announce in newspaper ads that no one would be seated in the theater after Psycho's opening credits, a Castle move if ever there was one.

The film seemed every bit as sensationalistic as its marketing campaign. Instead of Technicolor, Hitchcock shot it in flat black & white. Instead of sweeping shots of characters barreling across open landscapes, the majority of the story takes place in the front seat of a car and in a handful of cramped rooms. And, instead of allowing the audience to root for the main character as she struggles to escape a tense situation, she's brutally murdered half-way through the story. This was hardly the expected follow-up to North by Northwest (1959), and many people were appalled. The fact that Psycho was the first studio film to actually show a toilet in a bathroom seemed oddly appropriate.

Janet Leigh plays Marion Crane, a real estate office secretary who steals $40,000 from her boss' loud-mouthed client (Frank Albertson.) In a desperate attempt to start her life over again, Marion buys a car and heads out of town with the remaining cash. The audience assumes that she'll eventually hook up with her adulterous lover (John Gavin), but Hitchcock has other plans. When she stops at a barren roadside motel, Marion makes the acquaintance of its proprietor, a lonely young man named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins.) Norman, shall we say, suffers from a rather strange mother fixation. And he owns a large kitchen knife. If you don't know what happens next, you might also get a kick out of the surprise burning of Atlanta in Gone With the Wind (1939).

From the start, Hitchcock seemed intent on creating a stark, disturbing portrait of a psychopath and his victims. Paramount was stunned when he said he wanted to adapt the lurid Robert Bloch novel, Psycho, which was based on the exploits of Ed Gein, the cannibalistic serial killer. Realizing that the studio expected the film to fail miserably at the box office, Hitchcock offered to finance it with his own money, in return for 60% of the profits. Relieved, Paramount jumped at the chance to simply distribute the finished product. Even Hitch's long-time associate producer, Joan Harrison, refused a cut of the projected profits, opting instead for a straight salary.

That, it turned out, was a big mistake. Hitchcock shot everything on a shoestring budget, using the fast-working crew from his TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Even the sets were relatively cheap, with the sinister Bates mansion costing a mere $15,000 to build (the steeple was actually salvaged from a house used in the whimsical Jimmy Stewart vehicle, Harvey, 1950.) Hitchcock's unwavering belief in America's growing taste for crime stores and gruesome murders paid high dividends. Psycho was a certifiable smash, and he ended up making millions of dollars from his gamble.

The shower scene is what everyone immediately thinks of when you mention Psycho, and with good reason: it's one of the more devastating sequences in movie history. Over the years, there's been some debate concerning who was responsible for its dazzling series of shock cuts, which required 78 separate camera set-ups. The truth is, Hitchcock enlisted his gifted title designer, Saul Bass, to storyboard the murder as it takes place in Bloch's book. He then used the storyboards as a guideline while filming, but the finished product wasn't a literal translation of Bass' concept. Hitchcock was also on the set the entire time the scene was being shot, so Bass' later insistence that he "directed" it was only half-true at best. Let's call this one a draw and simply enjoy a staggering cinematic achievement, one that hasn't lost an ounce of power over the past 40 years.

Then, of course, there's the music. Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho is a foreboding pulse that, during the murder, suddenly transforms itself into the aural equivalent of a slashing knife. It's an immediately identifiable shriek of horror and despair. Though he didn't even receive an Oscar nomination for his efforts, Herrmann's groundbreaking achievement should not be underestimated. He once explained that he used only strings in his arrangement, "to complement the black & white photography of the film with a black & white score." It's also thought that he couldn't afford an entire orchestra due to budget restrictions, but Herrmann, ever the egotist, seldom mentioned that.

Upon editing the raw footage, Hitchcock was convinced that he had a bomb on his hands. "Hitchcock," Herrmann said, "felt it didn't come off. He wanted to cut it down to an hour television show and get rid of it. I had an idea of what I could do with the film, so I said, "Why don't you go away for your Christmas holidays, and when you come back we'll record the score and see what you think."...Well," he said, "do what you like, but only one thing I ask of you: please write nothing for the murder in the shower. That must be without music." It's nice to know that even geniuses sometimes get it wrong.

Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch (novel)
Cinematography: John L. Russell
Film Editing: George Tomasini
Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy, Joseph Hurley
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Cast: Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Janet Leigh (Marion Crane), Vera Miles (Lila Crane), John Gavin (Sam Loomis), Martin Balsam (Milton Arbogast), John McIntire (Chambers).
BW-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Paul Tatara

Psycho (1960)

In these days of blood-splattered slasher films, it's easy to forget that Alfred Hitchcock's precedent-setting Psycho seemed downright exploitive back in 1960. Having long been considered the master of suspense, Hitchcock, in a move that was perverse even by his standards, seemingly veered into schlock-meister William Castle's territory. He even went so far as to announce in newspaper ads that no one would be seated in the theater after Psycho's opening credits, a Castle move if ever there was one. The film seemed every bit as sensationalistic as its marketing campaign. Instead of Technicolor, Hitchcock shot it in flat black & white. Instead of sweeping shots of characters barreling across open landscapes, the majority of the story takes place in the front seat of a car and in a handful of cramped rooms. And, instead of allowing the audience to root for the main character as she struggles to escape a tense situation, she's brutally murdered half-way through the story. This was hardly the expected follow-up to North by Northwest (1959), and many people were appalled. The fact that Psycho was the first studio film to actually show a toilet in a bathroom seemed oddly appropriate. Janet Leigh plays Marion Crane, a real estate office secretary who steals $40,000 from her boss' loud-mouthed client (Frank Albertson.) In a desperate attempt to start her life over again, Marion buys a car and heads out of town with the remaining cash. The audience assumes that she'll eventually hook up with her adulterous lover (John Gavin), but Hitchcock has other plans. When she stops at a barren roadside motel, Marion makes the acquaintance of its proprietor, a lonely young man named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins.) Norman, shall we say, suffers from a rather strange mother fixation. And he owns a large kitchen knife. If you don't know what happens next, you might also get a kick out of the surprise burning of Atlanta in Gone With the Wind (1939). From the start, Hitchcock seemed intent on creating a stark, disturbing portrait of a psychopath and his victims. Paramount was stunned when he said he wanted to adapt the lurid Robert Bloch novel, Psycho, which was based on the exploits of Ed Gein, the cannibalistic serial killer. Realizing that the studio expected the film to fail miserably at the box office, Hitchcock offered to finance it with his own money, in return for 60% of the profits. Relieved, Paramount jumped at the chance to simply distribute the finished product. Even Hitch's long-time associate producer, Joan Harrison, refused a cut of the projected profits, opting instead for a straight salary. That, it turned out, was a big mistake. Hitchcock shot everything on a shoestring budget, using the fast-working crew from his TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Even the sets were relatively cheap, with the sinister Bates mansion costing a mere $15,000 to build (the steeple was actually salvaged from a house used in the whimsical Jimmy Stewart vehicle, Harvey, 1950.) Hitchcock's unwavering belief in America's growing taste for crime stores and gruesome murders paid high dividends. Psycho was a certifiable smash, and he ended up making millions of dollars from his gamble. The shower scene is what everyone immediately thinks of when you mention Psycho, and with good reason: it's one of the more devastating sequences in movie history. Over the years, there's been some debate concerning who was responsible for its dazzling series of shock cuts, which required 78 separate camera set-ups. The truth is, Hitchcock enlisted his gifted title designer, Saul Bass, to storyboard the murder as it takes place in Bloch's book. He then used the storyboards as a guideline while filming, but the finished product wasn't a literal translation of Bass' concept. Hitchcock was also on the set the entire time the scene was being shot, so Bass' later insistence that he "directed" it was only half-true at best. Let's call this one a draw and simply enjoy a staggering cinematic achievement, one that hasn't lost an ounce of power over the past 40 years. Then, of course, there's the music. Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho is a foreboding pulse that, during the murder, suddenly transforms itself into the aural equivalent of a slashing knife. It's an immediately identifiable shriek of horror and despair. Though he didn't even receive an Oscar nomination for his efforts, Herrmann's groundbreaking achievement should not be underestimated. He once explained that he used only strings in his arrangement, "to complement the black & white photography of the film with a black & white score." It's also thought that he couldn't afford an entire orchestra due to budget restrictions, but Herrmann, ever the egotist, seldom mentioned that. Upon editing the raw footage, Hitchcock was convinced that he had a bomb on his hands. "Hitchcock," Herrmann said, "felt it didn't come off. He wanted to cut it down to an hour television show and get rid of it. I had an idea of what I could do with the film, so I said, "Why don't you go away for your Christmas holidays, and when you come back we'll record the score and see what you think."...Well," he said, "do what you like, but only one thing I ask of you: please write nothing for the murder in the shower. That must be without music." It's nice to know that even geniuses sometimes get it wrong. Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch (novel) Cinematography: John L. Russell Film Editing: George Tomasini Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy, Joseph Hurley Music: Bernard Herrmann Cast: Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Janet Leigh (Marion Crane), Vera Miles (Lila Crane), John Gavin (Sam Loomis), Martin Balsam (Milton Arbogast), John McIntire (Chambers). BW-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Paul Tatara

Psycho - Psycho


In these days of blood-splattered slasher films, it's easy to forget that Alfred Hitchcock's precedent-setting Psycho seemed downright exploitive back in 1960. Having long been considered the master of suspense, Hitchcock, in a move that was perverse even by his standards, seemingly veered into schlock-meister William Castle's territory. He even went so far as to announce in newspaper ads that no one would be seated in the theater after Psycho's opening credits, a Castle move if ever there was one.

The film seemed every bit as sensationalistic as its marketing campaign. Instead of Technicolor, Hitchcock shot it in flat black & white. Instead of sweeping shots of characters barreling across open landscapes, the majority of the story takes place in the front seat of a car and in a handful of cramped rooms. And, instead of allowing the audience to root for the main character as she struggles to escape a tense situation, she's brutally murdered half-way through the story. This was hardly the expected follow-up to North by Northwest (1959), and many people were appalled. The fact that Psycho was the first studio film to actually show a toilet in a bathroom seemed oddly appropriate.

Janet Leigh plays Marion Crane, a real estate office secretary who steals $40,000 from her boss' loud-mouthed client (Frank Albertson.) In a desperate attempt to start her life over again, Marion buys a car and heads out of town with the remaining cash. The audience assumes that she'll eventually hook up with her adulterous lover (John Gavin), but Hitchcock has other plans. When she stops at a barren roadside motel, Marion makes the acquaintance of its proprietor, a lonely young man named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins.) Norman, shall we say, suffers from a rather strange mother fixation. And he owns a large kitchen knife. If you don't know what happens next, you might also get a kick out of the surprise burning of Atlanta in Gone With the Wind (1939).

From the start, Hitchcock seemed intent on creating a stark, disturbing portrait of a psychopath and his victims. Paramount was stunned when he said he wanted to adapt the lurid Robert Bloch novel, Psycho, which was based on the exploits of Ed Gein, the cannibalistic serial killer. Realizing that the studio expected the film to fail miserably at the box office, Hitchcock offered to finance it with his own money, in return for 60% of the profits. Relieved, Paramount jumped at the chance to simply distribute the finished product. Even Hitch's long-time associate producer, Joan Harrison, refused a cut of the projected profits, opting instead for a straight salary.

That, it turned out, was a big mistake. Hitchcock shot everything on a shoestring budget, using the fast-working crew from his TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Even the sets were relatively cheap, with the sinister Bates mansion costing a mere $15,000 to build (the steeple was actually salvaged from a house used in the whimsical Jimmy Stewart vehicle, Harvey, 1950.) Hitchcock's unwavering belief in America's growing taste for crime stores and gruesome murders paid high dividends. Psycho was a certifiable smash, and he ended up making millions of dollars from his gamble.

The shower scene is what everyone immediately thinks of when you mention Psycho, and with good reason: it's one of the more devastating sequences in movie history. Over the years, there's been some debate concerning who was responsible for its dazzling series of shock cuts, which required 78 separate camera set-ups. The truth is, Hitchcock enlisted his gifted title designer, Saul Bass, to storyboard the murder as it takes place in Bloch's book. He then used the storyboards as a guideline while filming, but the finished product wasn't a literal translation of Bass' concept. Hitchcock was also on the set the entire time the scene was being shot, so Bass' later insistence that he "directed" it was only half-true at best. Let's call this one a draw and simply enjoy a staggering cinematic achievement, one that hasn't lost an ounce of power over the past 40 years.

Then, of course, there's the music. Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho is a foreboding pulse that, during the murder, suddenly transforms itself into the aural equivalent of a slashing knife. It's an immediately identifiable shriek of horror and despair. Though he didn't even receive an Oscar nomination for his efforts, Herrmann's groundbreaking achievement should not be underestimated. He once explained that he used only strings in his arrangement, "to complement the black & white photography of the film with a black & white score." It's also thought that he couldn't afford an entire orchestra due to budget restrictions, but Herrmann, ever the egotist, seldom mentioned that.

Upon editing the raw footage, Hitchcock was convinced that he had a bomb on his hands. "Hitchcock," Herrmann said, "felt it didn't come off. He wanted to cut it down to an hour television show and get rid of it. I had an idea of what I could do with the film, so I said, "Why don't you go away for your Christmas holidays, and when you come back we'll record the score and see what you think."...Well," he said, "do what you like, but only one thing I ask of you: please write nothing for the murder in the shower. That must be without music." It's nice to know that even geniuses sometimes get it wrong.

Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch (novel)
Cinematography: John L. Russell
Film Editing: George Tomasini
Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy, Joseph Hurley
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Cast: Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Janet Leigh (Marion Crane), Vera Miles (Lila Crane), John Gavin (Sam Loomis), Martin Balsam (Milton Arbogast), John McIntire (Chambers).
BW-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Paul Tatara

Psycho - Psycho

In these days of blood-splattered slasher films, it's easy to forget that Alfred Hitchcock's precedent-setting Psycho seemed downright exploitive back in 1960. Having long been considered the master of suspense, Hitchcock, in a move that was perverse even by his standards, seemingly veered into schlock-meister William Castle's territory. He even went so far as to announce in newspaper ads that no one would be seated in the theater after Psycho's opening credits, a Castle move if ever there was one. The film seemed every bit as sensationalistic as its marketing campaign. Instead of Technicolor, Hitchcock shot it in flat black & white. Instead of sweeping shots of characters barreling across open landscapes, the majority of the story takes place in the front seat of a car and in a handful of cramped rooms. And, instead of allowing the audience to root for the main character as she struggles to escape a tense situation, she's brutally murdered half-way through the story. This was hardly the expected follow-up to North by Northwest (1959), and many people were appalled. The fact that Psycho was the first studio film to actually show a toilet in a bathroom seemed oddly appropriate. Janet Leigh plays Marion Crane, a real estate office secretary who steals $40,000 from her boss' loud-mouthed client (Frank Albertson.) In a desperate attempt to start her life over again, Marion buys a car and heads out of town with the remaining cash. The audience assumes that she'll eventually hook up with her adulterous lover (John Gavin), but Hitchcock has other plans. When she stops at a barren roadside motel, Marion makes the acquaintance of its proprietor, a lonely young man named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins.) Norman, shall we say, suffers from a rather strange mother fixation. And he owns a large kitchen knife. If you don't know what happens next, you might also get a kick out of the surprise burning of Atlanta in Gone With the Wind (1939). From the start, Hitchcock seemed intent on creating a stark, disturbing portrait of a psychopath and his victims. Paramount was stunned when he said he wanted to adapt the lurid Robert Bloch novel, Psycho, which was based on the exploits of Ed Gein, the cannibalistic serial killer. Realizing that the studio expected the film to fail miserably at the box office, Hitchcock offered to finance it with his own money, in return for 60% of the profits. Relieved, Paramount jumped at the chance to simply distribute the finished product. Even Hitch's long-time associate producer, Joan Harrison, refused a cut of the projected profits, opting instead for a straight salary. That, it turned out, was a big mistake. Hitchcock shot everything on a shoestring budget, using the fast-working crew from his TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Even the sets were relatively cheap, with the sinister Bates mansion costing a mere $15,000 to build (the steeple was actually salvaged from a house used in the whimsical Jimmy Stewart vehicle, Harvey, 1950.) Hitchcock's unwavering belief in America's growing taste for crime stores and gruesome murders paid high dividends. Psycho was a certifiable smash, and he ended up making millions of dollars from his gamble. The shower scene is what everyone immediately thinks of when you mention Psycho, and with good reason: it's one of the more devastating sequences in movie history. Over the years, there's been some debate concerning who was responsible for its dazzling series of shock cuts, which required 78 separate camera set-ups. The truth is, Hitchcock enlisted his gifted title designer, Saul Bass, to storyboard the murder as it takes place in Bloch's book. He then used the storyboards as a guideline while filming, but the finished product wasn't a literal translation of Bass' concept. Hitchcock was also on the set the entire time the scene was being shot, so Bass' later insistence that he "directed" it was only half-true at best. Let's call this one a draw and simply enjoy a staggering cinematic achievement, one that hasn't lost an ounce of power over the past 40 years. Then, of course, there's the music. Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho is a foreboding pulse that, during the murder, suddenly transforms itself into the aural equivalent of a slashing knife. It's an immediately identifiable shriek of horror and despair. Though he didn't even receive an Oscar nomination for his efforts, Herrmann's groundbreaking achievement should not be underestimated. He once explained that he used only strings in his arrangement, "to complement the black & white photography of the film with a black & white score." It's also thought that he couldn't afford an entire orchestra due to budget restrictions, but Herrmann, ever the egotist, seldom mentioned that. Upon editing the raw footage, Hitchcock was convinced that he had a bomb on his hands. "Hitchcock," Herrmann said, "felt it didn't come off. He wanted to cut it down to an hour television show and get rid of it. I had an idea of what I could do with the film, so I said, "Why don't you go away for your Christmas holidays, and when you come back we'll record the score and see what you think."...Well," he said, "do what you like, but only one thing I ask of you: please write nothing for the murder in the shower. That must be without music." It's nice to know that even geniuses sometimes get it wrong. Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch (novel) Cinematography: John L. Russell Film Editing: George Tomasini Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy, Joseph Hurley Music: Bernard Herrmann Cast: Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Janet Leigh (Marion Crane), Vera Miles (Lila Crane), John Gavin (Sam Loomis), Martin Balsam (Milton Arbogast), John McIntire (Chambers). BW-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Paul Tatara

Critics' Corner - Psycho


AWARDS AND HONORS

Psycho premiered in New York on June 16, 1960. Although critical reception was decidedly mixed and often downright hostile, the movie was a box office sensation. Produced for only about $800,000, it earned more than ten times that on its initial release ($14 million by many accounts) and by 2004 had reportedly made at least $50 million worldwide. It was the highest grossing film for Paramount - which initially wanted nothing to do with it - and the second-highest box office champion for 1960 behind Ben-Hur.

The film was marketed with a highly successful campaign prohibiting anyone from entering the theater once the picture started and an audience plea not to reveal the ending to anyone who hadn't seen it.

Psycho received Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Supporting Actress (Janet Leigh), Art Direction-Set Decoration, and Cinematography.

It also received:
- Golden Globes Best Supporting Actress Award to Janet Leigh.
- Directors Guild of America nomination for Hitchcock.
- Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Written American Drama to Joseph Stefano.
- Winner of Edgar Allan Poe (mystery writers) Award for Best Motion Picture to Joseph Stefano and Robert Bloch.

In 1992, Psycho was chosen by the National Film Preservation Board to be preserved in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

The Critics' Corner: PSYCHO

"More miserable than the most miserable peep show I have ever seen."
– Jympson Harmon, Evening Standard (London), 1960

"Psycho is sicko."
– Picturegoer (UK), 1960

"Producer-director Hitchcock is up to his clavicle in whimsicality and apparently had the time of his life in putting together Psycho. He's gotten in gore, in the form of a couple of graphically-depicted knife murders, a story that's far out in Freudian motivations, and now and then injects little amusing plot items that suggest the whole thing is not to be taken seriously. ... Perkins gives a remarkably effective in-a-dream kind of performance as the possessed young man."
– Variety, 1960

"That's the way it is with Mr. Hitchcock's picture-slow buildups to sudden shocks that are old-fashioned melodramatics, however effective and sure, until a couple of people have been gruesomely punctured and the mystery of the haunted house has been revealed. Then it may be a matter of question whether Mr. Hitchcock's points of psychology, the sort highly favored by Krafft-Ebing, are as reliable as his melodramatic stunts. Frankly, we feel his explanations are a bit of leg-pulling by a man who has been known to resort to such tactics in his former films."
– Bosley Crowther, New York Times, June 17, 1960

"[Hitchcock] has very shrewdly interwoven crime, sex and suspense, blended the real and the unreal in fascinating proportions and punctuated his film with several quick, grisly and unnerving surprises."
– Paine Knickerbocker,San Francisco Chronicle, August 11, 1960

"Psycho continues to work as a frightening, insinuating thriller. That's largely because of Hitchcock's artistry in two areas that are not as obvious: The setup of the Marion Crane story, and the relationship between Marion and Norman. Both of these elements work because Hitchcock devotes his full attention and skill to treating them as if they will be developed for the entire picture."
– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, December 6, 1998

"This film is really a meditation on the tyranny of past over present. It's an indictment of the viewer's capacity for voyeurism and his own potential for depravity. It's also a statement on the American dream turned nightmare, and there's a running concern for the truth that physical vision is always only partial and that our perceptions tend to play us false.... Psycho is also...a ruthless exposition of American Puritanism and exaggerated Mom-ism. ... In method and content, in the sheer economy of its style and its brave, uncompromising moralism, it's one of the great works of modern American art."
– Donald Spoto, The Art of Alfred Hitchcock (Anchor, 1991)

"No introduction needed, surely, for Hitchcock's best film, a stunningly realised...slice of Grand Guignol...The cod-Freudian explanation offered at the conclusion is just so much nonsense, but the real text concerning schizophrenia lies in the tellingly complex visuals. A masterpiece by any standard."
- Geoff Andrew, TimeOut Film Guide

"Curious thriller devised by Hitchcock as a tease...despite effective moments of fright, it has a childish plot and script, and its interest is that of a tremendously successful confidence trick, made for very little money by a TV crew."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"Probably the most visual, most cinematic picture he has ever made."
- Peter Bogdanovich

"I think the film is a reflection of a most unpleasant mind, a mean, sly, sadistic little mind."
- Dwight MacDonald

"Certainly Psycho is Hitchcock's most visually involving film and his most successful in terms of audience participation."
- Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films

"No film conveys - to those not afraid to expose themselves fully to it - a greater sense of desolation, yet it does so from an exceptionally mature and secure emotional viewpoint. And an essential part of this viewpoint is the detached sardonic humor. It enables the film to contemplate the ultimate horrors without hysteria."
- Robin Wood

"..How is it possible to still watch Psycho long after its secrets have been spilled? The answer is that beneath the shocker is a profoundly despairing film, a work as redolent of contemporary desolation and isolation as Eliot's Preludes...Beginning in a desert and ending in a swamp, Psycho is a film in which the aridity of sex, work, family, and routine strands its two main characters in the quagmire of their private traps."
- Charles Taylor, The A List

"Psycho lures its audience into a vortex of horror from which only the final shot grants issue...This is not only Hitchcock's greatest film: it is the most intelligent and disturbing horror film ever made."
- Peter Cowie, Eighty Years of Cinema

by Rob Nixon

Critics' Corner - Psycho

AWARDS AND HONORS Psycho premiered in New York on June 16, 1960. Although critical reception was decidedly mixed and often downright hostile, the movie was a box office sensation. Produced for only about $800,000, it earned more than ten times that on its initial release ($14 million by many accounts) and by 2004 had reportedly made at least $50 million worldwide. It was the highest grossing film for Paramount - which initially wanted nothing to do with it - and the second-highest box office champion for 1960 behind Ben-Hur. The film was marketed with a highly successful campaign prohibiting anyone from entering the theater once the picture started and an audience plea not to reveal the ending to anyone who hadn't seen it. Psycho received Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Supporting Actress (Janet Leigh), Art Direction-Set Decoration, and Cinematography. It also received: - Golden Globes Best Supporting Actress Award to Janet Leigh. - Directors Guild of America nomination for Hitchcock. - Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Written American Drama to Joseph Stefano. - Winner of Edgar Allan Poe (mystery writers) Award for Best Motion Picture to Joseph Stefano and Robert Bloch. In 1992, Psycho was chosen by the National Film Preservation Board to be preserved in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. The Critics' Corner: PSYCHO "More miserable than the most miserable peep show I have ever seen." – Jympson Harmon, Evening Standard (London), 1960 "Psycho is sicko." – Picturegoer (UK), 1960 "Producer-director Hitchcock is up to his clavicle in whimsicality and apparently had the time of his life in putting together Psycho. He's gotten in gore, in the form of a couple of graphically-depicted knife murders, a story that's far out in Freudian motivations, and now and then injects little amusing plot items that suggest the whole thing is not to be taken seriously. ... Perkins gives a remarkably effective in-a-dream kind of performance as the possessed young man." – Variety, 1960 "That's the way it is with Mr. Hitchcock's picture-slow buildups to sudden shocks that are old-fashioned melodramatics, however effective and sure, until a couple of people have been gruesomely punctured and the mystery of the haunted house has been revealed. Then it may be a matter of question whether Mr. Hitchcock's points of psychology, the sort highly favored by Krafft-Ebing, are as reliable as his melodramatic stunts. Frankly, we feel his explanations are a bit of leg-pulling by a man who has been known to resort to such tactics in his former films." – Bosley Crowther, New York Times, June 17, 1960 "[Hitchcock] has very shrewdly interwoven crime, sex and suspense, blended the real and the unreal in fascinating proportions and punctuated his film with several quick, grisly and unnerving surprises." – Paine Knickerbocker,San Francisco Chronicle, August 11, 1960 "Psycho continues to work as a frightening, insinuating thriller. That's largely because of Hitchcock's artistry in two areas that are not as obvious: The setup of the Marion Crane story, and the relationship between Marion and Norman. Both of these elements work because Hitchcock devotes his full attention and skill to treating them as if they will be developed for the entire picture." – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, December 6, 1998 "This film is really a meditation on the tyranny of past over present. It's an indictment of the viewer's capacity for voyeurism and his own potential for depravity. It's also a statement on the American dream turned nightmare, and there's a running concern for the truth that physical vision is always only partial and that our perceptions tend to play us false.... Psycho is also...a ruthless exposition of American Puritanism and exaggerated Mom-ism. ... In method and content, in the sheer economy of its style and its brave, uncompromising moralism, it's one of the great works of modern American art." – Donald Spoto, The Art of Alfred Hitchcock (Anchor, 1991) "No introduction needed, surely, for Hitchcock's best film, a stunningly realised...slice of Grand Guignol...The cod-Freudian explanation offered at the conclusion is just so much nonsense, but the real text concerning schizophrenia lies in the tellingly complex visuals. A masterpiece by any standard." - Geoff Andrew, TimeOut Film Guide "Curious thriller devised by Hitchcock as a tease...despite effective moments of fright, it has a childish plot and script, and its interest is that of a tremendously successful confidence trick, made for very little money by a TV crew." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide "Probably the most visual, most cinematic picture he has ever made." - Peter Bogdanovich "I think the film is a reflection of a most unpleasant mind, a mean, sly, sadistic little mind." - Dwight MacDonald "Certainly Psycho is Hitchcock's most visually involving film and his most successful in terms of audience participation." - Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films "No film conveys - to those not afraid to expose themselves fully to it - a greater sense of desolation, yet it does so from an exceptionally mature and secure emotional viewpoint. And an essential part of this viewpoint is the detached sardonic humor. It enables the film to contemplate the ultimate horrors without hysteria." - Robin Wood "..How is it possible to still watch Psycho long after its secrets have been spilled? The answer is that beneath the shocker is a profoundly despairing film, a work as redolent of contemporary desolation and isolation as Eliot's Preludes...Beginning in a desert and ending in a swamp, Psycho is a film in which the aridity of sex, work, family, and routine strands its two main characters in the quagmire of their private traps." - Charles Taylor, The A List "Psycho lures its audience into a vortex of horror from which only the final shot grants issue...This is not only Hitchcock's greatest film: it is the most intelligent and disturbing horror film ever made." - Peter Cowie, Eighty Years of Cinema by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Dirty night.
- Norman Bates
Bates Motel... 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.
- Norman Bates
I won't speak of disgusting things because they disgust me!
- Norman Bates' Mother
I'll lick the stamps.
- Marion Crane
I think I must have one of those faces you can't help believing.
- Norman Bates

Trivia

Considered for the role of Marion were: Eva Marie Saint, Piper Laurie, Martha Hyer, Hope Lange, Shirley Jones, and Lana Turner.

Hitchcock bought the rights to the novel anonymously from Bloch for just $9,000. He then bought up as many copies of the novel as he could to keep the ending a secret.

Filmed in black and white because Alfred Hitchcock believed the movie would be too gory for color.

During filming, this movie was referred to as "Production 9401" or "Wimpy".

Hitchcock paid the title sequence designer Saul Bass (also credited as "Pictorial Consultant") $2,000 to render storyboards for the scene where Arbogast is killed at the stairs. Brass was excited about the movie and asked Hitch for the opportunity. Hitchcock discarded his work because the shots showed Arbogast's feet slowly going up the stairs and this prepared the audience for a shock. Hitch wanted it to be a surprise and that's why he filmed Arbogast in a completely natural way.

Notes

Several June and July 1959 Hollywood Reporter news items erroneously refer to the film as Psyche. A December 27, 1959 New York Times news item reported that director Alfred Hitchcock, in order to protect the film's plot twists, had deliberately withheld the title of the Robert Bloch novel on which the film was based, until "an alert reporter triumphantly [and incorrectly] revealed it" as Psyche. The film's opening title credits, designed by Saul Bass, feature grey lines bisecting the black background of each frame, with the names of the cast and crew appearing in white lettering, also either cut apart or brought together by the grey lines. According to modern sources, Harold Adler, William Hurtz and Paul Stoleroff were the team who animated and filmed Bass's title drawings. The jagged design of the film's title on posters and advertisements was based on the original book jacket design created by artist Tony Palladino. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in Psycho near the beginning of the film, when "Marion Crane" returns to her office after her afternoon rendezvous with "Sam Loomis." Hitchcock appears as a man wearing a cowboy hat, standing on the sidewalk outside Marion's office.
       At the end of the picture, after the psychiatrist, "Dr. Richmond," has explained "Norman Bates's" mental illness, a policeman goes into the room where Norman is being held to give him a blanket. As the camera slowly zooms in on Norman, voice-over narration by "Mother," as if she is conducting an interior monologue, states that she could not allow Norman to accuse her of the murders. Mother, fearing that she is probably being watched, notices a fly on Norman's hand, and, wanting to prove that she is innocent, refuses to swat it and hopes that her captors will observe that she "would not even hurt a fly." Norman then looks up, straight into the camera, with a sly grin, and a skull is briefly superimposed over his face before the scene cuts to Marion's car being lifted from the swamp. Throughout the film, the killer is seen only in shadow or from above or behind, until the scene in the fruit cellar near the end of the film in which "Lila Crane" sees that it is Norman dressed in his mother's clothes.
       The film is largely faithful to Bloch's novel Psycho, with several notable exceptions. In the book, Norman is a plump, balding forty-year-old who drinks to excess and blacks out, thereby allowing the Mother side of his personality to take over. For the film, Norman was written as a younger, more attractive, more vulnerable character, coinciding with the casting of Anthony Perkins in the role. The violence in the book is also more extreme, with Mother completely severing Mary's head during the shower murder (the female protagonist's name was changed from Mary to Marion for the film). Norman's mental illness is also more pronounced in the book, with the psychiatrist suspecting that Norman had an incestuous relationship with his mother and that he was a "secret transvestite long before Mrs. Bates died." In the novel, Norman had been institutionalized for a few months after secretly poisoning his mother and her lover, and Dr. Steiner (changed to Dr. Richmond for the film) explains that Norman had three separate personalities representing himself as a child clinging to his mother; as his mother who still dominated him; and himself as an adult, able to cope with the outside world. After the film was released, a condensed version of Bloch's novel was published in Cavalier magazine in August 1960.
       Bloch's novel was partially based on real-life killer Ed Gein (1906-1984). Gein, who lived on a farm near the rural town of Plainfield, WI, was arrested in 1957 after the body of a local woman was found in his barn. Although Gein confessed to only two murders, he was suspected of several more, and his home was found to contain numerous gruesome objects, such as masks made from human faces and clothing made from human skin, most of which he had obtained by robbing graves. After being judged criminally insane, Gein was incarcerated in a mental institution until his death. In a 1987 obituary for the judge who presided over Gein's case, it was reported that in a 1984 interview, Bloch, who was living in a nearby town when Gein's crimes were discovered, said that it was not Gein's actions that inspired him to write Psycho as much as the fact that a psychotic murderer could be living in a small town without anyone being aware of his crimes. Gein was also the basis for several other villains, including "Leatherface" in the 1974 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and "Buffalo Bill" in the 1988 novel and 1991 movie The Silence of the Lambs.
       According to the Paramount Collection, located at the AMPAS Library, Paramount considered purchasing the rights to Bloch's book in February 1959, but the reader who synopsized the advance copy submitted to the studio called the novel "too repulsive for films, and rather shocking even to a hardened reader." According to an interview with Peggy Robertson, Hitchcock's longtime assistant, in the documentary "The Making of Psycho" included on the film's 1999 DVD release, Hitchcock first became aware of Bloch's book after reading Anthony Boucher's April 1959 review of it in the New York Times Book Review. Her assertion is supported by a March 1961 letter to Boucher from Hitchcock, contained in the Alfred Hitchcock Collection, also at the AMPAS Library, in which the director explains that he had sent Boucher champagne because he "bought the rights to Psycho after reading your notice in the New York Times."
       Modern sources add that Hitchcock bid for the screen rights to Bloch's book anonymously through agent Ned Brown of the Music Corporation of America (MCA) talent agency, while the director's papers confirm that he purchased the screen rights for just $9,000. Bloch did not learn the identity of the actual buyer until after the deal had been finalized. In modern interviews, Hitchcock claimed that he was interested in the book primarily because of the suddenness of the murder in the shower. Although a December 27, 1959 New York Times news item noted that a rumor persisted that Hitchcock had "bought up all available copies of the Robert Bloch novel in a monopolistic shopping spree calculated to insure secrecy," the rumor was unfounded.
       In a June 22, 1959 New York Times interview, Hitchcock stated: "I have bought a book but I won't reveal its title....I would like to suppress it if I could because publicizing it would undo any effects I will try to put into the picture." In the New York Times article, Hitchcock elaborated that the film "would be in the Diabolique genre," after the 1954 French thriller Les Diaboliques, which Hitchcock greatly admired. [Modern sources sometimes assert that Hitchcock shot Psycho in black and white to emulate the French film, but Hitchcock later stated repeatedly that he used black and white because color film would have made the shower sequence too gory.]
       Modern sources have claimed that Paramount was deeply reluctant to finance production of the picture due to its controversial subject matter, which forced Hitchcock to seek cost-cutting measures wherever possible. One of the ways in which Hitchcock sought to lower the budget was to shoot the picture primarily with the crew he used for his acclaimed television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as they were used to working under strict time constraints and for smaller budgets. A October 27, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Hitchcock would be shooting on the Universal-International Studios backlot, which was the home of his television production company, Shamroy Productions. The item stated that "behind this unusual situation" was MCA, which owned Universal Studios as well as represented Hitchcock, Perkins, Leigh and screenwriter Joseph Stefano. In 1959, when MCA purchased U-I, it based its own television production company, Revue Productions, at Universal, which was then sometimes called Universal-Revue Studios. Some modern sources assert that Hitchcock had to shoot on the Revue stages at the Universal lot because Paramount, still hoping to discourage him, told him that all of its sound stages were in use, even though they were not.
       In order to keep down production costs, Hitchcock voluntarily deferred his directing fee in exchange for ownership of sixty percent of the picture, according to a September 1960 Variety report. According to some modern sources, the studio still would not agree to finance the picture, only to distribute it, but the Hitchcock Collection reveals that Paramount did pay the salaries of some Paramount-based crew members so that they would retain their benefits, as well as split the costs of editor George Tomasini's salary with Hitchcock. In an April 1962 New York Times article, Hitchcock recounted, "We didn't get a cent from Paramount until we delivered the negative, and for that they got twenty percent of the picture." [The September 1960 Variety article had indicated that Paramount received thirty percent of the gross as a distribution fee, however.] Modern sources add that after Paramount earned back its distribution costs as well as a profit percentage, the complete rights to Psycho were transferred to Hitchcock.
       In a 1982 Los Angeles Herald Express article, Bloch was reported as stating that Hitchcock wanted him to adapt his book for the screen, but was mistakenly told that Bloch was unavailable for the project. According to June 1959 Hollywood Reporter news items, James P. Cavanagh had been set to write the film's screenplay (several contemporary sources reported his name as Cavanaugh). Even though Cavanagh had previously written for Hitchcock's television series, Robertson stated in the DVD documentary that Hitchcock rejected Cavanagh's script as "dull." Hitchcock then hired Stefano on the recommendation of Stefano's agent, Ned Brown, who had helped Hitchcock acquire the rights to the book. In modern sources, Stefano stated that he won Hitchcock's approval by beginning the screenplay with the scene between Marion and "Sam" (the book begins with a "conversation" between Norman and his mother) and making the first forty-five minutes of the film about Marion, thereby engaging the audience's sympathy for her.
       Although no contemporary information about the casting of the female leads has been found, modern sources indicate that Eva Marie Saint, Piper Laurie, Hope Lange, Shirley Jones, Martha Hyer and Lana Turner were considered for the role of Marion, while Felicia Farr, Carolyn Jones, Caroline Kurney and Eleanor Parker were considered for Lila. A November 5, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Hitchcock was interested in casting Stuart Whitman in the film. John Gavin was borrowed from U-I for the production, although modern sources add that Hitchcock cast him as Sam instead of Whitman, his first choice, because as a Universal contract player, Gavin was less expensive to hire. Other actors considered by Hitchcock for Sam, according to modern sources, included Cliff Robertson, Tom Tryon, Brian Keith, Leslie Nielsen and Robert Loggia.
       In December 1959, when Hitchcock was still attempting to hide the film's plot twists, New York Times relayed that he was considering hiring Helen Hayes or Judith Anderson to portray Mother. According to studio files, Paul Jasmin and Virginia Gregg recorded Mother's voice. Modern sources add that Jeanette Nolan's voice was also used, and that sometimes the actors' voices were blended or spliced together, so that some speeches contained more than one voice. [Nolan was married to actor John McIntire, who played "Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers" in the film.] Contemporary cast and crew sheets list a number of different doubles who portrayed Mother, and modern sources assert that Margo Epper was the main player used during the shower scene. Perkins appears as Mother only in the scene in which he attacks Lila. Although a December 3, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item includes Bob Grandin, Russ Peak and Charles Cirillo in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. A cast list in the Hitchcock Collection includes Richard Bull (Gas station attendant), Ted Fish (Rental car man), Larry Thor (TV man) and Jim Brandt (Coffee boy) in the cast, but they were not in the released film.
       Technical advisor Everett W. Brown was a real private investigator, according to studio records, which also add that Melvin Hilgenfeld, of the College of Mortuary Science in Los Angeles, was consulted as to the potential condition of a corpse that had been preserved for ten years. According to a February 1971 Reader's Digest press release contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, author James Michener claimed that the Bates house was modeled after a house on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio. Modern sources have disputed Michener's report, however, stating that the house was built from original drawings by the film's art directors, Joseph Hurley and Robert Clatworthy.
       The scenes of Marion's road journey were shot between Bakersfield and Fresno, on California's Highway 99, according to the studio files, which also note that the car lot Marion visits was Harry Maher's used car lot in North Hollywood, CA. The opening shots were filmed on location in Phoenix, AZ, as was background footage for use in rear projection shots of Marion driving away from the city. According to the December 1959 New York Times article, the opening aerial shot of Phoenix, which started with a long shot of the city and gradually zoomed into the hotel room where Marion and Sam were in bed, was to be "the longest dolly (moving) shot ever attempted by helicopter" and was to cover four miles. In the DVD documentary, however, assistant director Hilton A. Green related that because the footage obtained from the helicopter was too bumpy and jerky, Hitchcock was forced to use wipes and pans to obtain the desired effect, rather than a single, continuous shot.
       Hitchcock's papers reveal that he initially refused full access to studio still photographers during production, in case their pictures were leaked to the press. In a December 30, 1959 memo to the director, Paramount director of publicity Herb Steinberg pleaded with Hitchcock to allow the photographers on the set, promising him that their film would remain undeveloped until he gave approval. On April 3, 1960, the New York Times Sunday magazine reported that during production, Hitchcock had "closed the set to visitors, forbade his cast and crew to discuss the plot outside the studio, and ordered Paramount publicity men NOT to talk up the story." Despite Hitchcock's efforts to maintain secrecy about the film's plot, Mike Connolly, Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" columnist, wrote on January 12, 1960: "Tony Perkins, the Psycho psycho, kills his mother and stuffs her, taxidermist-style." Additionally, a May 1960 Variety item revealed virtually the entire plot of the film, and that Perkins played a transvestite who killed while impersonating his mother. In an attempt to maintain control of the situation, Hitchcock released no stills of key scenes and did not allow exhibitors or reviewers to see the finished picture until it opened in New York, according to the Motion Picture Herald Prod Digest review.
       According to the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in November 1959, the PCA approved the screenplay's basic story but informed Paramount that it would be impossible to issue the picture a Code seal because of "the very pointed description of an incestuous relationship between Norman and his mother." The PCA demanded the change or elimination of several lines of dialogue indicating an incestuous relationship and recommended the deletion of any discussion of transvestitism. In addition, the PCA advised caution in showing the toilet in the bathroom, and according to modern sources, Psycho marked the first time that a flushing toilet was seen in an American motion picture.
       On February 19, 1960, the PCA viewed the completed film, which it refused to approve. According to an internal memo, the film was rejected because of the beginning scene between Sam and Marion, which was "entirely too passionate"; a sexually suggestive line uttered by "Tom Cassidy"; and the shower murder sequence. The memo stated that the sequence had "a number of shots, some impressionistic, some completely realistic, of the girl's nude body. All of these shots are in violation of the Code, which prohibits nudity `in fact or in silhouette.'" It was further declared that Norman watching Marion undress was too sexually suggestive and had to be cut so that he would only see her in her bra and slip rather than explicitly taking off her bra. On March 3, 1960, the office issued Paramount a seal of approval "based upon the revised scenes as reviewed in our projection room" the previous day, so presumably the cuts demanded by the PCA were made.
       The Hitchcock papers reveal that the National Catholic Legion of Decency demanded three cuts before giving the picture a "B," or "morally objectionable in part for all" rating. The Legion required that scenes of Marion removing her bra be deleted, that the shots showing Norman washing his hands of blood be shortened and that the number of times Arbogast is stabbed be reduced from four to two. Psycho was eventually issued the "B" rating by the Legion, which announced: "The sensational use of sex and the excessive violence, which partially March the development of the story, are considered to be entirely lacking in dramatic justification and to be highly objectionable."
       Information in the Hitchcock Collection suggests that there was a "foreign version" of the picture, in which the opening sequence between Sam and Marion contained footage excised from the American release. A June 21, 1960 entry in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column asserted that the European version would contain more nudity in the shower sequence. A February 1961 New York Times story about Geoffrey I. Shurlock, the head of the PCA, reported that although Shurlock had been criticized for allowing the frank sequence, "it is known that this scene was much more torrid as filmed originally; Shurlock forced Hitchcock to reshoot the entire sequence to make it less sexy." Modern sources allege, however, that Hitchcock offered to redo the sequence, but only if someone from the PCA office was present at the time to approve it, and when no PCA officials attended the scheduled reshoot, the matter was not pursued.
       The shower scene, which lasts for approximately forty-five seconds and consists of over seventy separate shots, has become one of the most widely recognized, studied, copied and parodied sequences in cinema history. The December 1959 New York Times article reported that Hitchcock intended to rehearse the sequence "'with film,' staging the scene and photographing it simultaneously from several angles with hand-held Eyemos." Hitchcock intended to use the resulting footage as the basis for the storyboards that would guide the final filming. In the February 1961 New York Times article, the director revealed that he had used chocolate syrup for the blood.
       Beginning with a December 1973 The Sunday Times (London) article, title designer and pictorial consultant Saul Bass has claimed numerous times that, with Hitchcock's approval, he actually directed and edited the entire sequence, but was never given full credit. In her 1995 book about the making of Psycho, however, Janet Leigh emphatically refuted his claim, declaring that only Hitchcock directed the scene; Leigh's denial of Bass's claim has been substantiated by several surviving members of the film's crew, including assistant director Hilton A. Green in the DVD documentary. In Leigh's book, she asserted that the only time anyone other than Hitchcock directed any part of the picture was when he was ill and allowed assistant director Green to attempt to direct the scene depicting the murder of Arbogast. After viewing Green's footage, however, Hitchcock reshot almost all of it. A January 15, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that while Hitchcock was ill with the flu, Green was filming "inserts and non-cast shots."
       In Leigh's book, the actress dispelled several other myths about the shower scene, such as one that Hitchcock doused her with cold water to get her to scream. She related that the water was a pleasant temperature for the entire seven days that it took to film the sequence. She also stated that, at the suggestion of costumer Rita Riggs, she was covered with flesh-toned moleskin in strategic areas, but was otherwise nude, and that it was she who appeared throughout the entire sequence. As noted in the Hitchcock Collection, the director did use model Marli Renfro as Leigh's double during the sequence. According to a September 1960 Los Angeles Mirror-News article and Leigh's book, Renfro appeared nude on the set in order to establish the sequence's lighting and camera angles, as well as the density of the water and shower curtain, and to make the crew more comfortable with Leigh's near nudity.
       The only shot of Renfro that Hitchcock attempted to insert into the finished picture was an overhead shot showing the length of Marion's body after she was slain, but it was censored due to Renfro's bare buttocks being visible, according to Leigh and screenwriter Joseph Stefano. Leigh did state, however, that Hitchcock used Renfro for the sequence in which Norman wraps up and carries Marion's corpse to the trunk of her car, as it would have been uncomfortable for Leigh and her face would not be visible anyway. In many interviews after the film's release, Leigh reported that, although she was not frightened while filming the sequence, after seeing the completed film, she was too scared to take a shower ever again and if a bathtub was not available, would take a shower only with the doors locked and the shower curtain open.
       In modern interviews, surviving crew members recount that, although the shower scene required more elaborate set-ups, the murder of Arbogast, which was also storyboarded by Bass, was actually much more difficult to film. A rig to hold Martin Balsam while he fell down the stairs had to be constructed, and because motion picture cameras of the time did not have automatic focus, the camera had to be painstakingly re-focused throughout his fall. An overhead pulley system, to follow Balsam, was made to hold the camera and its operators. A modern source notes that the double used for Mother in that sequence, four-foot-tall actress Mitzi Koestner, added to the sequence's eerie perspective.
       Bernard Herrmann's score, which, according to modern sources was the first ever to be played solely by stringed instruments, has become one of the most highly praised and imitated musical scores in cinema history, as well as one of the most recognized in popular culture. According to modern sources, Hitchcock at first asked Herrmann to compose an all-jazz score, presumably because the director thought it would be more commercial. Herrmann demurred, however, insisting on the string score, which he felt was better suited for a black-and-white film. Herrmann also added the soon-to-be famous accompaniment to the shower scene, which Hitchcock reportedly did not want to contain music. It was Hitchcock, modern sources add, who suggested that Herrmann repeat the screeching violin cue for the ending scene in which Norman attacks Lila. The music is often featured in concerts of film scores and recorded compilations of Hitchcock film scores. In 1973, Herrmann recorded an abbreviated version of the score with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and in 1975, recorded the complete score with the National Philharmonic Orchestra; both albums were best-sellers.
       As noted by several Hollywood Reporter news items, the picture was sold on a "blind bidding" policy to protect the plot twists, which meant that exhibitors could not screen the film before bidding on the right to show it. Although several exhibitors complained that the practice ran contrary to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1948 abolishment of block booking, a May 24, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that the anti-trust division of the Justice Department ruled that the policy was not illegal as long as it was applied equally to all theaters.
       As noted by contemporary sources, the picture's extremely successful publicity campaign, featuring a special trailer starring Hitchcock and a "no admittance after picture start" policy, was constructed by the director himself. A July 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item called Hitchcock's publicity scheme "the most extensive and comprehensive promotion campaign at the theatre level in Paramount's 45-year history." The main theatrical trailer, which ran for approximately six-and-a-half minutes, featured Hitchcock wandering through the Bates Motel and house set, giving audiences a tour of "the scene of the crime." In the tongue-in-cheek trailer, which was included on the 1999 DVD release, Hitchcock is careful not to reveal the exact nature of the plot, although at the end, he throws open the shower curtain to reveal a screaming woman, who was actually Vera Miles wearing a wig to make her resemble Leigh. A December 23, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Hitchcock himself recorded the trailer in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and French.
       Hitchcock was insistent about the widely publicized and praised policy that no patron could be admitted to a theater after the picture had started. Although many previous "roadshow" pictures shown on a special engagement basis had scheduled start times, it had been customary practice for theaters to allow moviegoers to enter whenever they wished. In modern interviews, Hitchcock asserted that the main reason he established the policy was because Leigh was killed so early in the film, and if viewers missed the beginning, they would spend the rest of the picture wondering when she would appear.
       A June 10, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that at the film's initial engagement in New York City, patrons would be admitted only during the showing of a twenty-five minute short or two five-minute periods before and after the short. [Paramount also strongly urged exhibitors not to have a double-bill when exhibiting Psycho, instead filling out the program with shorts and newsreels.] Outside the two New York theaters running the film, while patrons were standing in line, exhibitors played a recording of Hitchcock asking them not to give away the ending to their friends who had not yet seen it and explaining that they would enjoy the film much more by seeing it from the beginning. One of Hitchcock's most popular phrases from this campaign was his statement, "please don't give away the ending, it's the only one we have." In a July 30, 1960 Los Angeles Mirror-News article, the director stated that he used his "TV personality" for the recordings. Several contemporary sources indicated that as a further publicity ploy, Paramount hired Pinkerton guards to appear at theaters and enforce the admittance policy, which was also used in Great Britain and other countries.
       A long article with Hitchcock's byline, describing the various policies, was published in Motion Picture Herald under the title "A Lesson in PSYCHO-logy." In the article Hitchcock discussed another innovation used infrequently prior to the exhibition of Psycho, that of a separate line for moviegoers who had already purchased their tickets and were awaiting the next showing, which kept foot traffic clear of the box-office windows. A September 1960 Variety article offered that one of the reasons the publicity campaign for Psycho was so effective was because it focused almost exclusively on the director rather than on any of the stars, who were "good" but not "outstanding" marquee names, according to the article. Contemporary sources also noted that Hitchcock toured extensively, in the United States and foreign countries, to advertise the picture with public appearances.
       Contemporary sources reported that the admittance policy was also being enforced at drive-ins, with the result that one drive-in theater in New Jersey had a three-mile line of waiting cars, according to a July 15, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item. The July 1960 Los Angeles Mirror-News article added that Paramount and Hitchcock had "stuck to their guns" when selling the film to exhibitors throughout the country and had "refused to sell the picture to dissenters" who would not abide by the admittance policy. The Los Angeles Times review of the Los Angeles opening did note that of the twenty area theaters where the picture was being shown, eleven of them were exhibiting the film on a double-bill, "against the old master's strict dictum," and a August 19, 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that the admittance policy had been dropped at one New York theater, a "grind house," because of "irate customers." The studio's admittance policy was enforced, however, for the Telemeter pay television system then in use in Canada. From 9 November through November 14, 1960, the picture was available four times daily on the system but could only be ordered up to eleven minutes before the screening. If a viewer deposited the required price, one dollar, in their home Telemeter coin box after that time, the money was put toward the next screening, according to studio files and Hollywood Reporter news items.
       The film's portrayal of sexuality, violence and mental illness would prove to be extremely controversial throughout its initial release, with many reviewers condemning it, or cautioning patrons not to bring children to the theater. The picture, which received an "X," or adults only, certificate in Great Britain, was particularly attacked by British critics, several of whom labeled the film the worst of Hitchcock's career. According to a February 1961 New York Times article, the film was lightly censored in Sweden and Australia, which considered Psycho "a bit bloody," while a modern source adds that Singapore and Great Britain also demanded cuts to reduce the violence.
       The picture sparked a debate about censorship and the effects of film violence throughout the United States. Although influential New York Times critic Bosley Crowther initially gave the film a tepid review, he revised his opinion after seeing it again, and in an August 1960 article, defended it against charges that it should be censored. Crowther declared that while the film did offer "two horrendous murders...a pretty bold sex scene...and a denouement based on an assumption of psychological abnormality that would make Krafft-Ebing's hair stand on end...what would one expect from a Hitchcock picture titled Psycho, which is not precisely an ambiguous word?" Crowther argued that the film had been extensively publicized as a thrilling shocker, and that cinema had always presented highly sensational material, such as in the 1931 German film M, which was at the time being shown at a New York revival house.
       Although Psycho has come to be regarded as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces, a large number of contemporary critics agreed with Harry MacArthur of The Sunday Star (Washington, D.C.), who proclaimed: "No major moviemaker ever employed sex and shock more blatantly for the sake of sex and shock alone." The Esquire critic termed the picture "a reflection of a most unpleasant mind, a mean, sly, sadistic little mind." Many newspaper and magazine reviewers were especially upset that a director of Hitchcock's reputation had made what they considered an inferior film. Most of the trade papers, however, such as Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety and Film Daily, lauded the film, pointing out the skill with which Hitchcock told the story and the excellent performances that he obtained from the actors, especially that of Perkins. Although most reviews accommodated Hitchcock's request that they not reveal the film's story, some, including Filmfacts and Harrrison's Reports, related the entire plot.
       The film received a number of Academy Award nominations: Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Leigh), Best Art Direction (black & white) and Best Cinematography (black & white). Leigh won a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actress and Hitchcock was nominated for awards by the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Producers Guild. In addition to receiving a nomination from the Writers Guild of America for Best Written American Drama, Stefano's screenplay was voted the Best Screen Mystery of 1960 by the Mystery Writers of America, and Bloch received a special scroll from the organization for his contribution to the film. The picture, which was named one of the year's ten best by New York Times as well as the best American feature by Kine Weekly, was chosen for preservation by the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 1992. Psycho has been included on several of AFI's 100 Years series. For 100 Movies, the picture was listed 18th and was 1st on the 100 Thrills list, while Norman placed 2d on the 100 Heroes & Villains list.
       In a July 1966 New York Times article, Hitchcock commented that the film had cost only $810,000 to make, but had, to that time, made fifteen million dollars. According to a November 1960 Variety article, slightly over seven million dollars had been grossed by the film in its first 3,750 U.S. playdates alone. The article added that Hitchcock's share of the gross would eventually reach about six million dollars after the film's initial runs, and that "a before-taxes gross of $6,000,000 from an enterprise that involved less than a year's time would seem to establish some sort of show business record."
       A February 7, 1961 New York Post article reported that Psycho was the second most profitable black-and-white film in Hollywood history, after the 1915 D. W. Griffith film Birth of a Nation (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20). Because of Psycho's continued strength at the box office during its subsequent theatrical re-releases, from 1965 through the 1990s, it has remained one of the highest-grossing pictures in cinema history in terms of cost-to-profit ratio, according to a July 29, 1998 Time Out (London) news item, as well as Hitchcock's most financially successful film. It was also the last of six pictures directed by Hitchcock for release by Paramount.
       In February 1964, New York Times reported that Psycho, along with "about 200" other post-1948 Paramount films, had been secured for television broadcast by the NBC network. NBC's contract with Paramount was for one year, with the option for two more years. A December 4, 1966 New York Times article noted that NBC was wary of broadcasting the controversial Psycho, however, and after declining to do so, sold the rights to CBS for approximately $400,000. According to contemporary news items, a proposed television broadcast of the film was to occur in September 1966, but the CBS network postponed the broadcast due to a number of complaints from Midwest affiliates concerned about showing the film after the recent stabbing murder of Valerie Percy, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of Illinois senatorial candidate Charles Percy.
       The New York Times article added that CBS had cut nine minutes from the film for television, which was due to be shown in the spring of 1966; however, as of spring 2005, the picture has never been aired on a non-cable, national network in the United States, although it has been shown innumerable times on local stations, beginning in 1970. Theatrical re-releases after the film began airing on television were advertised as "the version TV didn't dare show!" According to a TV Guide article, Psycho was not shown on television uncut and commercial-free until November 1990, when it was broadcast by the Showtime cable channel. A 1974 book and a July 1998 article in The Independent on Sunday (London) added that the film was frequently shown with a bar covering the bottom of the frame in the shower scene, presumably to cover any hint of Leigh's breasts, and that the original negative not containing the bar had, as of the mid-1970s, appeared to have been lost, although it was not.
       The following information comes from modern sources: Edith Head, who had worked with Hitchcock several times, designed the costumes for Miles. Allegedly, according to one modern source, when the film was first released, the skull image superimposed over Norman's face was also seen when he sinks Marion's car in the swamp, but Hitchcock decided to delete the image, which no longer exists. Another source states that Hitchcock was so ambivalent about including the skull image at the end of the film that some 1960 prints were sent out that did not have it.
       Throughout the years, several real-life murderers have asserted that the film influenced them to commit their crimes. The most widely publicized case, involving killer Henry Adolph Busch, who murdered his aunt and two other women, went to trial in Los Angeles in December 1960. Busch, who claimed that the film prompted him to slay his third victim, was found guilty and sentenced to the death penalty. In a 1969 New York Times interview, Hitchcock, who was frequently asked about the possible effects of the film's violence, especially in Busch's case, retorted: "Well, I wanted to ask him what movie he had seen before he killed the second woman."
       The sets of the Bates Motel and house have been prominent features on the studio tour of Universal Studios in Hollywood for many years, while the Universal Studios Tour in Orlando, FL features the Hitchcock Pavilion as well as a "Psycho Experience," consisting of live actors, clips from the film and footage of Perkins especially shot for the tour. Merchandise ranging from Bates Motel memorabilia to a shower curtain emblazoned with the outline of Mother carrying a knife continues to sell well.
       Psycho has inspired numerous copies, homages and parodies, including a May 1961 sketch on the Bob Hope television show, in which Hope played a mad hotelkeeper in a skit entitled "Weird-o"; the 1961 William Castle film Homicidal; Roman Polanski's 1965 film Repulsion (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 for both); the 1977 Mel Brooks comedy High Anxiety; several Brian De Palma films such as Dressed to Kill (1980); a 1991 television commercial featuring Perkins as Norman, following Mother's command to eat his cereal; and even episodes of the animated television series The Simpsons. Many cinema historians consider Psycho to be the genesis of the "slasher" horror genre, which encompasses such films as the Halloween series (some of which starred Leigh's daughter, Jamie Leigh Curtis) and the Friday the 13th series.
       Bloch wrote two sequels to his novel. The first, Psycho II, was published in 1982, and the second, Psycho House, was published in 1990. Neither book was used as the basis for the subsequent movie sequels to Hitchcock's Psycho, nor were they related at all in plot. According to an August 1982 Los Angeles Herald Express article, when Bloch sold the screen rights to his original novel Psycho, he "lost the rights to any sequel films based on any subsequent Psycho novels." Bloch received no royalties for the use of his characters in the filmed sequels to Psycho. The article further reported that when Universal began pre-production on the first Psycho sequel, it asked Bloch not to write a sequel to his book, or at least not to call it Psycho II, but because he was not legally bound to comply, he ignored the studio's request.
       Hitchcock sold Psycho and its attendant rights to Universal in 1962. Three sequels to Psycho were made, each featuring Perkins in the role of Norman and produced by Hilton A. Green, the assistant director on the original film. Miles recreated her role as Lila in the second film, Psycho II, which was directed by Richard Franklin and released by Universal in 1983. Psycho II opened with a "reprise" of the "notorious" shower murder, according to its Variety review, which also noted that the original production was the "second-best grossing film" of 1960, after Ben-Hur (see entry above). The second sequel, released in 1986 and entitled Psycho III, marked Perkins' directorial debut and co-starred Diana Scarwid and Jeff Fahey. The opening of Psycho III features an homage to Hitchcock's noted 1958 film Vertigo (see below). For both Psycho II and Psycho III, Virginia Gregg reprised her role as the voice of Mother.
       The third sequel, Psycho IV: The Beginning, was a television movie first broadcast on the Showtime cable network on November 10, 1990. Telling the story of Norman's youth and his early relationship with his mother, the picture was directed by Mick Garris, scripted by Stefano and starred Henry Thomas as the adolescent Norman and Olivia Hussey as Mother. For Psycho IV, the Bates Motel and house were reconstructed at Universal Studios, Orlando, where they remain a tourist attraction.
       Some modern sources assert that due to his identification with the role of Norman, Perkins was typecast and could rarely find film work other than portraying mentally unstable characters, although he continued to work in the theater in a variety of roles. As Leigh noted in her book, after Psycho's release, Perkins left the United States to work abroad for several years, and she claims that he was shocked to learn of its far-reaching impact upon his return. In the April 1989 Los Angeles Herald Express review of Perkins' second-to-last film, Edge of Sanity, in which he portrayed an updated version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the critic commented that Perkins had "been trapped in this kind of part ever since that fateful evening 29 years ago when Janet Leigh decided to wash the desert grit out of her pores."
       In 1987, Universal attempted to use the story as the basis for a weekly television series entitled Bates Motel. The two-hour pilot, which aired on the NBC network on July 5, 1987, starred Bud Cort as a former mental patient who, after meeting Norman while incarcerated, revitalized the defunct Bates Motel. The pilot was not picked up by NBC, however.
       In 1998, Universal released a "recreation" of Psycho directed by Gus Van Sant. An almost shot-for-shot remake of the original, the 1998 Psycho used Herrmann's score, the graphic design for the opening credits and Stefano's screenplay, which he updated for the new film to include such changes as having Marion steal $400,000 instead of $40,000. Van Sant made a cameo in the picture as a man being berated by a Hitchcock look-alike outside the Lowery real estate office. The remake, which starred Anne Heche as Marion, Vince Vaughn as Norman and Julianne Moore as Lila, was dedicated to the memory of Hitchcock.

Miscellaneous Notes

Shown at Cannes Film Festival (Restored Print & Soundtrack/Cannes Classics) May 12-23, 2010.

Print restored and soundtrack restored/reconstructed by Universal Pictures and Audionamix in 2010.

Selected in 1992 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Re-released in Zurich September 6, 1991.

Released in United States Summer August 1960

Re-released in United States February 12, 1999 (Film Forum; New York City)

Re-released in United States on Video May 23, 1995

Released in United States Summer August 1960

Re-released in United States February 12, 1999

Re-released in United States on Video May 23, 1995

Released in United States April 1981

Released in United States August 1997

Released in United States May 2010

Shown at Radio City Film Festival sponsored by Univeral Pictures August 20-24, 1997.

Released in United States April 1981 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition ("Scared to Death": Horror Movie Marathon) April 2-23, 1981.)

Released in United States August 1997 (Shown at Radio City Film Festival sponsored by Univeral Pictures August 20-24, 1997.)

Released in United States May 2010 (Shown at Cannes Film Festival (Restored Print & Soundtrack/Cannes Classics) May 12-23, 2010.)