Skip to comments.'Psycho' turns 50 today
Posted on 06/17/2010 7:55:21 AM PDT by Borges
Why its really about the death of God. -
Like just about all the greatest movies, Psycho works on the level of myth. It starts out as a faintly chintzy morality play in which Marion Crane, though she made a big mistake, will presumably be chastened, redeemed, protected, and rewarded by a universe that saves those who save themselves. It turns into a movie in which no one not even a sinner who repents will be saved. And that, for the first time in Hollywood, is a truly godless world. You dont have to be Carl Jung to see that it was a game-changing reflection of what our world was becoming. Psycho cleaves the 20th century in half, turning order into chaos, ushering us into a new way of seeing, of being. Yet the movies ultimate paradox its there in the final shot of the car being dredged out of the swamp is that it lifts us up by dragging us down. Its monster is all too brutally real. At the same time, that monster really is a ghost Mrs. Bates doesnt even exist. So why does it trouble our sleep so when she goes bump in the night?
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I saw a documentary on the great Hitchcock recently. Interestingly, he had every shot meticulously planned out in advance, to the point that the actual filming of the movie was, for him, anticlimactic.
I have always liked his earlier films better. I never really favored his turn toward the bizarre and the shocking which, perhaps started with Psycho.
Psycho seems so tame compared to films produced these days, but it sure was scary back in the day.
“Psycho seems so tame compared to films produced these days, but it sure was scary back in the day.”
Actually, to me, it still is more terrifying than the gore-in-your-face detritus being produced today.
Hitchcock understood that what you DIDN’T show had more potential to horrify, than what you actually framed with the camera lens.
Alien and Psycho are prime examples.
It’s been a while since I seen the movie, reading that made me want to watch it again.
The author mentioned “Manhunter” as the only other movie that is in the class of Psycho, I would add “Seven” to that list.
What an academic over-analysis.
Hitch would agree with you.
Naw, ex-wife's birthday is in March, and she's 49.
I don`t think it`s possible to overrate the impact of Psycho. Pauline Kael said the shower scene was like a violation—it went where no ther movie ever had in terms of shock because that kind of thing isn`t supposed to happen to the main character partway through. I`m glad that Bernard Herrmann gets his due. The music really makes the movie, creating an unnerving atmosphere, but the shower music is simply the greatest use of music in a dramatic scene, ever. The music is so unusual and shocking in the moment that it`s like an ambush on the viewer, like a repeating musical scream, and I think it makes the viewer think `What the hell is happening?` on a subconscious level. I can think of few movies that have been as influential as Psycho.
I read the book PSYCHO by Robert Bloch years ago.
It takes place between Tulsa, OK and Joplin MO.
Norman was very fat, like Michael Moore.
Still a darn good movie!
I saw an interview with Janet Leigh a number of years ago in which she talked about the shower scene. She said they did several takes, but Alfred Hitchcock felt he wasn’t getting a realistic enough reaction from her during the scene (he felt her screaming didn’t sound genuine enough.) He told her they would try it again. Unknown to her, however, this time he switched from the warm water that was being used in the shower to ice cold water. The screaming that Janet Leigh does in the scene is primarily due to her reaction to the ice cold water.
A prime example of government’s good intentions causing psychosis and mayhem in citizens lives.
Had the new highway never been built things would have been booming at the Bates Motel.
(yeah, I know it’s a stretch!)
Classic SNL with Tony Perkins:
Norman Bates: [ to camera ] Are you tired of slaving away in a dull, dead-end job? Fed up with meager paychecks that never stretch quite far enough? Sickened and disgusted by missing out on the good things of life? Hi, I’m Norman Bates for The Norman Bates School of Motel Management, here to explain how you can be your own boss while earning money in this rapidly-expanding field. Best of all, you learn at home, right in the privacy of your own shower. I’ll show you how to run anything from a tourist home to.. [ camera pans to scary-looking duck trophy on the wall, then back to Norman ] ..a multi-unit motor inn. You’ll recieve step-by-step instructions.. [ camera pans to scary-looking owl trophy on the wall, then back to Norman ] ..on how to make reservations and how to determine room rates, how to change the linen, and even little-known tricks of the trade, such as improving customer relations by giving guests a complimentary newspaper in the morning. [ holds up newspaper that reads “Los Angeles Times: SLASHER STRIKES AGAIN!” ]
Yes, a diploma in motel management can be your passport to prosperity, independence, and security, but are you motel material? Let’s find out with a simple quiz.
Question 1: A guest loses the key to her room. Would you
A) Give her a duplicate key
B) Let her in with your passkey
C) Hack her to death with a kitchen knife
Question 2: Which of the following is the most important in running a successful motel?
A) Cordial atmosphere
B) Courteous service
C) Hack ker to death with a kitchen knife
Question 3: How many.. [ holds newspaper over his mouth, and speaks in an old lady’s voice ] Important phone call, Norman. [ puts down newspaper, resumes regular voice ] What, Mother? [ puts newspaper over his mouth again ] Important phone call! [ puts newpaper down, and resumes normal voice ] Well, I’ve got to go, I have an important phone call! Just one of dozens I get every week as a fully-qualified motel manager. And if you would like to beome one, too, simply send your name and address to “The Norman Bates School of Motel Management, Old Highway, Fairvale, California..”
[ suddenly becomes nervous and shaky ]
There’s no obligation whatsoever.. and-and-and no salesman will call.. so-so y-y-y-y-you don’t have to b-b-bo-bother to lock your door, you know-you can-you can leave it off the latch. Or lock it! That’s fine, I don’t care! I don’t care if you lock it, ‘cause I have the keys! [ jiggles the keys nervously ] I have the keys right here! I have the key to Room 1, the key to Room 2, the key to Room 3.. [ hits bell, holds newspaper to mouth, and speaks in old lady’s voice again ] Norman! [ resumes normal voice ] Coming, Mother. [ throws newspaper down and runs out door ]
Did you know that they got the knife slicing sound by cutting up apples and mixing that onto the soundtrack?
***The author mentioned Manhunter as the only other movie that is in the class of Psycho, I would add Seven to that list.***
There are two endings to MANHUNTER. In the early one after the villan is killed, the detective visits a family, the husband, armed with a .45, gets between the detective and his wife, till he establishes that the detective means no harm.
This has been cut from recent releases of the movie, probably because it it too pro-gun. The family was to be the next victims of the killer.
Then they cut to the final scene at the beach.
I thought he was only 48.
"HERE'S YOUR PAPER!!!! HERE'S YOUR PAPER....HAPPY NOW?"
“I never really favored his turn toward the bizarre and the shocking”
like South Park..
Yes, his use of strings in Psycho is as striking as his use of brass in Jason and the Argonauts. It would be hard to imagine Psycho working without the soundtrack.
OMG I haven’t thought about that SNL sketch in years!! It was so funny!!
I remember laughing till I cried.
***Hi, Im Norman Bates for The Norman Bates School of Motel Management,***
Back about 1967-1969 there were lots of advrtisments on TV for motel management training.
I talked with a motel manager and he said they were scams.
“That boy gets no tip.”
I heard that they stabbed a melon. [cue the Arab jokes]
I didn’t know that today was Obama’s birthday.
Is Michelle throwing him a party at the White House? s/
Psycho is somewhat lessened for me by the closing where they explain the psychological reasons behind Norman Bates. That aspect of the film has not aged well. It may have been necessary at that time, though. In the days before "The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" and Charles Manson, people were assumed to be relatively sane.
If you watch "Harvey" today, the oddest part of it is watching people freak out because someone claims to have an invisible friend that's a 6' 4" rabbit. Today, you run into four people like that before noon.
Psycho trivia: Hitchcock shot the movie in B&W to avoid the cliche of red blood running down the drain. There were over a hundred scene cuts in the shower scene. At no time in the shower stabbing scene did they show the knife actually touching or penetrating the skin.
Now that's funny, I don't care who you are.
Unless you're the ex-wife.
Check you local arthouse cinema, I know the one in Tucson (The Loft) is putting it on screen next Wednesday (23rd), I wouldn’t be surprised if others are having anniversary showing also.
The following two years were the worst time in American History to be a man (because all of the women were afraid to take showers...)
The scariest movie for me in a long time (don’t laugh) was the remake of War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise.
There was no way to get away from those things. Totally stressed me out.
Psycho didn’t really do it for me. But I love Hitchcock.
North by Northwest has to be his best movie.
Rear Window and Vertigo were good, though Vertigo kind of fizzled at the end.
Notorious is another good one.
Psycho is not my favorite.
I’m sure you know this, but Hitchock originally wanted no music in the shower scene. Herrmann, a cranky ol’ bastid, prevailed.
That is cruel and in violation of Hitchcock’s artistic philosophy. Hitch made Paycho in b&w specifically so the blood going down the drain would be gray and not red. Understatement has its own power. He would not have run the pic on the right, for the same reasons.
It’s OK, he got the FR account in the settlement.
My Mom took me with her to see it when I was five (she really, really wanted to see it). The scariest part was hearing my Mom scream and her covering my eyes.