The keystone of all psycho-thrillers, Psycho is a comprehensive and fascinating film inspired by the figure of Ed Gein, a notorious murderer and grave robber. Delving into the killer’s gnarled Oedipal relationship with his mother, the movie depicts the life of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a quiet motel manager whose mother is an unabated psychopath. Norman comes into the story after we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a Phoenix, Arizona secretary, and her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The two cannot get married because most of Sam’s money is directed towards alimony. After her lunch break, Marion receives $40,000 from a client and embezzles the capital. The woman changes her car and license plates, wants to travel to Fairvale, California and plans on giving Sam the stolen money there.
Due to a harsh rainstorm, Marion decides to spend the night at the Bates Motel. After meeting Norman, she resolves to take back the $40,000, but prepares for a shower first. The notorious murder scene and its haunting monumental score might not be as shocking to you as it was for viewers in the 1960s, but it can certainly be exhilarating to watch. After Norman discovers the woman’s corpse, he disposes of the evidence from the crime scene and has to deal with the aftermath of Marion’s death when a private investigator named Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam) comes into the picture, asking to speak with Norman’s mother.
“It wasn’t a message that stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance…they were aroused by pure film.”
“Hitchcock’s mischievous genius for audience manipulation is everywhere: in the noirish angularity of the cinematography, in his use of Bernard Herrmann’s stabbing string score, in the ornithological imagery that creates a bizarre sense of preying and being preyed upon.”
— Mark Monahan, The Telegraph
Did You Know?
Hitchcock initially wanted to have nothing but eerie, dead silence during the infamous shower scene, but changed his mind after hearing Bernard Hermann’s track. The Master of Suspense also makes a cameo appearance in the movie – about six minutes into the film. A 1964 tape discovered in the BBC archives reveals Hitchcock claiming that Psycho was in fact intended as a comedy and that he ”was horrified to find some people took it seriously”. Review our Gay Themed Films here