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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Psycho (1960)


Plot Summary: Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), on the lam after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm. Traveling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a young man with a hobby in bird taxidermy and who seemingly has a difficult relationship with his mother. However, there is more going on at the Bates Motel than at first glance.


Cast:

  • Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates

  • Vera Miles as Lila Crane

  • Janet Leigh as Marion Crane

  • John Gavin as Sam Loomis

  • Martin Balsam as Private Investigator Arbogast

  • John McIntire as Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers

  • Simon Oakland as Dr. Richmond

  • Frank Albertson as Tom Cassidy

  • Pat Hitchcock as Caroline

  • Vaughn Taylor as George Lowery

  • Lurene Tuttle as Mrs. Chambers

*Recognition:

  • Psycho was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh and Best Director for Hitchcock.

  • Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock's best films, and is arguably his most famous work. It has been praised as a major work of cinematic art by international film critics and scholars due to its slick direction, tense atmosphere, impressive camerawork, a memorable score and iconic performances.

  • Psycho has appeared on a number of lists by websites, television channels, and magazines. The shower scene was featured as number four on the list of Bravo Network's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, whilst the finale was ranked number four on Premiere's similar list.

  • In the British Film Institute's 2012 Sight & Sound polls of the greatest films ever made, Psycho was 35th among critics and 48th among directors. In the earlier 2002 version of the list, the film ranked 35th among critics and 19th among directors.

  • In 1998, Time Out conducted a reader's poll and Psycho was voted the 29th greatest film of all time. The Village Voice ranked Psycho at No. 19 in its Top 250 "Best Films of the Century" list in 1999, based on a poll of critics.

  • Entertainment Weekly voted it the 11th Greatest film of all time in 1999.

  • In January 2002, the film was voted at No. 72 on the list of the "Top 100 Essential Films of All Time" by the National Society of Film Critics.

  • The film was included in Time's All-Time 100 best movies list in 2005.

  • In 2005, Total Film magazine ranked Psycho as the 6th-greatest horror film of all time.

  • In 2010, The Guardian newspaper ranked it as "the best horror film of all time".

  • Director Martin Scorsese included Psycho in his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time.

  • In 2017, Empire magazine's reader's poll ranked Psycho at No. 53 on its list of The 100 Greatest Movies. In an earlier poll held by the same magazine in 2008, it was voted 45th on the list of 'The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time'. In 2021, The film was ranked at No. 5 by Time Out on their list of "The 100 best horror movies".

  • It was #18 on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies (1998); #1 on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Thrills; Norman Bates was the #2 Villain on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes and Villains; "A boy's best friend is his mother." was ranked #56 AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movie Quotes; it was #4 on AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores; and it was #14 on AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) (2007).

  • In 1992, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Did You Know:

  • Sir Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make this movie so much that he deferred his standard $250,000 salary in lieu of 60% of the movie's gross. Paramount Pictures, believing that this movie would do poorly at the box office, agreed. His personal earnings from this movie exceeded $15 million. Adjusted for inflation, that amount would be just over $120 million in 2016 dollars.

  • This movie only cost $800,000 to make, and earned more than $40 million. Sir Alfred Hitchcock used the crew from his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) to save time and money. In 1962, he exchanged the rights to the movie and his television series for a huge block of MCA's stock, becoming its third-largest stockholder.

  • One of the reasons Sir Alfred Hitchcock shot the movie in black-and-white was he thought it would be too gory in color. But the main reason was that he wanted to make the movie as inexpensively as possible (under one million dollars). He also wondered if so many bad, inexpensively made, black-and-white "B" movies did so well at the box-office, what would happen if a really good, inexpensively made, black-and-white movie was made.

  • Screenwriter Joseph Stefano and director Sir Alfred Hitchcock deliberately layered-in certain risqué elements as a ruse to divert the censors from more crucial concerns, like the action that takes place in the bedroom in the beginning and the shower murder. The censors reviewed the script and censored the "unimportant" extra material and Hitchcock managed to sneak in his "important" material.

  • Sir Alfred Hitchcock was initially disappointed with the movie. He even disliked the shower scene and believed the movie would end up on a low budget drive-in double-bill. According to Bernard Herrmann, Hitchcock thought of editing it down for broadcast on his television show. Hitchcock did not conceive of music for the shower scene, but Herrmann did it anyway. After seeing the movie with its score, including the shower sequence, he realized that the movie would work.

  • Director Sir Alfred Hitchcock was so pleased with the score written by Bernard Herrmann that he doubled the composer's salary to $34,501. Hitchcock later said, "Thirty-three percent of the effect of Psycho was due to the music."

  • When the cast and crew began work on the first day, they had to raise their right hands and promise not to divulge one word of the story. Sir Alfred Hitchcock also withheld the ending part of the script from his cast until he needed to shoot it.

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

  • To ensure the people were in the theaters at the start of this movie (rather than walking in part way through) the studio provided a record to play in the foyer of the theaters. The album featured background music, occasionally interrupted by a voice saying "Ten minutes to Psycho time", "Five minutes to Psycho time", and so on.

  • The amount of cash Marion stole, $40,000 in 1960 would be equivalent to approximately $352,000 in 2020. The $700 difference she paid when trading in her car, and getting another one, would be equivalent to about $6,100.

  • When Norman first realizes there has been a murder, he shouts, "Mother! Oh God! God! Blood! Blood!" Sir Alfred Hitchcock had the bass frequencies removed from Anthony Perkins' voice to make him sound more like a frightened teenager.

  • After this movie's release, Sir Alfred Hitchcock received an angry letter from the father of a girl who refused to have a bath after seeing Diabolique (1955), and now refused to shower after seeing this movie. Hitchcock sent a note back simply saying, "Send her to the dry cleaners."

  • Sir Alfred Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup instead of blood, because it showed up better on camera.

  • As the victim of Norman Bates’ shower attack in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Leigh has said that she didn’t like taking showers in real life anymore. She opted for baths after filming that movie. She told The New York Times that she made sure all the windows and doors in the house were locked and if she did take a shower, she left the bathroom door and curtain open.

  • Walt Disney refused to allow Sir Alfred Hitchcock to film at Disneyland in the early 1960s because Hitchcock had made "that disgusting movie, 'Psycho.'"

  • On-set, Sir Alfred Hitchcock would always refer to Anthony Perkins as "Master Bates." Hitchcock did have the reputation for often harassing male and female cast members like this (See Tippi Hedren, Billy Mumy, etc.)

  • The Bates house, though moved from its original location, still resides on Universal's lot. The motel has been replicated. It is a regular stop on the Universal Studios tram tour.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: For growing boys, their relationship to their mother defines their adult sexuality.


Best Performance: Bernard Hermann (Composer)/Alfred Hitchcock (Director/Producer)

Best Secondary Performance: Bernard Herman (Composer)/Anthony Perkins (Norman)

Most Charismatic Award: Anthony Perkins (Norman)/Janet Leigh (Marion)

Best Scene:

  • Opening in the Hotel

  • Marion is Followed

  • Car Dealership

  • Dinner with Norman

  • Shower Scene

  • Sam, Lila, and Arbogast Meet Up

  • Arbogast Meets Norman

  • Arbogast Climbs the Stairs

  • Seeing the Sheriff

  • Lila Goes Up to the House

  • Meeting Mother

  • Final Moments

Favorite Scene: Arbogast Climbs the Stairs

Most Indelible Moment: Shower Scene


In Memorium:

  • Betty Lynn, 95, American actress (The Andy Griffith Show, Cheaper by the Dozen, Meet Me in Las Vegas).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Norman Bates: Mother! Oh, God, Mother! Blood! Blood!!


Norman Bates: It's not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?

Marion Crane: Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough.


Norman Bates: A boy's best friend is his mother.


Norman Bates: I think I must have one of those faces you can't help believing.


Norman Bates: Mother - what's the phrase? She isn't quite herself today.


Arbogast: We're always quickest to doubt people who have a reputation for being honest.


Norman Bates: [voiceover in police custody, as Norman is thinking] 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..."


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 9.75

Impact/Significance: 7.75

Novelty: 10

Classic-ness: 9.5

Rewatchability: 5.5

Audience Score: 9.15 (88% Google, 95% RT)

Total: 51.65


Remaining Questions:

  • Is the money recovered?

  • What happens to Norman?

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