Psycho (1960) Film Review A+

DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by: Joseph Stefano based on Psycho by Robert Bloch
Cinematography: John L. Russell
Edited by: George Tomasini
Original Score: Bernard Herrmann
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Starring: Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Martin Balsam
BOTTOM LINE: During a Friday afternoon affair in a Phoenix hotel, real estate secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin) discuss their inability to get married because of Sam’s debts. Marion returns to work, steals $40,000, and drives to Sam’s home in Fairvale, California. She stops for the night at the Bates Motel, located off the main highway during a heavy rainstorm, and hides the stolen money inside a newspaper. Proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) descends from a large house overlooking the motel, registers Marion under an alias, and invites her to dine with him. After Norman returns to his house, Marion overhears him arguing with his mother about his wish to dine with Marion. Marion decides to drive back to Phoenix in the morning to return the stolen money. As she showers, a shadowy figure appears and stabs her to death. Norman cleans up the murder scene, putting Marion’s body, her belongings, and the hidden cash in her car, and sinks it in a swamp.
Hitchcock used a small crew, assembled from his TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, to film the movie. The most notable change was cinematographer John L. Russell replacing Hitchcock regular John Burks for the film’s striking black-and-white lensing. However, Hitchcock regulars George Tomasini, Bernard Herrmann, and Saul Bass remained in post-production. Their contributions to the editing, score, and title sequence are all essential to the film’s success. Never was Hitchcock’s ability to manipulate an audience’s sympathies more evident than in the “car in the pond” scene. Within just a few minutes of her horrific death, we have forgotten about Janet Leigh. We are now rooting for her killer, Anthony Perkins, and we all breathe a huge sigh of relief when, after a gut-wrenching pause, the car containing Janet’s body finally goes under the water. Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates made him immortal while, at the same time, ending his career in Hollywood. He had crossed a line with this fearless performance, and there was no way back.
Norman may not be Gay because of his sexual attraction to Marion. However, he is most assuredly Queer, thus cementing the fifth letter in our LGBTQ acronym. Hitchcock liked to cast Queer actors in Queer parts. A known gay actor who had relationships with several famous male stars of the day, including Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, Perkins died from complications of AIDS in 1992 after having been married and fathering two children. Norman is a crossdresser who is smothered by an overbearing mother and displays traits associated with traditional “feminine” behavior, hinting that Norman is repressing his genuine desire for a same-sex partner.


Hitchcock’s cameo: 0:06:59. He is seen wearing a Stetson cowboy hat through an office window as Janet Leigh comes through the door.

STREAMING: Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and YouTube

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