To celebrate the 50th anniversary Blu-ray release of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful horror Psycho (out Aug 9th in the U.K.), Obsessed With Film newcomer Stuart Cummins has given us 50 reasons why he think it’s the greatest film of all time.
That’s fittingly one reason per year since it first entertained, shocked, terrified and disturbed audiences way back in 1960….
1. The Title
It’s short, snappy and intriguing without giving away the plot. Essentially the film lets you know what you’re in for, but leaves enough to the imagination to be intimidating.
2. The Opening Credits
Saul Bass’s opening title sequence is fresh, vibrant (despite being B&W!) and quintessentially 60s chic!
The jagged, moving lines successfully mimic the fragmented mind of Norman Bates, which matched with Bernard Hermann’s frantic score is disturbing and suspenseful in it’s own way for the tragedy about to befall us.
3. The Shower Scene
Probably the most obvious reason for Psycho’s claim to the top spot is that it contains one of the most iconic, most discussed and most memorable scenes in cinema history.
The scene took an entire week to shoot (1/3rd of Janet Leigh’s time spent on the production) and is simultaneously horrific and tantalising, without any actual penetration of the knife or any visible lady parts. Janet Leigh wore a moleskin suit to give the impression of nudity, but Hitchcock continued to roll camera after the warm water had washed the suit off. Needless to say the fully nude shot was used in the final cut of the film.
The pace and tempo of the scene perfectly build suspense, only for the audience to be given the surprise of their life as Marion Crane is robbed of hers. The scene is perfect in achieving it’s purpose and is the ultimate mid-movie twist.
4. Bye Bye Big Star…
Hitchcock killed off Janet Leigh’s Marian within the first 45mins, yanking the carpet from the foot of his audience and leaving them no star to follow. This took guts and Hitchcock took a gamble that must have been hard to convince Paramount to go along with it back in the day.
Nowadays Marian’s murder – and the exit of Leigh from Psycho – is one of cinemas biggest surprises and thus Hitchcock’s big gamble paid off!
5. Small Budget = BIG Profit!
Psycho was made for a meagre $800,000. Ok, maybe its not such a meagre sum to us, but it was for Hitchcock!
His previous films had had budgets of $4,000,000 (North By Northwest, 1959), $2,479,000 (Vertigo, 1958) and $2,500,000 (The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956), but at Hitchcock’s request, Psycho was a much smaller affair. A
pparently fed up with the pressures of delivering an audience on a large budget, and working with big name actors – Hitchcock used his television production team and made Psycho on the cheap!
However, it subsequently made Paramount (and later Universal) a rather nice $40million – not a bad return on $800,000 then! It actually attracted a bigger audience than any other Hitch movie.