Anthony's Film Review

Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is a masterpiece among thriller films...

Alfred Hitchcock has directed plenty of great suspense films. He's so good at what he does that several of his films can be considered true classics. One of his best works is the 1960 thriller film Psycho. This is a movie that can be considered a landmark in the genre. Its way of keeping the audience fearful of what's to come is something that could influence all future suspense and thriller films.

The first moment of suspense is during the opening credits. It's not that the story begins here, because there's nothing but the cast and crew mentioned on a black screen. But there is music playing during this part. It's an orchestra playing a memorable fast-paced tune that makes us think of fear. Yeah, I'm not kidding. The music really is that effective in setting the tone for the movie. When I watched the credits and listened to the music, I found myself wanting the movie to start already, because it sounded like it might be good.

The movie first centers on Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh), who wants to start a new life in California with her lover Sam Loomis (played by John Gavin) who is still obligated to pay alimony to an ex-wife. Marion steals $40,000 from the bank she works at and takes off. The suspense begins when a police officer finds her sleeping in her car after having pulled off the road. Why? Because the cop somewhat suspects something strange about Marion and might find out about the money. But Marion is free to go. Then she goes to a car dealer to buy a new car to replace her current one just to cover her tracks. At first, the sale might be delayed, but Marion does get a new car right away. Afterwards, she drives a long distance and encounters hard rain. So she has to stop at a motel.

The motel she stops at is the Bates Motel. The man at the front desk there, named Norman Bates (played brilliantly by Anthony Perkins), seems like an ordinary charming young man at first. But as Marion checks into her room, she overhears an argument between Norman and his mother. The scene after that is brilliant and one that is worth watching carefully. Marion and Norman have a chat, and during the conversation, Norman's facial expression goes from shy and innocent when he talks about taxidermy to a nervous wide-eyed stare when he opens up about his dominant mother.

What happens next is one of Hollywood's most iconic movie scenes: the shower death scene. The one with Marion screaming as a killer stabs her repeatedly with a knife, accompanied by camera shots of the bathtub as bloody water goes down the drain. After this moment of terror, the suspense shifts to Norman Bates. The movie goes on for several minutes as he painstakingly removes all evidence of Marion, starting with the use of a mop to remove the blood in the bathtub and ending with the disposal of Marion's car into a lake, with the body and her possessions inside the vehicle.

I'll let you discover the rest of the plot yourself. The important thing is that Alfred Hitchcock truly lives up to his reputation as the master of suspense. He throws in plenty of moments where we think something might happen, and we hold our breath in anticipation. As a director, Hitchcock makes sure that we take in the expressions of the characters' faces (particularly the creepy face of Norman Bates) and the emotions in the dialogue. All of these elements help create a film that constantly moves forward and keeps us glued to it. All in all, Psycho is a Hitchcock masterpiece, not to mention a masterpiece in the thriller genre and among all films in general.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Psycho, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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