Retro Review: Psycho (1960)

Hello All, welcome to the second film in my ‘Retro Review’ series. Just to familiarise yourself with the rules I have set myself:

  1. Must be a first time viewing
  2. More than 5 years since original release
  3. Must watch in full

Some of you may be shocked and surprised to find out that this was not only my first viewing of Psycho but also my first viewing of any Hitchcock film but don’t worry, I’ve slapped myself on the wrist and plan to rectify my error over the next few months.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Janet Leigh and John Gavin

Oscars: Nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Cinematography (Black & White) and Art Direction-Set Decoration (Black & White).

Bates Motel sign from the 1960 film 'Psycho'

The story is so infamous that it doesn’t really need an overview but I’m going to give you one anyway 🙂

The story begins with Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a young woman who feels trapped in her current life and is unable to afford the life she wants to have with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin). When she is asked to bank forty thousand dollars in cash for her employer, Marion makes a rash decision and runs off with money to start her new life. Tired from a long drive and stressed from her actions, Marion decides to pull in at a remote motel, run by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a quiet young man who’s life is controlled by his domineering mother.

Janet Leigh in the iconic shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic 'Psycho'
Photo by Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Now ‘masterpiece’ is a strong word, and not one that I like to use when it comes to reviewing films, but I have to admit that it is pretty apt in this case. Considering the fact that this film is almost sixty years old it has aged remarkably well.

Despite knowing the climax of the film, both Mark and myself were suitably enthralled and on edge, which is a testament to the storytelling and cinematography throughout. Widely considered as the birth of the psychological thriller, Psycho offers a cinematic master class in simplicity and subtlety.

Aerial shot from Psycho 1960

The acting was superb throughout but none more so than Anthony Perkin’s portrayal of Norman Bates, the shy and sweet homicidal motel owner. I am genuinely shocked that he did not receive, at the very least, an Oscar nomination for his performance, he honestly stole every scene he was in and had such a powerful presence on screen that it was difficult to look elsewhere.

It is clear to see how and why, Hitchcock is so revered as a filmmaker; his direction and shot selection added a depth to both the film, and the horror genre as a whole, that I am not sure has really ever been equalled but then again, I am not exactly the biggest fan of horrors in general.

Anthony Perkins is Norman Bates in Psycho 1960

I am so excited to see Hitchcock’s other works but I think that it is safe to say that, so far, in my ‘Retro Review’ feature I am hitting two-for-two. I can’t wait to see what my next film will hold, I’ll be honest the bar has now been set pretty high.

If you missed it, check out my first ‘Retro Review’ feature, Taxi Driver, here.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. nsfordwriter says:

    Another great retro review 😀
    I admit I haven’t watched this film (shocking I know) but I feel that I don’t need to, I’ve seen that many clips and parodies of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kirsty T says:

      True it has been parodied an awful lot but I was genuinely impressed with the film. Hitchcock does seem to be a genius lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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