‘Psycho’ (1960)

I’m working my way through Hitchcock’s movies….



I watched ‘Rebecca’ a year or two ago, it’s a fav of mine, of course….Mrs. Danvers, horrifyingly played by Judith Anderson, Maxim, the legend Laurence Olivier, Jack Favell, portrayed by the wonderful George Sanders…



I watched ‘North By Northwest’ last week, fantastic! Cary Grant is off-the-scale wonderful, Eva Marie Saint is gorgeous, James Mason, that voice, fabulous, but the music, Bernard Herrmann, maybe THE star…



Tonight, I watched ‘Psycho’….quite an experience!



Strange, not seen the movie before but I got a sense of déjà vu – the ‘house’, it was already etched on my mind despite my not having seen the movie (I did see the ‘actual’ house some years ago when on a Universal Studios tour) – the ‘shower scene’….a real sense of horror, I knew it was coming and found myself recoiling from the computer screen as if on a dentist’s chair, distancing myself from his hand and the drill…squinting, watching through half open/half shut eyes…I’ve seen it before, clips, but, still, spine-tingling to watch mid-movie. Psychological horror, suspense, startled jumps even though I was constantly on my guard – poor Detective Arbogast!!



Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), I didn’t get the measure of him early on, I couldn’t second guess what was happening with him, what he was.…up to and through the shower scene, I did think ‘the baddy’ was his mother but, of course, that was what I was meant to think – silly, really….as if it was going to be that simple, as if Bates was going to be so one-dimensional and easy to read – what a complex character, layers being peeled, stripped, away as the movie moves forward, complete transparency not provided till the very, very end, watching him in ‘solitary’, close up, skeletal face, his face and his mother’s ‘ as ‘one’ for a fraction of a second, him and her ‘as one’, the man completely revealed, finally….



The music, of course Bernard Herrmann, pivotal, so effective – what kind of mind (warped??) Hitchcock had, I do wonder but I also wonder about Bernard Herrmann….to compose such a ‘perfect’ musical score to accompany, so intrinsically, the proceedings, to compose music which draws the viewer into the movie so forcefully, it’s beyond my comprehension… ‘genius’, I guess’.



The screenplay, so tight, every word, every move, every gesture, for effect – nature called, I needed a toilet break but I couldn’t tear myself away from the movie, I couldn’t move!



Hitchcock, again, as we know, he didn’t win ‘Best Director’ Oscar, nominated, yes, but the 1961 gong went to Wilder’s ‘The Apartment’;



Wilder is one of my favourite Directors, ‘Sabrina’, ‘Witness for the Prosecution’, ‘Sunset Boulevard’….but I haven’t seen ‘The Apartment’ – I am seriously looking forward to watching it now!!



Janet Leigh, nominated for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ (I wonder why she wasn’t nominated for ‘Best Actress’) – Shirley Jones (‘Elmer Gantry’) won;



‘Best Cinematography, Black and White’, John L. Russell, for ‘Psycho’, was nominated for the Oscar but Freddie Francis (‘Sons and Lovers’) won;



‘Best Art Direction – Set Direction, Black and White’,


Joseph Hurley, Robert Clatworthy (Art Direction)

George Milo (Set Direction);


Oscar went to Alexander Trauner (Set Direction), Edward G. Boyle (Set Direction) – ‘The Apartment’



‘Best Dramatic or Comedy Score’ – not even a nomination for Bernard Herrmann…I’m incredulous!!



I wouldn’t have been surprised if Hitch had told the Academy in 1968 to get lost when they decided to award him a consolation prize, an Honorary Oscar, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award – his Acceptance Speech must be the shortest in the history of the Academy Awards??





Next up, maybe ‘Notorious’, possibly ‘Vertigo’….


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