Anyone who listens long enough can almost hear Alfred Hitchcock say, “Trust me guys, I’ll tell you something else.” The answer from this perspective is that trust doesn’t matter; but tell someone else.
Producer/director Hitchcock is extravagant to the core and has probably been working on Psycho all his life. It was gory, with several graphic stabbings, a form of storytelling far removed from Freudian motifs, and occasionally funny little plot elements thrown in to suggest it shouldn’t be overlooked.
From a commercial point of view, the diagnosis of “Psycho” is: unsurpassed fun, a good, unforgettable Hitchcock film, and the right box office hype. The company’s support is relevant and strong. Banning visitors after the curtain has risen (as in New York’s DeMille Theater) can add to the intrigue if enforced. All this contributes to success.
Hitchcock uses the old proverb that no one cancels: “It’s the only thing we have.” The bears will respect this, but it must be said that the central force in the entire film is the mother, the homicidal maniac. It’s unusual because he’s physically dead, he’s been dead for years. But he lives in the face of his son.
Anthony Perkins is young enough to exorcise another inner being (unable to repeat the exorcism). The victims include Janet Leigh, who walks away from an illicit relationship with John Gavin, taking with her $40,000 stolen, and Martin Balsam as a private detective who finds herself in the same quagmire.
John McIntyre is the local sheriff with an unusual case, and Simon Oakland is a psychiatrist who realizes that Perkins isn’t really a transvestite, even when she dresses her mother; he’s just crazy. Vera Miles is the sister of the deceased girl whose investigation led to Perkins’ diagnosis.
Perkins gives a very touching performance in a young man’s dream. Others play fairly with equal competition.
Joseph Stefan’s screenplay, based on the novel by Robert Bloch, lays a solid foundation for Hitchcock’s Picnic. It’s forgivable if, under Hitchcock’s direction, the camera tends to over-emphasize the plot point. And the inevitable appearance of Hitchcock himself does not greatly strain the audience’s sympathy. Limited to a few frames.
The credits of Solo Bass are full of his trademark tricks, Bernard Herrmann’s music is perfectly combined with the cinematography, and the editing looks just right.
1960: Nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Janet Leigh), Black and White Photography, Black and White Art Direction.