Music Literature Film Index About

Psycho, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Paramount Pictures, June 16, 1960 (US)

Screenplay: Joesph Stephano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch

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

12 cabins, 12 vacancies. Hmmm.

There you are, alone in a shower, wondering. Or walking down the basement steps. You think of Psycho. The images are alive.

I wonder what it would be like to have seen it when it was released. To be in a crowded theater and feel the communal shock at the pull of a shower curtain. To go into the theater knowing Anthony Perkins as an actor and not Norman Bates. Before things were never the same again.

Close-up of our heroine on the shower floor in a pool of her own blood. You watch the blood rinse down the drain, moment by excruciating moment. She is dead. It was violent. You saw it all. The shock is astounding.

Marion tries to escape town with her stash of stolen cash, but not before she is spotted by her boss crossing the street in front of her car. Your heart races. A need to switch cars, but oh yeah, a policeman is watching her. Heart, faster still. Listen to it beating.

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh): Wouldn’t it be better if you put her … someplace.

Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins): You mean an institution? A madhouse?

Marion: No, I didn’t mean it like. . . .

Norman: People always call a madhouse “someplace”, don’t they? “Put her in someplace.”

Marion: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so uncaring.

Norman: What do you know about caring? Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing, and the tears, and the cruel eyes studying you? My mother there? But she’s harmless. She’s as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.

If you find yourself nearing a strange motel in the dead of night, here's a tip: keep driving. Not that you didn't know already. You have never been able to quite distance yourself from what you have seen.