Friday, 13 March 2015

Film Review - Psycho (1960)

Fig.1 Psycho (1960) Movie Poster

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) is an unbelievably tense experience. It's memorable twist will stick with you even after the credits have stopped rolling. Roger Ebert refers to the impression it has on us in his review by saying "when so many films are already half-forgotten as we leave the theater, is that it connects directly with our fears" - (Ebert, 1998). Hitchcock's expert use of shots add to what is considered as one of Hollywood's greatest films, and quite rightly so.

Fig.2 Marion driving her car.

The film starts by following the events of Marion Crane (Played by Janet Leigh) and her apparent struggle in life, as we see her steal money from her employers. Her quick exit from the city is a sign of things to come as Hitchock uses a series of shots, along side a brilliant soundtrack, to show that not is all it seems with Marion. It appears that although we begin by following her life, she has her own element of weirdness. As her mission to escape progresses, the persistent opportunities for her downfall fail and her worries begin to grow, which therefore makes us sympathise with her as she is clearly finding life a challenge. It is therefore no surprise that she stops at a motel that has no other guests. It is clear from this that something is wrong. The chances of a motel being completely abandoned of guests is very peculiar, especially being by a busy road. The soundtrack is wonderful in this sequence, as it is this moment, when we know something terrible will happen.

Fig.3 The House

The incredible placement of the motel's owner's house is somewhat revolutionary. It towers over the motel and so will allow the house's residents to, almost, spy on their guests. Hitchock uses his shots accordingly and so always shows the house from a low position and still showing a section of the motel (See Fig. 3). Hitchcock persists with these shots even when someone is coming from or going to the house. These long, constant shots are very gripping and tell us that there is mystery behind the house and it's owners, as the guests at the motel have no clue what lies behind those doors. Bosley Crowther talks about these long shots in his review by calling them "slow buildups to sudden shocks that are old-fashioned melodramatics" - (Crowter, 1960)

Anthony Perkins' portrayal of Norman Bates is one of the best pieces of casting that there has ever been. Although he may not be the biggest star/most well known name in the industry, his shy and nice personality makes us like the character. A connection with him and the audience grows throughout the film, as he is a very loyal and kind person. These traits make the ending that much more unbelievable.

Fig.4 Norman Bates

Psycho is a piece of art, crafted to perfection, that has some magnificent acting performances. That is a view that will be shared by any film lover, old or new. Hitchcock created a foundation for all modern psychotic thrillers. Mark Monahan brilliantly summarises the film in his review for the Telegraph by saying "The audience is similarly helpless in Hitchcock's "trap" – but you wouldn't have it any other way." - (Monahan,2014).

Illustration List: 
Fig.1 Psycho (1960) Movie Poster - (Accessed 13/03/2015)

Fig.2 Marion driving her car - (Accessed 13/03/2015)

Fig.3 The House (Accessed 13/03/2015)

Fig.4 Norman Bates (Accessed 13/03/2015)

Crowther, Bosley (1960) -Movie Review - Psycho (1960) - (Accessed 13/03/2015)

Ebert, Roger (1998) - Psycho - (Accessed 13/03/2015)

Monahan, Mark (2014) - Psycho, Review - (Accessed 13/03/2015)


  1. good to see you 'mopping up' some of your unfinished business - and this is an engagingly written review.

  2. Nice review Dan :) Just make sure you proof read before posting - you have a couple of little spelling errors in there... 'still' instead of 'steal' for example.

  3. Oh dear, that's embarrassing as I did proof read it. Thank you, Jackie.