Happy 50th Birthday, Psycho | Buzz Blog
We need your help.

Newspapers and media companies nationwide are closing or suffering mass layoffs since the coronavirus impacted all of us starting in March. City Weekly's entire existence is directly tied to people getting together in groups--in clubs, restaurants, and at concerts and events--which are the industries most affected by new coronavirus regulations.

Our industry is not healthy. Yet, City Weekly has continued publishing thanks to the generosity of readers like you. Utah needs independent journalism more than ever, and we're asking for your continued support of our editorial voice. We are fighting for you and all the people and businesses hardest hit by this pandemic.

You can help by making a one-time or recurring donation on PressBackers.com, which directs you to our Galena Fund 501(c)(3) non-profit, a resource dedicated to help fund local journalism. It is never too late. It is never too little. Thank you. DONATE

Happy 50th Birthday, Psycho

by

comment

Fifty years ago, you could take a shower in a motel and not wonder just a little whether it would be your last. All that changed thanks to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. ---

Hitchcock's adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel debuted on June 16, 1960, and it didn't take long for it to make an impression. Because of the shocking plot twist that killed off star Janet Leigh at such an early point in the film, Hitchcock refused to show the film to critics before the premiere -- not remotely the common occurrence it is today -- in an attempt to make sure no "spoilers" would emerge in reviews. Hitchcock similarly insisted that theaters booking the film refuse to admit patrons after the film started, again to preserve the shock of the "shower scene."

That scene, of course, became one of the most iconic moments in cinema history, as minutely dissected as any three minutes of any film ever made. Students know exactly how many individual cuts there are in the sequence (50) and how many times we see the knife enter Leigh's body (zero). And an infinite number of myths and urban legends emerged around the sequence, including whether or not Hitchcock used ice-cold water to intensify Leigh's reaction, whether any post-production screams were added besides Leigh's, and whether full nudity was originally caught by censors. Among the true bits of trivia, consider this one: Hitchcock originally planned on presenting the shower scene with no background music. It's hard to imagine it now without the screeching strings of Bernard Herrmann's score.

Psycho also warrants either credit or blame for laying the foundation for the "slasher movies" of a generation later, in addition to cinematic fascination with variations on the real-life Ed Gein story that continued through Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Leatherface and The Silence of the Lambs' Buffalo Bill. Mild-mannered Norman Bates couldn't possibly have seen that all coming. After all, he was just a boy who loved his mother.

Add a comment