Starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Martin Balsam
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
For the past several years on Halloween, I've made it a tradition to watch my favorite movie of all time -- Psycho. Viewing after viewing, it holds up for me. I still think it's chilling even after watching it close to twenty times (if not more...likely more...I wrote at least two papers on it in college and I know multiple viewings were had for each paper).
Anyway, I'm just going to watch the movie and randomly write down thoughts. Warning: there be spoilers ahead.
00:00:06 - From the opening string orchestra "Main Titles," I'm hooked...and on edge. Creepy music, to be sure. And the simplistic Saul Bass title designs are spot on for the music.
00:02:00 - I've always loved the opening zoom-in shot. Panning over Phoenix, Arizona, right into the window at a cheap motel at "Two-Forty-Three P.M."
00:06:00 - "I'll lick the stamps." An incredibly cheesy line. This whole post-coitus scene of Sam and Marion is very B-movie, but I've always found it very believable. Janet Leigh makes her frustration over the relationship come through.
00:06:38 - There's Hitch!
00:10:48 - Love the shot that starts with Marion, zooms to the money on the bed, then zooms to her suitcase. The camera's forwarding on the plot here, telling us exactly what she's doing.
00:11:30 - First shot of Marion in a mirror -- I wrote a paper on this motif in college...something about the mirror showing her true deceitful self and a manifestation of guilt...likely a bunch of crap, but I remember it got me an 'A-'.
00:19:00 - "You can do anything you have a mind to...being a woman, you will."
00:25:00 - I never noticed this before, but the freakishly eerie grin Marion smirks here totally mirrors Norman's grin in the final scene. And there's a voiceover in both scenes as well. Always fun when you notice something new like this...
00:34:40 - First shot of the stuffed birds. Once again, another paper topic...Norman's inability to take flight from his mother/his psychotic mind. More bs...
00:36:30 - "Well, a boy's best friend is his mother." Creepy line reading from Perkins and a great facial reaction from Leigh. This whole scene starts as calmly as possible and gets so intensely creepy by the end.
00:42:00 - "We all go a little mad sometimes."
00:46:15 - I remember watching this movie for the first time in my early teens (Hitchcock was always allowed in the household regardless of the MPAA rating) and being shocked by the shower scene...even though I knew it was coming (I had been to Universal Studios and seen the Hitchcock show there, you see). The quick cuts at the beginning; the long cut while we see the killer sneak up on the shower; the quick cuts again at the end; following the bloody water to the drain; the spiraling out on Marion's eye as the water drips down her nose; the pan from the bathroom floor to the newspaper hiding the stolen money to the Bates' home. The music. All of it -- Chill-inducing. I can't imagine what it must've been like to watch this in 1960.
00:49:45 - Norman running down to the shower, seeing Marion dead, clutching his hand to his mouth, knocking down the bird picture (another symbolic image I wrote in my paper...it's gotta mean something, right? Everything means something if you want it to.).
00:59:45 - The last time I watched this, I noticed the lengthy amount of time spent on the clean-up scene after Marion's death (it takes nearly ten minutes until he pushes that car into the moat). The meticulousness that the audience sees Norman go through. We almost feel bad for the guy...cleaning up after "his mother's" mess...I mean, at this point, if we were watching it for the first time, we would have no idea that he was the killer.
1:00:00 - And, at the hour mark, we switch our allegiance from Marion to Marion's sister, Lila.
1:01:00 - Welcome creepy private eye Arbogast (Martin Balsam) to the scene! You're going to die in my least favorite shot from the movie very soon...
1:15:30 - I love the shot of Arbogast walking up to the Bates home. The way it's lit gets me everytime.
1:16:59 - And my least favorite shot in the film -- Arbogast "tumbling" down the stairs. I will say, it oddly kind of grew on me with this viewing, though. Didn't dislike it nearly as much as I previously had.
1:25:30 - Another long shot...a great shot of Norman walking up the stairs, a pan to the door, then the camera rises up to be an overhead view of the stairs as Norman carries his mother to the basement. Love it...
1:34:30 - Once again, love the shot of Lila, this time, approaching the house. Sure, it's daylight, but it's still a creepy shot.
1:38:00 - I can't help but think that every single thing that we see in Norman's mother's room has to mean something. One of these days, I'll decipher it...
1:40:30 - Another scene that never ceases to freak me out. Lila going into the secret room in the basement, hitting the single hanging lightbulb, Norman with his frightening smile. Good God, it's good. Chills again.
1:41:30 - Yes, this scene with the psychiatrist seems to be out of place, but I have grown to enjoy it. Learning the psychosis behind the madman...
1:47:00 - This last shot...this one long shot zooming in on Norman as his mother's voiceover plays...the way he looks up at the end. Scary shit.
It doesn't get better than this. Perfectly paced, wonderfully acted, exquisitely shot. While there may be one or two nitpicky things I could say about the flick, Psycho is undoubtedly my favorite movie I have ever seen. Until next Halloween...The RyMickey Rating: A