24. “Psycho”, Alfred Hitchcock (1960)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.



dir. Alfred Hitchcock scr. Joseph Stefano based on the novel by Robert Bloch cin. John L. Russell with Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Janet Leigh

In 100 words: Groundbreaking entertainment and incalculably influential, Psycho is the greatest of Hitchcock’s incredible filmography because it is the most evocative of his formal control and unmatched ability to build suspense. Additionally, it’s evidently friskier and more daring, jarringly edited and shot. Plus, it’s genuinely frightening and shocking, something his previous films lacked, a product of not only his provocative linking of sex and violence, but also his great character-building. Consider the depth he imbued in Norman Bates’ regressive psyche or Marion Crane’s desperation, aided considerably by Perkins and Leigh, and their startling effect as scenes unfold. Broadened what’s considered mainstream filmmaking.

Other Movies for Context: Genuinely thrilling horror movies are hard to find these days because they often resort to lame and easy gorey tricks. Psycho feels like Hitchock at his most unleashed–left to his devices (with his own funding), he has total control of everything here and therefore it showed. Gus van Sant made a shot-for-shot remake of this movie in 1998 with Anne Heche. Additionally, Psycho has a TV show based on it called Bates Motel starring Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother. They’re interesting takes on this material.

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