Play It Again: Psycho

play it again


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“Play It Again” is a series devoted to the review of the greatest American films up before 1980.

Psycho, 1960 – Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho is the mother of all scary movies. Director Alfred Hitchcock was a master of his craft and was able to engage our imaginations with just the right amount of material. In Psycho, arguably Hitchcock’s masterpiece, the audience is provided the path of the story on which they are encouraged to allow their minds to run wild.

The story is about Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a decent young woman hopelessly in love with her broke and divorced boyfriend Sam (John Gavin). She is so much in love that she is willing to risk her career and life by stealing $40,000 from her employer.  She heads across state lines with the cash, into the arms of her boyfriend, who is completely unaware of her plans. Exhausted and caught in a downpour, she unluckily pulls into the now famous “Bates Motel.”

An odd and troubled man, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), runs the motel. Norman checks Marion into her room and tells her that she is only a few miles from her destination. Marion later overhears Norman’s domineering mother shouting at him, and then Marion and Norman have a light dinner together, with some disconcerting conversation. The subject of their talk turns to the feeling of being caged or trapped in one’s choices. Marion returns to her room for the night. One gets the feeling that Marion has decided to return the money and come clean before getting into the shower. The notorious “shower scene” is the pivot point of the story. The second half follows Norman as he finds Marion’s dead body laying across the side of the tub. As a good son, he cleans up the mess and hides the body for the killer.

A private investigator traces Marion’s trail to the Bates Motel, but he meets his demise when he enters the house next to the motel, searching for Norman’s mysterious mother. After the investigator goes missing, Marion’s sister (Vera Miles) and Sam finally get into the house to search for clues. The horror and suspense build to the shocking climax, when the true killer is revealed.

Like many popular films, Psycho received poor reviews from the critics upon release. Mr. Hitchcock was famed for his ability to connect with the audience, and it was the audience that enjoyed the creativity of this film. I urge you to watch Psycho, buy you might want to do so with a good friend or a pillow to scream into. Enjoy and play it again.