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Some questions about "Psycho"


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I have some questions about ?Psycho?.


I would like to know what exactly brought Hitchcock to filming Psycho in 1959/60, but also what brought him to make ?The Birds? shortly afterwards? These movies are horror-like suspense movies which, at this time, were new and singular. Why did Hitchcock think they would be successful?


Another question woud be how ?Psycho? was received from critics and viewers alike. What did they think of it, how did they value the movie? What was the tune of the reviews written in that time?


And what made director Gus van Sant shoot a remake of ?Psycho? in 1998? which meaning did ?Psycho? have in 1960, which one in 1998?


I would be grateful for any answer; and maybe you refer me to somewhere.



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PSYCHO forms a clear line of demarcation in Hitchock's career; never again would he make his patented chase-thillers (NORTH BY NORTHWEST was the last) and, while it would've been unrealistic to imagine that he might have had another VERTIGO in him, the change in direction was very unfortunate (though, to be fair, N by NW was the apotheosis of his chase-thillers, and Hitch might've felt that there was really no direction to go but down from there.


TORN CURTAIN does go in that direction, but the film is both too somber, and too cheesy [as were most of his Universal films] to recreate the spirit of NORTH BY NORTHWEST. And his final break with composer Bernard Herrmann during the production of TORN CURTAIN surely didn't help; Herrmann was an integral part of Hitchcock's growing success through the 1950s and early '60s, which Hitch was loathe to admit).


In a sense, PSYCHO was the most disastrous even of Hitchocock's career because, ironically, its immense success made him and the Universal executives think that they could make profitable films on TV budgets, if only they were exploitative fright-fests like PSYCHO (albeit a vastly accomplished one).

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When Francois Truffaut asked Alfred Hitchcock what it was that attracted him to Robert Bloch's novel Psycho, Hitch replied:


"I think that the thing that appealed to me and made me decide to do the picture was the suddenness of the murder in the shower, coming, as it were, out of the blue. That was about all."


The book, in turn, was reportedly based on a newspaper story of a man who kept his mother's body in a Wisconsin house.


Hitch also said, "My main satisfaction is that the film had an effect on the audiences, and I consider that very important. I don't care about the subject matter; I don't care about the acting; but I do care about the pieces of film and the photography and the sound track and all of the technical ingredients that made the audience scream. I feel it's tremendously satisfying for us to be able to use the cinematic art to achieve something of a mass emotion. It wasn't a message that stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance or their enjoyment of the novel. They were aroused by pure film.


That's why I take pride in the fact that Psycho, more than any of my other pictures, is a film that belongs to the film-maker. ...People will say, 'It was a terrible film to make. The subject was horrible, the people were small, there were no characters in it.' I know all of this, but I also know that the construction of the story and the way in which it was told caused audiences all over the world to react and become emotional."


And finally:


"Psycho cost us no more than eight hundred thousand dollars to make. It has grossed some fifteen million dollars to date [1966]."

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I can't top the two replies before me, but I would add that Psycho was released at a time when horror pictueres were very popular, especiallty at drive-ins. As for Gus Van Sant. I can only guess that he wanted to see Psycho in color and convinced a producer that a lot of other people wanted to as well. Just my thoughts. Good questions.


P.S. Though Psycho is not a horror film, it's certainly creepy, with a considerable element of the grotesque. So I would replace "horror" above with "scary."


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I wouldn't glance for two more seconds than I already have at Van Sant's "Psycho," but I will say this: he didn't remake Psycho just to have it in color. He approached it within the experimental context of remaking a film by using the original film as a stage director would a play. For example, there are many recreations of "Hamlet," but they all use the same basic text. Van Sant treated the one-and-only "Psycho" as a classic play, but remaking it with different actors, and with different directorial choices that make the '98 "Psycho" his own.


That being said, the experiement was a dismal failure. Films are reflections of an exact moment of time, that might be received differently by latter-day viewers. But plays are a different medium; the texts are products of their time and their creator, but are changed, sometimes in very radical ways, by the artistic choices of the actors, directors, production designers, etc., often resulting in very different reactions from the audience.


But you have to give Van Sant credit for trying something interesting, instead of making "Psycho V".

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"Psycho" was well received by critics and audiences when first released in October, 1960. Although some thought Hitch had gone to far, the general feeling was and still is that he created a masterpiece. Here are just a few tidbits of trivia:


--Hitch took the story to MGM, but they wanted to make another "North By Northwest" with big stars, color and a big budget.


--Hitch hired Bernard Herrmann to do the music, but wanted a jazz score and no music in the shower scene.


--Veteran character actress Virginia Gregg (best known for Jack Webb tv shows) supplied the voice for the mother.


--Hitch liked Janet Leigh, but told her that they would probably never work together again because audiences would think of her as a victim, not a heroine.


There is plenty of other trivia available through books, the internet, etc.

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> We got there a

> few seconds after the movie started and the ticket

> taker said "No entry Once The Film Started" a policy

> set by Alfred Hitchcock.


Hitchcock said later in an interview that he didn't want the audience to come in late and be distracted wondering where Janet Leigh was. He then made a big publicity stunt out of it. Here's a link to one of the don't be late posters: http://www.classicfilmpreview.com/do-not-be-late/.'>http://www.classicfilmpreview.com/do-not-be-late/.'>http://www.classicfilmpreview.com/do-not-be-late/.'>http://www.classicfilmpreview.com/do-not-be-late/.




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