“Uh-uh, Mother-m-mother, uh, what is the phrase? She isn’t quite herself today.” After years of suave, sophisticated, highly polished colour thrillers (the most recent of which was the exquisite North by Northwest), Alfred Hitchcock abruptly and unexpectedly changed gears with this more modest, more morbid monochrome masterwork, a stunning exercise in mind-blowingly manipulative horror. Critics decried Psycho as “nauseating” and “sadistic” even while acknowledging its undeniable technical brilliance. The film is now universally recognized as one of the director’s most important and profound achievements. And, in a retrospective spotlighting Hitchcock’s work for TV, it’s worth noting that Psycho was made, inexpensively, using the methods and many of the crew employed on Hitchcock’s hit series Alfred Hitchcock Presents! Janet Leigh is Phoenix secretary Marion Crane, absconding with a small fortune of her employer’s money. Anthony Perkins is nervous Norman Bates, proprietor of the motel that Miss Crane makes the unfortunate mistake of checking into. Psycho’s celebrated shower scene is one of cinema’s great montage sequences, while the film’s subversive disruption of conventional audience identification, its stimulus/response manipulation and implicit indictment of our voyeurism, is still absolutely, breathtakingly shocking. And, of course, great fun. “Hitchcock’s best film ... Stunningly realized ... A masterpiece by any standard” (Geoff Andrew, Time Out). B&W, 35mm. 109 mins.
"This remains the most effective slashing in movie history, suggesting that situation and artistry are more important than graphic details."Chicago Sun-Times | full review
"Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece blends a brutal manipulation of audience identification and an incredibly dense, allusive visual style to create the most morally unsettling film ever made."Chicago Reader | full review
"Mr. Hitchcock, an old hand at frightening people, comes at you with a club in this frankly intended blood-curdler."New York Times | full review