Archive Review: Psycho (1960)

Thought I’d go with this one in honor of my last post.

Going into the Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece “Psycho,” it’s best that you know nothing — in fact Hitchcock wanted it that way — so this review will be succint and devoid of any synopsis beyond that of the basic plot summaries provided for the film. But truth is, the plot is only half the film’s genius. The rest belongs to the master of murder and suspense.

“Psycho” thrives on suspense. Without the constant feeling of paranoia from Hitchcock’s careful camera movements or from Bernard Herrmann’s vigorous string quartet, many parts of the film would feel long. At this point in his career, Hitchcock was so commanding of his craft that he achieves the desired effect from his audience with nearly every shot, whether it’s wanting us to focus on particular items or make specific assumptions about the mystery at hand.

Perhaps the most understated element of the film is Joseph Stefano’s screenplay. From what I gather about Robert Bloch’s novel, Stefano restructured the story to set up a jarring shift in the plot and encase the mystery in an even thicker container for Hitchcock to best utilize his skills. The script’s only major weakness is the scene right after the climax, which is pointless exposition explaining the previous events; something movie watchers don’t need today — though that’s arguably because Hitchcock made this movie.

For those that love Hitchcock’s style, “Psycho” is an instant classic and perhaps no film of his showcases it better. For those unfamiliar with his work, it’s not hard to see while watching “Psycho” what made his films so memorable. Even those who don’t have an eye for good filmmaking can even appreciate the entertaining suspense and constantly twisting plot of “Psycho.”

4.5/5 Stars

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written Joseph Stefano, Robert Block (novel)
Starring: Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin


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