free-show-psycho-10th-janCommercial film as high art, with Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins.
Plenty of Hitchcock’s humour, but “it’s still gripping and irrevocably
gruesome fare played to perfection” David Wood, BBC. You may have
seen it before. See it again – you may enjoy it even more. (Cert 15)
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock 109 mins USA 1960

Programme Notes

UK 1960 106 minutes Cert. 15

We welcome all our guests and members to tonight’s taster screening here at the Abingdon Resource and Wellbeing Centre. This will be the first ever film the society has screened here, and tonight’s film is Psycho, from the renowned director Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo (1958), Rear Window (1954), North by Northwest (1959)).

Based on the novel by Robert Bloch, the film focuses on Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh (Touch of Evil (1958), The Manchurian Candidate (1962)), who wants to marry her lover Sam. Therefore, after being fed up with how life is treating her, she takes a huge deposit of money from her employer – which was meant to go into the bank – and drives all the way to California to be with Sam. However, things do not go to plan, and she ends up stopping off at a nearby motel, run by Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins (The Trial (1962), The Black Hole (1979)), and his dominating mother.

Regarded by many as Hitchcock’s first foray into horror films, he ended up buying the rights of the novel, and allegedly bought many copies of the book to avoid people finding out how it ends. It was also his last film to be shot in black and white, mainly as he thought it would be too gory to be shot in colour. Another reason for using black and white film was the trend, at the time, of inexpensive B-movies doing well at the box-office. He wanted to make a ‘good film’ for under a million dollars. Hitchcock even saved money by using the production crew of his popular TV series, at the time, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962).

The result paid off, as Psycho became the highest grossing film in Hitchcock’s career. It was even nominated for four awards at the 1961 Oscars, although it lost out to such films as Elmer Gantry (1960), Sons and Lovers (1960), and The Apartment (1960). The film has spawned three sequels and a remake in 1998 by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting (1997), Milk (2008)). The film was inducted into the USA National Film Registry in 1992, along with Annie Hall (1977), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Double Indemnity (1944), and What’s Opera, Doc? (1957). The legacy of that infamous motel in Psycho will continue to bring in more fans to the franchise, when a new prequel TV series, called Bates Motel, starts transmitting in the States later this year.

“What makes “Psycho” immortal, when so many films are already half-forgotten as we leave the theatre, is that it connects directly with our fears…” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

“Psycho is a brilliant excursion into fear that pushes many of our primal buttons…” (James Berardinelli, ReelViews)

Norman Bates – Anthony Perkins
Lila Crane – Vera Miles
Sam Loomis – John Gavin
Marion Crane – Janet Leigh
Det. Milton Arbogast – Martin Balsam
Sheriff Al Chambers – John McIntire

Director – Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay – Joseph Stefano based on novel by Robert Bloch
Original Music – Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography – John L. Russell
Editor – George Tomasini
Producer – Alfred Hitchcock (uncredited)


“I’d never seen it before and never imagined it could be so brilliant. The suspense was amazing and Anthony Perkins was absolutely brilliant! Those eyes at the end …”

“Truly scary – best horror film ever. Great music and atmosphere.”

“Very atmospheric! Great acting, set off by Bernard Hermann’s brilliant musical score.”

“Superb – the master from the grave!”

“Brilliant – better than I remembered!”

“Still as good and as scary as the first time …”

“I had forgotten how good it was – very dramatic. Glad I’ve retired from the Probation Service, otherwise I might have got him as a high-risk offender!”

“Great to see this epic slasher on a big screen with an amazed audience. Room too hot!”

“Very good. My first viewing – all the parodies on TV have not taken much away.”

“Pretty scary for 1960”

“Still succeeded in shocking me, even after several viewings.”

“Still frightening after having been seen many times before.”

“Great film. I like the new venue – it’s very convenient for me to get to.”

“A better film than I remembered but the flashing LEDs to the left of the screen were distracting. I still want to see Rear Window.”

“A Twitcher with a difference!”

“The shower sequence is iconic as ever, as is Norman’s mother. Great shadows and staircases. Weak points – the opening titles seemed wrong and the typically Hitchcockian psycho-analysis at the end.”

“I’d forgotten [how] long and drawn-out the denouement was but there were lots of other shocks – the murder of Marion was only a small episode in the whole film.”

“Apart from the clunky ending, it has survived the passage of time remarkably well. The music
was awful though!”

“Sound not too clear”

“The beginning was pedestrian but the ending was excellent. Does that mean, though, that this film is a classic? Probably not but the minimalist approach, innovative camera-work and memorable music made it fun viewing.”

“It’s full of holes really, isn’t it? And some of the acting was decidedly dodgy.”


A:22, B:11, C:1, D:0, E:0 to give 90%