Movie Review: Psycho (1960)

Synopsis: When her lover, Sam, tells her he can't marry her until he's out of debt, Marion Crane decides to steal a $40,000 cash deposit that was entrusted to her by her employer and drive to California to be with her boyfriend. Feeling stressed and guilty after an encounter with a police officer and accidentally getting off the highway because of the rain, Marion checks into the Bates Motel and has a run-in with its mother-obsessed manager, Norman.

Who's in it? The movie stars Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Martin Balsam.

Review: I came across this movie last night while my wife was taking a shower and, since it had been a while since I had an opportunity to watch it in its entirety, decided to do so. Even though I have seen this Alfred Hitchcock classic at least a dozen times, it still manages to impress me.

Even though this movie is now roughly 63 years old, it still sets a standard when it comes to slasher movies. And that has very little to do with a very basic plot. It is entirely because of the great acting.

Janet Leigh is a horror movie icon for a reason. The thing I love about her Marion Crane character is how the movie portrays her as a good person who does a very bad thing. Even without her saying it, you could see the indecision running through her head as she debated whether to steal the money and feel the guilt surging through her when she was confronted by a police officer (Mort Mills) who was just checking up on her wellbeing after finding her asleep on the side of the road.

As for Norman, you aren't going to find a better movie bad guy. Perkins plays him perfectly. He has a niceness and charm to him that makes it easy to see why someone might not be immediately alarmed by his presence. Yet, at the same time, the more he talked, the easier it was to feel uneasy about him, even without knowing the secret he was keeping. This included his obsession with taxidermy and the way he would get angry but try not to sound angry. Plus, while I think the big secret hasn't been a secret for a long time, it was easy to see how that might have been a very surprising twist when this movie first came out.

My only real complaint about this movie is I wish it would have given a bit more closure to Marion's relationship with Sam (Gavin). The movie portrays him as a hero, but I've honestly never seen him in that light and feel like he might have been the first person to make her a victim. Like Norman, he said the right things but Marion's reluctance to marry him seemed like something he was purposely planting in her head, and he had no intention of taking things further than just the sex. It honestly wouldn't have surprised me if he had a secret wife. But that's just my opinion.

Final Opinion: This is a movie that proves Alfred Hitchcock was a filmmaking genius and set a new standard for all the slasher movies that followed it. If you have never watched it, you are missing out.

My Grade: A


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