Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite filmmakers for a variety of reasons, but mostly because he was an expert at cinematically unfolding a mystery in a way that captures the viewer’s attention from the first frame to the last.
It’s leading lady Janet Leigh and my Mom had one thing in common without ever meeting – their disenchantment with taking showers as a s result of Hitchcock’s film – Psycho. Released in 1960, it grossed over 32 million, which at that time was a lot of dough for a mystery/thriller flick.
Psycho follows a bank teller on the last few days of her life when she makes a decision and a trip that change her destiny forever. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from her employer’s client, checks into a roadside motel run by what seems to be a harmless young man (Anthony Perkins) and his domineering mother.
Anthony Perkins was so eerily convincing as Norman Bates, that he was basically typecast for the rest of his career. Ironically enough, he went on to play another character very similar to Norman in the 1980’s Berry Gordy hit Mahogany starring Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams.
Here’s a few fun facts about the film:
- Considered for the role of Marion were Eva Marie Saint, Lee Remick, Angie Dickinson, Piper Laurie, Martha Hyer, Hope Lange, Shirley Jones, and Lana Turner. Coincidentally, Angie Dickinson would go on to play a Marion Crane-type character in Brian De Palma‘s Dressed to Kill, a film heavily influenced b Psycho (1960).
- Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to the novel anonymously from Robert Bloch for only US$9,000. He then bought up as many copies of the novel as he could to keep the ending a secret.
- One of the reasons Alfred Hitchcock shot the movie in black and white was he thought it would be too gory in color and he wanted to make the film as inexpensively as possible (under $1 million).
- The Bates house was largely modeled on an oil painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The canvas is called “House by the Railroad” and was painted in 1925 by American iconic artist Edward Hopper. The architectural details, viewpoint and austere sky is almost identical as seen in the film
- Janet Leigh remarked that taking showers made her realize how vulnerable a woman was in a shower. To the end of her life, she always took baths.
- Psycho was the highest grossing film of Hitchcock’s career, was his first horror movie and took 30 days to shoot.
Ladies and Gentlemen…Alfred HItchcock’s Psycho…