Psycho (1960)

This seminal thriller has been so extensively written about and imitated it’s almost impossible to watch it without knowing what’s coming next. But with director Alfred Hitchcock’s skillful direction, the playing of an expert cast and Bernard Herrmann’s ever-impressive score, every shock and surprise moves the audience as if nobody had ever seen the film before. Hitchcock takes a simple plot—a woman on the run with stolen money— and turns it upside down as he plays with audience sympathies and explores the themes of voyeurism and guilt. Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh’s performances are so iconic the actors remained associated with their roles for the rest of their lives. For Perkins, that meant being typecast as deranged characters and for Leigh it meant that, even though she and Hitchcock had loved working together, he could never cast her again. PSYCHO was a huge hit that made Hitchcock rich because he took a sixty percent share of the profits in lieu of his usual salary, but it also cost him friends and, a few years later, the chance to film at Disneyland (Walt hated the film). The picture inspired dozens of slasher films and, for Leigh, threatening letters that had her calling the FBI. After seeing the film, she never took another shower. She wasn’t the only one.

(d. Alfred Hitchcock, 109m, Digital)

In attendance: Edgar Wright