The Making of 'Psycho'

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Arts Documentary published by TCM in 1997 - English narration

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Image: The-Making-of-Psycho-Cover.jpg

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In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock was already famous as the screen's master of suspense (and perhaps the best-known film director in the world) when he released Psycho and forever changed the shape and tone of the screen thriller. From its first scene, in which an unmarried couple balances pleasure and guilt in a lunchtime liaison in a cheap hotel (hardly a common moment in a major studio film in 1960), Psycho announced that it was taking the audience to places it had never been before, and on that score what followed would hardly disappoint. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is unhappy in her job at a Phoenix, Arizona real estate office and frustrated in her romance with hardware store manager Sam Loomis (John Gavin). One afternoon, Marion is given $40,000 in cash to be deposited in the bank. Minutes later, impulse has taken over and Marion takes off with the cash, hoping to leave Phoenix for good and start a new life with her purloined nest egg. 36 hours later, paranoia and exhaustion have started to set in, and Marion decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel, where nervous but personable innkeeper Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) cheerfully mentions that she's the first guest in weeks, before he regales her with curious stories about his mother. There's hardly a film fan alive who doesn't know what happens next, but while the shower scene is justifiably the film's most famous sequence, there are dozens of memorable bits throughout this film. The first of a handful of sequels followed in 1983, while Gus Van Sant's controversial remake, starring Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche, appeared in 1998.

In a decade in which what was acceptable onscreen would change more radically than at any other time in history, Psycho was in some ways the first shot in the battle for freer filmmaking in the 1960s. Few movies of its time were more direct and unapologetic in their violence or served it up with such disorienting abruptness or tongue-in-cheek wit. With its casual depiction of sex outside marriage, fleeting nudity, bursts of shocking violence, killing off a major character less than halfway through the movie, and focus on the psychological subtext of the murderer's personality, as well as the geometric imagery of Saul Bass's credit sequence and the percussive strings of Bernard Herrmann's score, Psycho was the film with which Hitchcock left the 1950s behind and started the 1960s with relish. Time hasn't hurt the film, either; it still generates a palpable tension and the odd chemistry between Perkins and Leigh in their dinner scene is a wonder to behold. While the film is still frightening after all these years, repeated screenings reveal a cold-blooded humor; with Psycho, Hitchcock tore asunder the audience's expectations of what a suspense film should be, and he appears to have had a wonderful time doing it.

Today Psycho is rightfully regarded as a masterpiece. In terms of its style, its use of shadows and odd angles, it should be required viewing by any aspiring filmmaker. Psycho brought horror into the modern era. Previously, horror films had been about monsters or mad scientists, but Hitchcock made man the greatest horror in Psycho.

Documentary: "The Making of 'Psycho'" ( 94 minutes) First-hand accounts from people who knew Hitchcock and who worked on the film with him. Comprehensive and absorbing are the best adjectives to describe this 1997 documentary that's almost as long as the film itself. Lots of firsthand recollections from principal cast and crew members give us an insider's perspective on working with Hitchcock and the particulars of the production. Janet Leigh's memories are especially vivid (she talks glowingly about Anthony Perkins – his talent, sense of humor, and friendship), as are those of Hitchcock's daughter, Pat, who played a small comedic role in the film. Topics such as casting, wardrobe, censorship, editing, sound effects, and music are examined, as well as public and critical reaction to what was a very unique entertainment back in 1960. The sessions with Janet Leigh are particularly involving, and she talks a great deal about shooting the now infamous shower scene. Any 'Psycho' fan would be crazy to miss this absorbing, well-made documentary.

Written, Directed and Produced by Laurent Bouzereau.

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Video Codec: XviD ISO MPEG-4
Video Bitrate: 1038 kbps
Video Resolution: 720x544
Video Aspect Ratio: 1.324:1
Frames Per Second: 29.970
Audio Codec: 0x2000 (Dolby AC3) AC3
Audio Bitrate: 128kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
Audio Streams: 2
Audio Languages: english
RunTime Per Part: 1:34:14
Number Of Parts: 1
Part Size: 832,694,714 Bytes
Subtitles: no
Ripped by: DocFreak08

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