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Wednesday 17 October 2012

Burl reviews Psycho! (1960)

Ree-ree-ree-ree, from behind the shower curtain, it’s Mother! Ha ha, no, it’s actually just me, Burl! I’ll let you get a robe or a towel on, and then I’ll continue with my review of the fine Alfred Hitchcock picture Psycho! It’s a movie I first saw on that fateful evening many years ago when my friend Scott and I tried walking up the beach to a nearby town where Blood Beach was playing in the theatre! We didn’t make it – it was much too far, as it turned out – so we ended up watching Psycho on TV!
Ha ha, there’s not much point in reviewing such a picture in the traditional manner! We all know the plot, and we all know how gosh-darn good the movie is! I wouldn’t be the first one to suggest that possibly the coda, in which a glib psychiatrist played by Simon Oakland tries to explain Norman’s illness, was an ill-advised addition, and that the movie should have ended a little more suddenly to maintain its shocking mood in the post-viewing moments!
Nor will I be the first, ha ha, to express admiration for Anthony Perkins’ magnificent performance in the role of the looneyman Norman Bates! All the other performances are good too, from Janet Leigh to Martin Balsam to everyone else! Even that cop and the used car salesman are pretty solid! But Perkins is the movie’s legitimate great performance, and one of the best Hitchcock ever got out of an actor! And I certainly wouldn’t be the first to mention that before Psycho, the movies (Hollywood ones, anyway) had never before shown a toilet flushing on screen!
It occurred to me for the first time when I watched the movie most recently (I’ve seen it many times, ha ha!) how downright scary Janet Leigh’s situation is! She’s there in that motel, all by herself, with a raging madman stalking around outside in a stringy wig and an ugly dress! And you’ll say, “Ha ha, but of course, Burl, that’s the movie, isn’t it?” Sure, but have you ever taken a step back and thought about it in a realistic sort of a way? It’s terrifying!
My goodness, I’d love to go back in time and sit in on a screening of the picture with a big audience! They must have freaked out, especially of course during the shower scene! And I wonder how many people screamed when Mrs. Bates spun around in her chair, or gasped in amazement when the killer’s wig came off, in that marvelous penultimate scene! And then of course I’d sit around with Hitch and chat with him for a while about his career, and about new suspense stories he could film!
The old cliché about some movies just getting better and better each time you see it certainly applies to Psycho! It has more re-watching value even than that other fine Hitchcock picture Rear Window! I award it four unbelievably deep impressions in the bed!

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