Psycho (1960)

PSYCHO (1960)
Article #112 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 7-6-2001
Posting date: 11-19-2001

No plot description here: if you’ve seen it, you know the plot; if you haven’t, the less you know going in, the better.

With that in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that any serious discussion of this movie will involve SPOILERS to some degree. Furthermore, PSYCHO is one of those movies that has been written about and talked about so much that I doubt that I will have anything novel or interesting to say about it. Nonetheless, I’ll touch upon a couple of things that came to mind while watching the movie.

I’ve heard it said that Hitchcock considers the movie a comedy. I think I see what he’s talking about, but I myself wouldn’t consider it a comedy as much as a joke; specifically, a practical joke played on an unsuspecting audience, and, as we know, practical jokes are always the most fun for the person who perpetrates them. Hitchcock’s joke involves setting up specific expectations in the mind of the audience, and then pulling the rug out from under them. After all, Janet Leigh is initally set up as the main character of the movie, and look what happens to her.

The sad thing is that this movie is so well known and so widely discussed that I think it is next to impossible to watch it with a fresh and innocent mind; the first time I saw it, I knew about the fate of Janet Leigh beforehand, and there’s no way that scene can have the same impact if you’re expecting it (I will admit, however, to having been caught off guard by Martin Balsam’s fate). As good as this movie is, I actually think obscurity would enhance it; it would preserve the sense of surprise that this movie really needs in order for it to have it’s full impact.

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