Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
Plot: A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
In those times, audiences were shocked to see a toilet being flushed and this was the first film to show such an act. The toilet in the film was actually flushing paper, but nevertheless, the fact that a toilet was shown in close up being flushed was regarded as filthy.
Hitchcock required each cinema to ensure that every audience saw the film right from the start. Many were laden with life size cut-outs of Hitch pointing to his watch, ensuring audiences that they must see Psycho from the start, or else they would not see it at all.
First-time viewers thought the film would be about Marion Crane. Hitchcock said in an interview that the movie’s careful plot and character development plodded along “to lead an audience completely up the garden path. They [viewers] thought the story was about a girl who stole $40,000. This was deliberate."
The shower scene was a rousing success at the box office, but caused trouble for American households. An angry father once sent Hitchcock a letter saying that his daughter had refused to take a bath after seeing the 1955 movie, "Diabolique," and after seeing "Psycho," defied his orders to shower. Hitchcock replied to the man with a letter saying, "Send her to the dry cleaners,"
The highest grossing film of Hitchcock’s career. This was also Alfred Hitchcock’s last feature film in black and white.
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.
In the opening scene, Marion Crane is wearing a white bra because Alfred Hitchcock wanted to show her as being “angelic”. After she has taken the money, the following scene has her in a black bra because now she has done something wrong and evil. Similarly, before she steals the money, she has a white purse; after she’s stolen the money, her purse is black.
The character of Norman Bates is based on the real life killer Ed Gein, who killed two women in 1954 and 1957.
The blood in the shower scene is actually chocolate syrup. Since the film was in black and white, Hitchcock felt that chocolate syrup mixed with water, coagulated very much the same as blood would before flushing down the drain.
Hitchcock allowed the leak of photos from the set of a director's chair emblazoned with the name "Mrs. Bates." There were individual photos of Hitchcock and every major cast member taking turns sitting in the chair
An urban legend has it that Leigh's screams were prompted by Hitchcock shocking her with cold shower water. Leigh denied this in her memoir, insisting that Hitchcock kept the water warm and comfortable, as the sequence took a whole week to shoot.
For all its technical and narrative innovations, "Psycho" didn't win a single Oscar.