Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite director. His body of work is basically unmatched with regard to volume paired with consistent quality. No one else comes close. Of all of his amazing films, Psycho stands out as the film that had the biggest impact on our culture. Never before had a film so brazenly depicted sexuality and violence to mainstream audiences, and Hitchcock had to work hard to get the film past the standards board back then. The film is utterly tame by today’s standards, but to baby boomers it was a complete game changer. Many of the remarkable films that came out during the 60s have unprecedented levels of violence. Think of films like Bonnie and Clyde and The Wild Bunch. Psycho opened the door to that era of films that pushed the envelope. Okay, now throw all that aside. Don’t consider Psycho in the context of the time in which it was released. It still remains an incredibly suspenseful and excellently crafted movie. Consider the balls it takes to kill off the lead character in the first 45 minutes. Janet Leigh was a big star when this movie came out. Think about how jarring that must have been given the standard formula by which movies were made back then. Audiences simply couldn’t process it. I think we also have to mention Anthony Perkins’ amazing performance as Norman Bates. He pulled off nervous, immature, and harmless but still a little menacing so well. By the time the big “reveal” happens, and you realize what was going on, it absolutely floors you.
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