When I first saw Psycho about 10 or 15 years ago I had no idea about the twist ending because my parents had spent all of my childhood making sure that things would still be awesome when I was an adult. I think I first saw the film at a festival on the big screen but I can't be sure, maybe it was at home off a collection of Hitchcock DVDs. Who knows? (My dad. He probably knows.)
Either way the movie is indelible. It's a great flick, exciting and tense and stunning, so when I went over to my parents' house for Tuesday night hangout time I wasn't bummed that we weren't watching the TV show we've been recording because I got to sit down and watch Psycho with them instead.
Janet Leigh is great in the film. She's beautifully intimidating in her sudden flight: I love how rude she is to the police officer and car salesman in contrast to how polite and gentle she is in her scenes with Anthony Perkins. And Anthony Perkins, of course, absolutely kills it.
Norman Bates is one of the greatest characters ever brought to the screen, and Anthony Perkins breathed life into the role. I'm not talking about the twitch oddness at the very end, or the be-wigged grinning before Norman is psychoanalyzed. Bates is best talking about the stuffed birds in his office or almost bringing a sandwich to Marion's room or flinching slightly away from Mr. Arbogast while munching on Kandy Korn. It's the sub-surface tension that's so strained in this film and Perkins' performance alone is a worthwhile reason to see the film.
If that's not reason enough for you then see it for the brilliant and vertiginous camerawork, the creepy-but-simple music, or just the tingle of intensity that runs through the whole thing.
Great film, dammit. Now I kind of want to watch it again.
Psycho. Alfred Hitchcock. Shamley Productions. 1960.