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Psycho

I can add absolutely nothing new to the conversation about one of the most iconic films of all time. It is especially frustrating to try and put your thoughts into words when you don't find the film to be the masterpiece most do. Before you stab me with a butcher knife let me say I like this film very much. It is my third time sitting with it and I think I am safe saying I have landed where I am going to with Psycho. Through the first hour and fifteen I think this movie is absolutely perfect. I thought of The Birds a lot while watching because I think Hitchcock uses the same technique in telling both stories. Hitchcock Is so patient in his story telling. That's the word that kept coming to mind, patience. Hitchcock spends so much time building to that iconic shower scene that we are squarely in Leigh's corner by the time it comes. Despite her sins we are devastated when that scene finally arrives. There are so many great moments that lead us there. The millionaire she takes the money from, who is just the right amount of creepy. The officer who finds her and tails her. Of course her final moments when she is being sympathetic to one of cinemas greatest villains, Norman Bates.

Perkins bring us the perfect antagonist. His mannerisms and stare are intensely creepy. One of the things that came to mind this time that I don't remember thinking about much in the past is what audiences thought of this character the first time watching it. I am so jealous of anyone who got to see this film free of knowing the twist. I wonder if how I have always felt about the last half hour of Psycho is colored by the fact that I was familiar with what was coming long before I saw it. I will never know but what it doesn't change is what I sacrilegiously find to be the best scene in the film, the dinner between Marion and Norman. I love this scene so much. The tension that is building. The small ways that Hitchcock shows us Norman's capability for snapping. The way that Marion wants to mother Norman who she views as a poor innocent soul. Finally, the way Norman so coldly pulls that frame off the wall and views Marion on the other side. This had to be the moment when audiences knew the fear Hitchcock had been subtly planting was real.

The next scene in the film has been gone through frame by frame by so many people so many times that I feel silly bringing my opinion to it. I will say every frame is intense and perfect. From the stark white of the shower tiles to the simple but effective upward camera shot of the shower head. It's the end of the character that Hitchcock and Leigh have been so patient in letting us get to know. Sadly for me it is where the film goes from perfect to good.

There are still things I love. Perkins is still Norman to the fullest so I am still engaged. I really like the scene between him and the detective and then with Marion's lover. What I don't enjoy so much is the reveal of the dead mother. This moment I think would really be seen better through the eyes of someone not in the know. I don't enjoy the murder of the detective. This feels like the most antiquated scene in the film. Last but not least I hate the last ten minutes with the psychiatrist. Maybe it didn't seem this way in 1960, but I really feel like this is the point where Hitchcock loses faith in his audience. This might be a harsh criticism of a director who always held the audience in the palm of his hand, but I hate it. He spells out everything that we have spent the last hour and a half learning. It is only ten minutes but it takes me out of the film and I am left wishing I felt differently.

Psycho is a great film. One I enjoy going back to because I get to have the feeling that this is the time. This is the viewing Psycho becomes an all time favorite of mine. I get to get to know Marion all over again and go on this tragic journey with her. I get to watch a master at his all time manipulative best. My God, that first hour and fifteen. Hey, maybe there is a directors cut.