Saturday, September 22, 2018

Psycho (1960) Transitional Noir Masterpiece

What can you say that is new about Psycho?

I can tell you my own remembrances, I was seven years old. I first heard about the film second or third hand. It was from the neighborhood girls across the street. They either claimed to have seen it or their parents had seen it and they had over heard them talking about it, whatever, but they made sure they told me about the shower scene. But of course they exaggerated it all and my imagination did the rest. Anthony Perkins killed her naked in the shower, cut her up in pieces and wrapping each piece in a towel took her out to the trunk of her car. I still remember that thought. A little personal  "mind movie."

Of course the movie never lived up to that, once I saw it. But from my example you can see how much power that creative film had on people even if they hadn't seen it yet.

Now I find out that the original story by Robert Bloch was pretty close to my original "mind movie."

I'm looking at Psycho as one of the first Transitional Noirs that crossed over into exploitation to eventually be a box office hit, and critically acclaimed a part of American cinema mythos. Its out exploiting the new found freedom that came at the end of the Motion Picture Production Code.

It took Classical Noirs mostly crime based films, and bent the style in new direction that was very popular. It took a story by Robert Bloch, a screenplay by Joseph Stefano, combining Noir, Thriller, Horror, Suspense, using alienated and obsessed characters and adding Twilight Zone type twists. Hitchcock, Bernard Herrmann, George Tomasini, and John L. Russell concocted really, a magic formula out of thoughts and imagination, an idea put on film that we watched. It captured our imagination. It was a spark that ignited other sparks of imagination. All of the oddball films started appearing in late 50s early 60s they in turn influenced more free ideas.

Noir never really ended it just morphed into what we call Neo Noir. It didn't happen all at once in one great kink, no it gradually ripped sparking apart with  new directions to explore. Some of these films on that edge that contain the noir visual stylistics, the sort of DNA of noir like Psycho, are the Transitional Noirs.

Seeing them now can be just as powerful as back then.

It's a simple story of the time Marion Crane breaks bad and it's consequences.

Enjoy the

an afternoon-er Marion has a different kind of lunch
Caroline (Patricia Hitchcock), George Lowery (Vaughn Taylor), Marion (Janet Leigh), Tom Cassidy (Frank Albertson)

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh)


Sam Loomis (John Gavin)

nice rack Janet

A Christmas Noir too...


Tail Fin

Private Eye Arbogast (Martin Balsam)

Tail Fins

Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins)
Marion Crane: Do you go out with friends?
Norman Bates: A boy's best friend is his mother.

.Mrs. Chambers (Lurene Tuttle), Sheriff Al Chambers (John McIntire)

Arbogast, Loomis and Lila Crane (Vera Miles)

Tail Fins

Mort Mills

California Charlie (John Anderson) and Marion

She heads on the fork towards Baker


Dr. Fred Richman (Simon Oakland)

George Lowery (Vaughn Taylor)

Norman Bates: She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother.

Tail Fins

Psycho Alumni - their noir connections or significant films.

Anthony Perkins (1932–1992) Is Paris Burning? (1966), Pretty Poison (1968), Catch-22 (1970),  Crimes of Passion (1984)

Janet Leigh (1927–2004) Act of Violence (1949), Touch of Evil (1958), The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Harper (1966), The Fog (1980)

Vera Miles (b 1929) The Wrong Man (1956)

John Gavin (1931–2018) Spartacus (1960)

Martin Balsam (1919-1996) On the Waterfront (1954, 12 Angry Men (1957), Cape Fear (1962)

John McIntire  (1907–1991) eight Classic Noir

Simon Oakland (1915–1983) I Want To Live (1958), Bullitt (1968)

Frank Albertson (1909-1964) Girl on the Run (1953). Nightfall (1956), Man-Trap (1961), Johnny Cool (1963)

Vaughn Taylor (1911–1983) The Lineup (1958), Screaming Mimi (1958), Party Girl (1958), The Twilight Zone TV Series (1959–1964)

John Anderson (1922–1992) Walk on the Wild Side (1962), The Satan Bug (1965)

Mort Mills (1919-1993) Drive a Crooked Road (1954), Pushover (1954), Cry Vengeance (1954), Touch of Evil (1958) 

Its a 10/10.