Los Angeles (AP) - Alfred Hitchcock, the “Master of Suspense”, has surpassed himself in “Psycho”.
The film, which premiered in New York 60 years ago (June 16, 1960), frightened an audience of millions, earned the British director the reputation of being a "horror filmmaker", gave him his greatest success at the box office, broke many Hollywood rules - and made showers unpopular.
Few scenes in film history got under your skin like this: While Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is in the lonely Bates Motel in the shower, a dark figure penetrates the bathroom, the curtain is torn away. The blonde woman lets out a shrill scream, then the murderer repeatedly stabbed her with a knife.
Hitchcock deliberately did not show how the knife penetrates the victim. The cinematic horror is created by the ever faster stitch sequence, the staccato of shrill string music and the blood mixed with water in the drain, which slowly fades into the wide-open eye of the dead. The horror effect didn't even need color - "Psycho" is a black and white film.
She herself found the shoot so scary that she avoided bathing in the shower for a long time and preferred to take a bath, Leigh later said in interviews. Filmmaker Alexandre Philippe dedicated his own documentary to the legendary scene. "78/52" is named after the 78 camera shots and the 52 quick cuts with which Hitchcock masterfully staged the murder. The bathroom horror lasts just under three minutes.
Janet Leigh was known as a film star and through her marriage to Tony Curtis and daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, who was born shortly before filming. It was all the more surprising that Hitchcock's violation of the Hollywood rules was to let his flagship star die in the first third of the film.
Back then, Hitchcock shocked prudish America even with revealing bed scenes. "Psycho" begins with a long tracking shot over the Phoenix skyline into a hotel room, where Leigh's character Marion Crane shows a lot of naked skin in bed with her lover Sam (John Gavin).
Instead of spending $ 40,000 on the bank from her boss, the pretty secretary uses the money to go to California, where her boyfriend lives. With pouring rain, she stops tired in the strange Bates Motel. At first glance, the shy operator Norman (Anthony Perkins) tells her about his old, sick mother, whom the son takes care of in the ghostly villa next door.
The then 28-year-old, little known Perkins shone in the role of the schizophrenic, torn perpetrator, who has a number of victims on his conscience, including the private detective Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam), who went in search of Marion's traces. Her sister Lila (Vera Miles) is also looking for the missing person together with Sam. At the age of 90, Miles is the only living actress of the «psycho» group.
Before the film "Psycho" there was the eponymous novel by horror author Robert Bloch about a man named Norman Bates, who is so traumatized by the death of his mother that he repeatedly slips into her role. Hitchcock secured film rights for a few thousand dollars in 1959 and kept the project under wraps. Studio Paramount found the template tasteless, so Hitchcock financed the film out of his own pocket for cheap $ 800,000.
Until the premiere in June 1960, the director swore all those involved to secrecy. The mystery further fueled the tension. Some critics panned the violent shocker, which is one of the first slasher films today. An author of the "Hollywood Reporter" raved about the "first-class mystery thriller, full of shock effects and surprises". The audience stormed the cinemas. In the end, “Psycho” grossed more than $ 30 million in the US alone, the best mark for a Hitchcock film.
"Psycho" won four Oscar nominations, including for Janet Leigh as best supporting actress and for the director, but the film went blank on Oscar night. It was Hitchcock's fifth and final directorial nomination. He died in 1980 without ever winning the trophy in the competition. In 1968 there was only an honorary Oscar for consolation, for which he thanked in two words - "Thank You".
In 2001, more than 40 years after the famous knife murder, «Psycho» was voted the most exciting Hollywood thriller of all time by the renowned American Film Institute (AFI).