Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1960. Shamley Productions. Screenplay by Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch. Cinematography by John L. Russell. Produced by Alfred Hitchcock. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Production Design by Robert Clatworthy, Joseph Hurley. Costume Design by Rita Riggs. Film Editing by George Tomasini. Academy Awards 1960. Golden Globe Awards 1960.
Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous film ever, and the reason why millions of people all over the world still buy see-through shower curtains. Janet Leigh plays the epitome of Hitchcock’s mysterious blondes, a Texas office girl who one day runs away with a lot of the boss’s money in order to be with her financially struggling lover (John Gavin). On the road to meet up with her man, Leigh stops for the night at the Bates Motel, run by the creepy Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and [spoiler alert], meets a rather tragic end. The story’s brilliance is in subverting audience expectations, getting rid of a main character so early in the story and thereby leaving the crowds wondering what the hell else could possibly happen. Perkins gives the performance that highlighted his entire career, a psychologically disturbed villain who still manages to get right under your skin after all these years. Bernard Herrmann’s strings-only score is unforgettable, and the supporting cast includes Martin Balsam, Vera Miles and Hitchcock’s daughter Patricia Hitchcock.