Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. United Kingdom, 1960. Michael Powell. Story and Screenplay by Leo Marks. Cinematography by Otto Heller. Produced by Michael Powell. Music by Brian Easdale. Production Design by Arthur Lawson. Costume Design by Dickie Richardson, Polly Peck, John Tullis. Film Editing by Noreen Ackland.
Michael Powell practically ended his fantastic directorial career with the overwhelming controversy over this film. It stars Karlheinz Böhm (aka Carl Boehm) as an obsessive photographer who murders women while forcing them to watch themselves be killed. Eventually his goodhearted neighbour (a marvelous Anna Massey) discovers his terrible secret after learning about his terrifying childhood. The film itself isn’t nearly as good as most of Powell’s best work, especially since the subject matter is less controversial now and leaves a story that most audiences have seen many times since, but its excellent screenplay features a level of psychological deconstruction of character that was virtually unheard of in cinema at the time of release. Alfred Hitchcock was apparently so distressed by the influence the critics had on audiences in destroying the film’s reception before it was even released that he didn’t allow any press to watch Psycho before the public did.