Psycho (1960)

35mm film, black and white, 1.37:1 [negative ratio], 1.85:1 [theatrical ratio]
mono, English
Reviewed at The

An American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, from the novel by Robert Bloch and based, loosely, on the life and crimes of Ed Gein. Production began on 30 November 1959 1Variety 2 December 1959 p.20. Although greeted by mixed reviews at the time of its release, the film has become one of the most highly-praised and influential films of all time. Belated sequels were released in 1983 and 1986 followed by a prequel in 1990 and a spin-off TV film, Bates Motel (1987). A poorly received remake by Gus Van Sant was released in 1998.

Plot Summary

Marion Crane goes on the run with a huge amount of her employer's money, hoping to start a new life with her lover. She checks into the Bates Motel where she meets the shy but friendly owner, Norman, who seems to be hen-pecked by his mother who lives in the imposing old house nearby. Then she decides to have a shower…


* = uncredited

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
© 1960 by Shamley Productions, Inc.
A Paramount release
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock *
Screenplay by: Joseph Stefano
Based on the novel by Robert Bloch
Assistant Director: Hilton A. Green
Pictorial Consultant: Saul Bass
Director of Photography: John L. Russell
Edited by: George Tomasini
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Sound Recording by: Waldon O. Watson & William Russell
Westrex Recording System
Costume Supervisor: Helen Colvig
Make-up Supervision: Jack Barron & Robert Dawn
Hairstylist: Florence Bush
Special Effects: Clarence Champagne
Titles Designed by: Saul Bass
Art Direction: Joseph Hurley & Robert Clatworthy
Set Decorator: George Milo
Production Assistant: Peggy Robertson *
Bird Handler: John ‘Bud' Cardos *
Locations: Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Route 99, Fresno-Bakersfield Highway, California, USA; San Fernando Valley, California, USA; Universal City, California, USA
Unit Manager: Lew Leary

Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates)
Vera Miles (Lila Crane)
John Gavin (Sam Loomis)
Martin Balsam (Milton Arbogast)
John McIntire (Sheriff Chambers)
Simon Oakland (Dr Richmond)
Vaughn Taylor (George Lowery)
Frank Albertson (Tom Cassidy)
Lurene Tuttle (Mrs Chambers)
Pat Hitchcock (Caroline)
John Anderson (California Charlie)
Mort Mills (Highway Patrolman)
Janet Leigh as Marion Crane
Ted Knight [prison guard] *
Virginia Gregg, Paul Jasmin, Jeanette Nolan [voice of mother] *
Francis De Sales [official] *
George Eldredge [chief of police] *
Sam Flint [official] *
Frank Killmond [Bob Summerfield] *
Helen Wallace [customer in Sam's store] *
Anne Dore [double for Anthony Perkins in the shower scene] *
Marli Renfro [double for Janet Leigh in the shower scene] *
Alfred Hitchcock [man in cowboy hat outside realty office] *

Alternative Titles

Production 9401 – shooting title
Psicosis – Spanish title
Psyco – Italian title
Psychose – French title
Wimpy – shooting title

Psycho II (1983)
Psycho III (1986)
Psycho IV: The Beginning (1991)
Bates Motel (1987)

Psycho (1998)

See also
American Psycho (2000)
Crimes of Passion (1984)
Deranged (1974)
Diabolique (1996)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Fade to Black (1980)
Halloween (1978)
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
High Anxiety (1977)
Hitchcock (2012)
Homicidal (1961)
Last Embrace (1979)
Maniac (1963)
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Psycho: Das Geheimnis des Phantom-Killers (1992)
Psycho Beach Party (2000)
Psycho Too (1999)
Psycosissimo (1961)
Raising Cain (1992)
Scream (1996)
Scream 2 (1997)
Scream 3 (2000)
Il silenzio dei prosciutti (1994)
Strait-Jacket (1964)
Taste of Fear (1961)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Wacko (1981)
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

Extracts included in
100 Years at the Movies (1994)
100 Years of Horror (1996)
51st British Academy Film Awards (1999)
78/52 (2017)
AFI's 100 Years… 100 Movies (1998)
All About The Birds (2000)
The American Film Institute Salute to Steven Spielberg (1995)
Aroused (1966)
Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror: American Psycho (1997)
The Hitchcock Classics Collection (1985)
Hitchcock: Shadow of a Genius (1999)
The Horror Hall of Fame (1990)
The Men Who Made the Movies Alfred Hitchcock (1973)
Mørkeræd (1998)
Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann (1992)
Precious Images (1986)
Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Production Notes

There is a much-quoted rumour that Psycho was not passed for release by the MPAA because Janet Leigh's nipple was supposedly visible during the shower scene. Commendably, Hitchcock didn't remove the offending scene, but merely resubmitted the film unchanged, assuming that the MPAA either wouldn't bother to watch it, or miss it the second time. He was right.


The Daily Cinema no.8340 (5 August 1960) p.1
“The subject is likely to disgust some people, and Hitchcock has done little to appease those people. The film is made with a shocking intensity of craftsmanship and, although the ending is seemingly predictable by hints and gestures, the final turn of the screw twists the obvious into something frighteningly unsuspected. The acting is perfectly keyed to the mood of the film, but at all times is under Hitchcock's control. And it is his effects people will remember: a huge close-up of an eye peering at a girl undressing, a bath draining blood away, the suddenly-laughable gurgle of a car going into a swamp. For me the film did not repel, but it does reveal Hitchcock's limitations. The direction is shattering – but cold as ice. Perkins, giving a magnificent performance that nearly touches sympathy, does not meet with direction that is going to do more than skim the surface of the situation. Perkins is still a puppet dangling at the end of a string operated by a master-craftsman without depth. It's going to be a winner all right, but how much better the film could have been if there had been some compassion for the characters.” – from a review by T.H.


Cineaction! no.50 (October 1999) pp.70-75 – illustrated article (Manufacturing Horror in Hitchcock's Psycho by Steven Jay Schneider)
The Daily Cinema no.8327 (4 July 1960) p.3 – note (Psycho' is the talk of the US industry)
The Daily Cinema no.8338 (29 July 1960) p.8 – note (No admission after start of ‘Psycho)
The Daily Cinema no.8340 (5 August 1960) pp.1, 6 – illustrated note (Revolutionary showmanship is producing the smash hit)
The Daily Cinema no.8340 (5 August 1960) p.1 – credits,synopsis, review (by T.H.)
The Daily Cinema no.8342 (10 August 1960) pp.8-9 – illustrated note (Psycho' theatre presentation policy – 1960's box-office smash
The Daily Cinema no.8341 (8 August 1960) p.5 – note (No ‘Hitch' in success of the ‘Psyvho' policy)
Empire March 1994 p.122 – review
Empire September 1994 p.70 – review
Empire August 1998 p.42 – review (by David Parkinson)
Entertainment Weekly no.546 (23 June 2000) p.108 – illustrated article (Encore: The Drain Event by Daniel Fierman)
Film Review February 1996 p.40 – review (by Anwar Brett)
Film Review August 1998 p.24 – review (by Anwar Brett)
Premiere November 1995 pp.106-109, 111 – illustrated article
Shivers no.38 pp.28-31 – illustrated article
Starlog no.132 (July 1988) – illustrated interview with Janet Leigh (Mistress of Menace by Tom Weaver)
Total Film September 1998 p.83 – review (by Tom Dawson)
TV Times 19 December 1987-1 January 1988 pp.15, 97 – review, credits
Variety 2 December 1959 p.20 – credits, production start date (Hollywood production pulse)

Diário de Notícias 1 May 1998 – review (by Elisabete França)
The Observer 21 April 1968 – article (Shouts and murmurs by Kenneth Tynan)
The Observer 28 April 1968 – letter from Philip J. Strick

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello – production notes
The BFI Companion to Crime by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.275 – credits, review
The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film by Matt Glasby pp.13-16 – illustrated credits, review
The Films of Alfred Hitchcock by David Sterritt – review
The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder by David Thompson
Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller by Janet Leigh and Christopher Nickens – production notes
by Walt Lee p.384 – credits
Stay Out of the Shower: 25 Years of Shocker Films, Beginning With Psycho by William Schoell pp.7-22 – credits, illustrated article

Other Sources
BFI Southbank programme March 2016 p.34 – illustrated note