ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF PSYCHO by Stephen Rebello

ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF PSYCHO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Engrossing step-by-step story of the making of a classic that was panned on release and later acknowledged for its power. Screenwriter-journalist Rebello begins with the original Wisconsin farmhouse murders that prompted Robert Bloch to write his own version of a similar horror. These murders were so atrocious that Bloch's eventual novel seemed timid beside the real facts. But reviewers got chills and started raving. Then Hitchcock read Anthony Boucher's New York Times review, made a blind bid through his agent, and Bloch's agent sold it to Hitch for $9,000, of which Bloch got about $5,000. The picture was the second highest grosser of 1960 (topped only by Ben-Hur), but Bloch received nothing more. The script by Joseph Stefano stuck fairly close to the book, only altering Norman Bates from a loutish 40-year-old to younger, likable Tony Perkins. Meanwhile, Hitch was out to show he could make a supercheap quality movie without big stars, using techniques borrowed from his TV program, and he wanted to break the mold of polite thrillers that he was known for. He looked forward with ghoulish relish to killing off heroine Janet Leigh in the shower--and Rebello gives us a whole chapter on this scene, along with Bloch's and Stefano's later dismay that Hitch deleted a shot of the dead woman's rear end hanging over the tub--a shot the writers saw in the rough edit and thought terribly graphic and moving. Hitch indeed cut everything that seemed to enrich the human side of his characters--according to Rebello, he was afraid of showing deep feeling anywhere in the final print. Plenty of rich interview material from Perkins, Leigh, and other workers on the film. A must for Hitchcock fans.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1990
ISBN: 1453201211
Publisher: Dembner--dist. by Norton