Creating in Flow

The world of creativity—with a twist of rationality

Showering with Psychos

Why is Psycho's art as lasting as the nightmares? Insights!

Bood in the shower
I heard someone say recently that he didn't like Hitchcock films."They're all the same, like they're made by computer." I got a good a laugh from that, as Hitchcock worked hard to avoid repeating himself. He knew the risks, too, noting that "Style is self-plagiarism."

As it's Alfred Hitchcock Day (March 12, origin unknown), it's as good a time as any to reflect on the man's genius. Psycho, as a prime example, has certainly not aged the way so many lesser films have in the past half century. It was Hitchcock's 47th film. He was 60 years old.

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho is an inside look behind the scenes of the nightmare-inducing film. Alfred Hitchcock's groundbreaking achievements are documented in this amusing book by Stephen Rebello, a screenwriter, journalist, and author. The book itself is so cinematic that a feature movie of it is planned.

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A compelling horror film that forever changed the way women step into a shower (timidly, only after looking around carefully), Psycho was first released in June 1960. The story behind the movie is less widely known.

Psycho killer Norman Bates was inspired by a real-life murderer from Wisconsin, Ed Gein. But what we celebrate in Hitchcock's works is not merely a scary plot, but artful cinematography, sound, and editing.

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho
Here are a few nuggets from Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Did you know:

* When Ed Gein, the murderer that inspired the book and film, was found, he had two pairs of human lips on a string, and a cupful of human noses.

* Robert Bloch, author of the book, completed a draft in six weeks, and, after one rejection, sold it for an advance of $750.

* Hitchcock let the first scriptwriter go without giving him a chance to rewrite his failed screenplay.

* The second screenwriter said that Hitchcock was big on technicalities, that his theory was,"Think what the audience is going to ask and answer it as fast as possible."

* Both star Tony Perkins and director Hitchcock knew it was a big gamble for a late-fifties fan magazine cover boy to play a transvestite.

* Censorship and the Hays Office Code had a role in Hitchcock's understated style, as brutality had to be accomplished "within the careful limits of good taste."

And that's before we get anywhere near the famous shower scene.

 

Copyright (c) 2011 by Susan K. Perry

 

Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and author. Her current focus is on the creative aspects of rationality and atheism.

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