Rainer's Review of Psycho
Often enough, hyped classics fail to meet expectations.
Hitchcock is pretty resistent when it comes to this trend though. Psycho is only the second film of him I've seen, but like with my debut North by Northwest I was pretty impressed.
While the latter is the legitimate predecessor of agent and spy flicks for decades to come, Psycho pretty much invented the Slasher subgenre.
Although the body count is low for today's standards and you merely get to see any really gory scenes (in a time when the Hays Code still was partly intact) you just have to admire Hitchcock's skill in bringing always the right picture on the screen. There are certainly filmmakers more creative but I can't think of anyone who composes his films with the same precision and plans and frames so perfectly.
He is also helped by Bernard Herrmann's perfect soundtrack, including the famous stabbing tune.
Anthony Perkins is perfect as the shy weirdo/psychopath who runs Bates Motel and Janet Leigh plays a genuine role as a female which is quite unusual for the era.
Pity that she was killed off so early, as she gave probably the best performance of the whole movie while John Gavin and Vera Miles don't have the much-needed chemistry that could replace Leigh's nervous and paranoid character.
All in all, Psycho is well-worth a watch and sufficiently justifies the hype (although the shower scene is not THAT great - come on, today's slasher movies have tons of scenes more shocking, explicit and thrilling than this).
Hitchcock just knows how to make a great film and by 1960 his technical skills were at its high point.