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Psycho is a 1960 American psychological thrillerfilm directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins. The film is based on the screenplay by Joseph Stefano, who adapted it from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was loosely inspired by the crimes of Wisconsin murderer andgrave robber Ed Gein, who lived just 40 miles from Bloch.
Both Gein and Psycho's protagonist, Norman Bates, were solitary serial killers in isolated rural locations. Both had deceased domineering mothers, and had sealed off one room of their house as a shrine to their mother. Both dressed in women's clothing and had multiple personality disorder. However, there are many differences between the fictional Bates and Ed Gein.
The film depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane , hiding at a secluded motel after embezzling money from her employer, and the motel's disturbed owner and manager, Norman Bates , and the aftermath of their encounter.
Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted a re-review which was overwhelmingly positive and led to four Academy Awardnominations. Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock's best films and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics.The film spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake, and a television movie spin-off.
The film is often categorized by multiple sources as a drama, horror, mystery and thriller film.
Psycho is a prime example of the type of film that appeared in the 1960s after the erosion of the Production Code. It was unprecedented in its depiction of sexuality and violence, right from the opening scene in which Sam and Marion are shown as lovers sharing the same bed, with Marion in a bra.[In the Production Code standards of that time, unmarried couples shown in the same bed would be taboo.
Psycho has become one of the most recognizable films in cinema history, and is arguably Hitchcock's best known film.In his novel, Bloch used an uncommon plot structure: he repeatedly introduced sympathetic protagonists, then killed them off. This played on his reader's expectations of traditional plots, leaving them uncertain and anxious. Hitchcock recognized the effect this approach could have on audiences, and utilized it in his adaptation, killing off Leigh's character at the end of the first act. This daring plot device, coupled with the fact that the character was played by the biggest box-office name in the film, was a shocking turn of events in 1960.
The most original and influential moment in the film is the "shower scene", which became iconic in pop culture because it is often regarded as one of the most terrifying scenes ever filmed. Part of its effectiveness was due to the use of startling editing techniques borrowed from the Soviet montage filmmakers,[and to the iconic screeching violins in Bernard Herrmann's musical score. The iconic shower scene is frequently spoofed, given homage to and referenced in popular culture, complete with the violin screeching sound effects.