If there is anyone within the sight of this page who has NOT seen “Psycho”… I envy you.
PSYCHO ( 1960 )
This was shown in the majestic Grauman’s Chinese, and Hitchcock fills every inch of the screen and theatre fifty-five years later. From the first strains of Bernard Hermann’s music booming throughout the theater, attention must be paid. There’re no fancy Fordian vistas, no breakneck Hawksian pace. It’s a small story of secretaries, hardware clerks, used car salesmen, highway patrol cops and lonesome motel owners.
Think about this movie in the con-text of the times and in terms of Hitchcock’s filmography up until then that time. Think about it. As he takes us by the hand and leads us on the road with Marion and her $40,000 we go deeper and darker. We wonder what’s ahead, but cannot turn back. What’s seen cannot be unseen. I sat further back in the theatre than I’d sat during this entire weekend because I wanted to take it all in in one fell swoop. But due to someone’s jabberwockin’ behind me, I had to move my seat to the front row to get away from their damned murmuring. I have a sneaking suspicion that the caliber of audience members is diminishing ever so slightly. People talking, snoring, phone stealing ( ! ) and trying to Bogart some seats ( don’t try it buddy, I’m a New Yorker ) are some of the tales I heard and experienced. Wassup film nerds?
Being in the front row is where I live anyway, so this was not a punishment. The better to see Norman, Sam, Lila, a fella by the name of Arb-0-Gast, and Sheriff Chambers and his wife: ( “They found them together. In bed.” It’s the tilt of Lurene’s head that I wait for and slays me. ) Usually during the festival, my fellow film buffs would applaud the entrance of a star. But “Psycho” doesn’t invite that. Hitchcock takes you to another place. Yes, it’s only a movie, but we know that’s not true with this film. Wrapped in the normalcy of those regular Joes I listed for you above lurks one singular young man.
There wasn’t really anything I noticed on screen this time around that I hadn’t noticed before from my umpteen viewings of “Psycho”, but there is something intangible. Seeing the movie spread across the wide Missouri of a screen in its cavernous 977-seat packed house, the energy of the audience’s attention went onto the screen. I swear the screen gave back to us its energy as well. We fed each other. Hitchcock grips us. He takes his time…takes us to another place. You’ve read the books, you’ve seen the commentary on this film. Hitchcock subtly transfers our identification from Marion to Norman. But see, you’ve got to give yourself over to the movie. Don’t give me any guff about “this is not my kind of movie.” Hey, I’m a film noir gal, but I’ll do a Silent. You don’t like Orson? You tried? Swell. But Welles is not Hitchcock. Hitchcock understand us, he understands our psychology. That’s why he knows we’ll let him take us by the hand. We’ll go up to the Statue of Liberty, cling to Mount Rushmore, trust our favorite uncle or fall in love with the wrong person…twice. He can even make us think we can handle an old woman.
When I did my fan retrospective on TCM, I said “Psycho” was the perfect motion picture. As I see “Psycho” here at Grauman’s, I must add that it is a masterpiece.
The highlight and surprise of the festival for me was “The Sound of Music.” The most fun I had watching a movie was “Calamity Jane.” But seeing “Psycho” was altogether different. I really saw the power and felt the pull of Hitchcock.
FOURTH & LAST INSTALLMENT: CLOSING NIGHT.
( H O M E )