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Psycho (4K restoration)


Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, Simon Oakland, Frank Albertson, Pat Hitchcock, John Anderson, Mort Mills

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

A wide reissue for what is now rightly regarded as a masterpiece of chilling cinema, and one (with Vertigo) of Hitchcock's two most accomplished and consistently sustained films, filled with delicious black humour that was even more concentrated than in the director's equally misunderstood delight The Trouble With Harry a few years previously.

For the few who haven't seen it, the plot concerns an Arizona secretary (Leigh, earning the only Oscar nomination of her career) who goes on the run after embezzling a small fortune and, beset by a torrential rainstorm, checks into a remote motel run by Norman Bates (Perkins), who peeps at her through through a hole in the wall and is seemingly under the domination of his mother.

There's a great deal more to this movie than its watch-through-your-fingers set-pieces, topped memorably by its legendary shower murder. For a start, there's the inventive and superbly constructed screenplay by Joseph Stefano, based on Robert Bloch's novel, and Bernard Herrmann's sinister and screeching score.

Add to that Hitchcock's impeccable control of every scene, casting and performances that coudn't be bettered and a chilling final tableau, and you have a not-to-be-missed cinema experience to be savoured afresh with this 4K restoration print. You'll find some parts still hard to watch.

David Quinlan

USA 1960. UK Distributor: Universal. Black and white.
109 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 May 2022