It is such a rich complex film that draws one in time and time again, this time I noticed how amazing that music score is - its not just all screaming violins, as Herrmann complements the action perfectly. Tony Perkins of course had his defining role as Norman Bates, but so did Janet Leigh as Marion Crane - after all her years as a leading lady this is the role she will be remembered for (as her then husband Curtis will be for Wilder's SOME LIKE IT HOT made around the same time). Never mind the size of the role she should have been a contender for best actress of the year.
Janet has revealed how Hitch called her in, told her he knew she could act and told her what he wanted from her in his camera set-ups and left the creation of the role to her. She certainly delivers here and looks her best - she did get rather emaciated in her later years. This nice photo by Nocoletta Zalaffi is from a 1969 "Sight & Sound" interview where she discusses working with Hitch and Welles among others. The movie of course is famous for other things too: the first time a toilet is seen and flushed in a mainstream movie, and our lovers in that hotel room, frank for that era, with Janet in her bra. Odd too the date in the opening scene is given as December 11th, but there no mention of Christmas at all apart from that one shot as our heroine flees from Phoenix Arixona in her car, to that lone highway, after sleeping in her car all night attracting the interest of that cop ... the music underscores her travel to that motel perfectly;
then that great scene with that strange young man as they talk about birds and the traps they are in and she resolves to get out of hers. Great moments too with the old police chief and Simon Oakland as that psychiatrist at the end compels our attention as the swamp gives up its secrets - those eerie moments too of Norman at the swamp, and that perfect ending.. I like Martin Balsam's Arbogast too with that line "Someone always sees a girl with 40,000 dollars". We are now in the age of 'torture porn' (which I don't bother with) so PSYCHO may seem old-hat to some, but its still as powerful now as when I first saw it .... Hitch of course was the master showman here with his teasing trailer visiting the site of the motel, and those ads, during the era of continuous performances, not letting people in once it had started. Quite right too. I have always liked Janet, more on her and Hitch at labels.
For me PSYCHO and Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA usher in the new movie world of the Sixties - both of course are about a woman who disappears and the people looking for her - Hitch shows us what happens, Antonioni doesn't, both are complex masterpieces which repay endless viewing, even if Hitch dismissed PSYCHO as a black comedy he made millions on, as it was shot so cheap and quick like one of his TV shows.
REAR WINDOW mesmerises too, and is maybe at the top of the Hitchcock canon. Set almost entirely in the two-room apartment of James Stewart's wheelchair-bound photographer this murder mystery is claustrophobic and masterfully controlled, John Michael Hayes script being just perfect, and Hitch creates some iconic images of Stewart with his camera and Grace in another Edith Head wardrobe. "Preview of coming attractions" indeed. She is the spunky heroine here, taking risks by getting into the apartment of the suspected murderer - that whole set of all those apartments is merely stupendous, and Thelma is delicious as ever as the pragmatic nurse, and of course all those people we snoop on in those apartments across the way ...
Its a study in the complex mechanics of voyeurism and desire - subjects close to Hitch - which has kept film theorists busy for decades, particuarly as this and VERTIGO and some others were out of circulation for years - a canny move to whet interest for them. Its also an edge-of-your-seat thriller and a fascinating love story, as we leave Grace's Lisa Fremont settling down with "Vogue" while Jimmy, now with two broken legs, is trapped in that wheelchair ...
THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY was also on, but I just could not muster much interest in it, and I suppose I have to catch TORN CURTAIN one of these days, the only late Hitch I had no desire in seeing.