This afternoon, for the first time in my life I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ – a movie which has been on my radar for many years, but somehow I’d never gotten around to watching it.
Filmed in 1960, some five years before my arrival on the planet, I’d gotten it built up into a huge horror/fright film – that music was what always got me, made me think I’d never sleep again if I watched it.
Turns out I was wrong.
While the movie is suspenseful, and the scene in the shower was well thought out and did have a little bit of a fear factor, sixty-odd years later it’s more ‘boo’ than ‘BOO’.
I think the movie did have factors which made it quite modern for the era, not least of which was the visual of a flushing toilet. I read somewhere that this was the first time a toilet had ever been seen in a feature film or television program. In this day and age, that sort of record seems to beggar belief as we all know and use toilets every single day and there’s no sense of it being impolite or in any way disgraceful to talk about them, see them, or mention them. But in 1960, it was.
There are other things in the movie which struck me as quite forward-thinking for the era, not least of which showing Janet Leigh not just once but twice, in her bra and slip (does anyone even wear a ‘slip’ now?) seemed a little risqué for the times. Add to that the motel bedroom scene with Janet Leigh and her hardware store owning boyfriend (played by John Gavin) which must also have been seen as fairly risqué as the world entered the sixties and you have a movie which I think was probably well before its time in breaking some barriers.
Was it scary? No. Not even the slash/slash/slash bathroom scene with that music which is so indoctrinated into our psyches could make the scene scary on a comparison scale between 1960 and 2022. We’re used to bigger scares, larger thrills, and I think overall we’re less easily freaked out by things.
But was the movie worth watching? Oh, absolutely. Just to see the nuances of the actors, the fashions, the vehicles, the behaviour of the characters and how they interrelated with one another – the morals, the manners, the trip back in time to six decades ago – even watching it all in black and white was an experience in itself and one I am glad I did. I’ll probably never watch it again ( I think, much like The Sixth Sense, once you’ve seen it, you’re spoiled for ever watching it again), but I’m certainly the better for having ticked it off my list.