25 October 2006 | ccthemovieman-1
The More I See This, The Better It Gets
When I watched this for the first time in over 30 years, I was surprised how little action there was since I had remembered this as some intense horror movie. Of course, I was young and more impressionable so I guess I just remembered those few dramatic, sensational scenes such as Janet Leigh murdered in the shower and the quick other murder at the top of the stairs. Basically, that was about it, action-wise, BUT I have no complaints because the more I watch this film, the more I like it. It has become my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie, along with Rear Window.
I mention the lack of action, and blood, too, because younger people who might be watching this for the first time are not going to see the kind of horror film they're accustomed to seeing. A generation back, movie makers tended to build up characters and suspense, so there was a lot more storytelling and less action than you see today. Also, this movie doesn't have the shock value today for audiences, either, not after years of Freddie Krueger-type blood-and-guts seen in the past 30 years.
But, what you WILL see in this movie is (1) superb acting; (2) a fascinating lead character; (3) excellent photography, and (4) a bizarre story.
"Norman Bates" is one of the most famous fictional names in film history, thanks to this film and the great work portraying him by Anthony Perkins. "Norman" is a nutcase, as it turns out and the more you know all about him, the more fun it is to study Perkins and his character "Norman" in subsequent viewings. He really has the guy down pat. However, it isn't just Perkins' film; the supporting is just fine with Leigh, whose figure is still awesome no matter how many times you see it; Martin Balsam as the private detective; Vera Miles and John Gavin. Everyone contributes.
What makes me really enjoy this movie is the cinematography. I bought this on VHS when it became available on widescreen. Later, of course, I got the DVD. Each time, I appreciate John Russell's camera-work and Hitchcock's direction more and more. I wonder if this isn't Hitchcock's best job of directing as his camera angles and lighting are outstanding. On the DVD, the blacks, whites and grays are just super and the famous house next to the Bates Motel never looked better. That house really looks eerie.
The sound effects in here don't hurt. When Balsam is attacked, the accompanying frightening music never fails to bring chills down my spine. The music literally "screams" at you.
I went 35 years between showings but now have watched this five times in the past four years. I love it and look forward to seeing it again. Many people here think this is Hitchcock's greatest film. Add me to that list.