Monday, October 17, 2011
Monday review - Psycho
Well, I know I've seen all those other movies, and I was sure I'd seen Psycho. I was wrong.
The Vancouver Public Library has movie nights showing classic movies and so I wandered down to the library last week to see Psycho, assuming I'd seen it but not for many years and enjoying the idea of seeing it in the library rather than at home by myself or in a movie theater by myself. Plus, it was free.
Spoiler alert - if you haven't seen the movie, I'm going to spoil some of it for you - stop right here.
I knew immediately - okay, almost immediately - that I hadn't seen it before when I was shocked, not scared, but shocked at the early death of Marian Crane. Hard to be scared by a scene you've seen thousands of times in various ways. I don't know why - oh, yes, I do know why, it's because I hadn't seen it before - but I thought that scene was the culmination of the movie. Not so.
It was only the beginning of it.
I'd forgotten - and this I did remember when I saw him - how gorgeous Anthony Perkins was in the movie. I'd forgotten (had never known?) that even though it was made in 1960, it was still in black and white. I'd forgotten (hadn't known, I'm pretty sure) the back story about Marian and why she was at the motel.
The trouble with seeing an iconic movie so long after the fact - especially if, like me, you're an avid reader and movie goer - is that you know too much. I'd seen the climactic scenes many times, in homages, in pieces of the movie as I flipped through the channel. I recognized the Hitchcockian camera work. I knew many of the lines -
And the other problem? So did everyone else in the audience and so, in a way, it wasn't frightening at all. It was sort of like watching Rocky Horror Picture Show where everything is played for laughs.
But, despite all of that, I was glad I'd gone. I enjoyed watching it all the way through and, thanks to the librarian who hosted the showing, I learned a few things I hadn't known. Robert Bloch, who wrote the short story the movie was based on, ended up writing for Hitchcock's TV series. And his book containing the story, which came out in 1959, had an odd history. Hitchcock knew right away that he wanted to make the film so he had his people buy up as many copies of it as they could so that no one would know the ending.
So next month, I'm going back to the library to see All Quiet on the Western Front, another movie I think I've seen and another movie based on a book.
I can hardly wait. I'll keep you posted.