Happy Mother’s Day (in the US!) Psycho – a tale of paranoia, voyeurism, violence and significant parental overreach – seems a fitting film for our Lockdown Rewatch. Possibly Hitchcock’s most revered film, and certainly cited as one of the most innovative and scariest movies ever made.
But did you know…
1) Psycho was the first American film to show a toilet on screen and the first American film in which we hear a toilet being flushed. (That’s how repressed Americans were in the 1950s.)
2) Alfred Hitchcock tormented Janet Leigh throughout filming to keep her on edge. While filming, Hitchcock would go as far as hiding scarier versions of the ‘Mother’ dummy in her dressing room wardrobe or jumping out on her during breaks, but it was the infamous shower scene that left a real impact on the young actress. In a 1995 interview with The New York Times, Leigh explained that following the movie’s release, she was seized with an overwhelming lasting terror. “I stopped taking showers and I take baths, only baths,” she said. She went on to describe that when staying in a hotel or a friend’s home where only a show is available, she panics. “I make sure the doors and windows of the house are locked,” she said, “and I leave the bathroom door open and shower curtain open. I’m always facing the door, watching, no matter where the shower head is.” Which is, to be fair, a little bit of an overreaction.
3) The infamous three minute shower scene took an astonishing seven days to film with 50 cuts, 26 takes of the spinning plughole and 77 camera angles.
4) The tale hits close to home. The novel from which the film was adapted is loosely based on the notorious murderer Ed Gein. Like Norman Bates, Gein had a domineering mother to whom he kept a shrine and dressed in women’s clothes. Gein lived just 40 miles from Psycho author Robert Bloch.