best films: #17: PSYCHO (1960)
It’s tough to top this, one of the greatest thrillers of all time. And with Alfred Hitchcock at the helm and a deep-seededly disturbing performance by Anthony Perkins at the forefront, Psycho is brilliantly filmed (that cinematography, much like most of Hitchcock’s work, is unbelievable), scored (I mean, those screeching violins that are in every horror movie now were really pioneered here), acted (Perkins is stellar and Janet Leigh is all-too-sexual for the homespun time period and the perfect apple of Norman Bates’ eye), and written (from “You eat like a bird” to “She wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Psycho is loaded with expertly written scenes). Now, I’m a clear fan of this man’s work. I’ve discussed Vertigo on this blog previously, and I thoroughly enjoyed Rope, Lifeboat, North by Northwest, Spellbound, and The Birds. The reason that this particular entry in his filmography is so esteemed has a lot to do with its daring choices (that bra-color transition and the quick cuts in the shower scene are evidence of that) and slick editing (well, credit the shower scene again, as well as that guilt-ridden trek in Marion Crane’s car). It’s an altogether success on every basic level, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a modern thriller that was this adept at piecing together an intricate plot with such an iconic central villain.