USA Release date: 8th September 1960
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 10th February 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is a film I’ve seen a few times before but this is the first time I’ve put down my thoughts on it. With the recent release ‘Hitchcock’ hitting the screens here in the UK I thought it a good time to take a look at the film that one uses as its backdrop. I must say it’s quite a masterful piece of filmmaking, quite daring for its day and widely imitated since. But I digress, here’s a very brief summary (there must be someone out there who hasn’t seen it yet) and then I’ll give you my thoughts.
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals a large sum of money from her boss and heads off to be with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), in a small town some way from Phoenix where she lives. Getting lost on the way she stops at a remote motel run by one Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). At this point I’ll not describe the events at the Bates Motel (spoilers), but let’s just say Marion disappears. Worried for her sister, Lila Crane (Vera Miles) hires a private detective, Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam) to try and find Marion and retrieve the missing money. The spotlight soon falls on the Bates Motel and Norman has much to hide.
A truly excellent piece of filmmaking; yes, it’s a bit ‘wordy’ in places, but that was the style back then. There are equally many scenes in which there is no dialogue at all and these are even better in my book. Hitchcock knew just how much to show the audience to intrigue them and I so wish there were more filmmakers around today who were as adept as he was. The performances were all excellent; particularly Janet Leigh as the conflicted felon and Anthony Perkins as the mentally tortured motel owner. The only thing I felt let it down was the very long explanation towards the end; where every nuance of the condition afflicting Bates is exposed. I didn’t feel that much detail was needed; but I could be nit-picking a bit here. It’s a great piece of filmmaking and one every fan of the movies should see at least once.
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
My score: 9.4/10.
IMDb Score: 8.6/10 (based on 232,615 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: No data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 90/100 (based on 200,428 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Marion Crane: Do you have any vacancies?
Norman Bates: Oh, we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.
Norma Bates: [voice-over] No! I tell you no! I won't have you bringing some young girl in for supper! By candlelight, I suppose, in the cheap, erotic fashion of young men with cheap, erotic minds!
Norman Bates: [voice-over] Mother, please...!
Norma Bates: [voice-over] And then what? After supper? Music? Whispers?
Norman Bates: [voice-over] Mother, she's just a stranger. She's hungry, and it's raining out!
Norma Bates: [voice-over] "Mother, she's just a stranger"! As if men don't desire strangers! As if... ohh, I refuse to speak of disgusting things, because they disgust me! You understand, boy? Go on; go tell her she'll not be appeasing her ugly appetite with MY food... or my son! Or do I have to tell her because you don't have the guts! Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?
Norman Bates: [voice-over] Shut up! Shut up!
Lila Crane: Look, that old woman, whoever she is, she told Arbogast something. I want her to tell us the same thing.
Sam Loomis: Hold it, you can't go up there.
Lila Crane: Why not?
Sam Loomis: Bates.
Lila Crane: Then, let's find him. One of us can keep him occupied while the other gets to the old woman.
Sam Loomis: You'll never be able to hold him still even if he doesn't want to be held. And, I don't like you going into that house alone.
Lila Crane: I can handle a sick old woman!