Thursday, December 8, 2011

PSYCHO (1960)

On the fourteenth Lynchian day of Christmas, we present Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller Psycho (1960). Although not normally thought of as a Christmas movie, Psycho features holiday decorations in the background during an early scene at the bank where Marion works. And since the entire film takes place within a week or so of that scene, we can assume the story takes place around Christmastime. Partly obscuring the film's Winter time frame is its setting in the Southwestern United States—the action taking place between Phoenix and Southern California—where the temperate weather conditions result in a conspicuous lack of snow.
Over the years, the iconic imagery and masterful direction of Psycho (1960) is clear, and the film is taken for granted as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces. But Psycho was a shocking and controversial film for its time, and in spite of the film's wild success at the box office, the public's perception of Hitchcock was permanently altered. Hitchcock later admitted the controversy surrounding the movie limited some of his career options in Hollywood thereafter. Over 25 years later, David Lynch's own career encountered a similar boost and limitation after releasing his Hitchcockian Blue Velvet (1986), a film Gene Siskel favorably compared with Psycho and argued Lynch's film impacted audiences in 1986 the way Psycho did in 1960.
As mentioned in previous articles, David Lynch frequently cites director Alfred Hitchcock as an influence. And while Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958) also clearly swim in the same waters as Lynch's psyche, Psycho (1960) could be argued to be Hitchcock's most Lynchian film. So while Psycho is considered a mainstream thriller today, for its time it was just as wild and controversial as anything Lynch would go on to create, and was boldly released at the height of Hitchcock's long and illustrious career. In spite of the film's age, its twists and turns are just as thrilling now as ever before and we refuse to spoil the plot even 50 years after its release.

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