Monday, November 1, 2010

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, by Stephen Rebello

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of PsychoI, like many movie fans, think of the movie Psycho as a smashing success, quintessential Hitchcock.  And of all Hitchcock's movies, it is one of the ones with the most longevity, and major impact on a specific movie genre.  But it never started out that way.  In fact, while the movie was being made, many thought it was folly, and very uncharacteristic of Hitch's brilliance.  It was decidedly low budget, and took a lot of risks content wise.  No one thought it would be a success.  Boy, was the joke on them.

Psycho has long been one of my favorite movies.  I studied it in a college film class, and learned a lot of the well know nuggets of trivia, chocolate syrup for blood, first flushing toilet on film, stabbing melons to get the stabbing sound.  But this book digs so much deeper, beginning with the horror that inspired the tale, Ed Gein.  A solid foundation about Gein's activities is laid in the early part of the book, enough to inform you but not so much as to be sensational.  We then learn about Bloch's book, and how Hitch aquired the rights.  And then, the book details every single aspect of the movie, casting, wardrobe, publicity, everything.

This book is as close to someone like me, who was not around when the movie was released, can get to reliving the initial impact Psycho had on American culture.  And this book translates well over time.  With only a couple of exceptions, the text does not appear at all dated, despite the fact the book was originally written over ten years ago.

All in all, I found this a good, solid read, well researched, and really interesting.  It will be a great book for any movie enthusiast you know, particularly fans of Hitch or the horror genre.

A review copy of this book was provided courtesy of NetGalley.