Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Happy 50th Birthday, Psycho
"What is your favorite all-time movie"
Depending on their disposition, I imagine most cinephiles hate this question.
At least I do. Hell, if you made me pick my favorite films by my favorite directors like Sergio Leone, Quentin Tarantino, or Howard Hawks, I don't know if I would answer the question to the asker, or really, my, satisfaction. Don't believe me, ask me what my favorite Leone film is. Go ahead, do it.
I am waiting...
Okay, I heard you. Yeah, that's an easy answer: Once Upon a Time in the West. It's his most epic, purely cinematic, emotionally layered and a culmination of a career lovingly dissecting his beloved Western genre into a distinct personal style. Yep, Once Upon a Time in the West is Leone's best film. Yep. Well, of course The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is also a masterpiece: hilarious, action packed and the Ecstasy of the Gold portion is one of, if not, the best sequence in cinema history. So yeah, Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly are tied. But you know, For a Few Dollars More is also incredible, and I did name this blog after a character from it . Of course A Fistful of Dollars jump started not only his own career but the whole Italian film industry....and though flawed (a bit long, weird flashbacks and Rod Steiger, though good, in brown face and imitating Eli Wallach as Tucco) Duck, You Sucker is underrated and his most politically charged film. Wait, what was the question, again?
With all that said, since I saw it first at the age of 10, my answer to "What is your favorite all-time movie" has been: Psycho.
Is that actually true? I don't know, honestly. I am not even sure if it's really my favorite Hitchcock film, Vertigo would probably be the victor if I had to make an analytical assessment. But Psycho is definitely the film that has had the greatest impact on my life and love of cinema. It was the first film where I was aware of who the director was and what he did, it was one of the first non-Wizard of Oz or Three Stooges black and white films I watched, and more personally, my father used to sometime tell me plots to horror films as a sort ghost/bedtime story-ish ritual including Psycho (Halloween was another favorite), probably spurred from my first visits to Universal Studios so it has been a part of my life since before even seeing it, as it's twists and turns were lovingly told to a burgeoning horror fan to young to see the film for himself by his proud father.
Regardless of my personal affection, I'm hard pressed to name a film that has had as much influence on cinema period in the last 50 years as Psycho. The slasher and a huge chunk of the Italian giallo genres owe their very existence to the ground Hitchcock and crew laid. Even the way we watch movies we're forever changed when theatres were told to insist that no one would be admitted to the theatre once the film had started. Directing. Screenplay. Editing, Acting, Music, Cinematography, it's hard to not find an aspect that Psycho does not excel at nor whose style has been emulated.
To celebrate it's long tenure as my favorite film, I am going to do a film retrospective of all the Psycho sequels (and yes, I'll give ol' Van Sant's remake a second chance) similar to my highly celebrated (as in 6 reviews and no comments) Death Wish series. I will not be reviewing the original, it's a film that I have too much of a connection with to offer anything more compelling than "gee, wasn't that part awesome?"
Look for the first review, Psycho II, in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime here are some older Psycho related articles from the Colonel Mortimer archives:
24 Frames: Psycho
Posterized: The Psycho series
Trailer of the Moment: Alfred Hitchcock gives us a tour of the Bates Motel