By using this site, you agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

ScottsdaleJim

  • Posted 3 years ago
  • 390 Views

HITCHCOCK, PSYCHO, AND PHOENIX

Alfred Hitchcock was a genius in movies and television. For those of us who saw his work in first release, we were able to see him gain stature in the entertainment business through the years.

To many movie fans, the most remembered films of Hitchcock are probably Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Rear Window (1954), and Psycho (1960). My personal favorite is Psycho because, not only is it a great movie with all the Hitchcock twists and turns, but it was done on a low budget, involved Phoenix, Arizona, and contained some innovations that changed the style of how films were made and marketed in its era.

We know the opening scene where downtown Phoenix is panned but did you know that Janet Leigh’s character’s name had to be changed from Mary Crane to Marion Crane because there was a Mary Crane in the Phoenix phone book? Also, most of the highway scenes were done in California. When Leigh drives out of town, she is supposedly in downtown Phoenix although none of the actors or Hitchcock were ever there.  Only a crew sent to get exterior footage actually went to Phoenix.

Psycho was a low budget film shot by Hitchcock’s TV production company, Shamley Productions, and cost only $800,000.  Hitchcock had to tell us that the date in the movie was December 11 since Phoenix had Christmas decorations on the streets and the cost to remove them by his exteriors crew would have been too much.

Another innovation of Hitchcock’s was to have the star (Leigh) get eliminated early in the film. Because of that he insisted on having theaters not allow seating after the film began. By doing this it removed the complaints of those who showed up late to see Janet Leigh only to discover that her part in the film was over.

In spite of several bad reviews, Psycho was a huge hit proving that word of mouth can overrule the critics in most cases. The combination of Hitchcock’s direction, a fine cast including great character actors of the day getting a chance to shine (Martin Balsam, John Anderson, John McIntire, Simon Oakland), and Bernard Herrmann’s eerie musical score, made Psycho a film as enjoyable today as when it was released in 1960.

Alfred Hitchcock with clapper on the set of Psycho (1960)

 

4 Comments

1000 Characters Remaining

C.B.L

09 Jun 11, 12:22 AM

"Money doesn't buy happiness.... it buys-off unhappiness".

NA

100 Characters Remaining

Jlewis

02 Jun 11, 11:48 PM

This ranks pretty high among my favorites too. Funny, when  I first saw it on TV, I thought the second half was slightly hokey but the first half brilliant. Nowadays, I like the whole thing... even the stone-faced acting of John Gavin (he had much more "oomf" in the earlier Imitation of Life.) There isn't one minute of boredom here. Lots of 1950s anxiety throughout... all of the characters are hiding something or are ashamed in some way (cheating in hotel rooms, stealing money, murder and hiding the body, tough Mommy issues, suppressed sexuality).

NA

100 Characters Remaining

Carson1028

02 Jun 11, 07:17 PM

One of the most fascinating thing aboug Psycho is that is was low budget, and yet it had such an impact on future films.  No one has ever lived up to Hitchcock's genius, though.  The strings only ensemble music at the beginning of the film by Bernard Herrmann continues to pack a punch no matter how many times I listen to it.

NA

100 Characters Remaining

hepclassic

02 Jun 11, 02:41 PM

Interesting article. I thought the way Hitchcock painted the Phoenix skyline from that angle really helped set the scene for the movie. I wonder if Mary Crane saw the movie and what she thought of it.

NA

100 Characters Remaining

Back To Top