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Rediff News  All News  » Movies » Celebrating 50 years of Hitchcock's Psycho

Celebrating 50 years of Hitchcock's Psycho

Last updated on: June 30, 2010 15:16 IST

Image: Scenes from Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock's seminal black and white thriller released in June 1960, and after suffering through Gus Van Sant's colourised but loyal remake of the same name not too long ago, we realise that even fifty years on, nothing compares to the original.

Psycho is one of the greatest, scariest, most intelligently constructed films of all time, and while you prepare to watch the masterpiece again -- and you should -- here are some things you might not have known about Hitch's most famous movie:

1. No-late-admission policy

Image: A scene from Psycho

Hitch firmly insisted on a no-late-admission policy for the film, a move only seen previously in theatre screenings.

Because actress Janet Leigh's famous shower sequence takes place so early into the film, the filmmaker felt latecomers would feel cheated.

The initially controversial move led to long, long lines outside theatres.

2. Psycho was Hitchcock's last black and white film

Image: A scene from Psycho

The filmmaker decided to shoot it thus because he felt it would be too violent and gory if shot in colour.

Economically speaking too, the decision was sound: the movie made for $800,000 ended up grossing over $40 million.

3. Unusual special effects

Image: A scene from Psycho

The blood splattering in the infamous, iconic shower sequence is actually Bosco chocolate syrup.

Hitch felt that chocolate syrup had the right thickness and consistency to resemble blood when shot in black and white.

4. Novel beginnings

Image: A scene from Psycho

Hitchcock based the film on the novel by Robert Bloch, for which he bought the rights anonymously for a paltry $9,000.

He then bought every copy of the novel in sight to make sure as few people knew the ending of the film.

5. Top secret

Image: A scene from Psycho

Hitch's secrecy about the Psycho ending is absolute legend: on the first day of filming, the cast and crew had to raise their hands and pledge not to reveal any story details outside of the production.

And that wasn't it, the master director refusing to show even the cast the film's ending right up to the point when he needed to shoot it.

6. Musical effect

Image: A scene from Psycho

Hitch's plan for the shower sequence was to shoot it without any background score whatsoever.

Composer Bernard Herrmann ignored the instructions and came up with the distinctive violin-driven sound anyway -- and Hitchcock changed his mind as soon as he heard the music.

He later attributed "33% of the effect" of the film to Herrmann's music.

7. Famous words

Image: A scene from Psycho

And finally, here's a quote the inimitable director came up with during the film's publicity campaign: "It has been rumoured that Psycho is so terrifying that it will scare some people speechless. Some of my men hopefully sent their wives to a screening. The women emerged badly shaken, but still, vigorously, vocal."