How Does ‘Psycho’ Hold Up Over 60 Years Later? I Have Some Thoughts

PSYCHO, Janet Leigh, 1960
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Until today, I might have been the last person left in America who has never seen a Hitchcock film. Well, no more! I have now seen the 1960 classic thriller Psycho, and I have some thoughts.


PSYCHO, Janet Leigh, 1960.

Everett Collection

This movie was weird, and not at all what I expected. The first half follows a woman named Marion (Janet Leigh) who steals some money from her employer and then runs off with it to find her broke boyfriend in Phoenix so they can get married sooner. (Already some problems here with Marion. Like being in such a rush to get married that she commits a felony.) Some parts are actually quite funny, too, which I was not expecting in a horror film from 1960, like when rich cowboy Tom Cassidy comes into Marion’s work with the $40,000 she ends up stealing and he and her coworker Caroline have this bit of dialogue:

Tom: “I never carry more than I can afford to lose! Count ’em.”

Caroline: “I declare!”

Tom: “I don’t! That’s how I get to keep it!”

That made me laugh, even all these years later. That guy was a hoot. The movie also does a great job inducing anxiety, so kudos to Hitchcock on that one.


PSYCHO, Anthony Perkins, 1960

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In some ways this feels like two different movies. After Marion switches cars and stops at Bates Motel due to a rain storm, the film changes course quite a bit, since she was the main character, and she gets murdered in a shower. The rest of the film follows her sister (Vera Miles) and Marion’s boyfriend (John Gavin) as they try to figure out what happened to her.

Can I just say: Marion does not have the best intuition. You are a female traveling alone. The guy is clearly a creep. Maybe just leave? But no, even after Marion learns Norman Bates’ purpose in life is taxidermy, she continues to eat a sandwich while he watches her and makes awkward small talk, then decides to take a shower after he leaves, violating every rule of Female Traveling Alone 101.


PSYCHO, LOBBYCARD, from left: Vera Miles, John Gavin, Anthony Perkins, 1960.

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How does Marion overhear Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) arguing with “his mother” all the way from the house up the hill? She must have some very good hearing.

Also, I found it odd that Marion switches cars to outrun a suspicious police officer while the police officer is literally watching her switch cars. Seems rather pointless to do right in front of the guy, and, in fact, wouldn’t it make him more suspicious of her?

Finally, all I knew about this movie going into it was that a woman gets killed in a shower, so that part was not particularly surprising. However, the shower scene was honestly more confusing than anything. First of all, Norman’s aim with a knife is so bad. How did she not just duck under him and get away? Also, where exactly did he stab her? There was very little blood washing down the drain, and obviously she is naked so they don’t show the stab wounds, but the way he handled that knife I really thought he must have missed her entirely. How does someone die and that little blood goes down the drain? I know, suspension of disbelief, and it’s 1960, but it’s asking a lot of the viewer, I think.

Final Thoughts

PSYCHO, 1960

Everett Collection

Taking into account its 1960 release date, I can sort of see why at the time people found it compelling. For me it felt a bit over-the-top and somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and was actually somewhat surprised by the ending. There’s more depth to the film than I thought there would be, as there seems to be an underlying theme about guilt, especially in the beginning when Marion steals the $40,000, and perhaps some guilt on Bates’ part as well, having killed his own mother and developing multiple personalities because of it. That elevates it slightly from your normal campy horror movie. Overall, this movie is like an homage to bad decisions.

Fun Facts

PSYCHO, Janet Leigh, 1960

Everett Collection

Apparently Janet Leigh (and many Americans) did not shower for a while after this film came out. But I think the real lesson here isn’t to avoid showers. The real lesson is don’t stay in a creepy motel where you are the only guest unless you’ve got some way to jam the door shut (a lock is not good enough if the manager has a master key). Pay attention to your intuition, ladies. Also, maybe don’t steal $40,000 and expect to get away with it, or you’ll be running away from your own conscience and making many errors in judgment along the way! Had she just stayed at her job and waited it out, instead of getting jealous of her coworker’s marriage to the point of ruining her life, Marion would have either found a man with enough money to marry her or the man she loved would have figured out a way to make it work. The real victim here is patience.



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For most of her childhood, all Ukrainian-born millennial Zhanna Slor ever watched was a cartoon about a chain-smoking wolf chasing a bunny around Soviet Russia. This has the tendency to both amuse and horrify her coworkers. “No, I have not seen Star Wars.” “No, I have not seen Rocky.” “The ShiningCaddyshackAnimal House? Nope.” In this column, using ignorance as a challenge, she debates how iconic films hold up in the new century, when watched completely out of context for the first time. For more of these reviews, click here.