Psycho is a 1960 American psychological horror thriller film produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Martin Balsam. The plot centers on an encounter between on-the-run embezzler Marion Crane and shy motel proprietor Norman Bates and its aftermath, in which a private investigator, Marion’s lover Sam Loomis, and her sister Lila investigate the cause of her disappearance.
The film was initially considered controversial and received mixed reviews, but audience interest and outstanding box-office returns prompted a major critical re-evaluation. Psycho was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress and Best Director.
Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock’s best films, and his most famous work. It has been praised as a major work of cinematic art by international film critics and scholars due to its slick direction, tense atmosphere, impressive camerawork, a memorable score and iconic performances. Often ranked among the greatest films of all time, it set a new level of acceptability for violence, deviant behavior and sexuality in American films, and is widely considered to be the earliest example of the slasher film genre. In 1992, the Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
In his 1998 review, critic Roger Ebert wrote about the film: “What makes “Psycho” immortal, when so many films are already half-forgotten as we leave the theater, is that it connects directly with our fears. Our fears that we might impulsively commit a crime, our fears of the police, our fears of becoming the victim of a madman, and of course our fears of disappointing our mothers.”