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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rebello offers a needed defense of this great film.
Believe it or not, the reputation of the film Psycho is not that high among Hitchcock scholars. Most of them prefer the 50s films (Vertigo and Rear Window), or 30s films (The Thirty-Nine Steps and The Lady Vanishes). Reviewers also disliked this film upon its release, although as Rebello notes, that had a lot to do with Hitchcock's unwillingness to let them see it...
Published on February 10, 1999

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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a mess!
Where to start....as another reader already pointed out, this book is riddled with mis-spellings and typos, but that would almost be forgiveable if Mr. Rebello's "facts" were not equally riddled with errors and inaccuracies. Mr. Rebello appears to have studied the Alfred Hitchcock Papers housed in the Margaret Herrick Library in a most desultory manner resulting in some...
Published on October 14, 2012 by DoctorD


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rebello offers a needed defense of this great film., February 10, 1999
Believe it or not, the reputation of the film Psycho is not that high among Hitchcock scholars. Most of them prefer the 50s films (Vertigo and Rear Window), or 30s films (The Thirty-Nine Steps and The Lady Vanishes). Reviewers also disliked this film upon its release, although as Rebello notes, that had a lot to do with Hitchcock's unwillingness to let them see it before its release to the public. (He wanted no advance word on its shocking contents.) Psycho has always been a success with its audience, and the viewers are the ones who keep its reputation as one of Hitchcock's greatest films alive. This book starts with the actual serial killer that Robert Bloch based his novel on, proceeds to the optioning of the novel (Bloch had no idea who bought it and sold it for very little, but his reputation was made for life), the preproduction problems (the studio didn't want it made, so it was done as a low-budget quickie), its scripting and filming, postproduction, release, and unexpected success. An irony of the film, according to Rebello, is that Hitchcock never quite got over its success. His later films were seen as letdowns after this one (although I put two of them, The Birds and Marnie, among his 15 best). Anyone who cares about this film will devour this book as I did. I recommend it unequivocally.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As It Gets, June 7, 2002
By 
I found this book to be just wonderful from start to finish. The research is painstaking, the writing smart and lively, the degree of film industry know-how is evident on every page. In fact, the book strikes me as one of the few I've read on Hollywood to suggest that the writer actually knows his way around movie sets and knows how films get made. This book has none of the absurd (and insulting) armchair psychologizing that mars other Hitchcock books and there isn't a dry or pedantic paragraph in it from start to finish. I thought I knew a lot about Hitchcock and Psycho until I read this book. A job obviously undertaken with love and wisdom, superlatively done by Mr. Rebello. I had the pleasure of hearing the author lecture on Hitchcock on TV in London and in Tokyo and he was the standout of the whole affair!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the scenes of a Hitchcock classic, June 10, 2001
By 
C. Roberts "movie buff" (Halifax, Yorkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"A boy's best friend is his mother" - Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins).
"Psycho" is one of Hitchcock's most famous films and this book is a fascinating account of how the film was made and some of the problems that had to be overcome before the film could be completed. Author Stephen Rebello has done an excellent job and describes in detail how Hitchcock chose his screenwriter, his crew and the actors. It is interesting to discover how little some of these people were paid for what turned out to be a classic money making Hitchcock film.
"A man should have a hobby" - Marion Crane (Janet Leigh).
Following the enormous success of his latest film "North by Northwest" Hitchcock was looking for something different - but interesting. When the "Psycho" book by Robert Bloch came to his attention he realised that this could be just what he wanted but he was unsure how the censors would react to the gruesome storyline. He decided to purchase the screen rights to the book and very cleverly did so for a bargain price. The authors agents had no idea who was after the rights to the book and thought they had a good deal when $9,000 was agreed upon. However, after Robert Bloch had paid commission to the publishers, his agents fees and the tax he was left with approx $5,000. It was at this point that he discovered the buyer was a certain Mr Alfred Hitchcock!! Joseph Stefano was hired to write the screenplay after many others had been under consideration. Hitchcock's main concern was to keep the plot twists under wraps during filming and did not release any advance information about the film to the Press. He also had an unusual advertising campaign insisting that no-one was admitted to the theatre once the film had started.
"12 cabins - 12 vacancies" - Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins).
Hitchcock wanted a famous actress for the role of Marion Crane and Lana Turner, Shirley Jones, Hope Lange, Piper Laurie, Martha Hyer and Eva Marie Saint were all considered before the part eventually went to Janet Leigh. Anthony Perkins was the only choice for Norman Bates but several actors were in line to play Sam Loomis (Marion Crane's boy friend). These included Stuart Whitman, Cliff Robertson, Leslie Neilsen, Brian Keith, Jack Lord, Rod Taylor and Robert Loggia. The role of Sam Loomis was played in the film by John Gavin. Alfred Hitchcock's daughter Patricia also had a small role in the film. The music by Bernard Hermann was a major contribution to the success of the film and Hitchcock was so pleased with the result that he doubled the composer's salary. Hermann has written the music for several other Hitchcock films including "The Trouble With Harry", "The Man Who Knew Too Much", "The Wrong Man", "Vertigo", "North by Northwest" and "Marnie".
"Well, if the woman up there is Mrs Bates - who's that woman buried out in Greenlawn Cemetery?" - Sheriff Chambers (John McIntire).
The book explains how certain scenes were filmed but later disregarded by Hitchcock and deleted from the film as they slowed down the story. Much attention is given to the famous shower murder scene and the controversy that it was Saul Bass who directed this and not Hitchcock. Differing views are given by people who were present at the time but all is revealed here in Stephen Rebello's book. "Psycho" was remade in colour in 1998 by Gus Van Sant. This was an interesting experiment as it was a word for word, scene by scene actual copy of the original. However, it is of course difficult for anyone to top the Hitchcock version.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a mess!, October 14, 2012
This review is from: Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (Paperback)
Where to start....as another reader already pointed out, this book is riddled with mis-spellings and typos, but that would almost be forgiveable if Mr. Rebello's "facts" were not equally riddled with errors and inaccuracies. Mr. Rebello appears to have studied the Alfred Hitchcock Papers housed in the Margaret Herrick Library in a most desultory manner resulting in some amazing howlers: Hitchcock "holed up for the weekend at home to read the novel" before buying the screen rights--WRONG--NY Times Book Review appeared Sunday, April 19 and he spent the next two weekends in San Francisco before instructing Ned Brown to buy the rights on Monday, May 4; "Hitchcock doubled Bernard Herrmann's salary to $34,501"--no Stevie boy, you looked at the BUDGET figure for the COMPLETE music score (i.e. hiring musicians AND composer) and not the ACTUAL payments for either; Hitchcock "screened the film April 26"--neat trick as he was in Hong Kong on a far east tour which he started on April 2nd. Does Mr. Rebello provide documentation or support for his assertions anywhere? Forget about any footnotes! If you KNOW the facts, this book is ENTIRELY INFURIATING as you realize the scholarship here is on a level with Wikipedia!

I can only hope Mr. Rebello's obvious love for the subject will lead him to go back and REVISE all his mistakes!
I shudder to see if the film based on this book has enshrined all Mr. Rebello's errors for a mass audience!

UPDATE 11/14/12
I saw a screening of the movie based on this book last night. The movie is very entertaining with great performances from Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, et. al. The movie is EVEN LESS accurate than the book as far as facts go: about 85% of the movie is false, particularly as regards chronology-e.g. it has Hitchcock "looking for a new subject" AFTER the premiere of North By Northwest when in fact he'd already bought the rights to the novel by then and hired a screenwriter to adapt it.

Main problem with the film is that it obviously received NO HELP or co-operation from either Universal Pictures, the Hitchcock Estate, or any of the remaining living members of cast and crew. As a matter of fact, it's pretty clear both Universal and the Hitchcock Estate must have threatened legal proceedings as most of the "re-creations" of scenes from Psycho can be classified as "parodies" (i.e. "not actionable"). No dialogue from the original movie is spoken (though Simon & Schuster let the filmakers quote a passage from the novel) and Bernard Herrmann's music is taken from a later re-recording rather than the original soundtrack. Even the re-created sets are subtlely altered (note the different pictures on the wall of Norman's Parlor) to avoid getting sued for copyright infringement!

The movie's portrayal of Hitch & Alma, while moving, completely skews the facts as regards the director's talented collaborators, and in particular Joseph Stefano is done a very real disservice as the film attempts to suggest Alma had much more to do with writing the screenplay than he.

This film really could only have be made with most the principals dead as they would certainly have cried foul at the many outrageous howlers perpetrated on them!

That said, if you read Shakespeare for an accurate portrayal of Tudor History you will be greatly mis-informed. If you like Hopkins and Mirren you will probably enjoy the film--view it as a "Fantasia Based on Themes of Alfred Hitchcock."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother Would Have LOVED It! (Even with the few errors)...., July 31, 2000
By A Customer
Of all the film books I have ever (yes, EVER) purchased, this book goes into the greatest possible detail about the making of a film. It is extremely well-written, obviously well-researched and is as hard to put down as it is to stop watching "Psycho" itself. From the opening chapter about Ed Gein, through all the minute detail about casting, filming, promotion, etc. to the conclusion, the book left no questions unanswered. Just a few tiny errors stung, though -- which always raises the question, are there other errors as well? Example: It is first stated that Joe Stefano turned in his First Draft of the Psycho script in December 1959. Two pages later it states Stefano turned in his SECOND DRAFT of the script in NOVEMBER 1959 (Either a typo or we're going back in time ...?). Also, the book relates that former Mary Tyler Moore Show star Ted Knight brings "Mother" (Perkins) a blanket at the end of the film. This is not so. If you watch the sequence, you'll see that another actor actually brings "Mother" the blanket -- Knight is simply the guard who opens the door for the other guard as the blanket is brought in. Picky? Yes. Nit-picky? Yes. Necessary for me to even mention? YES, because Rebello has done such a masterful job at compiling a great book, that a few errors like this stand out like a 14-inch steel butcher blade in a drawer full of wooden butter knives. Overall, I LOVED this book and consider it a prized addition to my film book collection. Thanks for the effort, Stephen. GREAT book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Piece of Nonfiction Writing, December 22, 2012
By 
Denim Diva (New York City) - See all my reviews
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This book is a real page-turner. People, relationships and events are detailed in a knowledgeable and readable way.

Anyone who would like to learn how to write nonfiction should read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History! Drama! Intrigue! David vs Goliath! A Triumph!, November 22, 2012
By 
Craig Richard Nelson (Salt Lake City, Utah) - See all my reviews
52 years ago I went to see Psycho in downtown Salt Lake City. We had to line up in front of the theater because "No one will be seated after the film begins." Ever since then I have searched for and devoured every scrap of information about the making of this masterpiece. There are lots of volumes about Hitchcock and even some about Psycho and the Shower Scene, but there has never been a book like this.
The research and care show on every page. The prose is crisp, engaging, and lucid. I found myself cheering for Hitch as he beat the system while risking everything.
You can't miss with this one!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good behind-the-scenes book, February 7, 2011
Before I started reading Stephen Rebello's "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho," I had never seen an Alfred Hitchcock movie. There's no particular reason for that, I just never got around to it. Still, I find "behind the scenes" stories to be fascinating, and I knew "Psycho" was a rather important film in cinema history, so I thought the story behind it might be interesting - and it was. Quite interesting, in fact.

Rebollo's book was originally published in 1999, but recently there's been work underway to turn it into a movie (which I find kind of amusing - a movie about the making of a movie,) so it's been republished in hopes of gaining a new audience. I hope it does, because it's a very well written story and there are a lot of interesting tales about what went on behind the scenes.

The book begins by telling us about the Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein, who was the inspiration for not only Norman Bates, but also Leatherface from "The Texas Chainsaw Murders" and Buffalo Bill from "The Silence of the Lambs." Robello tells us about why the story captivated Robert Bloch enough that he was inspired to write the novel "Psycho" and how Hitchcock managed to secretly purchase the film rights for a fairly paltry sum.

From there, it takes us through Hitchcock's difficulties in convincing the studio that the story was worth turning into a film, which led him to finance the project himself and handle the filming more like he did an episode of his eponymous TV show than a feature film. It also offers a detailed look at all of the stages of development, including casting, wardrobe, scriptwriting, scene creation - with special attention paid to the most infamous scene of all, the shower killing - Hitchcock's relationship with the studios and so on. It even examines the claim by the graphic artist that he was the one who directed the shower scene and not Hitchcock.

Robello has a very smooth writing style that makes the book a fast read, and he manages to get an incredible amount of information across in the process. The only real complaint I have with it is that he sometimes seems to jump around in the chronology of events, and occasionally I had to go back and re-read a bit to figure out where the bit I was reading fell into the timeline. I was, however, inspired to actually watch "Psycho" by the time I'd finished reading, and I think the book actually helped make the experience better, because where some of the more old-fashioned story-telling techniques that were in use in the 50's and 60's might have left me a bit flat, because I had a much better idea of the context of the times in which they were filmed and what Hitchcock was trying to do. This is a book I would recommend yo anyone interested in filmmaking, behind-the-scenes stories, biographies of famous people (as Robello spends a lot of time just telling us about Hitchcock himself) or are either Hitchcock fans or fans of the film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at a cinematic masterpiece, October 24, 2010
Ever since I first saw the movie, I've always been particularly taken with Hitchcock's Psycho. When I was younger I'd pour over the movie details, especially when I managed to get my hands on a book that gave a scene by scene guide of the movie. (It was all done picture by picture. I wish I could find a copy of that now!) The first time I watched it I still managed to be surprised by everything even when I knew the outcome. It was just that much of a testament to the genius & talent of Hitchcock & those he worked with.

This book gives the reader the history of the movie, from Bloch's planning of the book & the crimes that preceded them to Hitchcock filming it & releasing it in theaters. Very little is left out in this book & everything is examined thoroughly. It's incredibly informative & just as incredibly entertaining.

Fans of Hitchcock will love getting a better glimpse of the master at work while people who just love a good story will also be interested to see how hard it was to get this film made. Would you believe that Hitchcock initially viewed this as "just another film" & wasn't initially as into this film as he would eventually become? There's a lot in this book that might make people surprised, especially when you consider the standards at the time. What some might view as tame by today's standards was considered to be wildly inappropriate at the time, causing Hitchcock to have to fight to get his feature in theaters.

While the writing might be a little dry for some, I can't say enough great things about this book. I loved revisiting an old favorite of mine in a whole new light & it really made me appreciate this movie that much more.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it, nearly as much as I love Hitch and Psycho, November 1, 2010
I, like many movie fans, think of the movie Psycho as a smashing success, quintessential Hitchcock. And of all Hitchcock's movies, it is one of the ones with the most longevity, and major impact on a specific movie genre. But it never started out that way. In fact, while the movie was being made, many thought it was folly, and very uncharacteristic of Hitch's brilliance. It was decidedly low budget, and took a lot of risks content wise. No one thought it would be a success. Boy, was the joke on them.

Psycho has long been one of my favorite movies. I studied it in a college film class, and learned a lot of the well know nuggets of trivia, chocolate syrup for blood, first flushing toilet on film, stabbing melons to get the stabbing sound. But this book digs so much deeper, beginning with the horror that inspired the tale, Ed Gein. A solid foundation about Gein's activities is laid in the early part of the book, enough to inform you but not so much as to be sensational. We then learn about Bloch's book, and how Hitch aquired the rights. And then, the book details every single aspect of the movie, casting, wardrobe, publicity, everything.

This book is as close to someone like me, who was not around when the movie was released, can get to reliving the initial impact Psycho had on American culture. And this book translates well over time. With only a couple of exceptions, the text does not appear at all dated, despite the fact the book was originally written over ten years ago.

All in all, I found this a good, solid read, well researched, and really interesting. It will be a great book for any movie enthusiast you know, particularly fans of Hitch or the horror genre
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Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho
Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello (Paperback - Jan. 1999)
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