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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