Psycho 1960 movie review
psycho movie

Psycho (1960): The Hitchcockian Brilliance of 101 Best Pictures

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  • Post last modified:23 September 2023

Last updated on September 23rd, 2023 at 05:45 pm

Psycho 1960, a cinematic masterpiece and a psychological thrill that has continued to captivate audiences for over six decades. Released in an era when horror films were more often associated with supernatural elements, Psycho 1960 broke the mould by delving deep into the complexities of the human mind.

It not only revolutionized the horror genre but also left an indelible mark on the history of cinema. Join me on a journey through the chilling corridors of the Bates Motel as we unravel the secrets and significance of Psycho 1960.

Psycho is one of the 101 best films of 100 years on my list of watching. It Is one of the 100 best films of 100 years, according to the American Film Institute, and one of the 100 greatest films of the American Film Institute selected by 1500 leaders of the film community. One of the 100 greatest films of all time of the British Film Institute; one of the 100 best films of Cinemarealm.

Psycho was included in the Complete National Film Registry Listing of the Library of Congress in 1992. It is a British Board of Film Certification’s top 50 greatest films of all time. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Seventh Seal is Timeout’s one of the best films of all time. Psycho was acted by Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, etc.

Psycho (1960) Plot

Phoenix, Arizona, December 11, Friday, 2:43 p.m. Marion and her lover, Sam, met secretly in a residential hotel. Sam was on a business trip. Marion told Sam that this would be the last time to meet and implored him to get married. Being married previously, Sam is divorced and waiting to be paid off the alimony.

Marion left for her office leaving Sam behind in the hotel. Marion works in the Real Estate company office. Mr. Cassidy wants to buy the Harris Street property for his daughter as a wedding present for 40,000 USD in order to buy her unhappiness off.

Mr. Cassidy happily paid 40,000 USD cash to the Estate office. Lowrey, Marion’s employer told her to bank the money in the afternoon. But putting the money in an envelope, she put the money in her handbag. She informed her employer and colleague that she would be at home in the afternoon because of her headache, after banking the money.

Marion and Samuel in Psycho -1960
Marion Crane and Samuel in Psycho-1960

Once she got the money, Marion changed her mind. Instead of banking the money, she kept the money with her and went home. Reaching home, she started packing her clothes in a suitcase and decided to run away with the money.

Along with other documents, she put the money in her handbag and paused for a while in her room. Then she drove into the busy street. While waiting for a green signal at the intersection, she was surprised and frightened to notice old Cassidy crossing the street in front of her car. They both exchanged a surprised glance at each other.

Marion droves through and darkness engulfs the street gradually. As night falls, she pulls over at the foot of a hill and falls asleep only to find herself waking up the next morning by a highway police officer.

The police officer wanted to know if she slept in the car the whole night. Marion inquired if she broke any laws. But the police officer assured her that she did not break any law, but wanted to know if anything wrong with her and asked to see her driving license. After inspecting her license, he let her go. But being suspicious of her possible wrongdoing, he kept following her track.  

After a few hours, Marion stopped at a used car selling point. She exchanged her car with a used one with some money in return. She bought a newspaper from the nearby booth.

But, while talking to the salesperson, she all of a sudden, noticed the police officer standing across the street making her nervous. By the time she settled the purchasing process, the policeman drove up to the selling point but said nothing to her.

Frightened, Marion rapidly left the spot. She drove all day the evening a heavy rain got her that made her driving difficult. Amid the difficult driving, she was able to reach the Bates Motel.

She found none in the office of the motel but observed a woman waking on the second floor of the building adjacent to the motel, up on the hill. A stairway went up to the house. Marion honked and a young man came down apologizing for keeping her waiting.

She had registered her name on the registry and was given the key to room 1, just next to the office. Marion enlisted her name as Marie Samuels, instead of Marion Crane. The young man took her belongings inside and showed her around and left telling her that she can tap the wall if in case she needed anything. ‘Norman Bates’ said the young man his name.

Norman Bates in Psycho (1960) photo
Psycho (1960): Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates.

Norman informed her that the nearest diner is 10 miles away, so he offered her to dine with him at the office. Marion tried every possible option to keep the money inside the cabin but did not feel safe anywhere. Therefore, she brought out the newspaper, that she bought in car point, and kept the money inside the folds of it and hid underneath the table lamp—hide in the plain sight.

All of a sudden, she hears a woman’s, presumably Norman’s mother’s, voice, loud and clear from the house on the hill. She was arguing with Norman about arranging supper for an unknown lady, Marion. She objected that he is taking food to a stranger because he has fallen for her.

She was imploring Norman to tell Marion ‘She will not be appeasing her ugly appetite with her boy or food’. Still, against his mother’s objection, Norman brought Marion sandwiches and milk. And apologised for his mother’s unexpected talk. But upon Norman’s insistence, Marion agreed to take the food, at his office.

Norman began to talk about his hobby, the hobby of taxidermy, birds in his case. He said he does not have friends. He asked Marion where was going, she said she was looking for a private Island. Norman realised that she was running away from something and got to know her pressure point.

‘We are all in a private trap, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and claw, but only at the air, only at each other. And for all of it, we never budge an inch’, said Norman surprising Marion. “Sometimes we deliberately step into that trap”, Marion opined. Norman said he has his own traps that he was born in.  

Marion asked why would his mother behave with him the way she did a while ago. Norman said that she is ill. When her husband died, he was five and had to raise him all alone. And later she met a man who died too leaving her in a greater shock. She had nothing left except him. He said she thinks he is a ‘ poor substitute for her lover’.

Norman said he could not leave her alone because she will be all alone and will have no one to take care of her. Norman said, ‘if you love someone, you can’t just leave one alone even if you hate one’. Norman got angry when Marion suggested him to put her ‘someplace’, to him it stands for a ‘madhouse’.

However, Marion left the office because of her tiring and long journey, even though Norman liked her to stay a little longer. Marion affirmed to him that she will go back to Phoenix in order to pull herself out of the private traps she stepped into.

When she left, Norman inspected her name on the register and peeped into her cabin through the whole he created on the wall between the office and her room, which he keeps hidden under a photo frame. He observed Marion’s half-naked body ready to be showered and left for the house where his mother supposedly lives.

Before she stepped into the bathtub, Marion did the math of expenses that she had to do from the money she had been carrying. She still had $ 37,000 cash.

All of a sudden she tore off the page from the diary and turned it into pieces, but did not feel safe throwing them on the floor or out of the window. Therefore, she flushed them out through the commode. She stepped into the bathtub and turned on the shower.

Someone in a feminine appearance appeared with a knife behind the curtain of the shower and stabbed Marion into the stomach and left her bleeding profusely. Lifeless, Marion remained motionless with half her body falling outside of the tub. The shower remained on. However, the money remained where it was kept by Marion.

After a few minutes, Norman cried out, “Mother, blood, blood”! Norman hurriedly came down and calmly cleansed everything and wrapped the corpse with the curtain of the shower and put it in the back of the car she just bought along with all the blogging. He did not notice the money inside the newspaper. However, he put the newspaper with the money inside the car and took it to a nearby swamp where he ditched it. 

Back in Fairvale, California, at Sam’s hardware store came Marion’s sister, Lila, in search of Marion. She informed him that she left on Friday and never came back. Then Sam was also joined by the policeman who was following Marion from yesterday.

He was actually a private investigator, Arbogast, who was hired by Lowey, Marion’s employer, to investigate her. Arbogast said them that she must be somewhere there in the town, and promised to find her out. They did not know that she was murdered at Bates Motel

 Arbogast, Sam and Lila in Psycho-1960
Psycho: Martin Balsam, John Gavin and Vera Mile as Arbogast, Sam and Lila.

Arbogast investigated some motels and came to Bates Motel to question Norman about Marion. Arbogast told Norman that he was looking for a girl who had gone missing since Friday.

He showed him a picture and wanted to check the register. He found her name in the register as Marie Samuels. Now, Norman admits that Marion was there on Friday night and left the next morning, Saturday.

However, the next day, Sunday, Arbogast found the mismatching information about Marion. He even figured out that Marion stayed in Cabin 1. But he wanted to talk to Norman’s mother in the house but Norman refused to allow that.

Arbogast left and telephoned Sam and Lila regarding his headways in the investigation. He could not confirm Marion’s death yet but promised to pick up the missing pieces. And promised to return to them in about an hour.

After talking to them Arbogast returned to his work. He entered secretly but fearfully in Norman’s residence. But just as he tried to open the door of the bedroom on the second floor someone in feminine appearance stabbed in his forehead. He fell backwards on the staircase and more stabbing followed one after another making his death certain. And Norman dumped the body where he dumped Marion and her car.

Lila and Sam became worried for Arbogast as did bot not return any more. Leaving Lila behind, Sam went ahead to Bates Motel to look for Arbogast. Came back with Lila, and Sam went to the local Sheriff to inform them about Arbogast and Marion’s missing. They convinced him to talk to Norman over the phone.

Norman informed him that the detective was there, he asked about Marion and went away. Lila told the Sheriff that Arbogast told them that he went to talk to Norman’s mother. But to Lila and Sam’s surprise Sheriff said that Norman’s mother has been dead for 10 years. Sam reassured to see an old woman in Norma’s residence, too. Mr. Sheriff questioned himself, “if the old woman they saw was Norman’s mother, then who was buried in the cemetery 10 years ago?” He blamed him for seeing an illusion.

At home, Norman was heard arguing with his mother about her disagreement on moving her to a different room. Norman carried her to the fruit cellar from the bed upstairs.

Dissatisfied with what the Sheriff and Norman have to say about Marion and Arbogast’s missing, Lila and Sam decided to stay in the same motel as a wife and husband, to investigate. Norman became suspicious to see them together. Lila and Sam started investigating from room number one. Laila found out about the existence of Marion at the Motel. Sam advised Lila to go to the town as Sam must go on with his investigation.

But while Sam kept himself busy with Normal in conversation, Lila went up to Norman’s residence to look for Mrs. Bates, Norman’s mother. Once she entered the house Laila closed the door and was calling for Mrs. Bates. She was terribly confused to find a fresh pressing mark on the bed. She found out that someone had just been removed from the bed.

When Norman realised that Lila had been searching his residence, he hit Sam on his head and ran to his residence to stop her. Lila went to the underground fruit cellar (earth cellar) and noticed that a woman was sitting on a chair facing a wall in front of her.

When she tries to draw her attention by touching her, she realizes that it is not a living woman who is sitting on the chair, but a withered human figure with nothing but bone, and clothes on. Lila screamed to see the woman.

But when Norman entered the room with a knife and a wig on his head and tried to stab Lila, Sam came to her rescue. Norman failed to stab Lila. Norman struggled to get out of the clutch of Sam but had to be submissive immediately.

They brought him to the police station, and a detective reasoned and talked about Norman’s behaviour. He revealed to Lila and Sam that her sister Marion and the private investigator both were killed by Norman.

Norman has dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder). To understand the mother half of Noman’s personality, we have to go back 10 years ten years back. He said that Norman killed his mother and her lover 10 years ago.

When Norman’s mother met a man, he thought she was through him because of the man and decided to kill both of them, which is part of matricide, the most unbearable crime of all. In order to erase the crime from his mind, she is to steal the corpse of his mother. He hid the body of his mother in the fruit cellar and buried the coffin only. She was there with him every time but being a corpse.

Sometimes he can be both of the personalities, so he can carry the conversation with his mother. Because he was so pedagogically jealous of her, he assumed that she was jealous of him. So, when he is attracted to another woman, the other half of his personality goes wild, being his mother.

Furthermore, the detective said that when Norman met Marion, he was touched by her, loved her and his mother’s side of jealousy was aroused. And it’s not Norman that killed Marion, but it’s the mother. After committing the crime Norman, as a dutiful son, cleans everything and tries to prove that his mother killed her, not him.

Norman put on his mother’s cloth in order to keep her alive in his imagination. He always tried to be his mother. He possessed two personalities in himself. That’s why there is always a conflict or a battle of personalities, and in Norman’s case the battle is over and his dominant personality is won.

Note that Norman did not take 40,000 dollars from her, because it is a crime of passion not a crime of profit.

 Psycho Movie Quotes

You make respectability sound disrespectful.

Now that’s not buying happiness. That’s just buying off unhappiness.

You can’t buy off unhappiness with pills.

Psycho (1960)

A hobby is supposed to pass the time, not fill the time.

Sometimes just one time can be enough.

We’re always the quickest to doubt people who have a reputation for being honest.

Psycho (1960)

I buy unhappiness off.


Psycho (1960) teaches us how much people are vulnerable to what we call ‘love’. Instead of mutual and intuitive feeling it can be purely imaginative and unilateral. Norman’s incestuous attraction to his mother compelled him to murder her lover, while his second personality of his mother compelled him to kill the girls he is attracted to.

The fear of guilt is real. It shows how fatal can be a multiple personality disorder. Marion’s fear of being caught after stealing the money lets her take refuge in a poorly run remote motel.

Psycho displays, that it is to run away from the reality, the reality of being guilty of a crime. I felt like, all the killings and destruction are somehow a representation of the conflict of personalities. Certainly, anyone would enjoy the film, and find it very riveting.  

Romzanul Islam

A proud Bangladeshi, and an unconventional thinking human with reasons who nurtures passions for reading, writing, researching and collecting the best books and watching the best films. Stoicism, liberalism, feminism and aversion to material success are my ideals.