My Favourite Film: Hitchcock’s chiller Psycho

Written by IanRClose
People may not have a favourite food or book, but something everyone has is a favourite film due to the fact that cinema is something everyone can enjoy.

People may not have a favourite food or book, but something everyone has is a favourite film due to the fact that cinema is something everyone can enjoy. So, here at Kettle we will be running a weekly feature on our editors, and some regular writers, favourite films.
First up is a regular correspondent, film lover and the man behind our Edinburgh videos Ian Close. Be aware of spoilers.
-Emily Murray, film editor
What is your favourite film?
Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock
When, and where, was the first time you saw this film? Was it a particularly memorable day/company/experience?
It was actually at school. We were allowed to do film and media studies as part of our English qualification so they decided to have us study Psycho. I remember dreading the film because it was ‘old’ and in black-and-white.
I then surprised myself by being hooked on it from the second the opening credits started until the end. As it unfolded before me I was just amazed and in awe. We had to watch it in 3 parts though – so that kind of ruined it slightly.
Favourite character and why?
Norman’s ‘mother’. When ‘she’ is revealed at the end it’s simply astonishing and kind of hilarious. I also find the final scene where ‘she’ is sitting in the police cell one of the most subtly creepy scenes I have ever watched. The voice actor is definitely one of the hidden talents of the film.
Favourite scene?
The one where Detective Arbogast is killed. I don’t know how it would have been taken back when the film was first released, but now in the age of – slightly over the top – special effects it seems like more of a comedic effort.
In comparison to the infamous shower scene, the shot of Arbogast falling backwards down the stairs (which apparently was actually just a film of the actor leaning back on a chair and trying not to fall over) seems cartoonish and breaks the tension that is built up when he goes into the house to investigate.
Favourite quote?
“You can lick the stamps.” “I’ll lick the stamps!” – I’m sure the first part of that quote was my Twitter bio a while back. It’s so unbelievably chauvinistic and really paints a picture of the pressures on women to get married back in that era. It also sounds slightly like a euphemism.
Marion is so desperate to get married that she doesn’t care that Sam has been married before and has to pay alimony – she’ll even happily lick his stamps for him. She also says it in a breathy, amorous voice that is just so cheesy and cringey you can’t help but laugh.
Who would you like to be in the film?
Oh gosh they’re all terrible people. Marion is caught in a bad romance, steals money and dies. Norman dresses up as his mum and kills people. Sam has just been divorced and wants to make his new fiancée lick his stamps for him.
I’d probably like to be Arbogast – but only if he didn’t get killed. He gets paid to be nosy and is very set in his ways. I can’t see how anyone could dislike Arbogast.
Why is it your favourite?
It was the first film that really made me consider film to be something more than simply another form of entertainment. It also made me realise how much work is put into making the film entertaining in the first place.
Hitchcock makes some fantastic films and really knows how to captivate – even if it is in black and white and made very cheaply. I feel like Psycho has better timing than most films – even in comparison to Hitchcock’s other works. Films, in particular modern films, have a tendency to either go on too long or not go on long enough and miss key points of the plot. Psycho gets the balance right.
If it wasn’t for Psycho I wouldn’t be as interested in films as I am now and probably wouldn’t be studying it at uni now – so it really has had an impact on my life.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.