Alfred Hitchcock is known as the master of suspense. During his career he directed over 50 films and is highly regarding even today. One of his most notable films was Psycho, a film about a serial killer who has an obsession with his mother, inspired by real life psycho, Ed Gein. Hitchcock follows what Alfred Hitchcock had to do to get Psycho made and what he had to do to make it great.
The film is based on the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello. It begins with Hitch, as he liked to be called, lamenting over reviews of his previous movie and his struggle to find his next project. He wanted to try something new. Finally someone gave him the book Psycho by Robert Bloch. Hitch read it and was enamored. He knew this was to be his next film. He ordered that his assistants find every title of Psycho on the shelves and buy them so no one would know the ending of his film. Unfortunately he had a difficult time finding studio backing. Paramount owed him a picture but refused to make the film because, anytime Hitch tried something new, they lost money. They were also not keen on his idea of killing off the leading lady so early in his film. Hitchcock decided to make the movie independent of the studio and even put his house up to finance the film.
During the making of the Psycho he neglected his wife Alma, played by Helen Mirren and she went off to write with Whitfield Cook so she could feel a sense of fulfillment. Her relationship with Hitch began to wither and so did Hitchcock’s health. Alma, being the supporting wife she was, made Hitch get some rest while she went to the studio to make sure the film was going to get finished. Once back at the studio Hitch finally had a cut of the film completed and they ran a test screening. The screening seemed to flop. Hitchcock’s mind seemed to deteriorate and he began to question Alma’s relationship with Whitfield. At this point she set Hitchcock straight and reminded him that she would always stand by his side and be a faithful wife. Once they reunited, they put forth a combined effort and great film scoring to re-cut Psycho and made it the success that it was.
Hitchcock is a great film. The cast is absolutely delightful and used very well by Director Sacha Gervasi. Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel are riveting and work well with Anthony Hopkins who plays the great director himself. Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays the role of Hitchcock’s agent, is another standout. Stuhlbarg made an impression on me in the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man and seems to be popping up all over the place. He has true talent and brightens up any film he’s in. Hopkins and Mirren were great as a married couple struggling with their relationship, and delivered some stellar performances. Overall Hitchcock is well acted and well directed; it has some fun moments, but I believe what makes this film important, is that it’s bringing Alfred Hitchcock to a younger generation and, if the viewers of the film are anything like me, a new audience will be looking into the films of Alfred Hitchcock if they haven’t seen them already.