With the anticipated release of Hitchcock, author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho as well as the screenwriter for the upcoming film adaptation, Stephen Rebello, has revealed his Five Things You Never Knew About the Making of Psycho.
It’s fascinating that after so many years since it’s release, we are still learning more and more about the film and everything that Hitchcock had to do in order to get perhaps his most famous film off the ground.
Five Things You Never Knew About the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello
Under contract with Paramount Pictures, director Alfred Hitchcock had made box office hits like Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. But when he pitched his idea for Psycho, the studio’s executives were so shocked and repulsed that they denied him his usual generous budget and the use of their sound stages, cameras, and other production equipment. Instead, Hitchcock financed the film himself and shot Psycho at Universal, using his television crew. Paramount then released the ﬁlm and won their biggest box-office proﬁts of the year.
1. Before Psycho, Hitchcock was famed for elegant Technicolor thrillers starring marquee actors such as Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and James Stewart. With Psycho, Hitchcock tried something completely different. He shot the film in black-and-white and broke with convention by violently killing the ﬁlm’s biggest star on-screen early in the movie. He also depicted the lead actress in what was then considered an unusually frank sexual relationship, showed and ﬂushed a toilet on-screen for the ﬁrst time in American movies, and dressed the lead actor in women’s clothing in a chilling role.
2. Although Janet Leigh appeared in most of the infamous shower sequence, Hitchcock hired Playboy cover model, exotic dancer, and sometimes actress Marli Renfro as Leigh’s body double. Both he and Leigh were shy about the near-nudity, and Hitchcock created extremely specific storyboards for ﬁlming the sequence so that he wouldn’t overexpose his star.
3. Hitchcock decided against using Anthony Perkins in the shower scene, both to avoid tipping off the audience to the killer’s identity and to spare the actor potential embarrassment. Instead, he gave Perkins time off to rehearse for his upcoming Broadway musical.
4. During ﬁlming and post-production, Hitchcock became convinced that Psycho would be such an embarrassing ﬂop that he considered cutting out the most daring and shocking scenes and dialogue so that it could be played off as a one-hour Hitchcock TV show. The addition of Bernard Herrmann’s brilliantly innovative score was a deciding factor in releasing the movie to theaters.
5. Since Hitchcock believed that the twist ending of Psycho was its biggest asset, he tried to buy up as many copies of the original Robert Bloch novel as possible so that the public wouldn’t already know the plot. He also devised a promotional campaign that insisted no one would be allowed to enter the theater once the ﬁlm had started and also asked audiences not to reveal the ﬁnale.