On this day in 1960, director Alfred Hitchcockís "good suspense movie," Psycho, was released in the United States. At the time, Hitchcock warned that "no one... but no one... will be admitted to the theater after the start of each performance."
In requesting punctuality, the great director built anticipation as only he could do. After all, the gruesome murder of Janet Leigh's character Marion Crane in the remote Bates Motel happened just 40 minutes into the film.
"There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it," Hitchcock once said.
Psycho was based on Robert Bloch's grisly novel about an actual Wisconsin serial killer. The screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano.
Filmed in black and white, Hitchcock used chocolate sauce for the blood. "I do not like to see blood in life or on the screen," he said. "I made Psycho in black and white because I knew I did not want to show all of that red blood in the white bathroom."
The 45-second infamous shower scene was compiled in 70-odd takes of two and three seconds each. Leigh spent seven days in the shower and the viewer never saw the killer's blade touch her body.
To the critics of the brutality of this cinematic mastery, Hitchcock said, "I think it has an influence on sick minds, but not on healthy minds."
In 2001, the American Film Institute voted Psycho the greatest thriller of all time. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film cost about $800,000 to make and has earned over $40 million.
Reviewer Roger Ebert said the film "connects directly with our fears: Our fears that we might impulsively commit a crime, our fears of the police, our fears of becoming the victim of a madman, and of course our fears of disappointing our mothers."
The greater the anticipation, the sweeter the resolution.