History, Legacy & Showmanship

When the Master of Suspense Became the Master of Horror: Remembering “Psycho” on its 60th Anniversary

June 16, 2020 - 3:42 pm   |   by
  • Print
  • Email

Psycho should be remembered as the gold standard of psychological horror thrillers because it respects the audience by paying as much attention to delivering memorable, relatable characters, smart dialogue, a gripping plot, and emotional punch as well as jump scares.” — Stephen Rebello, author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 60th anniversary of the release of Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s popular psychological horror film starring Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, owner-manager of the Bates Motel.

Psycho, which also starred Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, was released sixty years ago this month. For the occasion The Bits features a package of statistics and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context, along with passages from vintage film reviews, a reference/historical listing of the movie’s major-market first-run presentations, and, finally, an interview segment with a film historian who reflects on the film six decades after its debut. [Read on here...]

Janet Leigh in Psycho

And, lastly, before we begin… in case you missed it or desire a refresher read, this column’s other Alfred Hitchcock retrospectives include To Catch a Thief 60th anniversary.

 

PSYCHO NUMBER$

  • 1 = Rank among top-earning movies directed by Hitchcock
  • 2 = Number of theaters playing the movie during opening week
  • 2 = Rank among top-earning films of 1960 (calendar year)
  • 3 = Rank among top-earning films of 1960 (retroactive / legacy / lifetime earnings)
  • 4 = Number of Academy Award nominations
  • 5 = Rank among Paramount’s all-time top-earning films at close of original run
  • 21 = Peak all-time box-office chart position
  • 55 = Rank among top-earning movies of the 1960s (earnings from 1/1/60 - 12/31/70)
  • $806,947 = Production cost
  • $6.9 million = Production cost (adjusted for inflation)
  • $9.2 million = Box-office rental (domestic, through 12/31/60)
  • $11.2 million = Box-office rental (domestic, through 12/31/69)
  • $32.0 million = Box-office gross (domestic, first-run + re-releases)
  • $95.9 million = Box-office rental (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • $277.2 million = Box-office gross (domestic, adjusted for inflation)

 

A SAMPLING OF PASSAGES FROM REVIEWS

“A music score of weird reticence was contributed by the well-known Bernard Herrmann. In a word: Unexpected apparitions and surprise chord crashes on the sound track can scare even a policeman.” — John Rosenfield, The Dallas Morning News

“If the movie theater business has any ills, according to ‘Doctor’ Alfred Hitchcock’s diagnosis, they can be cured promptly by some blood-letting horrors, a healthy shot of mystery juice and a chilling bath in bizarre melodrama.” — Glenn C. Pullen, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

“Alfred Hitchcock has manufactured another film chiller for the goose-pimple set. It’s called Psycho and it’s drawing like free beer.” — Louis R. Guzzo, The Seattle Times

“Gee, whiz, Mr. Hitchcock! Stick to making pictures like North by Northwest, instead of one like Psycho, will you, huh?” — Helen Bower, Detroit Free Press

“You had better have a pretty strong stomach and be prepared for a couple of grisly shocks when you go see Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which a great many people are sure to do. For Mr. Hitchcock, an old hand at frightening people, comes at you with a club in this frankly intended blood-curdler.” — Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

“Alfred Hitchcock, who I understand felt piqued when H.G. Clouzot beat him to Diabolique, has had his revenge. His Psycho is even more diabolique.” — Philip K. Scheuer, Los Angeles Times

“Mixing his movie and TV styles, emphasizing horror over suspense, Alfred Hitchcock has come up with a sometimes effective, sometimes questionable little shocker.” — Mildred Martin, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Psycho is socko Hitchcock.” — Bill Pope, The Atlanta Constitution

“After a fast, albeit inauspicious beginning, the film gathers momentum until it arrives at one of the most petrifying climaxes ever to raise the collective hair of a movie audience.” — Martin Russell, San Francisco Examiner

Psycho is a good enough picture, but by no means up to the best of Hitchcock.” — Frederick Yeiser, The Cincinnati Enquirer

“Mr. Hitchcock’s edict that no one be admitted after the film starts, is another example of his shrewd showmanship.” — Mae Tinee, Chicago Tribune

Psycho is far more macabre and mysterious than any of [Hitchcock’s] previous full-length features. However, the settings are dreary and lack those magnificent backgrounds which Hitchcock employed so effectively in North by Northwest, Vertigo and To Catch a Thief. Perhaps the old mystery master has been more influenced in Psycho by his television programs than by his own classics such as 39 Steps and Notorious. However, he gives the audience its money’s worth. You see two murders committed, with accompanying gore and grisly details. There are so many shocks the theater might be connected to an electric battery.” — Marjory Adams, The Boston Globe

“[A]n unusual, good entertainment, indelibly Hitchcock, and on the right kind of boxoffice beam. The campaign backing is fitting and potent. The edict against seating customers after opening curtain if respected may add to the intrigue. All adds up to success.” — Variety

 

The audience lines up to see Psycho

THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL ENGAGEMENTS

To give a sense of Psycho’s rollout and the distribution model utilized, what follows are the film’s theatrical first-run openings in the 50 largest North American markets

Opening date YYYY-MM-DD … City — Cinema (duration in weeks)

  • 1960-06-16 … New York — Baronet (15)
  • 1960-06-16 … New York — DeMille (16)
  • 1960-06-22 … Boston — Paramount (12)
  • 1960-06-22 … Chicago — Woods (5)
  • 1960-06-22 … Philadelphia — Arcadia (16)
  • 1960-07-15 … Omaha — Orpheum (4)
  • 1960-07-20 … Baltimore — Aurora (17)
  • 1960-07-22 … Minneapolis — State (5)
  • 1960-07-27 … Hartford — Allyn (5)
  • 1960-07-27 … Jacksonville — St. Johns (4+)
  • 1960-07-27 … Miami — Paramount (3)
  • 1960-07-27 … Miami (Coral Gables) — Trail (10)
  • 1960-07-27 … Miami (Miami Beach) — Colony (3)
  • 1960-07-27 … Tampa — Britton (4)
  • 1960-07-27 … Washington — Town (14)
  • 1960-07-28 … Detroit — Palms (10)
  • 1960-07-29 … Cincinnati — Grand (12)
  • 1960-07-29 … Fort Lauderdale — Gateway (3)
  • 1960-07-29 … Fort Lauderdale (Hollywood) — Hollywood (3)
  • 1960-08-03 … Buffalo — Paramount (7)
  • 1960-08-03 … Des Moines — Orpheum (4)
  • 1960-08-03 … New Haven — Paramount (5)
  • 1960-08-04 … Cleveland — Stillman (11)
  • 1960-08-04 … Columbus — Ohio (4)
  • 1960-08-04 … Houston — Metropolitan (4)
  • 1960-08-04 … Kansas City — Missouri (5)
  • 1960-08-04 … Toledo — Princess (6)
  • 1960-08-05 … Rochester — Paramount (4)
  • 1960-08-05 … Salt Lake City — Motor-Vu Drive-In (5)
  • 1960-08-05 … Salt Lake City — Utah (4)
  • 1960-08-05 … Tucson — Catalina (5)
  • 1960-08-08 … Toronto — Hollywood North (11)
  • 1960-08-08 … Toronto — Hollywood South (11)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Bakersfield) — Fox (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Burbank) — California (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Burbank) — San Val Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Cathedral City) — Sunair Drive-In (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Compton) — Tower (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Downtown) — Stanley-Warner (4)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (East Los Angeles) — Golden Gate (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (El Monte) — El Monte Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (El Monte) — Starlite Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Fontana) — Belair Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Glendale) — Capitol (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Hollywood) — Iris (6)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Inglewood) — Century Drive-In (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Inglewood) — United Artists (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Long Beach) — Circle Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Long Beach) — West Coast (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Mid-Wilshire) — El Rey (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Montclair) — Valley Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Newport Beach) — Lido (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Oxnard) — Oxnard (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Pasadena) — United Artists (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Pico Rivera) — Whittier Drive-In (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Pomona) — United Artists (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Riverside) — De Anza (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (San Bernardino) — Crest (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (San Pedro) — San Pedro Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Santa Ana) — Broadway (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Santa Monica) — Wilshire (7)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (South Gate) — South Gate Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Van Nuys) — Fox (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Van Nuys) — Sepulveda Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Ventura) — 101 Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (West Los Angeles) — Picwood (3)
  • 1960-08-10 … Los Angeles (Westminster) — Hi-way 39 Drive-In (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … Portland — 82nd Street Drive-In (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … Portland — Broadway (8)
  • 1960-08-10 … Portland (Tigard) — Family Drive-In (1)
  • 1960-08-10 … San Francisco — Golden Gate (11)
  • 1960-08-10 … San Jose — cinema (?)
  • 1960-08-11 … Indianapolis — Circle (5)
  • 1960-08-12 … Phoenix — Indian Drive-In (3)
  • 1960-08-12 … Phoenix — Paramount (2)
  • 1960-08-17 … Denver — Orpheum (9)
  • 1960-08-17 … Memphis — Palace (6)
  • 1960-08-17 … Milwaukee — Riverside (6)
  • 1960-08-17 … San Diego — California (8)
  • 1960-08-18 … Dallas — Majestic (4)
  • 1960-08-18 … Edmonton — Paramount (5)
  • 1960-08-19 … Ottawa — Capitol (3)
  • 1960-08-19 … Pittsburgh — Penn (6)
  • 1960-08-19 … Sacramento — Alhambra (6)
  • 1960-08-19 … Sacramento — Crest (4)
  • 1960-08-19 … Vancouver — Strand (11)
  • 1960-08-19 … Winnipeg — Metropolitan (5)
  • 1960-08-21 … Charlotte — Carolina (2)
  • 1960-08-24 … Calgary — Capitol (3)
  • 1960-08-24 … San Antonio — Majestic (3)
  • 1960-08-24 … Seattle — Paramount (11)
  • 1960-08-26 … Atlanta — Fox (4)
  • 1960-08-26 … St. Louis — St. Louis (7)
  • 1960-08-31 … Honolulu — King (2)
  • 1960-08-31 … Honolulu — Palace (2)
  • 1960-08-31 … Honolulu — Waialae Drive-In (2)
  • 1960-08-31 … Oklahoma City — Midwest (4)
  • 1960-09-01 … Louisville — Kentucky (7)
  • 1960-09-03 … Las Vegas — El Portal (3)
  • 1960-09-23 … New Orleans — Saenger (3)
  • 1960-11-04 … Montreal — Loew’s (4)

Psycho newspaper ad

[On to Page 2]

Contact Michael Coate

Please type your full name.
Invalid email address.
Please send us a message.
Invalid Input

Bits Latest Tweets

The Digital Bits
Today on The Bits – Sony is prepping Elysium, Looper, and GATTACA for #4K, plus Giant from the Unknown (1958) from @FilmDetective & more thedigitalbits.com/columns/my-two…
RT @BillHuntBits: Hearing from sources that @SonyPicsHomeEnt is fixing to release Elysium, Looper, and GATTACA on #4K #UltraHD. We've had t…
The Digital Bits
Bits #BD Review – Dennis also revisits the 1999 #horror remake THE HAUNTING, directed by Jan de Bont and starring Liam Neeson, Lili Taylor, and Catherine Zeta-Jones—new to #Bluray from @ParamountPics as part of their Paramount Presents line. @BillHuntBits thedigitalbits.com/item/the-haunt…