Alfred Hitchcock's Movie, Psycho and its Impact on the Film Industry

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Alfred Hitchcock's Movie, Psycho and its Impact on the Film Industry The 1960's marked a big change in American cinema. With the collapse of the Hollywood Studio System came a weakening of censorship laws; sex and violence moved from obscurity to the forefront of mainstream cinema (Nowell-Smith 464). Although it quickly became clear that a market existed for such films, the earliest attempts to foray into the world of modern cinema were met with ambivalence. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, made in 1960, was one of the first of many to depict sexuality and violence in a graphic manner (Nowell-Smith 491). Although the youth market was ready for such a change, the older audience resisted the modern trends. For this reason, Psycho was initially received by many with anger and critical rejection, before moving on to be named "Hitchcock's greatest film" (Phillips 164). Psycho, produced by Universal Studios and released through Paramount (Rebello 51), contained a frank depiction of sex and violence "unlike any mainstream film that had preceded it" (Williams 1); the film included the first love scene in American popular cinema ever to feature a pair of lovers lying half-naked on a bed (Rebello 86). And not only did Psycho depict two brutal murders, but the first occurred in the intimacy of the shower. As a result, Hitchcock had to fight to make the film as close to his vision as possible and find ways to work around censorship laws. When the censors demanded he re-edit the shower scene on account of a fleeting glimpse of Janet Leigh's breast, Hitchcock simply sent back the original cut on the (correct) assumption that they either would not re-screen it or would fail to see the barely noticeable nudity the second time around (Rebello 1... ... middle of paper ... ... the American popular film...midway between the repressive manners of the classic Hollywood studio era (Janet Leigh wears a bra) and the Ôliberated' ethos of the R-rated contemporary film (Janet Leigh is shown in bed with a man at midday)" (Naremore 75). Although some viewers and critics responded negatively to Psycho, their appraisal changed once they had time to reassess the value of the film. Nearly forty years after the film's release, Psycho is still cited as a masterpiece which has inspired many dozens of other films such as Dressed to Kill (1980) and Fatal Attraction (1987) (Nowell-Smith 491), and is used as "a yardstick by which other thrillers are measured" (Rebello 194). "The effect both in the short run, in establishing Psycho as the ultimate thriller, and the long run, in altering the cinema-going habits of the nation, is indisputable" (Clover 191).

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