Hitch read Robert Bloch’s book, Psycho, based on real life murderer Ed Gein, and became obsessed with making this his next picture. Alma (Helen Mirren), his wife who collaborated with Hitch in writing and editing his films from the very beginning, is skeptical as to the gory plot, as is his ever-present assistant, Peggy (Toni Collette). But Hitch is convinced that this is his next big hit and sways Alma so much that they mortgage their house to get the film made. Cast in the role of his leading lady is Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), yet another of Hitch’s infamous blondes, meanwhile Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) plays the dowdier sister. Anthony Perkins (James D’Arcy) is perfectly cast as Norman Bates and now, Hitch is ready to roll. As Hitch faces the stressors of trying to create the most pivotal picture of his career, his wife Alma is spending more and more time with friend and confidante Whit Cook (Danny Huston), but are they more than friends?
As history tells us, Hitch did manage to get Psycho made, even with all of Hollywood acting as naysayers, and it was a turning point in his career. The film shocked and horrified audiences and Hitch’s team made sure the hype machine was in full effect prior to the film’s release to help push this along. My own mother admitted to me that she walked out of the movie because it was so violent and disturbing. And here’s where I admit a failing on my part, as a huge Hitchcock fan: Until this review, I had never seen Psycho. I’ve seen all of Hitch’s famous films and even some of the older stuff that’s less recognizable. Hell, I count Rebecca and Vertigo among my all-time favorite films. But, until now, I had avoided Psycho, for whatever reason. So I sought it out on Amazon streaming and watched it – I absolutely had to considering my viewing of Hitchcock and I am glad I did. It was fantastic to see the actual scenes that inspired certain scenes in Hitchcock and it truly is a great movie. Hitch sure does know how to cut a film… and a leading lady.
Hitchcock looks lush on Blu-ray and the details absolutely pop off the screen. Special features are plentiful and include a deleted scene and featurettes on bringing the film to the big screen, transforming Hopkins into Hitch, the story and cast, Hitch and Alma’s relationship, Danny Elfman’s masterful soundtrack, and one on remembering the genius that was Hitchcock. There’s also some weird behind the scenes footage taken with director Gervasi’s iPhone and an awesome PSA about cell phones in theaters with Hopkins as Hitch. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, which is rare for me.
I absolutely adored Hitchcock and highly recommend it. Everyone was brilliant, especially Hopkins and Mirren, but also Johansson, of whom I am not typically a fan. She was fantastic as Janet Leigh and nailed her speech patterns perfectly. James D’Arcy is haunting as Anthony Hopkins/Norman Bates and Collette and Biel round things out beautifully, along with Michael Stuhlbarg as Lew Wasserman, Hitch’s agent, and Kurtwood Smith as Geoffrey Spurlock, the head wielder of the Motion Pictures Production Code (ratings police). Even Ralph Macchio shines as screenplay writer Joseph Stefano. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Hitchcock film, you must see this movie. Truly, it’s just a great picture and regardless of whether you are a fan of the man, you’ll enjoy it. But for those who are fans, there are wonderful nods throughout the film. This is must-see stuff.