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The Moment of 'Psycho': How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder | [David Thomson]

The Moment of 'Psycho': How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder

It was made like a television movie, and completed in less than three months. It killed off its star in 40 minutes. There was no happy ending. And it offered the most violent scene to that date in American film, punctuated by shrieking strings that seared the national consciousness. Nothing like Psycho had existed before, and the movie industry, even America itself, would never be the same.
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Publisher's Summary

It was made like a television movie, and completed in less than three months. It killed off its star in 40 minutes. There was no happy ending. And it offered the most violent scene to that date in American film, punctuated by shrieking strings that seared the national consciousness. Nothing like Psycho had existed before, and the movie industry, even America itself, would never be the same.

In The Moment of Psycho, film critic David Thomson situates Psycho in Alfred Hitchcock's career, recreating the mood and time when the seminal film erupted onto film screens worldwide. Thomson shows that Psycho was not just a sensation in film - it altered the very nature of our desires. Sex, violence, and horror took on new life. Psycho, all of a sudden, represented all America wanted from a film and, as Thomson brilliantly demonstrates, still does.

©2009 David Thomson; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Psycho's impact on the movies is undeniable, a key moment in Hitchcock's oeuvre that has had as lasting an impact as anything the great auteur ever directed. David Thomson's rereading of Psycho a half-century after its release shows us just how far we've come. And in some ways, how far we've fallen." (The Weekly Standard)

"[Thomson] makes a powerful — and sometimes surprising — case for the movie’s importance in film and cultural history. Building on the work of François Truffaut (who first helped establish Hitchcock’s reputation as an auteur) and the writings of the critic Robin Wood, Mr. Thomson does a deft job in this volume of reappraising Hitchcock’s work, even as he deconstructs “Psycho” and its complex cinematic legacy." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

"[Thomson's] vast storehouse [of film knowledge] is on full display here, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of 'Psycho.' (It opened in June 1960.) He skillfully locates the movie in Hitchcock’s oeuvre, linking its theme of the dangers of loneliness to 'Rear Window' and 'The Birds' and its voyeurism to 'Strangers on a Train' and others. And, in a chapter called 'Other Bodies in the Swamp,' he traces the influence of “Psycho” on more recent movies.... [I]n the best parts of the microanalysis stretch of the book, he is deliciously eloquent." (Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Nick Los Angeles, CA, USA 12-18-09
    Nick Los Angeles, CA, USA 12-18-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engaging and insightful"

    Interesting analysis of Psycho, that not only goes into great detail about the specifics of the film, but also the impact it had of filmmaking more broadly. The narration is strong and engaging. Listened to the full 3.5 hours in one sitting and was never bored (though it does meander near the end... sort of like Psycho.)

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carrie Atlanta, GA, United States 12-12-11
    Carrie Atlanta, GA, United States 12-12-11
    ratings
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    "This is a glorified plot summary"

    My wife and I are big fans of Psycho, and we couldn't make it through this, even as short as it is. Imagine someone telling you, scene by scene, what happens in the movie, peppering in some subjective, usually obvious observations. It's baffling this got such good press reviews.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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