Bomb Rating: 

Like every other Alfred Hitchcock film, "Psycho" is filled with frenzy, vertigo and human sabotage, creating less than a shadow of a doubt about its end. Reputation notwithstanding, thrill-seekers who turn to Hitchcock have got the wrong man -- he was always the man who knew too much about exploiting little Marnie and little Rebecca's fears. As audiences came to popularize Hitchcock's dangerous lies and cinematic blackmail, the master of suspense soon discovered that he could simply rest on his fat laurels, sipping champagne outside in his gazebo under Capricorn, concocting simplistic family plots like some overconfident saboteur or conceited mountain eagle.

Marion (Janet Leigh), the victim of Norman's (Anthony Perkins) shower rage, is hardly young and innocent. She ends up at the Bates Motel, which is no Jamaica Inn, because she's stolen $40,000 and then disappeared like a white shadow. Off on the mystery road she goes, hoping for the great day when she can reclaim her easy virtue and not end up saying "I confess" in some courtroom while foreign correspondents report on the downfall of the rich and strange .

Suspicion prevents Marion from letting the notorious Norman into her pleasure garden to play the skin game as though she were some naive farmer's wife. Nonetheless, she sticks around, perhaps spellbound by all those eerie stuffed birds hanging on the walls, frozen and indifferent like strangers on a train. Me, I'm out a rear window looking for a rope to wrap around Norman's scrawny neck. Norman, as stealthy as if he were trying to catch a thief, sneaks up on the the woman alone in the shower, and slashes away. The result: murder -- a knife, blood, a torn curtain. After the prude's fall, conscientious Norman cleans up the ring of bloody residue and the lady vanishes, prompting a somewhat secret agent (Martin Balsam) and a man from home to poke around the Bates Motel and find out why.

The agent suspects some passionate adventure, climbs the 39 steps to mother's house and is promptly bonked in the head on number 17 or so. The second investigator, Marion's love, is joined by her sister, who has woman-to-woman knowledge of Marion's past. The two show up like a Mr. and Mrs. Smith and, of course, discover the secret of Norman's mystery lodger. Given Hitchcock's predictability, I'd rather be on a lifeboat floating north by northwest with no hope of rescue than watch another one of his films.

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