Culture

From the Vault: 'Psycho' by Robert Bloch, Starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh

Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho © MPTV
Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho © MPTV

Before  Hitchcock's  "Psycho," before Janet Leigh took a shower and her blood swirled down the drain, before all the proceeding "Psycho" incarnations (most recently, A&E's "Bates Motel," Sacha Gervasi’s "Hitchcock" -- formerly "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho" -- and Gus Van Sant's "Psycho"), there was the Psycho that started it all. This novel, authored by Robert Bloch, served as the inspiration behind Hitchcock's 1960 seminal film.

Norman Bates, who is loosely based on murderer Ed Gain (who is also the specter behind Lecter and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's" Leatherface), braved the most notable changes in his evolution from the page to the screen. Bloch's Bates was overweight and middle-aged, unlikable and unsympathetic, and so, for Hitchcock (see above! Hmm ...) less interesting. From Bruno Antony in "Strangers on a Train" to Phillip Vandamm in "North by Northwest," Hitchcock championed the idea of the charismatic sociopath, and by casting the boyish Anthony Perkins, Hitchcock immortalized Norman Bates.

Notably, Hitchcock bought as many copies of Bloch's original book as he could find, in an effort to keep people from knowing the story's ending. "Psycho" has generated many imitators, but remains a true horror classic.

Robert Bloch's 1959 novel was adapted in 1960 by director Alfred Hitchcock. The film stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Martin Balsam, and John McIntire.

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