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Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho (edition 1990)

by Stephen Rebello

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146681,994 (3.52)2
Member:jburlinson
Title:Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho
Authors:Stephen Rebello
Info:New York : Dembner Books : Distributed by Norton, c1990.
Collections:Your library
Rating:*1/2
Tags:Movies

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Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello

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I think I learned all that I wanted to know about how my favorite director made one of my favorite movies. Since Mr. Rebello writes as a journalist and a historian, not as an amateur psychologist, I also have to read what I didn’t know, such as his guesses about how Hitchcock’s repressions were played out on the screen, blah, blah. I especially enjoyed how Rebello treated the two most famous controversies: Robert Bloch, the author of the source novel, vs. Joe “Outer Limits” Stefano, the screenwriter, over who was most responsible for the film’s story; and the claims of title sequence director Saul Bass to deserve auteur credit for the shower scene. Rebello comes down on the sides of Bloch and Hitchcock, and I think he is right. Rebello also reminded how important the film was historically (providing the inspiration for more graphic horror movies in general and the template for slasher movies in particular). I read his account of how the film’s surprises shocked the first audiences with a little bitterness, since I had them spoiled for me a long time before I saw the film. ( )
1 vote Coach_of_Alva | Jan 20, 2014 |
Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello opens with Ed Gein. Taxidermy, furniture and clothing made of human flesh and bone, cannibalism and run down cluttered homes. If you see any of these motifs in film you owe them to one real life monster named Ed Gein. And Psycho was the first to draw creative inspiration from his crimes. Ed Gein, though, makes Norman Bates look like a pussycat.

From the true crime this reissued book about the making of Psycho goes through all the steps that lead to the progenitor of the modern horror film. There's a chapter on Robert Bloch's novel and how it came to be purchased by Alfred Hitchcock.

Most of the book though is about the film itself. Of most interest to me was how the film was shot like an extended episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Although there was speculation at the time that it might be used for the series, Rebello argues (quite effectively) that the approach was a cost saving measure and as well as a chance for Hitchcock to step away from the elaborate (and expensive) full color films he had been making at the time. A low budget also gave Hitchcock more creative freedom because no one was worried about where the money was going.

I read an egalley via NetGalley. ( )
  pussreboots | Jul 28, 2013 |
Interesting story, told in the worst possible way. It's obvious Mr. Rebello researched his material carefully and thoroughly. But reading his book is like listening to a guy on an adjacent bar stool on a talking jag. ( )
  jburlinson | Dec 9, 2012 |
ALFRED HITCHCOCK and the making of PSYCHO is an extremely interesting account of the machinations behind the genius of the man who created the movie Psycho. The story is informative and tells us those "secret" tidbits of information that make these kinds of non-fiction stories successful. Stephen Rebello takes us on a walk behind the scenes and into the minds of the people responsible for the cult classic movie, "Psycho".

The making of Psycho takes the reader to the root of the "inspiration" of the movie and shares with us who Robert Bloch is and how Alfred Hitchcock came to owning the rights to the story. We learn who Hitchcock wanted for his actors, such as, he wanted a "famous" actress to play the part of Marion Crane and after several considerations, he chose Janet Leigh, we are given glances at the cut scenes and the reasons how many scenes were deleted, the explanation behind the movie theater slogan, "No one is allowed to enter when the film has begun" and we are also given an in-depth look into the infamous shower scene, from different angles from the people who were present in the filming.

I enjoyed how the book read and the presentation was very informative, as well, the insights and side stories were delivered in such a way, that I found myself being lead to doing my own research. I didn't know about the cross-references of Norman Bates to Leatherface of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and Buffalo Bill of the "Silence of the Lambs" fame. I would suggest this book to ALL fans of the genre, film students and anyone who enjoys good non-fiction reads, however, those weak of constitution should stay away from its pages, the chapter about the serial killer with whom Norman Bates is loosely based upon is quite graphic in nature, all in all, it was a great read.

SYNOPSIS:
Stephen Rebello has talked and interviewed virtually every surviving cast and crew member and has uncovered the hows and whys behind the movie's fascinating history. Everything about Psycho is here, in this book, in all its glorious detail. ( )
  MadMooseMama | Apr 14, 2011 |
Before I started reading Stephen Rebello's "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho," I had never seen an Alfred Hitchcock movie. There's no particular reason for that, I just never got around to it. Still, I find "behind the scenes" stories to be fascinating, and I knew "Psycho" was a rather important film in cinema history, so I thought the story behind it might be interesting - and it was. Quite interesting, in fact.

Rebollo's book was originally published in 1999, but recently there's been work underway to turn it into a movie (which I find kind of amusing - a movie about the making of a movie,) so it's been republished in hopes of gaining a new audience. I hope it does, because it's a very well written story and there are a lot of interesting tales about what went on behind the scenes.

The book begins by telling us about the Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein, who was the inspiration for not only Norman Bates, but also Leatherface from "The Texas Chainsaw Murders" and Buffalo Bill from "The Silence of the Lambs." Robello tells us about why the story captivated Robert Bloch enough that he was inspired to write the novel "Psycho" and how Hitchcock managed to secretly purchase the film rights for a fairly paltry sum.

From there, it takes us through Hitchcock's difficulties in convincing the studio that the story was worth turning into a film, which led him to finance the project himself and handle the filming more like he did an episode of his eponymous TV show than a feature film. It also offers a detailed look at all of the stages of development, including casting, wardrobe, scriptwriting, scene creation - with special attention paid to the most infamous scene of all, the shower killing - Hitchcock's relationship with the studios and so on. It even examines the claim by the graphic artist that he was the one who directed the shower scene and not Hitchcock.

Robello has a very smooth writing style that makes the book a fast read, and he manages to get an incredible amount of information across in the process. The only real complaint I have with it is that he sometimes seems to jump around in the chronology of events, and occasionally I had to go back and re-read a bit to figure out where the bit I was reading fell into the timeline. I was, however, inspired to actually watch "Psycho" by the time I'd finished reading, and I think the book actually helped make the experience better, because where some of the more old-fashioned story-telling techniques that were in use in the 50's and 60's might have left me a bit flat, because I had a much better idea of the context of the times in which they were filmed and what Hitchcock was trying to do. This is a book I would recommend yo anyone interested in filmmaking, behind-the-scenes stories, biographies of famous people (as Robello spends a lot of time just telling us about Hitchcock himself) or are either Hitchcock fans or fans of the film. ( )
  thorswitch | Feb 7, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312207859, Paperback)

If you don't believe us when we say that Stephen Rebello's Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho is a killer book concerning the killer movie of all time, then why don't you listen to Tony Perkins, the star? Perkins called this scholarly yet super-readable volume "marvelously researched and irresistible ... required reading not only for Psycho-philes, but also for anyone interested in the backstage world of movie creation." And Time critic Richard Schickel (biographer of Clint Eastwood) calls Rebello's book "one of the best accounts of the making of an individual movie we've ever had."

It's even more reliable than Francois Truffaut's magisterial interview book Hitchcock, because Rebello interviewed the fat master himself, plus many Psycho insiders less cagey and truth-dodging than he.

At last, thanks to Rebello, we know all about the celebrated shower murder scene and all that swirls around it. Like Ernst Lubitsch, who conveyed the thrill of adultery by having the lovers open a door and cast their shadows on a bed, Hitchcock knew that, in film, artful discretion can be the most shocking effect of all. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:34 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Here is the complete inside story on the making of psycho, the forerunner of all psychothrillers. Rebello takes us behind the scenes at the creation of one of cinema's boldest and most influential films. From Hitchcock's private files and from new in-depth interviews with the stars, writers, and technical crew we get a unique and unparalleled view of the master at work.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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