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Samuel A. Taylor

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Psycho



Title: Psycho
Directed by:
Alfred Hitchcock
Written by:
Robert Bloch (novel), Joseph Stefano, Samuel A. Taylor
Year: 1960

Since I started reviewing everything I watch, I’ve come across three films by Alfred Hitchcock, and I have given all of them four snails and comments which can be summarised as “well-made, but not entirely my cup of tea”. This is true for Psycho as well, so this review will be quite brief.

The story is about a young woman (Vera Miles) who steals a hefty sum of money from her boss and flees the city, stopping by a motel, well off the main road. It’s run by a certain Mr. Bates (Anthony Hopkins) who clearly is too much under the influence of his mother. From here, the story develops into a thriller with people being murdered one after the other, but with no clear motive or obvious murderer.

Psycho uses a few narrative techniques (such as completely changing the main character) I find interesting, and, as I’ve already said in the first paragraph, the film is expertly directed and produced. In short, there are few things to criticise. However, I still find the basic story somewhat dull. Yes, the style does manage to liven things up, but sadly, I feel I have to deviate from my previous streak of giving four snails to Hitchcock and give only three snails to Psycho.

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Vertigo



Title: Vertigo
Directed by:
Alfred Hitchcock
Written by:
Boileau-Narcejac, Alec Coppel, Samuel A. Taylor
Year:
1958

John Ferguson (James Stewart) is forced to retire from his job as a detective when he develops acrophobia after failing to save a colleague from a deadly fall. However, he is soon recruited by an old friend who wants him to keep an eye on his wife, Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak). Why? Because he says that he believes there is something paranormal about his wife’s activities and he is worried that something bad is about to happen. This is true, to say the least, but even so, few things in Vertigo are as they seem.

I like carefully thought out plots such as the one presented in Vertigo. It is not something someone has put together in a few hours, but rather an elaborate story with many twists and turns. Throughout the film, I never lose a sense of mystery and suspense, which is of paramount importance for a film such as Vertigo. Also, I have come to like James Stewart rather a lot (I have recently watched Rear Window and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

However, I think there are flaws in this film that forces me to lower the grade somewhat (even though the four snails I give it is pretty good). For instance, I think there is a fault in the flow of information in the film, especially in the middle. In the beginning, it is okay to have just a sense of suspense and wonder to drag the viewer along, but that cannot go on forever. Gradually, parts of the plot have to be revealed, because otherwise I become bored. This goes too slowly in parts of this film. So, even though I think the film regarded as a whole is very good, parts of it felt rather dull, to be honest. The end wraps things up neatly and promptly asserts the notion that Vertigo is a well-made film indeed. The finale is well worth waiting for, but with such a mediocre middle part leading up to it, I cannot give more than four snails to Vertigo.

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