The Studio Sabotaged 'Psycho' And The Fact That It Was Made Is Miraculous

By | August 26, 2019

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Left: Alfred Hitchcock in a publicity photo for 'Psycho.' Right: Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. Source: IMDB

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is one of the most claustrophobic thrillers of the 20th century, and it features easily the most famous shower scene in film history. Considered to be one of the highlights of Hitchcock’s career, Psycho is one of those films that you just have to see. Even though the film made a truckload of money at the box office upon its release, its distributor, Paramount, had zero faith in the source material or in Hitchcock’s directing.

Keep in mind, Psycho was far from Hitchcock’s first movie. He pitched the idea to Paramount after the back-to-back success of Vertigo and North by Northwest. He was more than 35 years into a career filled with hits made from odd character studies and the studio just didn’t think people would like the movie. Hitchcock believed in the story so much that he made the movie on his own dime and turned the financial setbacks into one of his most inspired films. 

Paramount Thought The Story Was Disgusting

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source: Pixels

When Peggy Robertson, Hitchcock's long-time assistant, read Anthony Boucher's positive review of Psycho, a novel by Robert Bloch, she knew that her boss would want to read it. Hitchcock read the book and was transfixed by the shower scene. That brief moment had something that he could sink his teeth into. He explained:

I think the thing that appealed to me [about the book] and made me decide to do the picture was the suddenness of the murder in the shower, coming, as it were, out of the blue.

Paramount refused to make the film based on its premise, but that didn’t stop Hitchcock -- he anonymously bid on the film rights and won them for $9,500. Going back to the studio, Hitchcock received the same pushback as he had before. Paramount felt the book was “too repulsive,” they wanted Hitchcock to make another one of his thrillers that was littered with A-list stars. Hitchcock declined, his head still in the shower.