Psycho is a 1960 American suspense/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Janet Leigh. The screenplay is by Joseph Stefano, based on the 1959 novel Psycho by Robert Bloch loosely inspired by the crimes of Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein.
The film centers on the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Leigh), who ends up at a secluded motel after embezzling money from her employer, and the motel’s disturbed owner-manager, Norman Bates (Perkins), and its aftermath. When originally made, the film was seen as a departure from Hitchcock’s previous film North By Northwest, being filmed on a low budget, with a television crew and in black and white. Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted reconsideration which led to four Academy Award nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for Leigh and Best Director for Hitchcock.
It is now considered one of Hitchcock’s best films and praised as a work of cinematic art by critics and film scholars. Ranked among the greatest films of all time, it set a new level of acceptability for violence, deviant behavior and sexuality in American films. After Hitchcock’s death in 1980, Universal Studios began producing follow-ups: three sequels, a remake, a television movie spin-off and a TV series.