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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

on 19 June 2016
I'm a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and "Psycho" is one of my favourite of his movies. I've just finished reading Robert Bloch's book and re-watching the original movie to prime myself for reading this account of "the making of" Psycho. An excellent book for the initiated! This takes us from an account of Ed Gein, the depraved killer and grave robber, which inspired Bloch for his book, then to an accounting of Bloch's writing of the book from idea to after publication. Then this book settles into telling the whole story behind how "Psycho" was filmed, publicized and its final legacy. Rebello's book gives away all plot points for the book and movie and really would be of little interest to someone who is not familia with either. Make no mistake tthis book is about how the film was made, *not* abot Hitchcock himself or any of the personalities involved. The biographical material included is only what is needed to properly tell the story. I learned so much reading this book and found it extremely informative and entertaining. The next time I watch the movie I will be watching it with fresh eyes looking for and thinking about what I learned from this book. There are no pictures but I found myself reading with Google Images open beside me. When the first edition of the book was menttioned I neded to see that, when the first ever risque movie production adverisement was mentioned I hurried to find picttures of them. When the enticing theatrical trailer was described I had to watch it! When Hitchcock's cameo and Ted Knight's role as "man by door" was mentioned I quickly watched those video clips. I could go on and on! A true book for the movie connoseur.

PS: I have not seen the recent "Hitchcock" movie with Helen Mirren of which this kindle edition has a movie tie-in cover but I imagine that movie is hardly representative of the book for the mere fact that Alma Hitchcock is only mentioned twice in the book. Once standing near a closed door and second on a rare public appearance with Alfred at an event. That said there is quite a bit of information on their dauhter, Patricia, who is incredibly still alive at the time of this review.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 February 2014
The screaming blonde in the shower, the creepy hotel, the guy who keeps his mummified mom in the old family home... everybody knows about "Psycho," if only by cultural osmosis.

But probably not as many people know about the history of the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie, and just how tough it was to bring it to the screen. Cue Stephen Rebello's "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho," which compellingly sketches out every single step of "Psycho" -- from the bizarre serial killer who inspired the book to the mysterious PR campaign.

It begins with Ed Gein, a serial killer who inspired Richard Bloch's pulpy horror novel "Psycho." It was an unlikely choice for the great Alfred Hitchcock to adapt -- a small, gritty weird story with a shocking twist ending and two graphic stabbings. But it did appeal to his "fiendish" sense of humor, and gave the great filmmaker a chance to make what he wanted -- something fresh and "young," something in the "Les Diaboliques" mold.

He then proceeded to make a movie that went against all the "rules" -- he ignored Paramount's horror and disgust, he hired a relatively inexperienced screenwriter, he used the crew from his hit TV show, and he cast the film's biggest star as the woman who is brutally stabbed after only forty minutes.

Rebello goes through the production step-by-step, following every aspect of the casting, the props, the camera techniques, the infamous shower scene (the blood is actually chocolate syrup), the performances, the costumes -- just about every single aspect of the moviemaking process. And from there he follows the story of "Psycho" into the movie theatres, where Hitchcock's film disgusted critics, shocked audiences, and ended up becoming his magnum opus.

I usually find highly "technical" books about moviemaking to be dull -- I've never made a movie, nor have I been on a movie set, so the behind-the-scenes descriptions of camera angles and lighting are simply something I can't visualize. Maybe it would be different if I were able to go onto a movie set and see these things personally, but currently they are as impenetrable to me as the inner workings of a space probe.

But Rebello managed to make this interesting. In fact, he managed to make every step of the process fascinating -- which probably wasn't hurt by an entire chapter devoted to a grotesque serial killer, Ed Gein. His writing style is detailed and rich in details, letting you envision virtually everything he has to say.

He also mines a LOT of interviews for information about the shoot, and not just the actors either. There are countless delightful anecdotes about making "Psycho," such as the way they tried to film the falling-down-the-stairs scene. Or Joseph Stefano talking about how, as he and Hitchcock were plotting out the shower scene, they were interrupted by the director's wife Alma -- and promptly started screaming. Some of this stuff is hilarious.

It also gives a fascinating portrait of Hitchcock -- an accomplished artist who loved twisted, weird stories, with a wickedly mischievous sense of humor and a lot of eccentricities. Rebello doesn't delve too deep into Hitchcock's psychology (which is always a dangerous road for any nonfiction writer), but he lets the various anecdotes about the Master of Suspense form a portrait on their own.

But while he gives a lot of attention to Hitchcock's personality, style and artistic contributions, he also makes it clear that the movie was the masterwork of many different people -- from actress Janet Leigh (who spent days seminaked in the shower) to the dude who butchered a bunch of melons to get the right "stab sound." Credit for the work is spread around liberally.

"Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho" is a fascinating, full-bodied look at the inner workings of a humble little movie... which just happened to be one of Hitchcock's greatest films ever. A must-read for any enthusiast for the medium of film, "Psycho" and/or Hitchcock.
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on 27 March 2003
I thought that it was my duty to give a review of this book as there are none! Read on if you dare...
This book is good, and very interesting, but... I dunno... I sort of ended up with a feeling that it could have been even better, somehow; perhaps with a bit of additional and less biased focussing, and better chapter layouts? I'm not sure.
Anyway, you can't say it doesn't start at the beginning; the first chapter is about Ed Gein, the serial killer on which Robert Bloch based Norman Bates. It then progresses to Robert Bloch and his novel (including nice snippets of interviews with Bloch himself and later his bitter views of the film) before coming to rest on Hitchcock, whereupon the focus stays throughout the rest of the book.
The detail of the entire conception, production and release is very good, and interspersed with comments from many of the cast and crew. Lots of ambiguities exist also from varying memories, and the book does not try to say that one is right and one is wrong; instead it recites all the contrasting elements of the story (such as the highly argued: Did Hitchcock or Saul Bass direct the shower scene?) with the presumption that you make up your own mind about it. Anyone looking for factual answers to such discrepancies beware...
On the other hand, snippets of trivia which you thought were true are casually slaughtered by the author (eg, the myth that the working title of the film was "Wimpy") leaving a slight bad taste in the mouth and feeling of being conned.
All in all, though, the information is very good. My only real disappointment was that despite pages upon pages on detailed elements of the film such as lighting, etc, the saving grace and most memorable part of the film - Bernard Herrman's score - is given a measly stinking half a page. The author may not be musical himself, but when talking about the one movie famous for the power of film-music, I'd expected more in-depth analysis of it rather than a vague description of the score being "music that throbbed sonorously". (That's virtually it about the music, believe it or not).
The after-math final chapter could have used some better focus as well; the author seemed to take delight in rubbishing the "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchises, but only lists John Carpenter's "Halloween", which of course was a direct homage to "Psycho", and which sparked off all the multitudes of teen slashers. Depth wasn't needed on the subject, but by raising the subject of slasher films and not mentioning the link between "Psycho" and "Halloween" seems ignorant, in my opinion.
But enough of these silly gripes. It's a good book, it is, really. Perhaps the layout and chapters could have been better, I'm not sure. Perhaps it could have focussed on a couple of things which I was interested in (eg, the music). But it is the most in-depth book about "Psycho" out there.
(Okay, so I made that up. I haven't read any other book about "Psycho". Don't think I feel the need to, though.)
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on 27 February 2013
Rebello presents us with a thorough account of the making of Hitchcock's Psycho through in depth interviews with it's key cast and crew. I personally read this a while ago and own the 1990's version but purchased this updated version on my Kindle Fire prior to watching the recent big screen adaptation. This remains one of the most in-depth accounts about Psycho that you can buy and is an asset for any cinephine, Psycho-phile, film student or for those wanting to know what pressures were faced making a film of this calibre in the 50s and 60s.
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on 3 January 2018
Brilliant book.
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on 26 April 2014
Excellent book which basically tells you anything and everything you want to know about the making of Psycho. Its as if your actually there, experiencing it, the love of the subject matter really shines through...an easy an enjoyable read.
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on 17 March 2013
An interesting glance into the pre and post production, not to mention the
production itself, of that greatest of horror class acts - PSYCHO.

With so much detail to gloss over, and the writing style, it doesn't make
for an easy read, but if you're a PSYCHO fan, like myself, it was obligatory
to read it.

Having seen the film, and the significant part played by Helen Mirren as
Hitchcock's wife, it came as a rather rude surprise that Hitchcock's wife is
hardly mentioned at all in the book.

Strangely though, due to the cinema craftmanship of Hitchcock, even reading
about the production of Psycho brought a slight chill up my back.
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on 14 November 2013
This is not a choice of book. I would pick but it is a Christmas present so I cannot comment on the content
Arrived in the specified time and was well packed
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on 28 May 2013
an excellently detailed study of the making of a classic and its creator-well worth obtaining by any true film enthusiast...
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