MovieChat Forums > Psycho (1960) Discussion > This movie is underrated as hell

This movie is underrated as hell


When critics list their favorite horror films they always list movies like Jaws, Halloween, The Exorcist, and Alien.

Psycho should be in everyone’s top 5, no exceptions.

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I remember a time when Psycho was all that existed and Jaws, Halloween, The Exorcist and Alien hadn't even been made.

In my case, seeing those films as each and every one of them came out, the films-- while quite good and big hits -- never hit all the notes of excellence(writing, acting, music, cinematic flair, character)...that Psycho did.

And of those films, the one that I thought captured how Psycho worked best of all was: Jaws.

Anyway, Psycho is my Number One.

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Probably most of the people making those list weren't even born when Psycho came out and never learned to appreciate the classics.

I know of at least one person who thinks no good movies came out before 1985 (the year he was born). Go figure.

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You ever explain to that person 1985 was the exact year movies started to go downhill?

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films101.com attempts to capture critical consensus. Here's its ranking of horrors:
http://www.films101.com/horrorr.htm

# 1 Horror Films, # 8 Overall Psycho 1960 Hitchcock, Alfred USA BDS
# 2 Horror Films, # 60 Overall King Kong 1933 Cooper, Merian C. / Schoedsack, Ernest B. USA BDS
# 3 Horror Films, # 61 Overall Nosferatu 1922 Murnau, F.W. Germany BD
# 4 Horror Films, # 71 Overall The Silence of the Lambs 1991 Demme, Jonathan USA BDS
# 5 Horror Films, # 102 Overall Jaws 1975 Spielberg, Steven USA BDS
# 6 Horror Films, # 104 Overall The Bride of Frankenstein 1935 Whale, James USA BDS
# 7 Horror Films, # 160 Overall Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 Siegel, Don USA BD
# 8 Horror Films, # 189 Overall The Exorcist 1973 Friedkin, William USA BDS
# 9 Horror Films, # 193 Overall Pan's Labyrinth 2006 del Toro, Guillermo Mexico / Spain / USA BD
# 10 Horror Films, # 205 Overall Diabolique 1955 Clouzot, Henri-Georges France BD
# 11 Horror Films, # 206 Overall Frankenstein 1931 Whale, James USA BDS
# 12 Horror Films, # 245 Overall Repulsion 1965 Polanski, Roman UK BD
# 13 Horror Films, # 254 Overall Alien 1979 Scott, Ridley UK BDS
# 14 Horror Films, # 269 Overall Don't Look Now 1973 Roeg, Nicolas Italy / UK BD
# 15 Horror Films, # 279 Overall Le Boucher 1970 Chabrol, Claude France / Italy D
# 16 Horror Films, # 281 Overall Night of the Living Dead 1968 Romero, George A. USA BD
# 17 Horror Films, # 318 Overall Rosemary's Baby 1968 Polanski, Roman USA BD
# 18 Horror Films, # 353 Overall The Birds 1963 Hitchcock, Alfred USA BD
# 19 Horror Films, # 384 Overall Halloween 1978 Carpenter, John USA BD
# 20 Horror Films, # 386 Overall Peeping Tom 1960 Powell, Michael UK Y
# 21 Horror Films, # 391 Overall The Shining 1980 Kubrick, Stanley UK BD
# 22 Horror Films, # 394 Overall The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920 Wiene, Robert Germany BD
# 23 Horror Films, # 395 Overall Let the Right One In 2008 Alfredson, Tomas Sweden BD

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# 24 Horror Films, # 407 Overall Dracula 1931 Browning, Tod USA BD
# 25 Horror Films, # 408 Overall Dr. Mabuse - The Gambler 1922 Lang, Fritz Germany BD
# 26 Horror Films, # 493 Overall Young Frankenstein 1974 Brooks, Mel USA BDS
# 27 Horror Films, # 511 Overall What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962 Aldrich, Robert USA BD
# 28 Horror Films, # 523 Overall Cat People 1942 Tourneur, Jacques USA BD
# 29 Horror Films, # 530 Overall The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Julian, Rupert / Laemmle, Ernst / Sedgwick, Edward USA BD
# 30 Horror Films, # 561 Overall Suspiria 1977 Argento, Dario Italy / West Germany BD
# 31 Horror Films, # 566 Overall Aliens 1986 Cameron, James USA / UK BDS
# 32 Horror Films, # 614 Overall Freaks 1932 Browning, Tod USA D
# 33 Horror Films, # 619 Overall Dead of Night 1945 Cavalcanti, Alberto / Crichton, Charles / Dearden, Basil / Hamer, Robert UK Y
# 34 Horror Films, # 622 Overall Vampyr 1932 Dreyer, Carl Theodor France / Germany BD
# 35 Horror Films, # 636 Overall Eraserhead 1977 Lynch, David USA BDS
# 36 Horror Films, # 666 Overall Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931 Mamoulian, Rouben USA D
# 37 Horror Films, # 681 Overall The Vanishing 1988 Sluizer, George Netherlands / France BD
# 38 Horror Films, # 697 Overall Dawn of the Dead 1978 Romero, George A. Italy / USA BD
# 39 Horror Films, # 735 Overall The Innocents 1961 Clayton, Jack UK BD
# 40 Horror Films, # 739 Overall Eyes Without a Face 1960 Franju, Georges France / Italy BD
# 41 Horror Films, # 746 Overall The Wicker Man 1973 Hardy, Robin UK D
# 42 Horror Films, # 752 Overall The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 Hooper, Tobe USA BD
# 43 Horror Films, # 759 Overall Poltergeist 1982 Hooper, Tobe / Spielberg, Steven USA BDS
# 44 Horror Films, # 767 Overall I Walked with a Zombie 1943 Tourneur, Jacques USA D
# 45 Horror Films, # 798 Overall Heavenly Creatures 1994 Jackson, Peter UK / Germany / New Zealand BD
# 46 Horror Films, # 802 Overall Kwaidan 1964 Kobayashi, Masaki Japan BD

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# 47 Horror Films, # 815 Overall The Fly 1986 Cronenberg, David USA BDS
# 48 Horror Films, # 816 Overall The Invisible Man 1933 Whale, James USA BD
# 49 Horror Films, # 829 Overall Ring 1998 Nakata, Hideo Japan D
# 50 Horror Films, # 831 Overall Fatal Attraction 1987 Lyne, Adrian USA BDS

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In sum, according to films101, Psycho is the most critically respected horror-film by *far*. It's a top 10 all-timer and no other horror makes it into the top 50 overall.

Now, the whole films101 project has its limits: critical consensus indexes effectively overall value where 'importance to the history of movies' is a major component of that value judgement. That sort of attempted trans-historical value-judgement fits poorly with popular genre ranking ideas such as 'Scariest movies', i.e., for typical viewers right now. E.g.,
# 112 Horror Films, # 1798 Overall The Thing 1982 Carpenter, John USA BDS
won't be acceptable to a lot of people because it's a top-20 scariest right now by a lot of people's lights. Ditto Texas Chainsaw.

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Here's what films101's top 50 horrors look like by decade:

# 22 Horror Films, # 394 Overall The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920 Wiene, Robert Germany BD

# 25 Horror Films, # 408 Overall Dr. Mabuse - The Gambler 1922 Lang, Fritz Germany BD
# 3 Horror Films, # 61 Overall Nosferatu 1922 Murnau, F.W. Germany BD

# 29 Horror Films, # 530 Overall The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Julian, Rupert / Laemmle, Ernst / Sedgwick, Edward USA BD

# 24 Horror Films, # 407 Overall Dracula 1931 Browning, Tod USA BD
# 36 Horror Films, # 666 Overall Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931 Mamoulian, Rouben USA D
# 34 Horror Films, # 622 Overall Vampyr 1932 Dreyer, Carl Theodor France / Germany BD
# 32 Horror Films, # 614 Overall Freaks 1932 Browning, Tod USA D
# 2 Horror Films, # 60 Overall King Kong 1933 Cooper, Merian C. / Schoedsack, Ernest B. USA BDS
# 48 Horror Films, # 816 Overall The Invisible Man 1933 Whale, James USA BD

# 6 Horror Films, # 104 Overall The Bride of Frankenstein 1935 Whale, James USA BDS

# 28 Horror Films, # 523 Overall Cat People 1942 Tourneur, Jacques USA BD
# 44 Horror Films, # 767 Overall I Walked with a Zombie 1943 Tourneur, Jacques USA D

# 33 Horror Films, # 619 Overall Dead of Night 1945 Cavalcanti, Alberto / Crichton, Charles / Dearden, Basil / Hamer, Robert UK Y

# 10 Horror Films, # 205 Overall Diabolique 1955 Clouzot, Henri-Georges France BD
# 7 Horror Films, # 160 Overall Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 Siegel, Don USA BD


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# 20 Horror Films, # 386 Overall Peeping Tom 1960 Powell, Michael UK Y
# 1 Horror Films, # 8 Overall Psycho 1960 Hitchcock, Alfred USA BDS

# 40 Horror Films, # 739 Overall Eyes Without a Face 1960 Franju, Georges France / Italy BD
# 39 Horror Films, # 735 Overall The Innocents 1961 Clayton, Jack UK BD
# 27 Horror Films, # 511 Overall What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962 Aldrich, Robert USA BD

# 18 Horror Films, # 353 Overall The Birds 1963 Hitchcock, Alfred USA BD
# 46 Horror Films, # 802 Overall Kwaidan 1964 Kobayashi, Masaki Japan BD
# 12 Horror Films, # 245 Overall Repulsion 1965 Polanski, Roman UK BD

# 16 Horror Films, # 281 Overall Night of the Living Dead 1968 Romero, George A. USA BD

# 17 Horror Films, # 318 Overall Rosemary's Baby 1968 Polanski, Roman USA BD

# 15 Horror Films, # 279 Overall Le Boucher 1970 Chabrol, Claude France / Italy D
# 14 Horror Films, # 269 Overall Don't Look Now 1973 Roeg, Nicolas Italy / UK BD
# 8 Horror Films, # 189 Overall The Exorcist 1973 Friedkin, William USA BDS
# 41 Horror Films, # 746 Overall The Wicker Man 1973 Hardy, Robin UK D
# 26 Horror Films, # 493 Overall Young Frankenstein 1974 Brooks, Mel USA BDS

# 42 Horror Films, # 752 Overall The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 Hooper, Tobe USA BD
# 5 Horror Films, # 102 Overall Jaws 1975 Spielberg, Steven USA BDS

# 30 Horror Films, # 561 Overall Suspiria 1977 Argento, Dario Italy / West Germany BD
# 35 Horror Films, # 636 Overall Eraserhead 1977 Lynch, David USA BDS

# 38 Horror Films, # 697 Overall Dawn of the Dead 1978 Romero, George A. Italy / USA BD

# 19 Horror Films, # 384 Overall Halloween 1978 Carpenter, John USA BD
# 13 Horror Films, # 254 Overall Alien 1979 Scott, Ridley UK BDS

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# 21 Horror Films, # 391 Overall The Shining 1980 Kubrick, Stanley UK BD
# 43 Horror Films, # 759 Overall Poltergeist 1982 Hooper, Tobe / Spielberg, Steven USA BDS
# 31 Horror Films, # 566 Overall Aliens 1986 Cameron, James USA / UK BDS
# 47 Horror Films, # 815 Overall The Fly 1986 Cronenberg, David USA BDS
# 50 Horror Films, # 831 Overall Fatal Attraction 1987 Lyne, Adrian USA BDS
# 37 Horror Films, # 681 Overall The Vanishing 1988 Sluizer, George Netherlands / France BD



# 4 Horror Films, # 71 Overall The Silence of the Lambs 1991 Demme, Jonathan USA BDS

# 45 Horror Films, # 798 Overall Heavenly Creatures 1994 Jackson, Peter UK / Germany / New Zealand BD

# 49 Horror Films, # 829 Overall Ring 1998 Nakata, Hideo Japan D


# 9 Horror Films, # 193 Overall Pan's Labyrinth 2006 del Toro, Guillermo Mexico / Spain / USA BD

# 23 Horror Films, # 395 Overall Let the Right One In 2008 Alfredson, Tomas Sweden BD

In sum, by critical reputation there are only 3 big horror decades: '30s, '60s, and '70s. Together they account for 30 of the top 50.

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Other observations:

1. 1960 is an annus mirabilis for horror: it gets 3 films in the top 50 (only the widely feted 1973 equals this achievement), and that comes after a horror desert of 25 years producing only 5 top 50 horrors.
2. After 1960 the horror landmarks arrive with remarkable steadiness for the next 20 or so years. And if we extended to cover the top 100 or so we'd see horror highlights continue through the '80s with Evil Dead, Videodrome, Nightmare on Elm, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Fly, Aliens, Dead Ringers (and I'd claim that The Thing, Angst, Dressed To Kill, American Werewolf in London, Return of The Living Dead, Hellraiser, etc. are all ranked a little conservatively by films101).

In sum, the shockwave of 1960 horror and Psycho preeminently reverberated throughout cinema (as measured by peak achievements) for the next 30 years.

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Another observation: while there's a drumbeat of impressive horrors through the '60s after Psycho, the first *blockbuster*, cultural-sensation horror after Psycho is Rosemary's Baby (1968). RB had to fight hard for coverage in one of the busiest and most anguished years in American history and also against at least 5 other popular and mostly critical film smashes that year: 2001, Bullitt, Funny Girl, Planet of the Apes, Night of The Living Dead (The Love Bug was also a smash with kids/families - I loved it as one of my first movies on a re-release a few years later!). But RB like Psycho was so well made at every level, so exemplary really of what film could do and be while being completely successful in the first instance at scaring the pants off you... that, again like Psycho, its influence reverberates down to the present day. Get Out (2017) is a (brilliantly worked) racial riff on Ira Levin's later zeitgeist-y work The Stepford Wives, which itself followed RB's paranoid template almost exactly. It's almost a spoiler to say that Hereditary (2018) has a ton of RB's DNA. The film does a great job hiding that fact from the audience for its first hour but then divides its audience by how much it sees coming in the second hour (I saw which way it was going and eye rolls and giggles followed... but that first hour was pretty great).

Note too that according to some sources, Hitch turned down the chance to make RB. Some sources report this as an offer to direct for Paramount/Evans, others report it as Levin offering the s/play rights to Hitch. Either way, a near miss at something!

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Another observation: while there's a drumbeat of impressive horrors through the '60s after Psycho, the first *blockbuster*, cultural-sensation horror after Psycho is Rosemary's Baby (1968).

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Yes. Though there were some Psycho-like knockoffs between Psycho and RB -- the films of William Castle and Robert Aldrich come to mind -- and though I see 1967's Wait Until Dark as a well-acted scream machine to match Psycho in that one regard -- it took until Rosemary's Baby for "the world to change again." It was released in the summer of 1968 right ahead of the R rating but the word was out: this would be to sex as Psycho was to violence; there would be allusions to the sex first practiced "innocently" by the young married couple who anchor the story(John Cassavetes and Mia Farrow), and then to the sex nightmarishly practiced between Mia Farrow and ...the father of Rosemary's Baby. And who that father was, was the REAL counterculture massive blow of the late sixties, gone to a place Hitchcock dared not tread. (In Psycho.)

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RB had to fight hard for coverage in one of the busiest and most anguished years in American history

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1968. Having lived through it young, I can say: I thought the world was ending. Anyday now. Weirdly, I was OK with that. Survival instinct or surrender, I don't know. BTW, I think the past couple of years have been worse. '68 was about the assassination of leaders, of riots, of distant Vietnam. Today: Shooters taking out 58 people from a window in Vegas, or other numbers at school or a movie theater -- that's a horror 1968 did NOT provide.

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and also against at least 5 other popular and mostly critical film smashes that year: 2001, Bullitt, Funny Girl, Planet of the Apes, Night of The Living Dead (The Love Bug was also a smash with kids/families - I loved it as one of my first movies on a re-release a few years later!).

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Quite a year. And yet, 1967 and 1969 get all the ink. Better, I suppose to salute 1967 through 1976.

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But RB like Psycho was so well made at every level, so exemplary really of what film could do and be while being completely successful in the first instance at scaring the pants off you... that, again like Psycho, its influence reverberates down to the present day.

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The big difference as quoted by a film artist named Richard Sylbert on the RB making of DVD doc: "Rosemary's Baby is the great horror movie without any horror in it." Indeed. There are no shock murders ala Psycho or Jaws; no sickening facial effects and green vomit ala The Exorcist -- indeed, we never really SAW Rosemary's Baby at the end(though people THOUGHT they did...)

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Still, Rosemary's Baby sold its horror on a premise that hit home deeply: a nightmare pregnancy. The mother is "locked in" and cannot stop it...but worse yet, no one around her will help her: not her husband(banal evil personified), not the weird,friendly older neighbors who surround her, not her "new" pedetrican.

The whole thing is Hitchcock, "Lady Vanishes" division: They Won't Believe Her. (Or those who do, die. Offscreen.) That really weird old pediatrician(Ralph Bellamy) who prescribes horrible pre-delivery drinks -- well, he's very respected everywhere else. The big Hitchcock scene is when a Young Doctor(Charles Grodin, already smarmy) seems to be ready to believe and save Rosemary -- but instead he sics Doc Bellamy and the gang on her. The horrors.

The "downside" of Rosemary's Baby -- in 1968 reviews I read, too -- is that its "twist ending" is far more predictable than that of Psycho. WE know who daddy is long before Rosemary does. We are WAY ahead of the mystery. I suppose it doesn't matter. We spend the whole movie waiting to find out what happens at childbirth. Its a surprise.

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Get Out (2017) is a (brilliantly worked) racial riff on Ira Levin's later zeitgeist-y work The Stepford Wives, which itself followed RB's paranoid template almost exactly.

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Yep. Same story. All three times. Works every time...and Get Out was a bit less predictable about exactly what was going on.

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It's almost a spoiler to say that Hereditary (2018) has a ton of RB's DNA.

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That's OK by me. I can never figure these things out in advance.

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The film does a great job hiding that fact from the audience for its first hour but then divides its audience by how much it sees coming in the second hour (I saw which way it was going and eye rolls and giggles followed... but that first hour was pretty great).

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Heredity got some great first reviews...and then some backlash reviews. I'll probably see it, the word of mouth is pretty good.

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Note too that according to some sources, Hitch turned down the chance to make RB. Some sources report this as an offer to direct for Paramount/Evans, others report it as Levin offering the s/play rights to Hitch. Either way, a near miss at something!

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There's all sorts of scuttlebutt about movie offers that Hitchcock turned down. Usually he chose his own material anyway, and usually from obscure sources (like Psycho.) But I guess he got pitched a lot. In the 60's, he turned down the original Cape Fear; Wait Until Dark(Jack Warner said that Hitchcock swore he'd never work with Audrey Hepburn after she committed and walked on No Bail for the Judge) ; The Boston Strangler(which kinda became The London Strangler -- aka Frenzy, with a more graphic strangling); and Rosemary's Baby.

Hitch was , as we know, starting to lose mental and physical power in the late sixties, I think it may be just as well he made what he made on his own, and didn't mess with the big hit offers. Cape Fear(from the early 60's, I'll admit) was a bit too hip and macho man for Hitchcock(even with a Psycho-like Herrmann score); Wait Until Dark had a VERY hip psycho villain(Alan Arkin) who doesn't feel like Hitchcock to me.

As for Rosemary's Baby, its Hitchcock alright, but there are no shock murders or action set-pieces -- it would be like making Notorious or Shadow of a Doubt again; Hitch was past that. And he often spoke against wanting to do the supernatural in his movies (Mary Rose excepted, but he didn't get to make that.)

Had Hitchcock accepted Wait Until Dark and Rosemary's Baby and Cape Fear (and dumped Torn Curtain and Topaz), and gotten to make Mary Rose and The First Frenzy(an NYC psycho tale) oh what a sixties he could have had. If he moved two projects over a year. Watch:

Psycho(1960)
Cape Fear(1962)
The Birds(1963)
Marnie(1964)
Mary Rose(1966)
Frenzy(NYC) (1967)
Wait Until Dark(1968)
Rosemary's Baby(1969)

....but it was not to be.

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Yep. Same story. All three times. Works every time...and Get Out was a bit less predictable about exactly what was going on.
Hereditary makes an interesting connection between always-too-far-ahead-of-the-heroine-to-be-resisted conspiracy plot of R'sB/Stepford/Hereditary with Greek tragedy ideas about fate. One of the main characters is studying Greek tragedy at high school but is far too stoned and freaked out to even potentially learn anything from school that might benefit him.

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RB is one of those rare supernatural films where it's possible to be a supernatural denier and view the last scene as an hysterical post-pregnancy delusion on ROsemary's part. Hiowever, you have to buy an awful lot of coincidencee for that interpretation to work.

One of my favorite films in this category is the original 1940s version of The Cat People where the "nothing supernatural happens" interpretation is easier to swallow.

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RB is one of those rare supernatural films where it's possible to be a supernatural denier and view the last scene as an hysterical post-pregnancy delusion on ROsemary's part.

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Well, certainly the body of the movie before that scene is meant(I think) to make the audience wonder if everything is indeed her delusion(which would make the scene where Grodin's doctor turns her over to Dr. Bellamy "make sense" had that proved the case at the end.)

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However, you have to buy an awful lot of coincidence for that interpretation to work.

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I think so. The coven members would have to be delusional, too -- but evidently they DO have the power to blind the actor(voice on the phone to Farrow by Tony Curtis, I might add) so Cassavetes gets the job, and to put Hutch into a coma.

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One of my favorite films in this category is the original 1940s version of The Cat People where the "nothing supernatural happens" interpretation is easier to swallow.

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I've only seen it once, but it holds up either way I think...edge to the supernatural.

The Cat People is often held up for its power of suggestion, but its funny: it was only when Hitchcock put on the screen what Pauline Kael called "blast in your face" bloody shocks of Psycho that the horror movie took off into the stratosphere of box office. And as this week's opening of the Halloween sequel demonstrates...that kind of horror is still what people want.

And yet, Rosemary's Baby made big bucks too(I don't think as big as Psycho, but big) without any "blast in the face" shocks.




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I recall the summer that Rosemary's Baby came out. Oddly enough, Paramount paired it with "The Odd Couple" as their two big summer movies(ah, not a superhero in sight) and BOTH were big hits -- scares and laughs, with an underlying depression(says I) in BOTH movies. When I say "paired," I mean that billboards were put up in Times Square promoting RB and TOC side by side, as were movie print ads -- "This Summer From Paramount!"

My parents took us to The Odd Couple, and I loved it(I got the album, which mixed Neal Hefti's cool musical themes with comedy dialogue from the movie, Matthau vs Lemmon.) My parents made us stay home when they saw Rosemary's Baby. The word was out: adults only. The sex.

And yet: a year later, an English teacher(relevant that she was young, pretty and female?) assigned my class the novel of Rosemary's Baby, and my parents said "OK"(after my father calmed down my mother.) I read the book(very close to the movie; Polanski made sure as co-screenwriter), and I got the gist. I eventually saw Rosemary's Baby the first time on ABC -- with the sex and nudity all cut out. Its a movie I had to "track down to the revival theater" to see in full.

Anyway, Rosemary's Baby is a memory from a somewhat different time in American history and my own youth. Flower power, riots, assassinations, "God is Dead"(the Time magazine cover in the movie)....a need to be reassured by The Odd Couple and disturbed by Rosemary's Baby. This Summer From Paramount!

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Side-bar on John Cassavetes as Guy, Rosemary's husband in Rosemary's Baby:

Somebody somewhere wrote that he was miscast, and I think I agree. With his handsome, brooding and suspicious face, Cassavetes had made a name for himself as a tough guy in movies like The Dirty Dozen and The Killers. 10 years after Rosemary's Baby, he would be a supremely evil villain in DePalma's The Fury. In between: Mia Farrow's loving husband?

About all that excuses the weird casting of Cassavetes is that Guy...is an actor. He has reserves of self-regard and ego that make you believe the horrible deal he would make to get success. He never seems trustworthy, not one minute...ESPECIALLY when he is being nice to Rosemary. (More believable when he rages at her.)

Though I always felt it was a nice, "honest," real scene very early in the movie, when Farrow says "let's make love" as they dine on their empty apartment floor and the two of them struggle mightily to get out of their clothes in time to still feel passionate and "do the deed." One of the first sex scenes in American movies, and very honest and "nice." Even with John Cassavetes in it.

Otherwise, Cassavetes is not a good guy as Guy. I've always liked the "what if?" trivia that Young Robert Redford was under consideration for Guy...I think even offered the role. But he turned it down. It would have been great casting but...perhaps bad for his star career. Would he be able to get The Sundance Kid after playing Guy?

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Side-bar on the opening NYC camera sweep, the credits and the credit theme for Rosemary's Baby:

The camera floats slowly across 1968 NYC and reminds me very strongly of Hitchcock's 1960 float across Phoenix that opens Psycho. The difference: Hitchcock's Phoenix float happens AFTER a separate animated credit sequence; Polanski's floating camera has credits superimposed on it -- nice pink curlicued "babyish" credits. (Frenzy would superimpose ITS credits over a sweep of London and the Thames, ala Rosemary, and not like Psycho.)

And when the camera comes to rest we are high above the aged and Gothic Dakota apartment building(called something else here)...where John Lennon would die 12 years later. And the angle is very, very "vertiginous." Hail Polanski for a very Hitchcockian opening shot.

With very NON-Hitchcockian(which is to say NON-Herrmann) opening music -- a sweet lullaby with a sinister edge, "sung" by Mia Farrow("La la la la..." no other words) and backstopped by some of the most richly emotional orchestration in movies. (The composer broke his neck in a staircase fall not too many years after. Word.)

Honestly, I sometimes pull out my RB DVD just to watch the credits and listen to that lullaby. Gets you in the mood for emotion...for a sweet movie that turns oh so dark.

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Hutch's coma could easily have a realistic explanation. He's an older, overweight man with an appetite for leg of lamb and could be a candidate for sudden stroke. It's the timing that's a coincidence.

BTw, we need to be careful about claiming that RB does not have overt violence. Certainly, the #metoo movement would rightfully claim that being sexually assaulted by Satan is an act of extreme violence, and even Guy's rational explanation that he didn't want to pass up "baby night" and had his way with a comatose Rosemary would qualify as a sexual assault.

Wonderful how all the plot points in RB connect so beautifully: for example, it's first established that Minnie is a rotton cook so she was unable to make a palatable drugged chocolate mousse so ROsemary doesn't eat most of it leaving her half awake during the assault.

One reason that Hitchcock would pass on RB is that he did not like to do adaptations of well known books which would require faithfulness (as Polanski certainly was).

Wait Until Dark? Possibly, since Hitchcock had earlier faithfully adapted a play (Dial M for Murder)

And on the subject of Hithchcock preferring suspense to shock, it's interesting how often he broke this rule while presenting a stabbing murder, besides Psycho, this happens in at least The 39 Steps, Dial M for Murder, Man Who Knew TOo Much and North by Northwest.

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Hutch's coma could easily have a realistic explanation. He's an older, overweight man with an appetite for leg of lamb and could be a candidate for sudden stroke. It's the timing that's a coincidence.

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Well, yes...but as the film opens we learn that the previous tenant of the Woodhouse apartment -- a very old woman indeed -- also went into a coma and died (so as to "clear the apartment" for the Woodhouses?) And the actor(Tony Curtis!) goes blind pretty much in accord with Guy helping bring about Rosemary's impregnation. And Hutch gets his coma pretty much after he has been warning the Woodhouse's about the witchcraft history of the...Bramford? He has said too much(Guy probably warned the Castavets.)

I say all this, btw, with some clarity of knowledge because I went ahead and watched RB all the way through this week, and found the experience a fine one. A very good movie(not quite great, like Psycho), a great time capsule of 1968(though set in 1965 and 1966, the characters tell us on screen.)

The re-watch put me in love yet again with the opening lullaby camera sweep of NYC , and I noticed this precision: when the camera stops to hover the Dakota from high above, we can look down and see Rosemary and Guy as "tiny specks' entering the courtyard(we can tell by his light blue jacket). Its a nod to Cary Grant running out of the UN in NXNW, if y ou ask me. And of course, for dark history, the courtyard that the Woodhouse's enter is where John Lennon would be shot 12 years later, mixing the real and the unreal in darkness.



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BTw, we need to be careful about claiming that RB does not have overt violence. Certainly, the #metoo movement would rightfully claim that being sexually assaulted by Satan is an act of extreme violence, and even Guy's rational explanation that he didn't want to pass up "baby night" and had his way with a comatose Rosemary would qualify as a sexual assault.

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Your points are well taken, here. Not to mention the deep scratches on Rosemary's back the morning after and Guy's weak joke "I've cut my nails" in excuse. I suppose I meant that RB lacks the shock killings of Psycho and all the slashers, of course. The violence done to Rosemary is sexual...and prefigures the horrible things that will happen(under Satan's will) to Linda Blair in The Exorcist. These are movies about assaults on a woman's body, at heart. (As was Psycho in the shower scene in a much more realistic and fatal way.)

The sexuality of Rosemary's Baby --in the early "nice" sex scene twixt Guy and Rosemary, and in the "not nice" scene with the Devil and a body-doubled nude Rosemary....placed it as a 1968 movie. The 1960 censorship that plagued Psycho was over. RB was released mere months before the "R" became available, and went out under a "Suggested for Mature Audiences" banner. I wonder if it would have gotten an R or an M(PG)?

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Wonderful how all the plot points in RB connect so beautifully: for example, it's first established that Minnie is a rotton cook so she was unable to make a palatable drugged chocolate mousse so ROsemary doesn't eat most of it leaving her half awake during the assault.

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Stephen King wrote of Ira Levin's original novel(which screenwriter Polanski translated almost verbatim to the screen -- he thought he was supposed to) was written "like a fine Swiss watch" in its precision and plotting. Everything fits.

The Stepford Wives was perhaps a bit too transparent in its ideas -- though the idea of men who would prefer pretty sexual robots as wives had its "weight" -- to match RB.

I would here like to point out that a late Ira Levin novel called "Sliver" was almost as good as RB, and would have made a great movie -- but was instead re-written by bonehead sex mystery screenwriter Joe Esterhas("The worst high-paid screenwriter in movie history") into another version of "Basic Instinct." Somebody should REALLY film that book.



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One reason that Hitchcock would pass on RB is that he did not like to do adaptations of well known books which would require faithfulness (as Polanski certainly was).

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Again, I read that Polanski literally thought he was "legally bound" to reproduce the book directly on screen, right down to certain magazines mentioned in the book.

Hitchcock, indeed, said somewhere that a well known book was "perfected as a book" -- that was its medium -- and shouldn't be made into a movie. Yet most best sellers were. I think Hitchcock only adapted two: Rebecca(a classic) and Topaz(not.)

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Wait Until Dark? Possibly, since Hitchcock had earlier faithfully adapted a play (Dial M for Murder)

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And both plays were by the same playwright -- Frederick Knott. Dial M hit in the fifties; Wait Until Dark in the sixties. The two plays even share the same first act: villain politely but inexorably blackmails accomplice into committing a crime for him (Milland recruits Swan/Lesgate; Arkin recruits Crenna and Weston.)

I suppose "Wait Until Dark" was "marked" for Hitchcock to direct from the get-go, but along the way, the rights went to Warners (Hitchcock was now on Universal contract) and with Audrey Hepburn as the star, it was impossible.

I'm glad that Hitchcock did NOT make Wait Until Dark. The movie as we have it is more hip and star-driven(true blue Hepburn versus hipster psycho Arkin) than what I think an aged Hitchcock could deliver in 1967. With a juicy Henry Mancini score -- Hitch would fire Mancini off of "Frenzy." Hitchocck's movies were "heavier and more formal" now.

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And on the subject of Hithchcock preferring suspense to shock, it's interesting how often he broke this rule while presenting a stabbing murder, besides Psycho, this happens in at least The 39 Steps, Dial M for Murder, Man Who Knew TOo Much and North by Northwest.

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Yes, I alluded to this on another thread. Strangling is the murder method used the most in Hitchcock (three of his four great psychos -- Uncle Charle, Bruno, and Rusk -- are stranglers), but he occasionally went for the knife, and got different results.

Most famously in Psycho of course, in which the knife is HUGE (its sheer size induces screams before it enters its victims) and merciless in the multiple stabbings it makes. Sheer horror...and landmark.

The thrown knife in the back in NXNW, as I've noted before, is almost "magical"(Townsend dies in milliseconds -- would that happen?) and treated as a great sight gag. But there is still dark irony FOR Townsend. He walks out to talk with a stranger and, in seconds, is dead, not knowing why as he dies.

The stabbing in Man Who Knew Too Much is pretty brutal by 1956 standards, and has that horrible lingering effect of the victim desperately trying to reach the knife in his back and failing(it would be impossible to pull the knife out, anyway, and the stab is irrevocably fatal.)

In Dial M, how Swan falls backwards on the scissors in his back and thrust them high into his back(and heart?) must have been a big shockeroo in 1954. I can hear the audience scream, and I wasn't there. I've said it before: Psycho didn't have the first violent murders in Hitchocck. He'd been doing them for quite some time, but in more innocent times. the 39 Steps, Lifeboat, Rope, Strangers on a Train, Dial M -- brutal in their time(and the Rear Window dismemberment is horror in our minds.)


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As I recall, the previous tenant was being punished for threatiening to leave the coven. The girl living with the Castevets was the first candidate for carrying Satan's child but ROman told her in advance and she committed suicide.

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As I recall, the previous tenant was being punished for threatiening to leave the coven. The girl living with the Castevets was the first candidate for carrying Satan's child but ROman told her in advance and she committed suicide.

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Hah...I just said that I just watched RB...and I still missed the first detail. This is why I still go to movies at the theater often..watching at home, my mind drifts.

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Guy's rational explanation that he didn't want to pass up "baby night" and had his way with a comatose Rosemary would qualify as a sexual assault.
These days certainly this is the detail that plays as the core of the movie. That is, what R'sB is *really* about is male subversion of a women's autonomy and her choices about her own body, with when to have sex and when to get and stay pregnant as the absolute paradigms. Until about 10 years ago I'd say that that's *not* how people tended to describe R'sB's big theme, rather they'd say something like "R'sB is about the abstract fear of pregnancy, of loss of control, etc.'" Nowadays that kind of abstract reading looks evasive: rather the film and book are explicitly about the concrete threat that Patriarchy poses to women's agency. Really Patriarchy is just *like* a vast Satanic cult/conspiracy that almost everyone (men and women alike) is complicit in to some degree. R'sB just literalizes that.

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...and Levin would take up that theme even more strongly, yes, in Stepford Wives? In which the menfolk group together to pretty much expunge the "real" women and replace them with sex-crazed housewife hottie robots that don't give them any guff?

Which triggers one trivia story:

William Goldman adapted "Stepford Wives" for the screen, and was demoralized when the film's director, Bryan Forbes, elected to cast his actress wife, Nanette Newman, as one of the Stepford Wives. The actress was pretty enough, but older than the other Stepford Wives and not as va-va-voom. There are production photos of all The Stepford Wives in which the director's wife "stands out" as needing a dress with sleeves to cover her older arms and having less cleavage than the other women. But, said Goldman, it had been very hard to get a director FOR The Stepford Wives, so the "lesser actress" was allowed. (And ain't this a sexist story on its own terms?)

Which triggers another Ira Levin movie anecdote: back to Rosemary's Baby:

John Cassavetes took the role of Guy pretty much for the reason he took all acting roles: for the money to make his own avant-garde, actor-heavy, improv-heavy movies of his own (Shadows, Faces).

Roman Polanski was a meticulous director of production and script (see Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown) and clashed often with Cassavetes as his actor, at one point raging at Cassavetes: "And you keep trying to pass yourself off AS a movie director! You don't make real movies! You know nothing about being a REAL director!"

Or something like that. And Cassavetes' response was not recorded for posterity.

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...and Levin would take up that theme even more strongly, yes, in Stepford Wives?
Absolutely. As a corollary, note how the reputation of The Stepford Wives (1975) has soared in recent decades. Original reviews of it were pretty dismissive - and sorely misunderstanding, often accusing TSW of being anti-feminist! - and it wasn't a hit, but subsequent generations have connected with it very strongly (including me, e.g., here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhP8X9Fz7b8). R'sB and TSW *both* speak more clearly than ever to new generations, e.g.,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U_z4RPdKi4
and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubNKSgdT1FQ

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Absolutely. As a corollary, note how the reputation of The Stepford Wives (1975) has soared in recent decades. Original reviews of it were pretty dismissive - and sorely misunderstanding, often accusing TSW of being anti-feminist! -

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Say what? Well, sorry to say that some film critics of some eras didn't have too much on the ball...

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and it wasn't a hit

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As I recall, it came out in February, kind of a minor film even for the gritty 70's. And in this case, the gd POSTER gave away the plot: A "robot head" on its side, of Katherine Ross.

Though I suppose by giving away the plot in the poster, the filmmakers were saying: "We want you to know from the get go what the conspiracy is, here...and just watch in horror as it overtakes living women you come to love and admire."

Truth be told, as a movie, The Stepford Wives is another "70's downer" in which the bad guys win and in this one, they are all bad GUYS. (I loved the concept that Patrick O'Neal's character had been a designer of those Disneyland robots, like Lincoln.) Even Rosemary's Baby seemed to suggest that motherhood would out. The Stepford Wives ended in defeat.

I recall Nicole Kidman doing a remake some years ago -- the 2000's? -- with Bette Midler severely miscast in the Paula Prentiss role, and with the whole thing collapsing in cute comedy at the end. I can't remember anything other than being appalled at what they had done to it.

Interesting YouTube studies....

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Actually, Newman and Tina Louise are the same age--though IMDb says Newman was in her mid 40's. And Louise has always looked good for her age (at least, back then). Reportedly, some serious ruckus occurred by changing the screenplay from the robot-wives wearing mini-skirts to long dresses for Newman's sake (her body could not pass off a mini-skirt), along with Bobbi originally killing Joanne, robot-Joanne killing Joanne, etc.

I wonder if some of Tina Louise's scenes were cut, since she gets relatively decent billing, but not much screen time. I thought this seemed liked it could had been her comeback-year (though, unlikely) since she also did many Tv films around that same year. I have noticed something about Tina Louise's acting, which seems too frequent to be scripted or a coincidence; she repeats her last line in a scene. She did it in TSW ("he never loved me"); Friendships, Secrets and Lies ("you're not my friend!"); Night Scream ("a man wouldn't do that!")

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Actually, Newman and Tina Louise are the same age--thigh IMDb says Newman was in her mid 40's. And Louise has always looked good for her age (at least, back then).

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Well, I was working from William Goldman's story...but I suppose age wasn't the issue so much as "va va voomness," which Tina Louise had for quite some time.

(Speaking of which, on topic, Psycho's own Arbogast -- Martin Balsam, in 1970 got to play a comedy sex scene with Tina Louise. He was playing a Western town Mayor, she was some local femme fatale. I recall a little nudity on Louise's part and that Balsam -- while first comically interrupted -- actually did get to score with Louise later in the picture. Perhaps Balsam liked THIS role better than Arbogast . (The film is "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys" with Bob Mitchum and George Kennedy in the lead.s)

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Reportedly, some serious ruckus occurred by changing the screenplay from the robot-wives wearing mini-skirts to long dresses for Newman's sake (her body could not pass off a mini-skirt),

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Aha....but didn't some of them get to wear tennis dresses?

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along with Bobbi originally killing Joanne, robot-Joanne killing Joanne, etc.

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This I did not know...I have not read the novel. Changes are often made.

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I wonder if some of Tina Louise's scenes were cut, since she gets relatively decent billing, but not much screen time.

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This sometimes happens when "the star needs to be protected." (In this case, Katharine Ross.)

Famously, the hottie playing Lauren Bacall's crazy sister in The Big Sleep was cut out of much of the picture -- she was stealing it from Bacall, looks wise.

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thought this seemed liked it could had been her comeback-year (though, unlikely) since she also did many Tv films around that same year.

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Tina Louise seemed to curse Gilligan's Island (which she once called "a TV show about a movie star stranded on a deserted island with some other people"), but she worked. The Good Guys and the Bad Guy with Balsam, I surely remember.

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I have noticed something about Tina Louise's acting, which seems too frequent to be scripted or a coincidence; she repeats her last line in a scene. She did it in TSW ("he never loved me"); Friendships, Secrets and Lies ("you're not my friend!"); Night Scream ("a man wouldn't do that!")

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Hmm...well a lot of actors have their "tics."

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I never got Katherine Ross (though a decent actress), in spite of her two Oscar noms. Though, she was raised in Hollywood, I believe, and that's one asset for an aspiring actor, regardless if they have to prove themselves.
With the Stepford Wives, I didn't fully-believe Ross in the climatic scene with the psychiatrist; she seemed almost "there" in her acting, but didn't quite have the intensity required.

1967 would be a double-whammy for Patty Duke, which relates to Ross. Duke was offered and declined The Graduate -=and think she would had been a better fit for a couple of reasons-- yet strongly campaigned for Valley of the Dolls. Ouch.

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I never got Katherine Ross (though a decent actress), in spite of her two Oscar noms.

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Well, she was "right place, right time" as Hollywood needed to find some new blood in both the male and female ranks of stardom.

Being in "The Graduate" and "Butch Cassidy" almost back to back made her a star. Like being in Goodbye Columbus and Love Story back to back did it for Ali MacGraw. In both cases, I think it was the box office rather than their talent that made them stars. Then Hollywood got tough and took the stardom away.

Anecdote: my mother was opinionated about movies and movie stars, and she didn't much like the new ones of the 70's. I remember her saying that Ross "looks like a man." I don't think so, myself, but mother's opinions linger. As she said of Psycho: "The first half hour was the most boring movie I've ever seen, and the rest was the most sick movie I've ever seen." Yet still, I loved her. She was my mother,after all. (Oh, of Jack Nicholson she said, "He looks weird and talks in a constant monotone." Though she loved Robert Redford.)

Anecdote: Between The Graduate and Butch, Ross was with Vera Miles supporting John Wayne in a rare non-Western for the Duke, "Hellfighters" (about modern day oil well firefighters.) At a press conference, Ross said "this is the biggest piece of crap I've ever been in." Vera Miles stepped in with "Oh, I've been in a lot bigger pieces of crap than this one."

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Though, she (Ross) raised in Hollywood, I believe, and that's one asset for an aspiring actor, regardless if they have to prove themselves.

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I think that's true. A lot of actors grew up in Hollywood and thus didn't have to make the long journey from somewhere else to get a career going. They could audition after school. For some reason, Carol Burnett and Richard Dreyfuss come to mind.

And some were in acting families. Sally Field was raised in a family where her stepdad was Jock Hamilton, a lower-rung handsome TV star(Yancy Derringer), but enough of a star to point her to agents and guide her career(and, alleges Field in a recent autobio, to molest her along the way.) Tough town.

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With the Stepford Wives, I didn't fully-believe Ross in the climatic scene with the psychiatrist; she seemed almost "there" in her acting, but didn't quite have the intensity required.

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Been awhile since I've seen the movie, but I do remember that scene. I don't particularly remember Ross "carrying the angst" as well as Farrow in Rosemary's Baby...but then neither of them got an Oscar nom. BTW, Jane Fonda was first announced for The Stepford Wives, but in the 70's , Fonda lost a lot of roles. On the other hand, she was OFFERED Chinatown, but turned it down.

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1967 would be a double-whammy for Patty Duke, which relates to Ross. Duke was offered and declined The Graduate

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I did not know that!

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-=and think she would had been a better fit for a couple of reasons--

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Because "she didn't look like a man?" (Nod to mother.)

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yet strongly campaigned for Valley of the Dolls. Ouch.

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Well, smutty or not, Valley of the Dolls was a big deal at the time. What a mistake though...actors and actresses have a tough lot, having to pick scripts without picturing the movie to emerge. Though a number of them have said that they KNEW, when reading certain scripts, that they were looking at a hit and possible Oscar: Nicholson with Terms of Endearment; Willis with The Sixth Sense; Newman with Butch Cassidy.

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Patty Duke is on my short little list of celebrities who I have met. We had a business lunch together, she was representing SAG and I was connected with a company working with SAG on a business project.

I was a little nervous, given Duke's past of drugs and some mental issues. But all that was behind her. She was perfectly nice, kind and conversational. What I recall was that she took some time to praise her young actor son, Sean Astin -- who would make a name for himself, yes?

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For some reason, Carol Burnett and Richard Dreyfuss come to mind.
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You mean Burnett being raised in Hollywood to get her career going?
The twist is that Burnett had a good hunch that Hollywood would not be the place to make it, so she went to NYC at age 20, since musical-comedy seemed like her ticket to stardom--and just as importantly that most TV of a certain genre were there that kept her busy (inc.being a regular on Jack Paar).

At a press conference, Ross said "this is the biggest piece of crap I've ever been in."
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I'd say that Miss Ross was already too big for her britches. Her ungrateful comment about being in that "crap" is interesting since she was lucky to be cast, which also brings up her somewhat snarky comment about Dustin Hoffman when she met him for the Graduate, wondering why she would be interested in a man with his looks.

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For some reason, Carol Burnett and Richard Dreyfuss come to mind.
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You mean Burnett being raised in Hollywood to get her career going?
The twist is that Burnett had a good hunch that Hollywood would not be the place to make it, so she went to NYC at age 20, since musical-comedy seemed like her ticket to stardom--and just as importantly that most TV of a certain genre were there that kept her busy (inc.being a regular on Jack Paar).

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I forgot that about Burnett -- she did that Broadway play "The Princess and the Pea"(aka Once Upon a Mattress.) But: where was the Garry Moore Show filmed? I think she had a stint there(and doesn't it prove my age that I REMEMBER Garry Moore , and his sidekick Durwood Kirby -- the latter immortalized as a sandwich in Pulp Fiction.)

It is true that a lot of California actors elected to move to NYC to get their start on the Broadway or off Broadway stage. Movie studios sent scouts to Broadway, who would then "discover" these Californians and take them back to California and movies!

But people other than Californians got discovered on the Broadway stage. Tony Perkins said it was actually pretty easy to get into movies from Broadway if you were good , in a good play -- "It was the ticket." Look Homeward Angel got him his movie career. Shirley MacLaine was discovered by a Paramount scout when she went on stage as the understudy for Carol Haney in Pajama Game -- evidently the scout alerted Hitchcock and Hal Wallis simultaneously about MacLaine and she ended up in The Trouble With Harry(first) and a Martin/Lewis picture right away. Launched!

Floridan Burt Reynolds "trained" on the Broadway stage but got his start when Lee Marvin invited him to "look me up if you are in Hollywood." Reynolds did so and got a bit bad guy part on Marvin's "M Squad," and went from there.



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Dustin Hoffman, Robert Duvall, and Gene Hackman were starving Broadway buddies who got movie nods -- alas, Duvall didn't quite have the looks for stardom at first, but he got there eventually. (Hoffman and Hackman DID, actually, have good enough looks.)

I suppose its always been interesting how for actors and other show business people "the work is on the coasts": Broadway and New York based TV/Movie production at one end; Hollywood at the other. And here we had Tony Perkins flying out to rehearse a Broadway play WHILE the shower scene was being filmed, and then flying back to finish Psycho thereafter.

Back to Carol Burnett: I like a story of hers. She was a movie theater usher in Hollywood and she got fired -- for keeping a couple from entering Strangers on a Train at the end. She didn't want it spoiled for them. They complained to the manager, she got fired. But hey: she was imposing Hitchcock's "Psycho" policy nine years early!

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At a press conference, Ross said "this is the biggest piece of crap I've ever been in."
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I'd say that Miss Ross was already too big for her britches. Her ungrateful comment about being in that "crap" is interesting since she was lucky to be cast, which also brings up her somewhat snarky comment about Dustin Hoffman when she met him for the Graduate, wondering why she would be interested in a man with his looks.

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Well, it was that countercultural, hippy-dippy era and the young actors could be rather tempermental, yes? I like the piece of crap story because veteran Vera Miles(who had been in a few classic films ) stepped right up to make fun of Ross, a little bit.

Things were up and down for Ross after that.

Up: Butch Cassidy. Down: when her boyfriend, Director of Cinematography Conrad Hall, let Ross run the camera on one scene, director George Roy Hill laid down the law: Ross was banned from the set at all times unless she had a scene to shoot. On a "Butch Cassidy Making of" DVD, Ross cries while relating this, but both Redford and Newman say "sorry, but it had to be done." Evidently , Ross broke union rules. I say the Boy's Club came down on her.

Up: eventually Katherine Ross did a movie or show with macho cool voiced guy, Sam Elliott. They are still married today, I think.

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Sorry, I meant Garry Moore, not Jack Paar.
The legal debacle with her next play Fade In, Fade Out (with Tina Louise) was strange, leaving her sour on Broadway, if you've heard about it. The biography about her "Laughing Till It Hurts" is great reading, with stories such as you mentioned about being an usher and that couple.

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1967's Valley of the Dolls would beat/equal RB is that regard, I think. Sharon Tate's ecstatic sex-scene (art film) and the constant use of the word 'f&ggot'.

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@ProductionNow. Do you recommend Valley of the Dolls? I've always vaguely got the impression that it's trashy but boringly so.

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swanstep
I recommend Valley of the Dolls only if you'd like the usually-excellent Patty Duke's histrionic unintentionally-funny overacting (with some nice moments)--and along with the rest of the cast, poorly written sophomoric dialogue; silly situations played as serious; bad directing. If you would, then it's not boring.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-TXJMKVa_g (trailer)

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ecarle chimes in on Valley of the Dolls:

It was such a famous smutty novel at the time -- I recall it on tables around the homes of my parents and their friends; and Jacqueline Susann was taking seriously for awhile -- and plays as a particularly weird kind of bad movie -- the lines are terrible, and the unknown actor who plays Sharon Tate's husband, for instance, is strange looking and terrible.

Agreed on Duke...she knew how to sell it.

If I might offer a SPOILER for those who don't care:

One good, sad, tragic scene with more power than intended: Sharon Tate's character commits suicide by pills and we watch her succumb all the way to death. Its pretty good acting, you ask me, and you feel the unnecessary loss of such a nice, pretty woman. As would happen in real life, much more brutally.

PS. A shout out to the beautiful Barbara Parkins in "Dolls" -- late of Peyton Place at the time(where Mia Farrow also began) and quite distinctive in her brunette, fragile gorgeousness. She did this movie, and a few years later, she was great in The Kremlin Letter(with Boone, Sanders, Welles and everybody)...and tragic. Movie career just didn't last. I guess she wasn't that good an actress.

PPS. Jackie Susann was matched by Harold Robbins for "salacious paperbacks," and Pauline Kael rightly pointed out that if Mario Puzo's salacious novel version of The Godfather had been made "as is, for "R""...that great movie would have been merely another Harold Robbins piece.

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@ProductionNow. Well, I finally caught up with Valley of the Dolls, and have to say that I enjoyed it. Obviously, despite its supposed daring, VoTD feels very up-tight and old-fashioned compared to peer films The Graduate or Blow Up or Bonnie and Clyde, or Darling, or even something like Finding Daisy Clover, etc.. But it moves along briskly, the three central women are all pretty great and we buy their basic friendship/entanglement: each actress's quirks and limitations seemed to me to work well for her character. I had no problems with Patty Duke's Neely - she reminded me of Jennifer Jason Leigh at times with her commitment to going over-the-edge. Director Robson had some good locations and basically did a good job.... I dare say that if VotD had come out in 1957-1961 it would have much better received. In 1967 VoTD is fun but...late.

That said, Robson and co. laughed all the way to the bank in 1967: VOTD grossed the equiv. of $350 million today. Wow.

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swanstep
It was nice to hear that you saw VOTD, and I'm not sure if you thought it was good based on entertainment value or merit. I'd say the "uprightness" you mentioned had to do mostly with Mark Robson. I don't know of the well-regarded Oscar-nominated was out of touch or possibly having personal issues, since he seemed to be making Peyton Place (which he did), when VOTD already doomed with an absurd script/dialogue, needed some a hip young filmmaker or a veteran who would inject the right quality to save it.
The unassured 19 yr old Duke would comment on how very mean (which was unlike of her) he was and not being an actors' director, which is what she needed since she pushed in VOTD to make this her adult-breakthrough film; that would come a couple of years later. Yet, her miscasting/overacting (with exceptions), due to lack of directorial-guidance is the general reason why people tune in. I'd say Lee Grant came off the best, and less likely to take any gruff from Robson (assuming Duke's comments were coming from pure objectivity). Grant would also co-star in the "Best" film of that year.
Mark Robson went on to do several more films that were hit or miss, including Earthquake where, like VOTD, it seemed more about "results"--not characterization (or good characterization). So, 25M in 67-68 would equal 350M in today's ticket sales?

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So, 25M in 67-68 would equal 350M in today's ticket sales?
According to IMDb VoTD grossed $44.4 mill (but maybe that figure includes re-releases...) which inflation adjusts to $350 mill..

Anyhow, I really, non-ironically enjoyed Patty Duke. I may not be the best judge of what is and is not over-acting, but if she was overacting I think it tended to work well for Neely as an over-dramatizing Broadway baby who's probably seen Love Me or Leave Me and Star is Born and All About Eve etc. a few too many times.

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Anyhow, I really, non-ironically enjoyed Patty Duke. I may not be the best judge of what is and is not over-acting, but if she was overacting I think it tended to work well for Neely as an over-dramatizing Broadway baby who's probably seen Love Me or Leave Me and Star is Born and All About Eve etc. a few too many times.

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Its good work in a limited screenplay, a "capture," I think , of all the child stars who grow up mean and privileged to adult stardom and become monsters.

I read about them all the time, I'd never want to meet one.

What was also interesting is that while Duke had good looks at the time, she was willing to share the screen (and the movie poster) with two more beautiful women -- Sharon Tate and Barbara Parkins. Its almost as if Duke had to "act bigger" to outshine those beauties.

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Mark Robson went on to do several more films that were hit or miss, including Earthquake where, like VOTD, it seemed more about "results"--not characterization (or good characterization).

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Some "Hitchcock" connections.

Mark Robson took on Earthquake after Alfred Hitchcock turned it down. Hitchcock was housed at Universal and I guess the suits thought Hitch could make a bang up earthquake movie. But I expect he read the script and bowed right out . Its a clunky but fun movie as it is, with my memories of seeing/hearing it in "Sensurround" as cool ones. You want to copy the Sensurround experience today? Get into a Jacuzzi, turn on the jets, lower yourself below the surface and let the jets hit your ears. There, you just saw Earthquake in Sensurround.

Meanwhile: Mark Robson also directed the 1963 thriller "The Prize," with Paul Newman essentially trying to play Cary Grant's Roger Thornhill in another spy script by Ernest Lehman(NXNW.) "The Prize" was based on a more serious novel about the Nobel Prize, but Lehman turned it into a NXNW rehash, complete with some copycat scenes(Grant making trouble at an auction becomes Newman in a waist towel making trouble at a nudist convention, etc.) I used to think that Newman horribly overdid HIS version of Cary Grant(too much mugging and over-selling of the lines), but I saw the movie again about a year ago and I got used to Newman as a younger brasher version of Thornhill. Still, Robson tends to blow all the action sequences. He's no Hitchcock.

But also this: The Prize borrows from Foreign Correspondent the idea of a "replacement double for a scientist," so Lehman was remaking both NXNW and FC here.

For director Mark Robson -- who should have cut more of Lehman's clinker lilnes. Hitchcock did.

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1967's Valley of the Dolls would beat/equal RB is that regard, I think.

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The "R" rating came in November 1968, which meant it was 1969 films that really got to break loose.

But I'd say that the years 1966, 1967, and 1968 ALL saw some racy pictures being released. I've read that even before the "R" came, a lot of filmmakers started going for sex and some nudity -- they didn't fear the censors anymore, felt compelled to "push for screen freedom" -- the R HAD to follow.

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Sharon Tate's ecstatic sex-scene (art film) and the constant use of the word 'f&ggot'.

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The former is saucy, but not quite saucy enough; the latter is unfortunately found in far too many films of the sixties and early seventies -- as if the "R" was allowing it as if it were a cuss word rather than a bigoted insult. Its really right up there with the "n" word, and it was used far more often in movies unfortunately.

And by actors and directors of the time. They left behind some embarrassing interviews, like Billy Wilder saying "if Sinatra took his stardom seriously, he'd make all the other actors look like....(f..gots).

Speaking of Sinatra and gays...the 1968 movie The Detective was pretty bad. The opening discussion of the killing of a gay man was ...grotesque in its imagery. Ensuing scenes WITH gay men were...terrible.

The Detective came out the same time as Rosemary's Baby. RB cleaned The Detective's clock at the box office. Since Sinatra's lawyer had served Mia Farrow with divorce papers on the set of Rosemary's Baby(for not quitting that movie to join him in The Detective) Mia wanted sweet revenge: a full page ad in Variety comparing the grosses of Rosemary's Baby to The Detective. Paramount Chief Bob Evans said "no can do.")

More trivia: Sinatra's middle-aged detective in The Detective was given a sequel in a novel that became the movie Die Hard. Bruce Willis in for Sinatra. Jersey boys?

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I just watched it for the first time. I’ve seeb clips and even the remake from the 90s. At the end of the movie all I could think was WOW! I was blown away. It was great and the shower scene my goodness it was disturbing! I have no more words but WOW

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It's a good movie. If you get a chance, check out Redlettermedia's Re-View of the series. It got me to check out the sequel. Jennifer Tilly was surprisingly good.

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I don't think a 4 star rated film with Oscar noms is underrated.
However, I remember the film-critics' books from the 1960's where PSYCHO received 3*, at best. (and The Birds received 2 1/2*)

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I don't think a 4 star rated film with Oscar noms is underrated.
However, I remember the film-critics' books from the 1960's where PSYCHO received 3*, at best. (and The Birds received 2 1/2*)
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Yes, I think that was a time when neither Hitchcock nor horror were much taken seriously in film guides. They needed time to become classics...and I think The Birds was rather "bootstrapped up" WITH Psycho...given that the latter film ended up a bigger hit and demonstrably a more profound movie.

Those star rankings always feel sorta "right" nowadays, don't they? In Hitchcock, Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, NXNW...all get four stars. Something like To Catch a Thief gets three. And even the "worst" of Hitchcock usually bottoms out at two stars (Torn Curtain, Topaz)...though I have seen both of those films with three stars in recent years. They deserve three. Hitchcock brought things to both movies that most movies don't have.

My late breaking favorite, Frenzy, seems to sometimes get four, sometimes three, sometimes the very helpful "three and a half stars"(better than three, almost there...to a four.)

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Simply, I think the term underrated (and overrated) is too often used-- when it's more that they are over/under-hyped regarding their merit and where they fall on a list of best films. And the older the film seems to be, the lower it falls on the given list, with exceptions. It's similair to some actors being described as underrated, instead of the more accurate "under-used".

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Simply, I think the term underrated (and overrated) is too often used-- when it's more that they are over/under-hyped regarding their merit and where they fall on a list of best films.

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Well it seems that all films called "great"(including Psycho, The Godfather, and Pulp Fiction) end up getting called overrated as time goes on; and "underrated films" are usually ones that people find "under the radar" that weren't awarded Oscars or big box office. Although sometimes a big blockbuster can be UNDERrated --- like some of the Marvel movies.

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And the older the film seems to be, the lower it falls on the given list, with exceptions.

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This is why Psycho and a few others are big deals, you ask me. They can STILL play the local multiplex as part of "Cinemark Classics." Very few movies from long ago get that honor. And Psycho is farther back than, say, Ghostbusters, and has fewer peer 1960 movies playing in the Classics Series. (Only The Apartment and Spartacus come to mind.)

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It's similair to some actors being described as underrated, instead of the more accurate "under-used".

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Well we know who is OVERused...hello, Sam Jackson.

I suppose way back in my younger days, I always felt that Richard Boone was underused. I thought he was great in anything he did after 1963, save a few low budget monstrosities in the 70's. But he just wasn't used.

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Indiewire has just published (for Halloween) their list of Top 100 Horror Films:
https://tinyurl.com/y9n5fnwg
Psycho comes in at #6.
#5 Halloween
#4 The Exorcist
#3 Rosemary's Baby
#2 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
#1 The Shining

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Psycho comes in at #6.
#5 Halloween
#4 The Exorcist
#3 Rosemary's Baby
#2 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
#1 The Shining

Poor ol' Psycho. Starting to look and feel too old and tame to compete. Well, I think it is a better film than those five above it, if not necessarily as scary as some of them.

Halloween lacks the cinematics, characters, performances and dialogue of Psycho. Ditto Chainsaw massacre. Rosemary's Baby lacks the set-pieces and shock. The Exorcist -- probably the closest one there in terms of MAINSTREAM popularity....just felt rather dull and gross to me on release(with child abuse on screen too disturbingly "real.") No real jump shocks in that one, either.

Which leaves The Shining. Something about it felt disappointing on release -- as if Kubrick, King and Nicholson should have come up with something more "classic" and scary. I also find the finale (Jack running around desperately in the snowy maze) to be rather "anti-climactic," nothing on par with the fruit cellar shocker that climaxes Psycho. And -- process shot or no process shot -- Martin Balsam getting it on the stairs was far more cinematic and dazzling than Scatman Crothers getting it in the lobby.

The LA Times critic wrote of The Shining in 1980: "It is too much of an art film for horror movie buffs, and too much of a horror movie for art film buffs."

But I like The Shining on its own, arty, fantastic yet realistic terms. The whole scene where Jack stalks his wife all the way across the floor and all the way up the stairs is a model of misogynistic horror-hilarity ("I'm not gonna hurtcha, Wendy...I'm just gonna bash your brains in") that ends with the wimpy woman triumphant("Gimme the bat, Wendy!" and she DOES). The superslow, oh-so-precise dialogue between Jack and the Butler in the bathroom ("I ...corrected them.") -- masterly. Ditto Jack's wacky bar banter with the bartender, Lloyd. How Lloyd and the Butler are PLAYED by their respective actors is the stuff of magnetic screen work.

Yes, The Shining has grown on me over the years. And I'm a big Jack Nicholson fan, and I think his hammery was just right for this movie. But it still can't beat Psycho for power and precision.

PS. I also give The Shining points for having the "second best setting for horror" after Psycho. The motel and Gothic house combo in Psycho will never be beaten, but the empty hundred-plus-room hotel in the snowed out middle of nowhere in The Shining is a damn good second place.

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This reminds me -- we are in the month of October, of Halloween and scares. Though frankly, what was once a time for TV to play elegant horror oldies like Frankenstein and Dracula and even Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein, is now a time of blood, gore and guts movies, 24/7. Halloween has lost its charm, its all viscera now. The age we live in!

That said, a few elegant scare films sneak in. Psycho will likely get screened somewhere. I recall seeing it at a college on Halloween Day about 10 years ago(this was not my famous-to-me 1979 college showing where everybody screamed, at this one, NOBODY screamed.)

Psycho is MY Halloween movie. If it isn't broadcast, I'll probably watch it on DVD.

Last year on Halloween, I showed it to a group of teenagers , who were most appreciative of the scare scenes(Arbogast getting it was their favorite) and rather honored the film as something they knew they should see. Or maybe they were just humoring me.

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Halloween lacks the cinematics, characters, performances and dialogue of Psycho. Ditto Chainsaw massacre. Rosemary's Baby lacks the set-pieces and shock. The Exorcist -- probably the closest one there in terms of MAINSTREAM popularity....just felt rather dull and gross to me on release(with child abuse on screen too disturbingly "real.") No real jump shocks in that one, either.
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Gotta debate that, ecarle. I found some eye-catching set pieces in RB: Farrow's claustrophobic near-hysteria scene in the phone booth; the elevator-scene where she cannot quite reach the right level; the knife hitting Minnie's floor perpendicular after entering that room of evil oddballs; Mia slowly figuring the scrabble-board; the shock of her (and us) trusting the doctor who would betray her. Unless you would refer to those as "shots", rather than set-pieces.

The Exorcist was never dull to me, and had waiting for the next scene, and was quickly-paced. Blair coming out of nowhere with obscenities and physical-assaults was very much a jolt; you never knew what she/the demon was going to do next (the mark of an excellent actor, btw). I think you basically dislike the blatant narrative of the film where the shocks were too "easy" to deliver, so to speak.

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Slant Magazine recently updated its top 100 horrors list:
https://tinyurl.com/y92pmkuf
Psycho falls to #5 (from #2 back in 2013)
#4 Rosemary's Baby (down from #3)
#3 The Shining (up from #6)
#2 Night of the Living Dead (up from #8)
#1 Texas Chainsaw (unchanged)

Suspiria and Carrie fell out of the top 5 to make way for The Shining & NotLD.

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