The Little Hitchcock Film That Could

Have you seen the film Hitchcock? The movie stars Anthony Hopkins in the lead role with Helen Mirren playing his wife, Alma. It’s the love story between Alfred and his wife during the tumultuous filming of his epic movie, Psycho.

I had no idea that Hollywood refused to back Hitchcock on the release of Psycho. They wouldn’t even finance it. Hitch and his wife put their own house on the line to produce the funds needed to make Psycho. The producers wanted another North by Northwest, and who could blame them? It’s my favorite Hitchcock movie too. Or didn’t you know I’m obsessed with Cary Grant?

Already in his 60’s, Alfred Hitchcock became obsessed with telling the story of Psycho after reading the book by Robert Bloch. The book and film are based on the real life of Wisconsin psychopath, Ed Gein. He is also the basis for the killer, Buffalo Bill, in Silence of the Lambs. A real creepy guy. My friend Catie Rhodes wrote a blog about Ed Gein a year ago. You can read it here.

When everyone else thought Psycho would flop, when the censorship bureau was breathing down Hitch’s neck, and when his marriage was brought to the breaking point, Hitch didn’t stop. He made his movie and he made it his way. Psycho pushed boundaries at its 1960 release. It hinted nudity and it showed pretty graphic violence for its day. It was also the biggest film of Alfred Hitchcock’s career.

What was so inspiring to me about this film is realizing how brave Alfred Hitchcock was. He believed in his story and he believed in his ability to create it. Just because someone told him no, he didn’t stop. And he was an incredible marketer.

Do you know they thought Psycho would only run one show and be done in the theaters? Well, Mr. Hitchcock wrote and distributed a pamphlet on how to promote Psycho. In it, he advised theater management to bring in security to hold back rowdy crowds. He demanded strict time management upon movie goers allowing no late admittance and warning security that some may run out of the theater due to disturbing images. His self created uprising over the film ensured NO ONE would miss it! Audiences fled to the theaters and the rest is history!

So whether you’re a New York Times Bestselling Author or your writing the first draft of your novel in your crappy apartment above a fertilizer plant, I don’t care what anyone says, you just TELL YOUR STORY! Who knows, you could be the next big thing!

Hitchcock Movie Trailer

Psycho Movie Trailer

What Hitchcock movie is your favorite? Do you remember the first time you saw Psycho? I know I freaked out at the ending! Have you read Bloch’s book? It’s also uber creepy!

How do you stay motivated when someone tells you no?

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48 responses

  1. Life is a series of “no’s.” However, if you don’t ask, you will never get to “yes.”

    That is very impressive that he was that passionate about making this film that he defied all odds to make it happen. Especially since he was already a commercial success (I imagine) and didn’t really need to push any boundaries. In today’s market, he might have just made North by Northwest II: Northwester!!

    1. Did you know he was never even nominated for an Oscar? I can’t believe that! He was awarded the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement award though.

      Wanna come over for a Hitchcock marathon? I’m gonna rent Northwester. Sounds classy.

      1. Well, if we are going to have a marathon, might as well do it right by getting the trilogy. Make sure you pick up The NORTHW3STIEST as well!! Not to give anything away here, but I’m pretty sure that’s when Cary Grant finds out that Darth Vader is actually his father.

        1. And Eva Marie Saint is ACTUALLY his sister! *dramatic music plays*

          Scandalous!

        2. Oops, I lied. I just IMDB’d Mr. Hitchcock to check myself and I was wrong. He’d been NOMINATED 5 times for Best Director (including Psycho – it was his last nomination) at the Oscars, but he never won. That seems crazy. I will now research every movie that beat him and report back.

  2. I had no idea about Hollywood and Hitchcock’s Psycho either. People making the decisions always mess up.

    1. They wanted safe. I can’t get over that Hitchcock was already in his 60’s when he made Psycho and The Birds!

  3. Love, love, love Hitchcock and all his movies! Have to say that The Birds was my favorite with Psycho almost tied for 1st place. I didn’t know about the movie moguls not backing him – makes me love him all the more for going with his gut and doing whatever he had to do.
    If i truly believe I know what’s right for me to do, I never take no for an answer – too stubborn!
    Loved this post, my friend. I miss you, Jessi-girl!

    1. Oh Marcia, I miss YOU!!! But please don’t talk about ‘guts’. I made the mistake of clicking Catie’s link to the Ed Gein crime scene photos. Big Mistake.

      Stay stubborn! I love you for it!

  4. Psycho wasn’t my favorite of his movies. I did enjoy almost all of the others. But now you have me curious. I am going to have to rent Hitchcock.

    1. Enjoy it! I thought Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren were fabulous in it! You’ll recognize a lot of other names in it too. Scarlett Johanssen plays Janet Leigh, Toni Collette plays Hitch’s assistant, and Jessica Biel plays Vera Miles.

  5. North by Northwest is my favorite – I’m also Cary Grant obsessed! But for creepiness, I love The Birds. There’s something about that film that gives me nightmares whenever I watch it.

    1. Another fun fact for you: You know the slasher music they play over the shower scene in Psycho? Hitch didn’t want any music. It was Alma who played it for him and convinced him it would heighten the emotion. Can you imagine any slasher flick without that kind of music now?

  6. I need to watch this.. I absolutely love Psycho. It’s probably my favorite. AND, I’ve been catching up on Bates Motel just for you, Jess… I’m glad it’s coming back for a 2nd season. I know Hitchcock didn’t write these episodes, but it is so nice to see the character development back when Crazy Mrs. Bates was still around tormenting Norman. It explains a LOT. πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, and do you watch Psych? One of my FAVORITE episodes all time is a tribute to the great HItchcock films… if you haven’t seen it, you should. As a Hitchcock fan, you will love it. Even if you don’t really know the history behind the Psych characters. πŸ™‚

      It’s #2… http://tiffanyawhite.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/a-rerun-of-the-tour-de-psych/

      1. Yay! I’m so happy you’re watching Bates Motel just for me! It is creepy and having only thought of Freddy Highmore in rolls like Charlie from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, he plays a pretty eerie Norman Bates! And yes, the show does explain A LOT.

        I’ll check out that Psych episode, is it available on DVD or online now?

  7. Psycho isn’t my favorite Hitchcock film, but it’s good (and creepy!). North by Northwest is, hands down, one of my favorite films of all time – and clearly my favorite Hitchcock flick. I also like The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rear Window, Vertigo, and The Rope. Ahhh, almost any Hitchcock film is worth watching by my standards! This post is quite interesting and enlightening, I really enjoyed it!

    1. Oh! And Dial M for Murder – almost forgot that one!

      1. I have to think now whether I’ve seen Dial M for Murder. I know what the cover looks like, but if I have seen it, it’s been way too long. I’ll pick that one up at the library next time I go.

        My fave is also North By Northwest, but I’m a HUGE fan of Rebecca as well. I pretend that my inner editor is the voice of Mrs. Danvers. “Go on…it’s eeeeeeasy. Why don’t you?” *shudder* She must be stopped!

        1. Oh, Rebecca! I meant to add that, too. Love the book and the movie! And, isn’t there another one starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelley – is it To Catch a Thief? I love that one, too!

          1. Yes! To Catch a Thief. But my favorite Cary Grant film is An Affair to Remember, not by Hitchcock but it made me cry. And you gotta love a teenager Shirley Temple starring opposite him in The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.

  8. Mmmm….Cary Grant. Lurve him! He was my sexy leading man ideal. As for Hitchcock (Would you believe for a second I thought you asked if we’d seen Hancock? LOL), I think North By Northwest may have been my favorite. I never saw Psycho…too scary for me, but hubby loved it.

    1. Never seen Psycho? I’m sensing a movie night in your future! Or start watching Bates Motel with Tiffany and I. I am loving that new show!

      1. LOL! Nope, never seen it. My adrenaline starts pumping out in overtime at even the hint of something scary. Of course, I can do suspense just fine. (Strange, since they can often be a fine line, right?)

  9. Thanks for linking to my blog. Asking which Hitchcock is my favorite is like asking me which dessert is my favorite! Can I narrow it down to three?

    Rebecca (beautifully filmed, still as haunting today as the first time I watched)
    North by Northwest (the MacGuffin, the MacGuffin–I want to use this device so bad)
    Psycho (each time I watch this, I see another fantastic use of cinematography to convey story, to manipulate perception, to create emotion)

    But…Rear Window gets my honorable mention. πŸ˜‰

    1. Your Ed Gein post was soooo creepy, Catie! But thank you for your extensive research. I know I’d read it when you originally posted, but I had forgotten that he grew up in La Crosse. That’s where I live! Yikes!

      And I LOVE Rebecca! Awesome film!

  10. It’s difficult for me to select a favorite. I think three of his most suspenseful were North by Northwest, Psycho and you might be surprised when I say, The Birds. Enjoyed your post! πŸ˜€

    1. I like The Birds too. I don’t think it’s as suspenseful as some of his others, but once you get into it it’s eerie. Plus my mom has a fear of birds flying too close over her head so I know she’s scared by that movie.

      Does make you wonder when you see a whole flock of them just hanging out…maybe I should walk on the other side of the street. Just in case.

      1. I saw the Birds when it first came out, and that little side of me that loved Godzilla in the 50’s and Stephen King and Anne Rice in the 70’s brought out the same creepy wonderful feeling for me in the 60’s with the Birds. Ewwwwwww! I have actually had birds all my life: parakeets, lovebirds, cockatiels, etc., but they never behave quite like Hitch’s birds. That movie was filmed in Bodega Bay, California — just north of San Francisco on the coast, and close to where I live. My husband and I RV there 2-3 times a year (with our birds in tow, and kitten and pug), and love it. We just got back two days ago, and noticed the tourist “The Birds” memoribilia available all over town even all these decades later…

        1. That is SO cool! I would taking pictures everywhere. Glad you made it back safe despite birds traveling with you. They must be good ones. Lol

  11. Rear Window is my favorite, but there isn’t a bad one among the lot. I also think that Marnie and Frenzy don’t get enough play. Hitchcock was brilliant.

    Thanks, Jess! I wasn’t aware of that film about him.

    By the way, Cary Grant never won an Academy Award, other than the honorary one. I think he made his acting look so easy that people didn’t realize how good he really was.

    1. I do love me some Cary Grant. Did you know his real name was Archibald Leach? Gag! Sometimes a “pen name” is a good thing. But he makes a joke about it in His Girl Friday referring to a guy he hates as Archie Leach.

      1. Yes! And I remember that comment in the movie. It’s like a throwaway line, but it’s so funny if you know his real name. πŸ™‚

        (I love Cary Grant too! To Catch a Thief, North by Northwest, Suspicion, Notorious.)

        1. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse!

          1. I love that one too! LOL. We need to have a CaryFest at our next conference.

  12. How inspiring! I didn’t know all that, but Psycho is one of my all time favorites. Of course I love just about anything from Hitchcock. What a remarkable man. And what a great lesson for us all – to believe in ourselves.

    1. I completely agree Rhonda! I was very inspired. And creeped out. Hopkins portrays him as a very intense man. And really haunted while filming this movie.

  13. I enjoy North by Northwest, but then I’m a fellow Cary Grant fangirl. (Who knew?) Anyway, you may think I was raised under a rock, but I’ve never seen Psycho. Is that the movie with the infamous shower scene with the girl being murdered by a knife-wielding crazy guy? If so, that’s all I know about the flick. I’m not a horror fan, no matter how well crafted the movie. I really enjoyed your message in this post, though. We should never give up. πŸ™‚

    1. You and Kitt Crescendo need to schedule a movie date and watch Psycho. You can both sit on the couch with all the lights on in broad daylight, but Catie Rhodes and I will still be hiding behind the couch waiting to totally make you girls scream. heehee

  14. […] of Calvin and Hobbes) and share them here. Today’s inspiration came from a recent post from Jess Witkins, who wrote about the brilliance of Alfred […]

  15. I haven’t seen Hitchcock OR North By Northwest, but Psycho is a classic. Still, if you’re asking us to choose our favorite Hitchcock film then I’d have to go with Rear Window despite the simple flaw in the premise: everything could have been avoided if the killer had simply closed his blinds.

    Off to read Catie’s blog as I’m keenly interested in murdering, villainous, cannibalistic serial killers. I mean, who isn’t, right?

    1. You HAVE to have a movie night and watch North By Northwest!

      Catie’s post is amazing, just look at the crime scene photos at your own risk. They are disturbing.

      1. It was the first thing I clicked on, lol. Three words: rotten dot com. I’ve seen worse.

        I didn’t see any way to leave a comment there, though.

  16. Don’t kill me, but I’ve never seen Hitchock’s films! I remember seeing parts of The Birds and am forever traumatized by it. I do want to see the the film Hitchcock. Superb acting and none of the super scary stuff. I’m such a wimp!

    1. Tameri, I’m shocked and appalled!

      Well, you better see Hitchcock then!

  17. Fun post, Jess! I’m adding Hitchcock to my watch list. I love what you said about the man’s bravery. πŸ™‚

    Hmm… “No” very often motivates me. LOL But my preferred fuel is passion.

    1. Stay tuned! More to come tomorrow! All this talk about Hitchcock got me revved up.

  18. […] more Hitchcock fun, check out my post about the recently released film, Hitchcock – the story of his life while making […]

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