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A Long Hard Look at Psycho (2002) by Raymond Durgnat

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In an American Film Institute poll in 2001, Psycho was voted the greatest thriller of all time. Its scenes and characters are among the most iconic in all cinema. Alfred Hitchcock was prompted to make Psycho after seeing Clouzot's Les Diaboliques (1954), which took the thriller genre to a new level of shock-value. Not to be undone, Hitchcock adapted a pulp novel by Robert Bloch with a view to pulling off an unprecedented feat of audience manipulation. The result was a triumph, the talk of the moviegoing world in 1960. But most of the talk, then and since, has been about the twist. In spite of the widespread acknowledgment of Hitchcock's and his collaborators' achievements on Psycho, its complexity and sophistication as cinema aren't fully appreciated. In this book, Raymond Durgnat shows the extent of the achievement. In a meticulous analysis, he explores all the elements that make up this remarkable film. He also develops various lines of argument -- about spectatorship, Hollywood narrative codes, psychoanalysis, editing and shot-composition, among other themes--that amount to a reinvention of cinema studies. With more than 150 illustrations, A Long Hard Look at Psycho is likely to become the definitive book on its subject and an indispensible contribution to the study of Hitchcock.


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