78/52

The most famous murder scene in movie history comprises 78 camera settings and 52 cuts: the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. 78/52 tells the story of the man behind the curtain and his greatest obsession.

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  • ★★★½ review by Caitlin on Letterboxd

    this was Good and the director was there which was Cool and he did a q&a afterwards and that was Nice but enough is enough. I must speak my truth. I would like to know what business Norman Bates had being that hot

  • ★★★★ review by Allison M. on Letterboxd

    Pretty good documentary that explores the "shower scene" in Hitchcock's Psycho within the context of his films and others'.

    There were a ton of things I hadn't thought of before, including the fight scene in Raging Bull was staged like the shower scene in Psycho.

    Really, you have people from Peter Bogdanovitch to Elijah Wood talking about the scene as well as the editor from the Psycho remake.

    Overall, a great film for anyone remotely interested in Hitchcock or Psycho.

    Vegan POV: a non meat eater describes how they stabbed a raw steak as well as melons combining both to create the sound effects for the shower scene. The non meat eater said it made him feel nauseous to talk about.

  • ★★★½ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd

    Prepare to be drowned in Psycho minutia. Full review at ScreenCrush.

  • ★★★½ review by loureviews on Letterboxd

    In its analysis of Psycho's shower scene (78 camera shots, 52 cuts), the love of cinema is obvious, but so is the loss of cinema of this type.

    Sure, Hitchcock probably planned this few seconds of films to the nth degree, but these days film analysis has led to a number of directors who simply make movies to show how clever they are, without bringing that much that is new to the party.

    Psycho took inspiration from European pictures and latent misogyny to present the shocker that was the domestic murder of the leading lady. Using his actress, Janet Leigh, a body double, a staccato score, a fair dollop of chocolate sauce, and the tightest of editing, Hitchcock and his team pushed the boundaries of accepted horror fare to - in his own words - cause the audience in the cinema to scream in shock as they would on a rollercoaster.

    The film came into a world where times were a changin', where you had to see it from the start and not reveal the ending. For an audience back then it must have been terrifying, and this film picks and unpicks how the effect was made.

    Some talking heads are better than others - cut Elijah Wood and his mates, who clearly know next to nothing. The film is made in black and white. We see frame by frame by frame as beautiful Janet Leigh does not do what you expect her to do.

    George Tomasini was the editor on Psycho. Saul Bass did the detailed storyboard, and some say he directed the shower scene too. Joseph Stefano did the script, Bernard Herrmann the music. Alma Reville, as always, was her husband's hands and heart, and more to Hitch than anyone.

    Do you need to see this film? Yes ... and no. Do you need to see Psycho? Yes, yes and yes.

  • ★★★★ review by Paul D on Letterboxd

    The opening of this documentary is a recreation of the scene where Marion Crane rolls up to the Bates Motel in the middle of a storm, looking for shelter and a place to stay. Not footage from Psycho, but a recreation. And with it you get an actress who looks nothing like Janet Leigh with a heinous wig perched atop her head and your thought is did they really need to do that?

    And that's the question you may well have about this film which is an overview of the making of Psycho but with an exacting deconstruction of The Shower Scene, analysed in the smallest detail.

    It's the same thought you may well have had while watching Room 237 in which we have to hear the increasingly wild theories from a load of obsessive cranks about what Kubrick was really up to when he made The Shining.

    Except of course that the people taking about Psycho are respected and highly talented filmmakers, the likes of Guillermo del Toro, Walter Murch, Richard Stanley and that bloke who edited Storks.

    And they tear the whole thing apart with the exacting eyes of people who know how to put a film together in ways which I could not even begin to appreciate if it wasn't laid out before me and reminds me that the way I view and appreciate films is rarely on anything other than a purely visceral level.

    What these guys notice and read into the film makes you appreciate the art of what Hitchcock, Saul Bass, George Tomasini, John L. Russell and Bernard Herrmann did in the creation of this 3 minutes of film, but also makes you wonder whether Hitch could possibly have thought that deeply about every one of the elements, like the mirroring of shots from the beginning and the end of the scene or the painting that hides the peephole through which Norman spies on Marion. And I guess that answer is yes.

    But did Hitch ever intend it all to be taken apart piece by piece and analysed? And the answer is no. He meant the audience not to think, but to react, he is the master manipulator and this is the very peak of that art, he knows exactly how he wants us to feel and ever shot, every cut, every sound is designed to make us act like the puppets that we are.

    So, is this film really necessary? Well, yes and no, we don't need to understand why we are feeling what we are feeling when we see Marion Crane stabbed to death by Norman Bates, but there's always a place for something which increases our appreciation of true greatness.

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