3 Stars

Haven’t done one of these in a while, so here goes.

THE PSYCHO LEGACY BOX SET (from Germany)

Okay color me dopey, but I bought this, knowing that it wasn’t a new transfer for the original Psycho or the other films in the set. They are all older transfers, with the only difference being the inserted footage into Psycho (hence the “uncut”).

The big come on for this set’s existence is the uncut version of the Hitchcock masterpiece. There’s probably less than twenty seconds of additional footage that existed in a German 35mm print that has been seamlessly added into the normal release we all have.

The additional footage involves one extra shot where Norman Bates is peeping on Janet Leigh undressing. In the version we all have and that every home video release has contained, we have one shot of her in her bra and slip, then a cut to Norman looking, then back to Janet Leigh having just put on her robe. In the uncut German print there is an additional shot of Leigh as she begins to take her bra off (and gets pretty far for 1960). The second sequence with additional footage is post-murder. Tony Perkins drags the lifeless body from the bathroom onto the shower curtain. He then looks at his hands and we have a shot of them covered in blood. Then it cuts to his face, he turns and goes in the bathroom and washes the blood off in the sink. In the longer German version there are longer shots of his hands covered in blood, mostly holding on the hands as he walks in the bathroom and goes to the sink. The final extended shot is in the Martin Balsam murder. He falls down the stairs, and mother comes after him, and stabs him again, then raising the knife in the air to stab again, at which point the shot fades out. In the extended German print, she stabs him once, the knife rises and she stabs him again, another rise, and stabs a third time, the knife rises for the fourth stab and the shot fades out.

No one really knows what the deal is here, but I actually have a pretty good idea what the deal is and an e-mail from Universal sent to the German company who released this is somewhat telling: It states that what the German release contains is the Psycho that was released in 1960. And I completely believe that, for reasons I’ll get to in a minute. So, what I think happened, and this is just my supposition, is that the film had those brief shots edited out subsequent to the original release, and for its re-release and then TV showings. I was so scared to see the re-release and then TV showings, because the film I’d seen in 1960 on opening day so scared me silly I was too nervous to put myself through that again. But when I saw it, I sensed something was not quite right and I remember saying that to anyone who would listen. Because, as a twelve-year-old, the film was rather seared into my memory, and I have always remembered the bra shot (I was a horny little twelve-year-old), but more importantly, I always remembered vividly the multiple stabs. And when I saw the re-release with one stab I questioned my memory, of course, but something told me I was right, and now I believe I was right. I think the film as released in 1960 is exactly what is reflected in that German print. Complicating matters is the Richard Anobile book that replicates Psycho in stills and dialogue. The extra footage is not reflected in his stills, but his book was done in 1974 and I believe he was given the re-release print to work from. I suppose we’ll never really know without a definitive answer from Universal, but I feel what they said in their e-mail is indicative that I may just be right, that this uncut German print IS the release version everyone saw in 1960, including the United States.

I also watched the Gus Van Sant redo – it’s just horrible – the cast is wretched, the few added bits are awful (including what Master Bates (get it) is doing as he spies on Marion – I mean, there’s not a thing that works save for the adaptation of the Herrmann score. I’ll catch up on the rest of the set this weekend. You should know that the set is completely region-free.

THE THIRD SECRET

I first saw this film at a sneak preview and absolutely loved it. I loved the way it was shot, the feel, and most especially Pamela Franklin, who, at the time, was one of the very best young actresses working in film. I didn’t see it again for years until the DVD was released and I liked it very much seeing after all those years. Now it’s out on Blu-ray in the UK. It’s from Fox, and you know that Twilight Time would have released it had it been from a new scan, but alas it’s the same scan used for the DVD. It’s perfectly okay, but not what it could and should be. I still love the movie, as silly as it gets occasionally, and I absolutely love the ending of it. Miss Franklin’s performance is still the rock of the film, but Stephen Boyd is very good, as are Diane Cilento and Jack Hawkins. Charles Crichton’s direction is great, as is the black-and-white scope photography. Perhaps Fox will get around to this someday with a luscious new transfer. This is a UK import and not region-free.

HUMAN DESIRE

I love Fritz Lang. This is not one of his greats, but even lesser Lang is better than most other directors. We have a great cast, including Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, and Gloria Grahame, and Lang’s direction is wonderful. If it never achieves greatness, it’s still very enjoyable and well done. Again, if this was a new transfer it would be on Twilight Time – but alas, it’s an older transfer. That said, it looks very good for the most part and I doubt this would be high on Sony’s list for a new transfer. Also a UK release and not region-free.

PSYCHE 59

Why I missed this when it first came out is anyone’s guess, since it at least looked like it was right up my alley. So, when this came out a week ago I ordered it. Again, a Sony release of an older master, but reasonable-looking. Certainly the cast is fine – Patricia Neal, Curt Jurgens, and Samantha Eggar. Sadly, it’s a bad movie, never really adding up to anything. It just drags on and on and on. UK release, but this one is region free.

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Dick

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Thanks for the info, Bruce. I am not interested in the whole set, but I would love to have the uncut German print of the original by itself... does anyone know if that is available? The Amazon de web site is a tad confusing insofar as release dates go.
 

lark144

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Hey, Bruce. Thanks as always for the informative & entertaining post. I had a similar experience to you in terms of watching PSYCHO. I saw it in 1960 when it opened at a neighborhood theater in wide release, not at the DeMille, which was first run in New York; and yeah, it was really scary, but of course I loved it. Didn't see it again until 69 when I read Truffaut's book on Hitchcock and had a serious hankering to see PSYCHO again. Now back in New York in those days there was a weekly magazine called CUE which would list every movie playing in the New York area & I noticed at a neighborhood theater on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, they were showing PSYCHO on the second half of a double bill with DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING. So I saw it and yeah, I also thought this is not the film I originally saw in 1960. Not only was stuff missing--in particular, the extra knife slashes on the staircase and more material of Norman Bates with blood on his hands-- but during the shower scene, the image had been slightly matted on the bottom, so the frame shrunk, completing cutting off Janet Leigh's chest, so you could hardly see any skin at all; it looked like those windowboxes they put the titles in on DVDs, except only the bottom was slightly altered, not the whole image, and I thought to myself, this definitely wasn't on the original print I saw in 1960, and then assumed what they re released must have been slightly altered for television. And then promptly forgot all about it until I saw your post.
 

Matt Hough

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My parents wouldn't let me go to Psycho in 1960, but when it came back around in 1964 or 65, I was allowed, and I have never screamed that loud before or since. Honestly, I wanted to duck under the seat and not look any more. It was some relief that I wasn't the only one screaming in that theater. Reading Bruce's comments on the German likely original print makes me long to see the "original" now.
 

TravisR

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So no one has noticed that Psycho- the most famous movie from arguably the greatest director in the history of film- has been edited from its original version until nearly 60 years later? The most likely answer to me is that Hitchcock wanted that footage in but it was edited to satisfy US censors but German censors weren't as strict and Hitch's 'uncut' version played there.
 

haineshisway

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So no one has noticed that Psycho- the most famous movie from arguably the greatest director in the history of film- has been edited from its original version until nearly 60 years later? The most likely answer to me is that Hitchcock wanted that footage in but it was edited to satisfy US censors but German censors weren't as strict and Hitch's 'uncut' version played there.
No, what we're saying is that it also played HERE uncut and was the same as the uncut German - and then was edited for its re-release and TV airings. That is what I think and what makes sense, frankly, given the e-mail the Germans received from Universal.
 
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haineshisway

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Hey, Bruce. Thanks as always for the informative & entertaining post. I had a similar experience to you in terms of watching PSYCHO. I saw it in 1960 when it opened at a neighborhood theater in wide release, not at the DeMille, which was first run in New York; and yeah, it was really scary, but of course I loved it. Didn't see it again until 69 when I read Truffaut's book on Hitchcock and had a serious hankering to see PSYCHO again. Now back in New York in those days there was a weekly magazine called CUE which would list every movie playing in the New York area & I noticed at a neighborhood theater on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, they were showing PSYCHO on the second half of a double bill with DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING. So I saw it and yeah, I also thought this is not the film I originally saw in 1960. Not only was stuff missing--in particular, the extra knife slashes on the staircase and more material of Norman Bates with blood on his hands-- but during the shower scene, the image had been slightly matted on the bottom, so the frame shrunk, completing cutting off Janet Leigh's chest, so you could hardly see any skin at all; it looked like those windowboxes they put the titles in on DVDs, except only the bottom was slightly altered, not the whole image, and I thought to myself, this definitely wasn't on the original print I saw in 1960, and then assumed what they re released must have been slightly altered for television. And then promptly forgot all about it until I saw your post.
Funnily, I was living in NY in 1969 and saw Daddy's Gone a Hunting at the Albermarle in Brooklyn, where I was living for that one year. I WISH that the second feature had been Psycho :)
 

titch

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Thanks for the info, Bruce. I am not interested in the whole set, but I would love to have the uncut German print of the original by itself... does anyone know if that is available? The Amazon de web site is a tad confusing insofar as release dates go.
At nearly $150 plus shipping for the box set you can forget them releasing a standalone version of the first one. That's the one everyone wants and that's why they'll be able to shift units. But it's mighty tempting to buy something that is not available anywhere else. I purchased a US NTSC VHS player and was importing US NTSC VHS tapes of horror and porn films back in the '80's to get uncut versions of films that weren't available locally.

https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B0...1d2-6ff1a2e98cf0&pf_rd_r=C19J10HGWMQ37R8N3XP4
 

Billy Batson

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I'm glad I didn't see Psycho when I was 12, it was traumatic enough seeing it at 15. I had no interest in it really, but Paramount re-released it on a double bill with War Of The Worlds (UK), & I really wanted to see War after seeing pictures of it in Famous Monsters Of Filmland. Anyway, War was on first, lovely, & I should have left then, but wanting to get my moneys worth I stayed on for Psycho, & wow, that creeped me out for ages, it must have been around 10 years before I could look at it again on TV & enjoy it. I blame Bernard Herrmann.
 
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Robert Harris

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And yet another interesting Psycho anomoly.

Apparently, there were a few prints prepared very early on, that had a color main title sequence.

Emerald green.

One seems to have been run for critics in London, and may be the same print delivered from Hitchcock’s vault to Ron Haver, when he was doing his tribute series.

The prints were returned, after screening for the best copies, but not returned for the public exhibition.

The cuts would be annotated in the printing cards,
 

JohnMor

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It seems likely at some point the cut version must have become Hitchcock’s preferred version or he would have spoken up to have the trims restored, particularly by the time of Frenzy when there was so much more freedom.
 

john a hunter

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I'm glad I didn't see Psycho when I was 12, it was traumatic enough seeing it at 15. I had no interest in it really, but Paramount re-released it on a double bill with War Of The Worlds (UK), & I really wanted to see War after seeing pictures of it in Famous Monsters Of Filmland. Anyway, War was on first, lovely, & I should have left then, but wanting to get my moneys worth I stayed on for Psycho, & wow, that creeped me out for ages, it must have been around 10 years before I could look at it again on TV & enjoy it. I blame Bernard Herrmann.
Saw the same double bill as you Billy.
In north east London.
Psycho scared me shitless but will always remember War of the Worlds when the priest went towards the Martians waving his bible and was zapped, the very sizable audience roared with laughter!!!
I must have been about 14 and was shocked.
Now I would join them!!
 

Billy Batson

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Ha, unbelievably I can still remember going to see it, The Odeon, Shepherds Bush, West London (never liked that cinema, such a cavernous & soulless place). Late fifties & all through the sixties I can still remember every cinema I saw every movie in, my slightly older sister can't remember any of them. Films really have been far too important in my life.
 

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lark144

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Funnily, I was living in NY in 1969 and saw Daddy's Gone a Hunting at the Albermarle in Brooklyn, where I was living for that one year. I WISH that the second feature had been Psycho :)
That's so funny! In 69, I was living around the corner from the Albermarle. But I traveled all the way to Pelham Parkway in the Bronx to see PSYCHO with DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING.
 

Dick

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A little off-topic, but DADDY'S GONE A-HUNTING was a terrific psychological suspense thriller, almost completely forgotten now. Maybe SCREAM Factory can get hold of it. I saw it as a stand-alone feature in '69, and was completely satisfied when I exited the theater. I have a DVD of it and watch it periodically, but a Blu-ray would be awesome. I can see how this might make a good second feature alongside PSYCHO.
 
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