As I'm doing my reading for my Psycho essay (due next Thursday), I'm coming across some awesome bits. I can't share everything, but I would like to comment on just how brilliant the opening few scenes of the film really are. Raymond Durgnat has some amazing insights, as well as soume pretty practical ones that I think most people overlook. One that I love: the opening scene in the hotel paints Marion as a practical, largely innocent woman, someone is much more familiar than edgy. Likewise, Sam is the well-built, handsome man of the 1950s Hollywood melodrama. The scene is unusual, but we certainly don't leave it feeling we don't know these two. Yet Hitchcock reveals very little actually. The familiarity is based entirely on types.
Thus, when the bank scene comes up, there's this amazing realization, as Durgnat writes: “So the scene preserves the uncertainty, the suspense of “does she want to steal it?’ which is less familiar, more novel
and more interesting than “will she steal it, and what then?’” It's what he calls Hitchcock's uncertainty principle. Psycho takes such a long time to get going, yet the exposition is actually pretty slight if you really consider what is said and what isn't. Thus it's really going, that is, a full-on piece of radical, mysterious cinema, from the get-go.