The British director Alfred Hitchcock made some of the greatest suspense movies of the twentieth century, starting with The Thirty-Nine Steps in 1935 and on to such classics as North by Northwest, Rear Window, Spellbound, and Vertigo. It turns out that Vertigo at the time was a box-office flop and “Hitch” was searching for a hit. But he didn’t want to do another spy thriller like Topaz. He wanted to make a film of the “fiendishly entertaining” bestselling book by Robert Bloch, Psycho.

Hitchcock is the delightful tale of Hitch’s quest to make Psycho in the face of fierce opposition by Paramount Studios. The amazing Anthony Hopkins precisely captures the personality and quirks of “the Master of Suspense.” As another Brit, Hopkins is perfectly cast as Hitch, and as the actor who also played psychotic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, the double entendres are hilarious. (Hopkins, as Hitch, waves his arms like an orchestra conductor during the archetypal shower scene; Hopkins, as Hannibal, waves his arms to classical music as he’s working out a diabolical scheme to escape his cage.)

Scarlett Johannson is wonderful in one of her most personable performances as blonde bombshell Janet Leigh. But it is Helen Mirren, as Hitch’s wife Alma, who surprises most. I had no idea Alma was so instrumental to Hitch’s career. She vetted projects, wrote and rewrote scripts, stepped in to direct the set when Hitch was ill for a few days, and—perhaps most importantly—edited the final cut. Her editing of Psycho proved crucial to the film’s runaway success. In Hitchcock, Alma’s character, too, has hilarious references to Psycho. She and Hitch are eating breakfast and discussing the script, and Hitch remarks, “I wonder how the audience will react when I kill the main character in the first hour.” Alma, buttering her toast, says, “Kill her in the first thirty minutes,” and decisively bites. In Psycho, Janet Leigh’s simple supper with Norman Bates is bread and butter and she sits there in her hotel room, innocently buttering up.

I had seen the classic shower scene and the classic shock ending before, but I’d never seen Psycho as a complete movie. Now was the time, after seeing Hitchcock. It is still a pretty scary movie even when you’re familiar with the two most famous scenes, but the film ends with a long exposition about psychotic serial killers delivered by a psychologist. People in 1950 were so shocked by Psycho (and the final very scary shot of Norman Bates) because the existence of such killers among us was not widely known or discussed in the media as it is today. The theme was very original in 1950. The Silence of the Lambs does a much better job of layering in the explanations. Still, Lambs pays homage to Psycho is subtle ways, such as the young woman about to become a victim driving in her car toward her fate.

One of the spooky details in Psycho is the appearance of birds everywhere—Norman Bates’ “hobby” is taxidermy but, with one notable exception, he only stuffs birds. There are pictures of birds on the walls of the hotel room and lamps with birds as the base. Hitchcock echoes this decorating theme, too, and the final observation—that Hitch is searching for a new project and historically, his next project, The Birds, is two years in the future—adds just the right touch.

So there you have it, my friends. I love “The Story Behind The Story” kinds of stories, and Hitchcock is a superb one. See it as a triple bill with Psycho and The Silence of the Lambs and have pizza or pasta with red wine. Highly recommended.

I wrote a story like this myself in the ebook of Tomorrow’s Child, “The Story Behind The Story That Sold To The Movies,” a thirty-day blog setting out the twists and turns Tomorrow’s Child took from a medical documentary for the 3M Company, to a lead story in Omni, a magazine with a circulation of five million, to option sales, to an outright sale to Universal Studios, where the project is now in development. Tomorrow’s Child is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. Tomorrow’s Child is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony; Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo; My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more! And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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