Peter Latham raises an interesting problem, first pointing out the
similarities of content and genesis between "Psycho" and "Peeping
Tom," then asking why two such similar films had such opposite effects
on their respective directors' careers. There are probably several
roads into this discussion - I'll just suggest that in Hitchcock's
case, "Psycho" could be seen as a culmination, or at least the next
logical step, of certain themes he had been developing throughout his
career. In Powell's case, "Peeping Tom" seemed very different from
his previous work, which probably contributed to the public shock.
Also, in "Psycho" the primary victim, Marian Crane, is one of a
long line of guilty Hitchcock heroines, and as ghastly as her fate is,
there is a whiff if retribution which complicates audience
sympathies. In "Peeping Tom," the various victims probably step over
the bounds of sexual propriety as they were set in the late 1950's,
but they generally seem more purely "innocent."
We should remember that Hitchcock and his various advisors and
assistants were unsure about the good sense of making and distributing
such a story, which is why it is filmed in black-and-white, and made
on a significantly lower budget than Hitchcock was used to by this
point. Remember, he had just made "Vertigo" and "North By Northwest."
Stephen Rebello discusses some of these issues in his "Alfred
Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho.'"
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