Perhaps "insubstantial" is the wrong word. A better word would be "shallow." There's not too much going on in PSYCHO. It is, save the ending, a breathtakingly crafted thriller, but there's not a whole lot to chew on. For what it's worth, though, I deem it to be Hitch's second-best, sitting behind VERTIGO but standing proudly above everything else.
I wouldn't call any of the major Hitchcocks "insubstantial."
PSYCHO has many great aspects, but it's fairly insubstantial.
I wrote earlier in the thread that I'll someday go through a Hitchcock phase. I don't know that I'm there yet, but I'm going to throw a couple in the queue for next month. Need to see both Psycho
, which I believe is the best, and Rear Window
, which I believe is second best, in the queue. (Right now, before watching any Hitchcock, I'd place Vertigo
third on that list, but time will tell.)
VERTIGO has significantly more emotional and thematic resonance than PSYCHO. The latter may have oodles of suspense, but it's not intimately involving on a character level (well, it is until Marion Crane is killed off, but her sister, lover, and the detective are less than engaging figures; only Norman Bates remains consistently fascinating), or even on an intellectual one. VERTIGO may ask us to suspend disbelief to a greater degree than PSYCHO--despite some less than "realistic" psychology, PSYCHO does feel fairly chillingly believable on a level which VERTIGO does not--but that's not necessarily a strike against it. VERTIGO is not a realistic film, and it's not really trying to be one.
We're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one, because I find Marion Crane and Norman Bates fascinating through the entire film (well, like you said, only Norman makes it into the second half), but I lost interest in everyone half way through Vertigo
It's still outstanding for its film technique alone. An absolutely amazing piece, especially for 1958, and I can't blame you at all for raving about it the way that you do. If I don't rave, it's only because I'm comparing Hitchcock to Hitchcock. All film aspires to the condition of Hitch, or something like that.
Edited by Persona, 24 March 2010 - 08:35 PM.