I often wonder, how much of its impact does Psycho lose given that a modern audience, even if they somehow have managed to avoid knowing anything about the plot, does not relate to Janet Leigh in the same way the audience of 1960 would have. If you don’t know Janet Leigh is supposed to be the ‘star’ of the movie, is her early exit all that shocking? and if it’s not all that shocking, does the film feel unbalanced? does the viewer feel they’ve missed something, are they confused they’ve spent so long with this character that’s just disappeared and the focus has moved on entirely?
I feel as if I should be able to answer some of these questions, after all it’s not as if I saw this in a cinema myself in 1960, but I honestly don’t remember the first time I saw it. I must have been quite young, probably too young and like most other people I must have seen it on the television. I’m almost certain I would have watched it with my mother, who probably explained to me who Janet Leigh was and that she was the ‘star’ of the film and that it was odd, therefore, that she was only in the first third or so. I think I probably did think Marion was going to reappear at some point, or be not really dead, just because this started out as her story so it didn’t really make sense that it quickly became someone else’s. I wonder if everyone else felt this way too, or if ‘this’ followed by ‘that’ just felt a natural progression to them?