The Art of the Sell: “Psycho” trailer

These posts celebrate the movie trailers, movie posters, commercials, print ads, and other promotional material that stand as their own works of art. 

There’s so much that’s marvelous about the original trailer for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The virtues begin with the auteur himself, genially leading the viewer through a tour of the film’s sets as if they are real places, all the while alluding to grave horrors that took place within them. And then there’s the pleasant music that accompanies Hitchcock’s ambling, like the soundtrack from Leave it to Beaver was misplaced there. And its six minutes — six minutes! — all builds to a droll gag utilizing a shot from what would prove to be the most famed sequence in a career that had no shortage of contenders for that designation.

The hackneyed phrase “they don’t make ’em like that anymore” isn’t even accurate in this instance. They didn’t make ’em like that back then. How could they? Aside from those directors who were also major actors, there has surely never been another person who took up residence behind the camera who had the kind of immediate stature and inherent charisma to effectively serve as a tour guide in such a promotional effort. As with so many of his other cinematic triumphs, only Hitchcock could have pulled this off.

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Art of the Sell” tag.

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