Hitchcock’s Psycho Premiered 50 Years Ago

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho had its premiere in New York City on Thursday, June 16th, 1960, or exactly 50 years ago. Articles discussing the anniversary can be found at The New York Post, Cinematical, Moviefone and Entertainment Weekly. Here‘s an interesting article from The Wall Street Journal about Bernard Herrmann’s musical score for the film. A special 50th Anniversary Edition of the film will be released on Blu-ray in October.

I mention this anniversary only because of my article CBS and Psycho, which discusses the planned broadcast of Psycho on CBS in September of 1966 and the reasons why the network never aired the film.

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7 Replies to “Hitchcock’s Psycho Premiered 50 Years Ago”

  1. You know, when “Psycho” was initially released, it wasn’t a “box office smash”. It was more of a critical than commercial success- it took another generation, who grew up watching it on local TV stations (as in the case of “Citizen Kane” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”), for the film to become the cultural icon it is today.

    The fact that CBS, who initially rejected the film in the fall of 1966, now produces it own graphic moments of violence and terror in most of its current crime series [especially those produced by Jerry Bruckheimer], and they just can’t match the wit and sardonic, grisly attitude of Alfred Hitchcock.
    That’s the real horror of TV these days….

  2. When Mr. Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO finally had its broadcast premiere at 11:30 pm on WABC-TV as part of its ‘Best of Broadway’ skein on June 24, 1967, it pulled down a huge rating for latenight, garnering a 23.3/66% in the New York local metered market Nielsens. Coming in second was the movie PORTRAIT IN BLACK on WCBS-TV with a 5.5/16%.

    PSYCHO did not establish a record at the time for theatricals on WABC, a record had previously been established by the earlier broadcast premiere of Mr. Stanley Kubrick’s highly controversial LOLITA, which, like PSYCHO, was never broadcast on network television.

    Both films have been played quite extensively on both local television and cable networks, most notably the esteemed Turner Classic Movies (TCM) which exhibits both theatricals in their proper perspective and completely uncut.

  3. ABC- and its New York affiliate- always knew what viewers- especially teenagers- wanted to see on their network and local movie nights in the ’60s and ’70s. They weren’t too concerned about “censorship”, as CBS and NBC were…if they wanted to book “Psycho” locally, and air it late at night with the proper “cuts” necessary under the NAB “Television Code”, then to hell with what “moralists” might think! Sure, Channel 7 got a BIG rating the first night they aired it locally…and did it again the next several times they scheduled it.

  4. I have a question for ‘DuMont’: What was the local Nielsen ratings for WNBC-TV’s showing of a foreign film, “Dimka,” on the same night as “Psycho’s” New York TV premiere? I suspect that ‘dead last’ doesn’t begin to cover it. Perhaps rivalling the kind of ratings WNBC got for its 6 o’clock newscast in 1972 (i.e. next to none) when Carl Stokes and Paul Udell were anchoring.

    Also, I.I.N.M., WABC only aired “Psycho” twice (both times on “The Best of Broadway”) due to the film’s rights transferring from Paramount to Universal in 1968 – and consequently, it being taken out of Paramount’s “Portfolio I” package, thus WABC losing the rights. What was the other airdate?

  5. As a follow-up . . . the Feb. 21, 1966 issue of Broadcasting magazine carried an ad from MGM touting their ‘MGM/6’ package, indicating that WABC’s Feb. 5, 1966 debut screening of “Lolita” on “TBOB” produced a 30.6/79%. Which was indeed the high point of that late-night series on Channel 7. (Obviously, almost no-one was seeing Carson reruns on WNBC, followed right afterwards by the “Festival of Thrillers” screening of the Universal horror film “The Invisible Man’s Revenge”; and WCBS’s “Late Show” presentation of the 1957 Robert Taylor feature “Tip on a Dead Jockey” was doubtless a VERY distant second.)

  6. From what I’ve gathered, TCM airs “Psycho” every once in a while.

    But I’ve stumbled on the second screening of the film on WABC’s “Best of Broadway”: July 13, 1968. It was not long after that, that Paramount lost the rights to the picture to MCA/Universal, thus necessitating its removal from the Paramount “Portfolio I” package (and therefore, WABC likewise losing the rights).

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