Relive the classics

The Tampa Theatre is preparing to close the curtains on their Summer Classic Movie series with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. The series started four years ago after moviegoers continually suggested they incorporate some older films into their showings.

“The main thing was that patrons requested us to show older films … and since most of the staff are movie buffs it was a nice change,” Katherine Getz said.

The movie classics have featured films such as Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia and Poltergeist, movies that don’t normally play on the small-screen and haven’t graced the silver screen in decades. All the films have been digitally restored, boasting DTS digital sound so viewers can experience these films like never before. The Sunday night events normally fill between 400 to 1,000 of Tampa Theatre’s 1,400 capacity, and that depends on the popularity of the film. Faithful Tampa Theatre patrons, as well as the theater’s staff, decide the scheduled films.

“We take requests from patrons and also the availability of prints is a big determining factor,”Getz said.

If your Sunday night plan falters, then the Summer Classic Movie series would make for a great alternative to staying in.

A look at a Hitchcock classic

With a working title of Wimpy, Psycho has become the quintessential American film over the past 44 years. After being thoroughly imitated — it was literally copied in Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake in 1998 — and decade after decade of envelope-pushing, blood-splattering gross-out flicks, Hitchcock’s Psycho is still one of the most psychologically poignant thrillers ever made.

The plot is premised by the sticky situation in which Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) finds herself. The audience is shown the true nature of this movie when she takes some money and runs out of town. Even this, however, seems trivial when she meets Norman at The Bates Motel. At first, Norman seems like a helpful, skinny geek who’s bored and, although a bit introverted, harmless. Here we see why the original Psycho cannot be outdone; Anthony Perkins’ portrayal of Norman’s obsessive tendencies yield themselves with subtle palpability — not to mention Hitchcock’s genius.

What unravels is Americana gothic at its best, using 1960’s best black and white. To Marion, Norman seems dominated by his mother, though she doesn’t live long enough to figure out what’s really happening behind the scenes in the house on the hill, scurrying about in the young man’s subconscience. Inevitably, inquiries surrounding Marion’s disappearance surround The Bates Motel.

The end of the film takes place in a mental hospital, where a psychologist explains away Norman’s illness to the audience, ’50s style. Critics have questioned Hitchcock’s decision for this, noting that it’s more interesting to let the audience figure things out. By then, however, the plot and mystery of the characters are well established.