Deadly Movies Investigates: The Strange Case of the German Uncut Version of Psycho (1960)

This is a great movie legend that goes a little something like this: In the 70s and 80s German TV networks were showing an ‘uncut‘ version of Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal masterpiece Psycho. Now this revelation, whilst true, isn’t quite as exciting as it sounds. There’s no new scenes, alternative endings, or sci-fi revelations featuring Fu Manchu, but there is some 20-30 seconds of extended footage during some key scenes. So here’s the history; In the 60s and 70s Psycho slowly made Its way around the world TV markets. As it reached different countries each made various cuts to fit their own domestic censorship and corporate laws. Countries including the US, UK, New Zealand, and Norway all made cuts to the final product. The slightly cut US version is the one we widely accept as the definitive Psycho and it’s this cut that has been used for VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray releases ever since. But it would appear that it was the Germans who made no cuts whatsoever to the movie and those lucky so-and-so’s have been enjoying a TV cut that the rest of us haven’t been privy to ever since. Check out the images below for a breakdown of the extended uncut scenes as seen on German TV. Hey Universal Pictures, get this cut out on DVD, make some money and make us happy.

Norman spies on Marian undressing:

The sequence with Norman spying on Marian is notably longer, featuring prolonged shots of Janet Leigh undressing. And yes that’s even a little side boob right there. Of course It’s no surprise that scenes featuring partial nudity (especially prior to scenes of violence) were cut at that time. This adds a good 10 seconds to this sequence.

Normans’ bloody hands:

After the shower sequence Norman drags Marian’s body out of the bathroom and examines the blood on his hands. In the German cut the sequence is again longer and prolonged, this time dwelling on the blood on Norman’s hands. Hitchcock tracks Norman’s bloody palms all the way through the doorway to the sink where he washes the blood off. An obvious case of too much gore for many censors.

The death of Arbogast:

This scene was always pretty terrifying with or without cuts. Norman, in full insane mode, runs out of Mother’s room in full old-lady get-up, slashes Arbogast diagonally across the face, opening him up like a letter, watches him fall down the stairs (where Hitchock employed that truly bind blowing and boggling effect to make it appear that Arbogast stayed on his feet the entire way down, so that the viewer could experience the true horror in his expression), and finally stabs him to death at the foot of the staircase. The German cut again elongates the violence, with far more thrusts of Norman’s knife into Arbogast. In the original we see Norman raise and pluge the knife once, In this cut we see the knife plunge repeatedly toward Arbogast.

So there we have it. You certainly won’t learn much more narratively from these extra 30 seconds or so of footage. But there is something to take from all this. Hitchcock’s original version of the move, as it was in the can, lingered and dwelled longer on scenes of semi-nudity, blood, and violence then we realised. Presumably, the cut that’s done the rounds in Germany for the past four or five decades in the version he intended the world to see in the first place.

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One thought on “Deadly Movies Investigates: The Strange Case of the German Uncut Version of Psycho (1960)

  1. fletchtalks says:

    This is fascinating, I had no idea about this version, thanks for posting! 🙂

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