Alfred Hitchcock was riding high as "The Master of Suspense" when he made Vertigo in '58 and North by Northwest in '59 (two of his very best films) but he was getting some lip that he was only the master because he commanded the budgets to pull it off. Plus, there were young "maverick" directors being treated as upcoming rivals to an old schooler.
Perhaps this gave Hitchcock a reason to prove something or maybe he just wanted to try something different. Regardless, he was shown Robert Bloch's new novel Psycho (inspired by Ed Gein, arrested two years prior) and Hitchcock decided this is where he wanted to go.
The major studios, previously happy to give Hitchcock the big bucks, didn't like the idea at all and refused to support it. They wouldn't even pick up the film rights to the novel to explore it. So Hitchcock picked up the rights himself (anonymously) and self funded the project as a low budgeter using the studio and crew from his Hitchcock Presents TV series.
Upon its release it immediately became one of the most controversial films from a major studio and shook up everything to do with the cinema of horror, of the thriller and of psychological drama. And of course, Hitchcock not only had another hit, but also showed he wasn't just still on the edge but ahead of the curve on almost everybody and could do so outside the studio system.
But I don't need to heap superlatives on what is as much a work of modern art as it was entertainment. No other film has given more people doctorates in psychology. No film other than Citizen Kane has been so dissected by film scholars. The shower scene has been paid homage or parodied more than any scene in any film anywhere and remained the height of modern editing till the car chase in The French Connection ('71). And the musical score by Bernard Herrmann is still one of the best soundtracks ever put to a film.
Regardless of what I'm going on about, if you haven't seen it yet then you better get on with watching it. Or see it again, because there's something new to find in it every time. And when you do watch it remember it's 50 years old and almost all of modern thriller / horror cinema owes it big time. Oh, and the original novel by Block has been reissued as part of the 50th anniversary.
Norman hopes you enjoy the film.