Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, cut and banned before the November 1971 liberalisation of the Australian censorship system.


Psycho

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock / 1960 / USA / IMDb

The original theatrical release was reportedly passed uncut with a ‘Suitable only for Adults’ rating.

Psycho (1960) - Australian daybill movie poster 1
Daybill via moviemem

The uncut version

Shane Harrison reports.
Universal Pictures (uk) – Blu-ray – 108:50 (NTSC) – cut version
Universal Pictures (uk) – Blu-ray – 109:04 (NTSC) – uncut version
Times refer to the start of the scene on the cut Blu-ray

I am not sure of the veracity of the following information, as I read it many years ago and now cannot find the reference. Hitchcock was visiting Australia as part of a cruise at the time that PSYCHO was before the Film Censorship Board. By all accounts, he charmed the pants off them, which resulted in us getting an uncut version.

It went on to have a TV premiere in 1966, which, at the time, received a lot of heat. The March 1968 screening on Channel 0 was heavily promoted as being the uncut cinema version, so presumably, it was the same as the one that played theatrically. They went on to show it several times. It contained a few seconds of extra footage, which was obvious enough that I noticed the difference when it was missing from Channel 9’s screenings.

Censored at 44:42 – Second view of Norman (Anthony Perkins) watching Marion (Janet Leigh) undressing for her shower. She slides her bra off with the camera cutting away the second her breasts are about to be exposed. The extra footage makes it obvious that he is looking at her bare breasts when ‘Mother’ gets involved. The scene is not so specific in its cut form.

Censored at 53:03 – Second close-up view of Norman’s bloodied hands as he walks into the bathroom to wash. In the cut version, this footage is replaced with a headshot of him walking into the bathroom.

Censored at 77:36 – Detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam) receives two extra stabbings before the fade-out, making it three in total. When comparing the position of the raised knife, the single stab in the cut print looks to be the final one of the three. It appears the first two were removed, rather than just truncating the scene after the first stabbing. In Channel 0’s screening, the uncut scene was compromised by a commercial break, with the third stab dissolving to their logo.

The Australian 60TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION Blu-ray, released in September 2020, contains this uncut version. This YouTube feature has a comparison between both versions.

Janet Leigh wore moleskin modesty tapes during the shower scene and Marli Renfro provided the nude body that is shown from various angles. Some of these revealed Leigh’s moleskin which required the bottom of the screen to be masked to cover certain shots. Universal blocked them out by placing bars across the bottom when her taped breasts appeared. These bars were masked when matted at the cinema. When it originally screened on Australian TV, it played unmatted. The bars at the bottom of the screen appeared and disappeared on at least three occasions during the shower scene. The 16mm abridged version from Castle Films, available on YouTube, was similarly unmatted. A large part of the bottom of the screen is masked out when she slides down the wall and reaches out to the shower curtain.

I have a VHS copy of a 1970s TV screening of the unmatted version that also reveals Marli Renfro was wearing panties as she is carried to the car and placed in the boot. This print was replaced with a more closely cropped one when it appeared on TV in 1982. The framing of the screen to hide the masking has been on all home entertainment releases.

Post-November 1971 rating

Resubmitted by CIC-TAFT Video and passed with an M-rating in February 1984. The tape ran 108-minutes.

In September 2003, Universal Pictures Video had a DVD passed with an M (Medium level violence, Sexual references) rating.

Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment received an M (Mature themes and violence) rating in July 2020 for a 221-minute Blu-ray.

The extended classification information described,
Moderate impact: themes, violence
Mild impact: sex
Very mild impact: nudity
None: language, drug use

As well as the standard version, this 60TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION also contains the first Australian home entertainment release of the uncut print.


The Birds

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock / 1963 / USA / IMDb

The original theatrical release was censored for a ‘Suitable only for Adults’ rating.

The Birds (1963) - Australian daybill movie poster 1
Daybill via moviemem

Censored footage

Shane Harrison reports.
Universal Pictures (uk) – Blu-ray – 119:29 (NTSC)

The Australian theatrical version, that I viewed at the Monash Film Society, was missing the following. It also matched the cut TV screenings.

Censored at 60:38 by 00:03 – Three quick edits, long shot, medium shot and a close-up of the bloodied farmer with eyes pecked out.

Post-November 1971 rating

Resubmitted by Australia Media and passed with a PG (Horror theme, Medium level violence) rating in March 1995. The tape ran 114-minutes.

Universal Pictures Video had a DVD passed with the same rating in May 2002.

In August 2012, Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment had a Blu-ray passed with a PG (Mild horror themes and violence) rating.


Torn Curtain

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock / 1966 / USA / IMDb

The original theatrical release was censored for a ‘Not Suitable for Children’ rating.

Censored footage

Shane Harrison reports.
Universal Pictures (uk) – Blu-ray – 127:43 (NTSC)

To demonstrate how difficult and horrific it would be to kill someone, Hitchcock has Michael (Paul Newman) and a farm woman (Carolyn Conwell) murder a Russian Agent (Wolfgang Kieling) with tools available to them in the kitchen. It begins at 48:24 and takes up nearly four minutes of screen time.

This scene was heavily cut in Australia and played as a series of bloodless jump cuts with the soundtrack skipping all over the place. It was obvious that something quite intense had been reduced to a collection of reaction shots. It is hard to know if this would have passed uncut if the distributor had settled for a ‘Suitable only for Adults’ rating instead of the more commercial ‘Not Suitable for Children’.

I cannot confirm the exact amount of footage that was removed, but the following shots were deleted.

Censored at 49:31 by 00:03 approx. – Close up of the carving knife being stabbed into his neck followed by the handle breaking off with views of the broken blade sticking out of the bloody wound.

Censored at 49:36 by 00:03 approx. – View of him turning around with the bloody blade sticking out.

Censored at 49:42 by 00:02 approx. – Close up of his face while struggling as the neck wound comes into view at the bottom of the screen.

Censored at 49:54 – Close-ups of his knee as it is being hit with a shovel. He is struck three times before collapsing and each close-up was removed. I do not recall if just this, or the whole shovel episode was removed.

Censored at 50:02 by 00:14 approx. – Views of him rolling over and trying to get up, with the bloody neck wound and protruding blade visible.

Censored at 50:53 by 00:01.5 approx. – As he resists being dragged to the gas oven, a view reveals his neck wound.

Censored at 51:00 by 00:02 to 00:03 approx. – As he struggles further, a second view reveals his neck wound.

Censored at 51:11 by 00:04 approx. A third view of the neck wound before his head is shoved into the oven.

Censored at 51:21 by 00:01 approx. – Close-up view of his head being forced into the oven.

Censored at 51:24 – He takes nearly 00:38 to be gassed once his head is held in the oven. An overhead shot shows his hands reaching out, before shaking and clawing and finally collapsing to signal his death. This entire sequence was reduced to just a few seconds.

Post-November 1971 rating

Resubmitted by Cinema International Corporation and passed with a PG (Medium level violence) rating in August 1994. The tape ran 122-minutes.

Universal Pictures Video had a DVD passed with the same rating in August 2002.


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