A gang of film-centric Variety staffers — top-dog critics Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman plus Lisa Kennedy, Jessica Kiang, Tomris “kill the Golden Globes…no forgiveness!” Laffly, Guy snooty-snoot Lodge and Amy Nicholson — have decided to celebrate Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho as the greatest or most artful wowser pulverizer of all time.

The 1960 classic sits atop a list of 100 excellent films, the placement of which I mostly agree with. Except for two selections, that is.

Parasite (#82) turns on a completely idiotic plot contrivance and ends chaotically and nihilistically — obviously a woke diversity fave, but no way does Parasite deserve to be part of the 100 all-time greatest…stop it.

And following the calamitously corrupt Sight & Sound poll of a few weeks ago, Jeanne Dielman (#78) is damaged goods now. I recognize that Variety is trying to counterbalance the Dielman scandal and supply perspective by putting it in 78th place. But by clumsily and bizarrely pole-vaulting Chantal Ackerman’s 1975 film to the #1 position in the S&S poll, which was totally a gender #MeToo call, wokester fanatics have flung permanent egg yolk upon Jeanne Dielman‘s face. It was properly respected and admired before — now it’s a symbol of unwarranted woke power-grabbing.

Who decided on the pecking order of Variety‘s 100 greatest films? No one’s saying. All I’m told is that it was an “exuberant” group effort.

As much as I love and worship Psycho, it has to be stated that it’s a cineaste choice. It doesn’t have the necessary cultural or emotional depth or gravitas to earn the #1 spot. It’s basically a brilliant technical exercise thing — a pure cinema tutorial.

The plot (Robert Bloch was inspired by Ed Gein) is hardly drawn from the same well as, say, Ikiru or 12 Angry Men or The Grapes of Wrath or some other film that reaches down into the cultural terra firma and grapples with life as it actually smells and feels and bruises. It doesn’t really connect thematically with any commonly recognizable aspect of the human experience. It’s about lust, perversity, murder, taxidermy. Definitely a small, rural, oddball movie, but so beautifully assembled, so perfect in every way.

A far greater Hitchcock in terms of touching the common chord and dealing with a recognizable theme is Strangers on a Train. As alternates I would’ve chosen Lifeboat or North by Northwest. The latter is a contrived thriller, but you can feel real life in it — you can feel the actual throbbing world of 1958 and ’59 along with the cynicism and emotional coolness and calculation. The crop-duster sequence alone is just as arresting as anything in Psycho, and arguably more timeless.

Where is the humanity in Psycho? Anthony Perkins‘ psychological confession scene in the motel parlor is simultaneously riveting and sad, but it’s basically a conveyance of how fucked-up Norman Bates is. The most humane, sensible and fair-minded figure in Psycho is Detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam), and he gets stabbed to death. The second most humane is Sheriff Chambers (John Mcintire). The Crane sisters (Marion and Lila) are antsy, wiggy, a bit neurotic. John Gavin‘s Sam Loomis is a bundle of nerves and anxiety and self-doubt.

And c’mon…Janet Leigh’s decision to steal $40K from her boss is pure lunacy. It would be one thing if she’d arranged to meet Gavin in Bora Bora, but to simply drive to Fairvale with $40K in cash is ludicrous.

If you break Psycho down, it’s basically pulp. This happens and then that happens. No one’s idea of deep or stirring or resonant. But I LOVE how it’s all put together. Such smooth and deliberate assurance. How the pieces all fit together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle.

Friendo: “If you break it down, THE MOVIES are pulp. That’s what they are. A pulp form. In Psycho’s case, pulp is made sublime.”

HE to Friendo: “The feeling of dread and foreboding in Psycho all stems from Bernard Herrmann’s music. His score is the soul of the film — not the story or the characters. Screenwriter Joseph Stefano was very upset when he saw the first cut, without the Herrmann music. Hitchcock assured him that everything would be okay once the music was inserted and the cutting was perfectly timed.”

Psycho is utterly brilliant, but it’s also basically “well, if the woman in the window is Mrs. Bates, who’s that woman buried out in Greenlawn Cemetery?”

Update: Moonlight definitely doesn’t deserve to be #42 on this list. It’s two-thirds of a fairly moving film (the last act doesn’t work and its admirers know that), and it was selected by the Variety gang as a political inclusion thing. The main reasons why it won the Best Picture Oscar in early ’18 are (a) two woke checkboxes– Black and gay, (b) Academy members felt they had to counter the #OscarSoWhite narrative of a year or two earlier, and (c) a cheap bullshit award-season narrative that La-La Land had compromised the authenticity of the Black experience by making Ryan Gosling‘s character a big jazz fan, which white guys aren’t allowed to be.