After the success of "North by Northwest," eccentric 60-year-old director Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) turned his creative attention to Robert Bloch's novel "Psycho," determined to make something entirely different.

Based on brutal serial murders committed by psychopathic Ed Gein, it was an unconventional property that no one else in Hollywood would bank on, including Paramount Pictures, which is why Hitch mortgaged his house and funded it with his own money. That financial risk infuriates his collaborative writer/film editor wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), who decides to embark on her own project with an ambitious young screenwriter, Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), arousing her husband's jealousy.

Propelling the Hitchcocks' marital strife is his obsessive infatuation with a succession of svelte, blonde leading ladies, including Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, Tippi Hedren and Vera Miles (Jessica Biel). This time, it's Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson).

Adapting Stephen Rebello's "Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho," director Sacha Gervasi ("Anvil: The Story of Anvil") and screenwriter John J. McLaughlin chronicle the birth of this complex and controversial horror picture to its premiere in 1960, aided and abetted by Danny Elfman's evocative musical score.

Hopkins brilliantly captures the distinctive look and dry, droll manner of rotund Alfred Hitchcock, while Mirren adroitly encapsulates the inner conflict of the intensely creative woman who was constantly relegated to the supportive role of "Mrs. Hitchcock."

From the time they met in Berlin and were married in 1925 to his death in 1980, Alma served as her husband's indispensable muse and tenacious, yet uncredited collaborator. Alma died in 1982, survived by their only child, Patricia, who subsequently wrote "Alma Hitchcock: The Woman Behind the Man." One of Patricia's daughters, Mary Stone, told "The New York Times": "It's time someone heard about her. She deserves 100% of the recognition she's getting."

Plus there are strong supporting turns from Toni Collette and Michael Stuhlbarg, among others.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Hitchcock" is an engaging 8. Expect well-deserved Oscar-nominations for both Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren.

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