78 / 52

Quebec Premiere
  • USA
  • 2017
  • 91 mins
  • English
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Official Selection: Sundance 2017, Hot Docs 2017

“For a long time now, Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO has been two movies, and the hypnotic film-geek documentary 78/52 is an ingenious and irreverent master class in both of them.” – Owen Gleiberman, VARIETY

“Unpacks an entire semester's worth of cinema studies, coming to a unified theory of how one act of on-screen murder became the perfect ‘image of the uncaring universe’”- Barry Hertz, GLOBE AND MAIL

You’ve likely been reading about this one for some time now since its wildly acclaimed Sundance debut. 78/52 is a feature-length exploration of one of the most pivotal sequences in Cinema’s history: the legendary shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 gamechanger-in-every-sense PSYCHO. More than any other moment in film, this sequence can be seen as the point that American cinema transitioned from old Hollywood sensibilities to a darker, more frank and confrontational place (though intellectually, Hitchcock had arguably already gone even darker 12 years earlier in his underappreciated masterpiece ROPE). Its title refers to the number of set-ups and cuts with which the scene was crafted, a fittingly obsessive statement-of-intent for the doc itself. Can a three-minute sequence be discussed for 90 minutes? Among its many miracles, 78/52 will leave you wanting even more.

Over the course of several years, director Alexandre O. Philippe (THE PEOPLE VS GEORGE LUCAS) has assembled a fascinating stream of observations and insights from a remarkable assembly of filmmakers, editors, screenwriters, composers, historians, sociologists and academics, many of whom have clearly been pondering the subject for years, even decades. Among them are Peter Bogdanovich, Karyn Kusama, Guillermo del Toro, Richard Stanley, Walter Murch, Bob Murawski, Eli Roth, Danny Elfman, Elijah Wood, Neil Marshall, Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead and of course, Jamie Lee Curtis, speaking here from the unique vantage point of being both Janet Leigh’s daughter and a legendary horror heroine of a later generation. Philippe even tracked down Marli Renfro, who worked as Leigh’s body double during the shoot and has stories that could truly be told by no one else.

Cleverly constructed and engrossing through and through, 78/52 is an illuminating cinephile journey that traces the anatomy of a landmark sequence and explores its cultural influences and implications with enough thoughts to fuel a century of conversations to come. We’re proud to say that in addition to featuring a wealth of festival alumni onscreen, it was birthed out of Fantasia’s Frontières co-production market.

- Mitch Davis

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