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Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Psycho 'most thrilling film ever'
Janet Leigh in Psycho
Psycho: Janet Leigh still avoids taking showers
Alfred Hitchcock's classic slasher movie Psycho has been voted most thrilling film of all time by Hollywood directors, actors, studio executives and critics.

The 1960 black and white film beat Jaws and The Exorcist, which came second and third in the top 100 compiled by the American Film Institute.

Most thrilling films of all time
1. Psycho
2. Jaws
3. The Exorcist
4. North by Northwest
5. The Silence of the Lambs
6. Alien
7. The Birds
8. The French Connection
9. Rosemary's Baby
10. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Three Hitchcock films and two Steven Spielberg films appear in the top 10.

North by Northwest actress Eva Marie Saint said London-born Hitchcock's talent lay in his ability to create suspense without resorting to car crashes, explosions and high body counts.

"When a film scares you that much, it stays with you," she said.

Actress Janet Leigh, who played Norman Bates' victim in Psycho's infamous shower scene, said the film "scared the hell" out of her when she first saw the finished version.

Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs
Silence of the Lambs: Number five
"Making it and seeing it are two different things," she said. "That staccato music and the knife flashing. You'd swear it's going into the body."

She says she still avoids taking showers because of the film.

Leigh played Marion Crane, who was killed by the seemingly quiet motel manager Bates, played by Anthony Perkins.

About 1,800 members of the film industry chose the films from a shortlist of 400 compiled by the AFI - including all 16 Hitchcock projects.

Hitchcock also had the accolade of appearing in the most films on the list, making cameos in eight films.

But Harrison Ford and Claude Rains were jointly named best actor, with starring roles in four films each.

The list was dominated by horror, with Exorcist actress Linda Blair, who played the possessed Regan MacNeil, saying fans were so scared they remember exactly when, where and with whom they saw it.

Steven Spielberg collecting a Golden Globe in 1999
Spielberg: Six films in top 100
"If you do one project in your lifetime that people remember like that, that's a terrific thing to have been a part of," she said.

Dramas including The Godfather (number 11) and The Great Escape (19) broke up the horror domination, as did Westerns such as High Noon (20) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (54).

Even The Wizard of Oz made it onto the list, at number 43.

"It cuts across drama and disaster and epic and horror and music and noir and sci-fi and sports and Westerns," said AFI director Jean Picker Firstenburg of the chart.

"Each of these genres can affect you with the same emotional response, which is that your heart races."

The oldest film on the list was 1923's Safety Last (97), featuring Harold Lloyd's dazzling stunts on a high-rise building.

The most recent were The Sixth Sense (60) and The Matrix (66), both from 1999.

The AFI produces a top 100 chart on a different theme every year.

Last year, Some Like It Hot was named best comedy.

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See also:

09 Aug 99 | Hitchcock100
Hitchcock: A life in film
22 Jul 98 | Entertainment
Psycho analysed
14 Aug 99 | Hitchcock100
A chilling moment with Hitch
29 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Steven Spielberg: Movie man
30 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Spielberg receives Royal honour
01 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg's top directing honour
31 May 99 | Tom Brook
Hollywood's controversial list
23 Jun 98 | Entertainment
List of top 100 films a "scandal"
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