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Anatomy of a Pyscho

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What is the science of violence? Once billed as "A Terrifying, Searching Exposé," the 1961 film "Anatomy Of A Psycho" exploits the notion that violent behavior may have a clear, scientific explanation – an anatomy that can be dissected, observed and understood.

The "horror" of this film lies in the irrational behavior of the movie's "psycho" main character, Chet. The (literally) scarred Chet turns into a killer after the brother who raised him is executed for murder. Initially bent on avenging what he considers his brother's unjust death, Chet chooses victims who are only indirectly associated with those responsible for his brother's conviction – the irrationality of which might be considered a symptom of his disease.

Said to have been an opportunistic play on two earlier films, "Anatomy Of A Murder" and "Psycho," this film was written by Don Devlin who co-wrote "Thunder Island" (1963) with Jack Nicholson and went on to produce titles such as "My Bodyguard" and "The Witches of Eastwick." The Bronx native got his start in the film industry as a character actor, starting with small television roles and can be seen playing the supporting character Moe.

"Anatomy Of A Psycho" also features the last film performance of Ronnie Burns (Mickey), the adoptive son of the great comedians George Burns and Gracey Allen. He continued behind the camera for a few years more before leaving the entertainment industry for real estate investment, Arabian horses and life on a ranch in Santa Ynez. Though he had access to Hollywood's A-list lifestyle, the avid surfer was said to have chosen a more subdued existence than he might have.

Director Boris Petroff, a.k.a. Brooke L. Peters, is also credited with "The Unearthly" (1957), starring John Carradine. Jane Mann wrote the screenplays for both "The Unearthly" and "Anatomy Of A Psycho."

The Science

Theresa Martinez

Dr. Theresa MartinezTheresa Martinez, Assistant Vice President for Academic Outreach at the University of Utah, explains how people can get help accessing higher education and discusses the attitudes about women and education in the film “Anatomy of a Psycho.”


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Dr. Theresa Martinez

Academic Outreach at the University of Utah

University of Utah Career Services

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