Plot: In 1959, Sir Alfred Hitchcock (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and his more often than not unheralded collaborator Alma Reville (Dame Helen Mirren), his wife, are revelling in their latest critical and box-office success: North by Northwest (1959). Some in the business believe Sir Alfred, now at age sixty, should hang up his hat while he is still on top, while the brass at Paramount Pictures, to whom he is under contract for one more movie, just wants him to follow North by Northwest (1959) with something in a similar vein to make them money. Sir Alfred, however, wants to stir his creative juices, unlike he has felt he has done with any movie of late. Against the desires of others, including Alma, he is determined that that next project will be a horror movie, specifically an adaptation of a book, that project which will eventually become Psycho (1960). For maximum impact, he wants to buy up whatever existing copies of the book are on the market, so that the public will have no idea what to expect with the movie when it's released, and to have the set closed. While Alma does faithfully support him in this endeavor, Barney Balaban (Richard Portnow), the President at Paramount Pictures, and Geoffrey Shurlock (Kurtwood Smith) with the Censor Board, do not, the former who refuses to finance the movie, leading to Sir Alfred needing to find alternate financing or self-finance, which would result in financial ruin if the movie does not make money, and the latter threatening not to provide certification over the proposed shower scene. These are only two of the external obstacles beyond some on-set problems, including Sir Alfred's mutual dislike of co-star Vera Miles (Jessica Beil), due to their previous working situations. Through it all, there may be issues at home as Sir Alfred suspects Alma of having an affair with writer Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), who wanted Sir Alfred to use his latest manuscript as the basis for that follow-up to North by Northwest (1959), while Alma, long having despaired over Sir Alfred's obsessions with his leading ladies, most specifically Grace Kelly, just wants something in her life separate from him.
Alternative Plot: Following his great success with "North by Northwest," director Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) makes a daring choice for his next project: an adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel "Psycho." When the studio refuses to back the picture, Hitchcock decides to pay for it himself in exchange for a percentage of the profits. His wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), has serious reservations about the film but supports him nonetheless. Still, the production strains the couple's marriage.