Psycho (1960 film): Wikis

  
  

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Psycho
The movie poster for Psycho features a large image of a young woman in white underwear. The names of the main actors are featured down the right side of the poster. Smaller images of Anthony Perkins and John Gavin are above the words, written in large print, "Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho".
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Joseph Stefano
Starring Anthony Perkins
Vera Miles
John Gavin
Janet Leigh
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography John L. Russell
Editing by George Tomasini
Studio Shamley Productions
Distributed by 1960–1968:
Paramount Pictures
1968-present:
Universal Pictures
Release date(s) June 16, 1960 (1960-06-16)
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $806,947
Gross revenue $32 million
Followed by Psycho II

Psycho is a 1960 American thriller/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film is based on the screenplay by Joseph Stefano, who adapted it from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was based on the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein.[1]

The film depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who is in hiding at a motel after embezzling from her employer, and the motel's owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and the aftermath of their encounter.[2]

Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted a re-review which was overwhelmingly positive and led to four Academy Award nominations. Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock's best films[3] and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics.[4] The film spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake, and an unsuccessful television spin-off.

Contents

Plot

Set in Phoenix, Arizona, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from her employer to marry her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin), and she flees to Sam's house with the money. Along the way, she trades in her car to evade authorities, and during a storm on the trip, she checks into the isolated Bates Motel. The proprietor, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), invites her to dinner at his family house on the hill overlooking the motel. When he leaves to prepare dinner, Marion hears him arguing with his mother, who tells him that she "won't have him bringing in strange, young girls for supper." Norman brings dinner to the motel to eat there instead. The two proceed to have a conversation over dinner, topics ranging from taxidermy to Norman's mother. When Marion suggests that his mother be institutionalized, he gets upset, saying he wants to do so but does not want to abandon her. He compares his life to being in a "trap," and observes that this could apply to many situations. Marion agrees with him, telling him that she "stepped into a private trap [back in Phoenix]." Afterward, Marion returns to her room, where she decides to avoid a similar trap and resolves to return the money. Norman, who has become intrigued with her, watches her undress through a hole in the wall, obscured by a painting. After Marion counts the money, she takes a shower. During the shower, an anonymous female assailant enters the bathroom and stabs her to death. Back at the house, Norman calls out to his mother "Mother! Oh, God, mother! Blood! Blood!" He runs to the motel, where he finds the corpse and is horrified. Norman presumes his mother killed Marion, so he tries to erase all traces of the crime to protect her. He puts Marion's body and all her possessions, including money hidden in newspaper, into the trunk of her car and sinks it in a nearby swamp.

Sam is contacted by Marion's sister Lila (Vera Miles) and private detective Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam), who was hired by Crane's employer to recover the money. Arbogast traces Marion to the motel and questions Norman, who unconvincingly lies that Marion only stayed for one night. Arbogast wants to question Norman's mother, but Norman refuses to give permission, saying that she is ill. Arbogast calls Lila to update her and tells her he will call again after he questions Norman's mother. Arbogast returns to the house, and proceeds up the staircase. Arbogast is attacked at the top of the stairs by a person who slashes his face with a knife, pushes him down the stairs, and then stabs him to death.

Back at Sam's shop, Lila and Sam are puzzled that Arbogast has not returned for three hours, considering he said it would only be an hour. At the house, in an unseen conversation, Norman confronts his mother and urges her to hide in the fruit cellar, theorizing that more people will come looking for both Marion and Arbogast. She rejects the idea and orders him out of her room, but against her will Norman carries her down to the cellar.

Lila and Sam go visit Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers, who is perplexed to learn that Arbogast saw Norman's mother in the window, as he says "Norman Bates' mother has been dead and buried in Greenlawn Cemetery for the past 10 years." Shocked, Lila and Sam realize that the only way to find out the truth is to go to the motel themselves. Posing as a married couple, Sam and Lila check into the motel and search Marion's room, where they find a scrap of paper stuck in the toilet with "$40,000" written on it. While Sam distracts Norman, Lila sneaks into the house. Sam suspects Norman of killing Marion to get her money, so their conversation begins to get heated. He suggests to Norman that he killed Marion for the money so he could buy a new motel. Realizing Lila is not around, Norman knocks Sam unconscious and rushes to the house. Lila sees him approaching and hides in the cellar where she discovers a woman sitting in a rocking chair with her back to her. Shockingly, it is the semi-preserved and mummified body of Norman's mother. Wearing his mother's clothes and a wig and carrying a knife, Norman enters and tries to attack Lila, but she is rescued by Sam.

After Norman's arrest, a forensic psychiatrist tells Sam and Lila that Norman's dead mother is living in Norman's psyche as an alternate personality. After the death of Norman's father, the pair lived as if they were the only people in the world. When his mother found a lover, Norman went mad with jealousy and murdered them both. Consumed with guilt, Norman "erased the crime" by bringing his mother back to life in his own mind. He stole her corpse and preserved the body. When he was "Mother", he acted, talked and dressed as she would, and when Norman's own personality felt affection toward another person, namely Marion, the "Mother" side of his mind would become extremely jealous, and it was under the influence of the Mother psyche of Norman's mind that prompted him to kill her. The psychiatrist concludes that the "Mother" personality now has complete control of Norman's mind.

In the final scene, Norman sits in a cell, thinking in "Mother's" voice.

It's sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son, but I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end, he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man, as if I could do anything except just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. Well, they know I can't even move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do suspect me. [pause] They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even gonna swat that fly. I hope they are watching. They'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly."

The final shot shows Marion's car being recovered from the swamp.

Cast

  • Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the mentally ill young man who operates the Bates Motel.
  • Vera Miles as Lila Crane Marion's sister who joins Sam Loomis to find out about her sister's murder.
  • Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, the woman who steals $40,000 in cash and is later murdered at the Bates Motel while taking a shower.
  • Martin Balsam as Detective Milton Arbogast, the private investigator hired to solve the disappearance of Marion Crane. He is later murdered in the Bates Mansion.
  • John Gavin as Sam Loomis, the boyfriend of Marion Crane. He later joins her sister Lila to find out about Marion's disappearance.
  • Simon Oakland as Dr. Fred Richmond, the psychiatrist in the county where Bates Motel is located.
  • John McIntire as Sheriff Al Chambers, the local sheriff who lives not far from the Bates Motel.
  • Lurene Tuttle as Mrs. Chambers, the sheriff's wife.
  • Frank Albertson as Tom Cassidy, the wealthy rancher who hands over the $40,000.
  • Patricia Hitchcock as Caroline, Marion Crane's coworker.
  • John Anderson as California Charlie, the car dealer who helps Marion trade in her old car for a new one.
  • Mort Mills as the highway patrolman who questions Marion when he finds her pulled over to the side of the road.
  • Virginia Gregg, Jeanette Nolan, and Paul Jasmin (all uncredited) as the voice of Norma Bates, Norman's deceased mother who frequently takes over his mind completely.
  • Ted Knight plays a police officer in the ending sequence.

The success of Psycho jump-started the career of Anthony Perkins, who soon began to suffer from typecasting.[5] However, when Perkins was asked whether he would have still taken the role knowing that he would be typecast afterward, he replied with a definite "yes".[6]

Until her death, Leigh continued to receive strange and sometimes threatening calls, letters, and even tapes detailing what they would like to do to Marion Crane. One letter was so "grotesque" that it was passed along to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), two of whose agents visited Leigh and told her the culprits had been located and that she should notify the FBI if she received any more letters of that type.[7] Norman Bates' mother was voiced by Paul Jasmin, Virginia Gregg, and Jeanette Nolan, who also provided some screams for Lila's discovery of mother's corpse. The three voices were thoroughly mixed, except for the last speech, which is all Gregg's.[8]

Alfred Hitchcock's cameo is a signature occurrence in most of his films. In Psycho, he can be seen through a window, wearing a Stetson hat, standing outside Marion Crane's office (seven minutes into the film).[9] Wardrobe mistress Rita Riggs says that Hitchcock chose this scene for his cameo so that he could be in a scene with his daughter (who played one of Marion's colleagues). Others have suggested that he chose this early appearance to avoid distracting the audience.[10]

Interpretations

Subversion of romance through irony

In Psycho, Hitchcock subverts the romantic elements that are seen in most of his work. The film is instead ironic as it prevents "clarity and fulfillment" of romance. The past is central to the film; the main characters "struggle to understand and resolve destructive personal histories" and ultimately fail.[11] Lesley Brill writes, "The inexorable forces of past sins and mistakes crush hopes for regeneration and present happiness." The crushed hope is highlighted by the death of the protagonist, Marion Crane, halfway through the film.[12] Marion is like Persephone of Greek mythology, who is abducted temporarily from the world of living. The myth does not sustain with Marion, who dies hopelessly in her room at Bates Motel. The room is wallpapered with floral print like Persephone's flowers, but they are only "reflected in mirrors, as images of images—twice removed from reality". In the scene of Marion's death, Brill describes the transition from the bathroom drain to Marion's lifeless eye, "Like the eye of the amorphous sea creature at the end of Fellini's La Dolce Vita, it marks the birth of death, an emblem of final hopelessness and corruption." Unlike heroines in Hitchcock's other films, she does not reestablish her innocence or discover love.[13]

Marion is deprived of "the humble treasures of love, marriage, home, and family", which Hitchcock considers elements of human happiness. There exists among Psycho's secondary characters a lack of "familial warmth and stability", which demonstrates the unlikelihood of domestic fantasies. The film contains ironic jokes about domesticity, such as when Sam writes a letter to Marion, agreeing to marry her, only after the audience sees her buried in the swamp. Sam and Marion's sister Lila, in investigating Marion's disappearance, develop an "increasingly connubial" relationship, a development that Marion is denied.[14] Norman also suffers a similarly perverse definition of domesticity. He has "an infantile and divided personality" and lives in a mansion whose past occupies the present. Norman displays stuffed birds that are "frozen in time" and keeps childhood toys and stuffed animals in his room. He is hostile toward suggestions to move from the past, such as with Marion's suggestion to put his mother "someplace" and as a result kills Marion to preserve his past. Brill explains, 'Someplace' for Norman is where his delusions of love, home, and family are declared invalid and exposed."[15]

Light and darkness feature prominently in Psycho. The first shot after the intertitle is the sunny landscape of Phoenix before the camera enters a dark hotel room where Sam and Marion appear as bright figures. Marion is almost immediately cast in darkness; she is preceded by her shadow as she reenters the office to steal money and as she enters her bedroom. When she flees Phoenix, darkness descends on her drive. The following sunny morning is punctured by a watchful police officer with black sunglasses, and she finally arrives at Bates Motel in near darkness.[16] Bright lights are also "the ironic equivalent of darkness" in the film, blinding instead of illuminating. Examples of brightness include the opening window shades in Sam and Marion's hotel room, vehicle headlights at night, the neon sign at Bates Motel, "the glaring white" of the bathroom tiles where Marion dies, and the fruit cellar's exposed light bulb shining on the corpse of Norman's mother. Such bright lights typically characterize danger and violence in Hitchcock's films.[17]

Motifs

The film often features shadows, mirrors, windows, and, less so, water. The shadows are present from the very first scene where the blinds make bars on Marion and Sam as they peer out the window. The stuffed birds' shadows loom over Marion as she eats, and Norman's mother is seen in only shadows until the very end. More subtly, backlighting turns the rakes in the hardware store into talons above Lila's head.[18]

Mirrors reflect Marion as she packs, her eyes as she checks the rear-view mirror, her face in the policeman's sunglasses, and her hands as she counts out the money in the car dealership's bathroom. A motel window serves as a mirror by reflecting Marion and Norman together. Hitchcock shoots through Marion's windshield and the telephone booth, when Arbogast phones Sam and Lila. The heavy downpour can be seen as foreshadowing of the shower, and it letting up can be seen as a symbol of Marion making up her mind to return to Phoenix.[18]

There are a number of references to birds. Marion's last name is Crane and she is from Phoenix. She drives a Ford Falcon. Norman's hobby is stuffing birds, and he comments that Marion eats like a bird.[18]

Psychoanalytic interpretation

Psycho has been called "the first psychoanalytical thriller."[19] The sex and violence in the film were unlike anything previously seen in a mainstream film. "[T]he shower scene is both feared and desired," wrote French film critic Serge Kaganski. "Hitchcock may be scaring his female viewers out of their wits, but he is turning his male viewers into potential rapists, since Janet Leigh has been turning men on ever since she appeared in her brassiere in the first scene."[19]

In his documentary The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, Slavoj Žižek remarks that Norman Bates' mansion has three floors, parallelling the three levels that psychoanalysis attributes to the human mind: the first floor would be the superego, where Bates' mother lives; the ground floor is then Bates' ego, where he functions as an apparently normal human being; and finally, the basement would be Bates' id. Žižek interprets Bates' moving his mother's corpse from first floor to basement as a symbol for the deep connection that psychoanalysis posits between superego and id.[20]

Production

Development

Psycho is based on the 1959 novel of the same name authored by Robert Bloch, and the novel was based on the case of Ed Gein, a convicted serial killer from Wisconsin.[21] Peggy Robertson, a production assistant to Alfred Hitchcock, read Anthony Boucher's positive review of the novel and decided to show the novel to Hitchcock even though readers at Paramount Pictures, Hitchcock's home studio, rejected its premise for a film. Hitchcock acquired rights to the novel and reportedly ordered Robertson to buy up copies to keep the novel's surprises for the film.[22] Hitchcock chose to film Psycho to recover from two aborted projects with Paramount: Flamingo Feather and No Bail for the Judge. Hitchcock also faced genre competitors whose works were critically compared to his own, and he sought to film new material. The director also disliked stars' salary demands and trusted only a few people to choose prospective material, including Robertson.[23]

Executives at Paramount did not want to produce the film and refused to provide the budget that Hitchcock received from them for previous films with the studio.[24] The director decided to plan for Psycho to be filmed quickly and inexpensively, similar to an episode of his ongoing television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and hiring the TV crew from the series. He proposed the cost-conscious approach to Paramount, but executives again refused to finance Psycho and told him that its soundstages were occupied or booked even as its production was experiencing a slump. Hitchcock countered with the offer to finance Psycho personally and to film it at Universal-International if Paramount would be the distributor. He also deferred his director's fee of $250,000 for 60 percent ownership of the film's negative. Executives could not refuse the offer and accepted it. Despite Hitchcock's deal, he also experienced resistance from producer Herbert Coleman and Shamley Productions executive Joan Harrison, who did not think Psycho would be successful.[25]

Hitchcock acquired the film rights anonymously through an agent for $9,000.[26]

Writing

James Cavanaugh, who had written some of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television shows, wrote the original screenplay.[27] Hitchcock rejected it, saying that the story dragged and read like a television short horror story.[28] His assistant recalls that the treatment was very dull.[27] Hitchcock reluctantly agreed to meet with Stefano, who had worked on only one film before. Despite his newness to the industry, the meeting went well, and Stefano was hired.[27]

The screenplay is relatively faithful to the novel, with a few notable adaptations by Hitchcock and Stefano. The book features Mary Crane, from Dallas, Texas as its heroine and protagonist. Since, at the time, a real Mary Crane existed in Phoenix, Hitchcock renamed the character Marion Crane.[29] Stefano also changed Marion's telltale earring found in the bathroom after her death to a scrap of paper in the toilet. When developing the characters for film, Hitchcock asked Stefano why he did not like the Norman Bates character (who, in the book, is middle-aged and more overtly pathetic), to which Stefano replied that Norman was unsympathetic, unattractive, and a drinker. Hitchcock suggested Perkins as a sympathetic man, and Stefano agreed.[28] Other changes Stefano made for the screenplay include the location of Arbogast's death from the foyer to the stairwell. He also changed the novel's budding romance between Sam and Lila to just a friendly relationship, and instead of using the two to explain Norman's mental condition he replaced them with a professional psychiatrist.[30] The novel is more violent than the film; for instance, the girl gets beheaded in the shower, as opposed to stabbed to death.[27]

Pre-production

Paramount, whose contract guaranteed another film by Hitchcock, did not want Hitchcock to make Psycho. Paramount was expecting No Bail for the Judge starring Audrey Hepburn who became pregnant and had to bow out, leading Hitchcock to scrap the production. Their official stance was that the book was "too repulsive" and "impossible for films", and nothing but another of his star-studded mystery thrillers.[26][31] They did not like "anything about it at all" and denied him his usual budget.[26][31] So, Hitchcock financed the film's creation through his own Shamley Productions, shooting at Universal Studios under the Revue television unit.[32][33] Hitchcock's original Bates Motel and Psycho House movie set buildings, which were constructed on the same stage as Lon Chaney Sr.'s The Phantom of the Opera, are still standing at Universal Studios in Universal City near Hollywood and are a regular attraction on the studio's tour.[34][35] As a further result of cost cutting, Hitchcock chose to film Psycho in black and white, keeping the budget under $1,000,000.[36] Other reasons for shooting in black and white were to prevent the shower scene from being too gory and that he was a fan of Les Diaboliques's use of black and white.[37][38]

To keep costs down and because he was most comfortable around them, Hitchcock took most of his crew from his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including the cinematographer, set designer, script supervisor, and first assistant director.[39] He hired regular collaborators Bernard Herrmann as music composer, George Tomasini as editor, and Saul Bass for the title design and storyboarding of the shower scene. In all, his crew cost $62,000.[40]

Through the strength of his reputation, Hitchcock cast Leigh for a quarter of her usual fee, paying only $25,000 (in the 1967 book Hitchcock/Truffaut, Hitchcock said that Leigh owed Paramount one final film on her seven-year contract which she had signed in 1953). His first choice, Leigh agreed after having only read the novel and making no inquiry into her salary.[29] Her co-star, Anthony Perkins, agreed to $40,000.[40] Both stars were experienced and proven box-office draws.

Paramount did distribute the film, but four years later Hitchcock sold his stock in Shamley to Universal's parent company and his next six films were made at and distributed by Universal.[33] After another four years, Paramount sold all rights to Universal.[33] When the film became a major hit, the Hitchcocks received a much larger share of the profit than they would have otherwise.

Filming

The film, independently produced by Hitchcock, was shot at Revue Studios,[41] the same location as his television show. Psycho was shot on a tight budget of $806,947.55,[42] beginning on November 11, 1959 and ending on February 1, 1960.[43][44] Filming started in the morning and finished by six or earlier on Thursdays (when Hitchcock and his wife would dine at Chasen's).[45] Nearly the whole film was shot with 50 mm lenses on 35 mm cameras. This trick closely mimicked normal human vision, which helped to further involve the audience.[46]

Before shooting began in November, Hitchcock dispatched assistant director Hilton Green to Phoenix to scout locations and shoot the opening scene. The shot was supposed to be an aerial shot of Phoenix that slowly zoomed into the hotel window of a passionate Marion and Sam. Ultimately, the helicopter footage proved too shaky and had to be spliced with footage from the studio.[47] Another crew filmed day and night footage on Highway 99 between Fresno and Bakersfield, California for projection when Marion drives from Phoenix. They also provided the location shots for the scene where she is pulled over by the highway patrolman.[47] In one street scene shot in downtown Phoenix, Christmas decorations were discovered to be visible; rather than re-shoot the footage, Hitchcock chose to add a graphic to the opening scene marking the date as "Friday, December the Eleventh".[48]

A black and white photograph of a silhouetted man standing on a hill in front of a large, imposing Gothic house
The Bates mansion situated on a hill overlooking the motel

Green also took photos of a prepared list of 140 locations for later reconstruction in the studio. These included many real estate offices and homes such as those belonging to Marion and her sister.[47] He also found a girl who looked just like he imagined Marion and photographed her whole wardrobe, which would enable Hitchcock to demand realistic looks from Helen Colvig, the wardrobe supervisor.[47]

Both the leads, Perkins and Leigh, were given freedom to interpret their roles and improvise as long as it did not involve moving the camera.[49] An example of Perkins' improvisation is Norman's habit of munching on candy corn.[50]

Throughout filming, Hitchcock created and hid various versions of the 'Mother corpse' prop in Leigh's dressing room closet. There were no hard feelings, as Leigh took the joke well, and she wondered whether it was done to keep her on edge and thus more in character or to judge which corpse would be scarier for the audience.[51]

During shooting, Hitchcock was forced to uncharacteristically do retakes for some scenes. The final shot in the shower scene, which starts with an extreme close-up on Marion's eye and pulls up and out, proved very difficult for Leigh, since the water splashing in her face made her want to blink, and the cameraman had trouble as well since he had to manually focus while moving the camera.[49] Retakes were also required for the opening scene, since Hitchcock felt that Leigh and Gavin were not passionate enough.[52] Leigh had trouble saying "Not inordinately" for the real estate office scene, requiring additional retakes.[53] Lastly, the scene in which the mother is discovered required complicated coordination of the chair turning around, Miles hitting the light bulb, and a lens flare, which proved to be the sticking point. Hitchcock forced retakes until all three elements were to his satisfaction.[54]

According to Hitchcock, a series of shots with Arbogast going up the stairs in the Bates house before he is stabbed were directed by Hilton Green, working with storyboard artist Saul Bass' drawings only while Hitchcock was incapacitated with a "temperature". However, upon viewing the dailies of the shots, Hitchcock was forced to scrap them. He claimed they were "no good" because they did not portray "an innocent person but a sinister man who was going up those stairs".[55] The scene was later re-shot by Hitchcock, though a little of the cut footage made its way into the film. Filming the murder of Arbogast proved problematic due to the overhead camera angle necessary to hide the film's twist. A camera track constructed on pulleys alongside the stairway together with a chair-like device had to be constructed and thoroughly tested over a period of weeks.[56]

Shower scene

The film's pivotal scene, and one of the most famous scenes in cinema history, is the murder of Janet Leigh's character in the shower. As such, it spawned numerous myths and legends. It was shot from December 17 to December 23, 1959, and features 77 different camera angles.[57] The scene "runs 3 minutes and includes 50 cuts."[58] Most of the shots are extreme close-ups, except for medium shots in the shower directly before and directly after the murder. The combination of the close shots with the short duration between cuts makes the sequence feel longer, more subjective, more uncontrolled, and more violent than would the images if they presented alone or in a wider angle.

A silhouetted figure brandishes a knife towards the camera
The shadowy mother figure from the famous shower scene.

In order to capture the straight-on shot of the shower head, the camera had to be equipped with a long lens. The inner holes on the spout were blocked and the camera placed farther back, so that the water appears to be hitting the lens but actually went around and past it.[59]

The soundtrack of screeching violins, violas, and cellos was an original all-strings piece by composer Bernard Herrmann entitled "The Murder." Hitchcock originally wanted the sequence (and all motel scenes) to play without music,[60] but Herrmann begged him to try it with the cue he had composed. Afterward, Hitchcock agreed that it vastly intensified the scene, and he nearly doubled Herrmann's salary.[61][62][63] The blood in the scene is in fact chocolate syrup, which shows up better on black-and-white film, and has more realistic density than stage blood.[1] The sound of the knife entering flesh was created by plunging a knife into a melon.[64][65]

It is sometimes claimed that Leigh was not in the shower the entire time, and that a body double was used. However, in an interview with Roger Ebert, and in the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, Leigh stated that she was in the scene the entire time; Hitchcock used a live model as her stand-in only for the scenes in which Norman wraps up Marion's body in a shower curtain and places her body in the trunk of her car.[66]

Another popular myth is that in order for Leigh's scream in the shower to sound realistic, Hitchcock used ice-cold water. Leigh denied this on numerous occasions, saying that he was very generous with a supply of hot water.[67] Also, all of the screams are Leigh's.[8]

Another myth was that Leigh was only told by Hitchcock to stand in the shower, and had no idea that her character was actually going to be murdered the way it was, causing an authentic reaction. The most notorious urban legend arising from the production of Psycho began when Saul Bass, the graphic designer who created many of the title sequences of Hitchcock's films and storyboarded some of his scenes, claimed that he had actually directed the shower scene. This claim was refuted by several people associated with the film. Leigh, who is the focus of the scene, stated, "...absolutely not! I have emphatically said this in any interview I've ever given. I've said it to his face in front of other people... I was in that shower for seven days, and, believe me, Alfred Hitchcock was right next to his camera for every one of those seventy-odd shots."[68] Hilton Green, the assistant director and cameraman, also denies Bass' claim: "There is not a shot in that movie that I didn't roll the camera for. And I can tell you I never rolled the camera for Mr. Bass."[68] Roger Ebert, a longtime admirer of Hitchcock's work, was also amused by the rumor, stating, "It seems unlikely that a perfectionist with an ego like Hitchcock's would let someone else direct such a scene."[69]

However, commentators such as Stephen Rebello and Bill Krohn have established that Saul Bass did contribute to the creation of that scene in his capacity as a graphic artist.[70] Bass is credited for the design of the opening credits, and also as "Pictorial Consultant" in the credits. When interviewing Hitchcock, François Truffaut asked about the extent of Bass' contribution to the film, to which Hitchcock said that Bass designed the titles as well as provided storyboards for the Arbogast murder (which he claimed to have rejected), but made no mention of Bass providing storyboards for the shower scene. According to Bill Krohn's Hitchcock At Work, Bass's first claim to have directed the scene was in 1970, when he provided a magazine with 48 drawings used as storyboards as proof.[71]

Krohn's analysis of the production of Psycho in his book Hitchcock at Work, while refuting Bass' claims for directing the scene, notes that these storyboards did introduce key aspects of the final scene—most notably, the fact that the killer appears as a silhouette, and details such as the shower curtain being torn down, the curtain rod being used as a barrier, and the transition from the hole of the drainage pipe to Marion Crane's dead eyes which (as Krohn notes) is highly reminiscent of the iris titles for Vertigo.[71]

Krohn's research also notes that Hitchcock shot the scene with two cameras: one a BNC Mitchell, the other a handheld camera called an Éclair which Orson Welles had used in Touch of Evil (1958). In order to create an ideal montage for the greatest emotional impact on the audience, Hitchcock shot a lot of footage of this scene which he trimmed down in the editing room. He even brought a Moviola on the set to gauge the footage required. The final sequence, which his editor George Tomasini worked on with Hitchcock's advice, went far beyond the basic paradigms set up by Bass' storyboards.[71]

According to Donald Spoto in The Dark Side of Genius, Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville, spotted a blooper in one of the last screenings of Psycho before its official release: after Marion was supposedly dead, one could see her blink. According to Patricia Hitchcock, talking in Laurent Bouzereau's "making of" documentary, Alma spotted that Leigh's character appeared to take a breath. In either case, the postmortem activity was edited out and was never seen by audiences.[27] Although Marion's eyes should be dilated after her death, the contacts necessary for this effect would have required six weeks of acclimatization to wear them, so Hitchcock decided to forgo them.[72]

It is often claimed that, despite its graphic nature, the "shower scene" never once shows a knife puncturing flesh.[73][74][75] However, a frame by frame analysis of the sequence clearly shows one shot in which the knife penetrates Leigh's abdomen; actually a prosthetic prop used for this shot. Leigh herself was so affected by this scene when she saw it, that she no longer took showers unless she absolutely had to; she would lock all the doors and windows and would leave the bathroom and shower door open.[76] She never realized until she first watched the film "how vulnerable and defenseless one is".[27]

Leigh and Hitchcock fully discussed what the scene meant:

Marion had decided to go back to Phoenix, come clean, and take the consequence, so when she stepped into the bathtub it was as if she were stepping into the baptismal waters. The spray beating down on her was purifying the corruption from her mind, purging the evil from her soul. She was like a virgin again, tranquil, at peace.[68]

Film theorist Robin Wood also discusses how the shower washes "away her guilt". He comments upon the "alienation effect" of killing off the "apparent center of the film" with which spectators had identified.[77]

Soundtrack

Score

Hitchcock insisted that Bernard Herrmann write the score for Psycho, in spite of the composer's refusal to accept a reduced fee for the film's lower budget.[78] The resulting score, according to Christopher Palmer in The Composer in Hollywood (1990) is "perhaps Herrmann's most spectacular Hitchcock achievement."[79] Hitchcock was pleased with the tension and drama the score added to the film,[80] later remarking "33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music."[81]

Herrmann used the lowered music budget to his advantage by writing for a string orchestra rather than a full symphonic ensemble.[78] He thought of the single tone color of the all-string soundtrack as a way of reflecting the black and white cinematography of the film.[82] Hollywood composer Fred Steiner, in an analysis of the score to Psycho, points out that string instruments gave Herrmann access to a wider range in tone, dynamics and instrumental special effects than any other single instrumental group would have.[83]

The main title music, a tense, contrapuntal piece, sets the tone of impending violence, and returns three times on the soundtrack.[84][85] Though nothing shocking occurs during the first 15-20 minutes of the film, the title music remains in the audience's mind, lending tension to these early scenes.[84] Herrmann also maintains tension through the slower moments in the film through the use of ostinato.[81]

There were rumors that Herrmann had used electronic means, including amplified bird screeches to achieve the shocking effect of the music in the Shower Scene. The effect was achieved, however, only with violins in a "screeching, stabbing sound-motion of extraordinary viciousness."[86] The only electronic amplification employed was in the placing of the microphones close to the instruments, to get a harsher sound.[86] Besides the emotional impact, the Shower Scene cue ties the soundtrack to birds.[86] The association of the Shower Scene music with birds also telegraphs to the audience that it is Norman, the stuffed-bird collector, who is the murderer rather than his mother.[86]

Herrmann biographer Steven C. Smith writes that the music for the Shower Scene is "probably the most famous (and most imitated) cue in film music,"[82] but Hitchock was originally opposed to having music in this scene.[86] When Herrmann played the Shower Scene cue for Hitchcock, the director approved its use in the film. Herrmann reminded Hitchcock of his instructions not to score this scene, to which Hitchcock replied, "Improper suggestion, my boy, improper suggestion."[87] This was one of two important disagreements Hitchcock had with Herrmann, in which Herrmann ignored Hitchcock's instructions. The second one, over the score for Torn Curtain (1966), resulted in the end of their professional collaboration.[88]

Recordings

Several CDs of the film soundtrack have been released, including:

  • The 1997 Varese Sarabande CD features all the music scored in the film, but the pieces were re-recorded in 1975 by the composer. [89]
  • The 1998 Soundstage Records SCD 585 CD claims to feature the tracks from the original master tapes. However, it has been asserted that the release is a bootleg. [89]

Track listing (Psycho - Soundstage Records)

All pieces by Bernard Herrmann.

  1. "Prelude; The City; Marion and Sam; Temptation" 6:15
  2. "Flight; The Patrol Car; The Car Lot; The Package; The Rainstorm" 7:21
  3. "Hotel Room; The Window; The Parlour; The Madhouse; The Peephole" 8:52
  4. "The Bathroom; The Murder; The Body; The Office; The Curtain; The Water; The Car; The Swamp" 6:58
  5. "The Search; The Shadow; Phone Booth; The Porch; The Stairs; The Knife" 5:41
  6. "The Search; The First Floor; Cabin 10; Cabin 1" 6:18
  7. "The Hill; The Bedroom; The Toys; The Cellar; Discovery; Finale" 5:00

Censorship

According to the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the censors in charge of enforcing the Production Code for the MPAA wrangled with Hitchcock because some censors insisted they could see one of Leigh's breasts. Hitchcock held onto the print for several days, left it untouched, and resubmitted it for approval. Astoundingly, each of the censors reversed their positions – those who had previously seen the breast now did not, and those who had not, now did. They passed the film after the director removed one shot that showed the buttocks of Leigh's stand-in.[90] The board was also upset by the racy opening, so Hitchcock said that if they let him keep the shower scene he would re-shoot the opening with them on the set. Since they did not show up for the re-shoot, the opening stayed.[90]

Another cause of concern for the censors[91] was that Marion was shown flushing a toilet, with its contents (torn-up note paper) fully visible. Up until that time in mainstream film and television in the U.S., a toilet flushing was never heard, let alone seen. A possible exception is the Turner Classic Movies print of the 1959 Walt Disney film The Shaggy Dog, in which a toilet is heard flushing off-camera. However, because of the possibility of audio dubbing in restorations and reissues of the film over the years, today it is unclear whether or not the sound of the toilet flushing was in the original 1959 release.

Also, according to the "Making of" featurette on the Collector's Edition DVD, some censors objected to the use of the word "transvestite" in the film's closing scenes.[27] This objection was withdrawn after writer Joseph Stefano took out a dictionary and proved to them that the word carried no hidden sexual context, but merely referred to "a man who likes to wear women's clothing".[91]

Internationally, Hitchcock was forced to make minor changes to the film, mostly to the shower scene. Notably, in Britain the shot of Norman washing blood from his hands was objected to and in Singapore, though the shower scene was left untouched, the murder of Arbogast and a shot of Mother's corpse were removed.[92]

Promotion

A large image of Hitchcock pointing at his watch. The words at the other side of the poster say "It is required that you see Psycho from the very beginning." There is a space for theatre staff to advertise the start of the next showing.
Theatre poster providing notification of "no late admission" policy

Hitchcock did most of the promotion on his own, forbidding Leigh and Perkins from making the usual television, radio, and print interviews for fear of them revealing the plot.[93] Even critics were not given private screenings but rather had to see the film with the general public, which, despite possibly affecting their reviews,[92] certainly preserved the plot.

The film's original trailer features a jovial Hitchcock taking the viewer on a tour of the set, and almost giving away plot details before stopping himself. It is "tracked" with Bernard Herrmann's Psycho theme, but also jovial music from Hitchcock's comedy The Trouble with Harry; most of Hitchcock's dialogue is post-synchronized. The trailer was made after completion of the film, and since Janet Leigh was no longer available for filming, Hitchcock had Vera Miles don a blonde wig and scream loudly as he pulled the shower curtain back in the bathroom sequence of the preview. Since the title, "Psycho," instantly covers most of the screen, the switch went unnoticed by audiences for years. However a freeze-frame analysis clearly reveals that it is Vera Miles and not Janet Leigh in the shower during the trailer.[33]

The most controversial move was Hitchcock's "no late admission" policy for the film, which was unusual for the time. It was not entirely original as Clouzot had done the same in France for Les Diaboliques.[94] Hitchcock thought that if people entered the theater late and never saw the star actress Janet Leigh, they would feel cheated.[33] At first theater owners opposed the idea, claiming that they would lose business. However, after the first day, the owners enjoyed long lines of people waiting to see the film.[33]

The film was so successful that it was reissued to theaters in 1965. A year later, CBS purchased the television rights for $450,000. CBS planned to televise the film on September 23, 1966, but three days prior Valerie Percy, daughter of Illinois senate candidate Charles H. Percy, was murdered. As her parents slept mere feet away, she was stabbed a dozen times with a double-edged knife. In light of the murder, CBS agreed to postpone the screening, but as a result of the Apollo pad fire of January 27, 1967, the network washed its hands of Psycho.[95] Following another successful theatrical reissue in 1969, the film finally made its way to television in one of Universal's syndicated programming packages for local stations in 1970. Psycho was aired for twenty years in this format, then leased to cable for two years before returning to syndication as part of the "List of a Lifetime" package.[95]

Reception

Initial reviews of the film were thoroughly mixed.[96] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, "There is not an abundance of subtlety or the lately familiar Hitchcock bent toward significant and colorful scenery in this obviously low-budget job." Crowther called the "slow buildups to sudden shocks" reliably melodramatic but contested Hitchcock's psychological points, reminiscent of Krafft-Ebing's studies, as less effective. While the film did not conclude satisfactorily for the critic, he commended the cast's performances as "fair".[97] British writer C. A. Lejeune was so offended that she not only walked out before the end but permanently resigned her post as film critic for the Observer.[98] Other negative reviews stated, "a blot on an honorable career", "plainly a gimmick movie", and "merely one of those television shows padded out to two hours."[96][99] Positive reviews stated, "Anthony Perkins' performance is the best of his career... Janet Leigh has never been better", "played out beautifully", and "first American movie since Touch of Evil to stand in the same creative rank as the great European films."[96][100] A good example of the mix is the New York Herald Tribune's review, which stated, "...rather difficult to be amused at the forms insanity may take... keeps your attention like a snake-charmer."[96]

The public loved the film, with lines stretching outside of theaters as people had to wait for the next showing. It broke box-office records in Asia, Japan, China, France, Britain, South America, the United States, and Canada, and was a moderate success in Australia for a brief period.[96] It is one of the largest-grossing black-and-white films and helped make Hitchcock a multimillionaire and the third-largest shareholder in Universal.[101] Psycho was, by a large margin, the top moneymaking film of Hitchcock's career, earning $11,200,000.[102]

In Great Britain, the film shattered attendance records at the London Plaza Cinema, but nearly all British critics panned it, questioning Hitchcock's taste and judgment. Reasons cited for this were the critics' late screenings, forcing them to rush their reviews, their dislike of the gimmicky promotion, and Hitchcock's expatriate status.[103] Perhaps thanks to the public's response and Hitchcock's efforts at promoting it, the critics did a re-review, and the film was praised. Time magazine switched its opinion from "Hitchcock bears down too heavily in this one" to "superlative" and "masterly", and Bosley Crowther put it on his Top Ten list of 1960.[103]

Psycho was initially criticized for making other filmmakers more willing to show gore; three years later, Blood Feast, considered to be the first "gore film," was released.[104] Psycho's success financially and critically had others trying to ride its coattails. Inspired by Psycho, Hammer Film Productions launched a series of mystery thrillers, most shot in black and white and all with twist endings, starting with Taste of Fear (1961), followed by Maniac and Paranoiac (both 1963), Nightmare (1964), Hysteria, Fanatic and The Nanny (all 1965), and Crescendo (1970).[105] Other films inspired by the success of Psycho include William Castle's Homicidal (1961), followed by a whole slew of more than 13 other splatter films.[104]

Accolades

Award Category Name Outcome
Academy Awards (33rd) Director Alfred Hitchcock Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Janet Leigh Nominated
Best Cinematography, Black-and White John L. Russell Nominated
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White Joseph Hurley, Robert Clatworthy, George Milo Nominated
Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Alfred Hitchcock Nominated
Edgar Allan Poe Awards Best Motion Picture Joseph Stefano (screenwriter), Robert Bloch (author) Won
International Board of Motion Picture Reviewers Best Actor Anthony Perkins Tied
Golden Globe Awards (18th) Best Supporting Actress Janet Leigh Won
Writers Guild of America, East Best Written American Drama Joseph Stefano Nominated

In 1992, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Actress Janet Leigh asserts, "no other murder mystery in the history of the movies has inspired such merchandising."[106] Any number of items emblazoned with Bates Motel, stills, lobby cards, and highly valuable posters are available for purchase. In 1992, it was adapted scene-for-scene into three comic books by the Innovative Corporation.[106]

Psycho has appeared on a number of lists by websites, TV channels, and magazines. The shower scene was featured as number four on the list of Bravo Network's 100 Scariest Movie Moments,[107] whilst the finale was ranked number four on Premiere's similar list.[108] Entertainment Weekly's book titled The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time ranked the film as #11.[1]

Recognition by American Film Institute
Recognition Year Ranking Notes
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies 1998 #18
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills 2001 #1
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains 2003 #2 Norman Bates (Villain)
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes 2005 #56 "A boy's best friend is his mother."
AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores 2005 #4
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies 2007 #14

Sequels and remakes

A large Gothic house on a hillside above a one-storey building.
The Bates Motel and the house became a popular attraction on the Universal lot.

The film spawned three sequels: Psycho II (1983), Psycho III (1986), and the prequel Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990), the last being a TV movie written by the original screenplay author, Joseph Stefano. Anthony Perkins returned to his role of Norman Bates in all three sequels, and also directed the third film. The voice of Norman Bates' mother was maintained by noted radio actress Virginia Gregg with the exception of Psycho IV, where the role was played by Olivia Hussey. Vera Miles also reprised her role of Lila Crane in Psycho II.[109] The sequels were considered inferior to the original.[110][111]

Bates Motel was a failed television pilot spin-off which later aired as a television movie. Anthony Perkins declined to appear in the pilot, so Norman's cameo appearance was played by Kurt Paul, who was Perkins' stunt double on Psycho II and III.[112] In 1998, Gus Van Sant directed a remake of Psycho. The film is in color and features a different cast, but aside from this it is a virtually shot-for-shot remake copying Hitchcock's camera movements and editing.[113] A Conversation with Norman (2005), directed by Jonathan M. Parisen, was a film inspired by Psycho. It premiered in New York City just three days short of the 45th anniversary of the premiere of the original film.[citation needed]

In 2009, a dramatic feature motion picture is scheduled for theatrical release based on the book by Stephen Rebello, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Alfred Hitchcock Presents will be directed by Ryan Murphy and star Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock.[114]

Cultural impact

Psycho has become one of the most recognizable films in cinema history, and is arguably Hitchcock's best known film. The iconic shower scene is frequently spoofed, given homage to and referenced in popular culture, complete with the violin screeching sound effects (see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among many others).[115] The Simpsons in particular has spoofed the film on numerous occasions,[116] while Principal Skinner's relationship with his mother is reminiscent of Norman Bates'.[117]

In his novel, Bloch used an uncommon plot structure: he repeatedly introduced sympathetic protagonists, then killed them off. This played on his reader's expectations of traditional plots, leaving them uncertain and anxious. Hitchcock recognized the effect this approach could have on audiences, and utilized it in his adaptation, killing off Leigh's character at the end of the first act. This daring plot device, coupled with the fact that the character was played by the biggest box-office name in the film, was a shocking turn of events in 1960. The most original and influential moment in the film is the "shower scene", which became iconic in pop culture because it is often regarded as one of the most terrifying scenes ever filmed. Part of its effectiveness was due to the use of startling editing techniques borrowed from the Soviet montage filmmakers,[118] and to the iconic screeching violins in Bernard Herrmann's musical score.

Psycho is a prime example of the type of film that appeared in the 1960s after the erosion of the Production Code. It was unprecedented in its depiction of sexuality and violence, right from the opening scene where Sam and Marion are shown as lovers sharing the same bed. In the Production Code standards of that time, unmarried couples shown in the same bed would be taboo. In addition, the censors were upset by the shot of a flushing toilet; at that time, the idea of seeing a toilet onscreen — let alone being flushed — was taboo in American films and television shows. According to Entertainment Weekly, "The Production Code censors... had no objection to the bloodletting, the Oedipal murder theme, or even the shower scene — but did ask that Hitchcock remove the word transvestite from the film. He didn't."[1] At one point, Hitchcock actually considered releasing the film without censorial approval. Its box office success helped propel Hollywood toward more graphic displays of previously-censored themes. Psycho is also widely considered to be the first film in the slasher film genre.[119][120]

Psycho is (to an extent) referenced in films; examples include the 1978 horror film Halloween, the 1977 High Anxiety, the 1980 Fade to Black, the 1980 Dressed to Kill, Invader Zim, Dexter's Laboratory, Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, and the 2003 live-action/animated Looney Tunes: Back in Action.[121][122]

The television series Psych includes an episode (Mr. Yin Presents) completely based on Alfred Hitchcock plotlines, including many from Psycho.

References

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  2. ^ Motion Picture Purgatory: Psycho
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  99. ^ These are from (in order): New York Times, Newsweek, and Esquire
  100. ^ These are from (in order): New York Daily News, New York Daily Mirror, and Village Voice
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  104. ^ a b Leigh, 180-181
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  112. ^ Charles Winecoff (1996). =Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins. Diane Pub Co.. ISBN 078819870X. 
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  114. ^ Billington, Alex (5 Nov 2007). Anthony Hopkins Talks About Alfred Hitchcock Presents. www.firstshowing.net
  115. ^ MSNBC.msn.com
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  117. ^ Episodes "Treehouse of Horror IV" and "Brother from the Same Planet" show Skinner being punished for "talking to a woman" and his mother (Agnes) watching him from the window of their "Psycho" style house.
  118. ^ http://www.digitalfilmarchive.net/clda/moving_image_arts/film_lesson_plans/SovietMontage.pdf.pdf
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  120. ^ Corliss, Richard (1998-12-14). "Psycho Therapy: Gus Van Sant works out his Hitchcock obsession with a reverent remake". TIME. http://strweb1-12.websys.aol.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,989844,00.html. Retrieved 2006-12-01. 
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Bibliography

  • Brill, Lesley (1988). "'I Look Up, I Look Down' (Vertigo and Psycho)". The Hitchcock Romance: Love and Irony in Hitchcock's Films. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691008221. 
  • Nickens, Christopher; Leigh, Janet (1996). Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller. Harmony. ISBN 051770112X. 
  • Rebello, Stephen (1990). Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Marion Boyars. ISBN 0714530034. 

Further reading

The following publications are among those devoted to the production of Psycho:

  • Anobile, Richard J.; editor. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (The Film Classics Library). Avon Books, 1974. This volume, published before the proliferation of home video, is entirely composed of photo reproductions of film frames along with dialogue captions, creating a fumetti of the entire motion picture.
  • Durgnat, Ramond E. A Long Hard Look at Psycho (BFI Film Classics). British Film Institute, 2002.
  • Kolker, Robert; editor. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho: A Casebook. Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Leigh, Janet with Christopher Nickens. Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller. Harmony Press, 1995.
  • Naremore, James. Filmguide to Psycho. Indiana University Press, 1973.
  • Rebello, Stephen. Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Dembner Books, 1990. A definitive "making of" account tracing every stage of the production of the film as well as its aftermath.
  • Rebello, Stephen. "Psycho: The Making of Alfred Hitchcock's Masterpiece". "Cinefantastique", April 1986 (Volume 16, Number 4/5). Comprehensive 22-page article.
  • Skerry, Philip J. The Shower Scene in Hitchcock's Psycho: Creating Cinematic Suspense and Terror. Edwin Mellen Press, 2005.
  • Smith, Joseph W., III. The Psycho File: A Comprehensive Guide to Hitchcock's Classic Shocker. McFarland, 2009.
  • Thomson, David, A Moment in Psycho (2009) ISBN 9780465003396

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Psycho is a 1960 film about a secretary who is on the run after stealing money from her employers, and her encounter with a profoundly disturbed motel owner.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay written by Joseph Stefano; Based on the novel by Robert Bloch.
Don't give away the ending — it's the only one we have! Taglines
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.

Contents

Norman Bates

  • [in his head, as his mother] "It's sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. I couldn't allow them to believe I would commit murder. They'll put him away now as I should have years ago. He was always bad and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man, as if I could do anything but just sit and stare like one of his stuffed birds. Oh, they know I can't even move a finger and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet just in case they do.... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, 'Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly.'"

Dialogue

Norman Bates' Mother: No! I tell you no! I won't have you bringing some young girl in for supper! By candlelight, I suppose, in the cheap, erotic fashion of young men with cheap, erotic minds!
Norman Bates: Mother, please...!
Norman Bates' Mother: And then what? After supper? Music? Whispers?
Norman Bates: Mother, she's just a stranger. She's hungry, and it's raining out!
Norman Bates' Mother: [mockingly] "Mother, she's just a stranger"! As if men don't desire strangers! As if... ohh, I refuse to speak of disgusting things, because they disgust me! You understand, boy? Go on, go tell her she'll not be appeasing her ugly appetite with MY food... or my son! Or do I have to tell her because you don't have the guts! Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?
Norman Bates: [shouts] Shut up! Shut up!

Norman Bates: You-you eat like a bird.
Marion Crane: [Looking around at the stuffed birds] And you'd know, of course.
Norman Bates: No, not really. Anyway, I hear the expression 'eats like a bird' — it-it's really a fals-fals-fals-falsity. Because birds really eat a tremendous lot. But I-I don't really know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things. You know — taxidermy. And I guess I'd rather stuff birds because I hate the look of beasts when their stuffed — you know, foxes and chimps. Some people even stuff dogs and cats — but, oh, I can't do that. I think only birds look well stuffed because — well, because they're kind of passive to begin with.

Norman Bates: You know what I think? I think that we're all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.
Marion Crane: Sometimes, we deliberately step into those traps.
Norman Bates: I was born into mine. I don't mind it anymore.
Marion Crane: Oh, but you should. You should mind it.
Norman Bates: Oh, I do, [laughs] but I say I don't.
Marion Crane: You know — if anyone ever talked to me the way I heard — the way she spoke to you...
Norman Bates: Sometimes — when she talks to me like that — I feel I'd like to go up there, and curse her, and-and-and leave her forever! Or at least defy her! But I know I can't. She's ill.

Norman Bates: If you love someone, you don't do that to them even if you hate them. You understand that I don't hate her — I hate what she's become. I hate the illness.
Marion Crane: Wouldn't it be better if you put her... someplace.
Norman Bates: You mean an institution? A madhouse? People always call a madhouse "someplace", don't they? "Put her in someplace."
Marion Crane: I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean it to sound uncaring.
Norman Bates: What do you know about caring? Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing, and the tears, and the cruel eyes studying you? My mother there? Oh, but she's harmless! She's as harmless as one of those stuffed birds!
Marion Crane: I am sorry. I only felt... it seems she's hurting you. I tried to mean well.
Norman Bates: People always mean well! They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, oh, so very delicately! Of course, I've suggested it myself. But I hate to even think about it. She needs me. It-it's not as if she were a maniac — a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?
Marion Crane: Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough. Thank you.
Norman Bates: Thank you, Norman.
Marion Crane: Norman.

Sam Loomis: I've been doing all the talking so far, haven't I? I thought it was the people who were all alone all the time who did most of the talking when they got the chance. Here you are doing all the listening. You're alone here aren't you? Drive me crazy.
Norman Bates: I think that would be a rather extreme reaction, don't you?
Sam Loomis: Just an expression. What I meant was, I'd do just about anything to get away, wouldn't you?
Norman Bates: No.

Sam Loomis: I'm not saying that you shouldn't be contented here, I'm just doubting that you are. I think if you saw the chance to get out from under you would unload this place.
Norman Bates: This place? This place happens to be my only world. I grew up in that house up there. I happen to have a very happy childhood. My mother and I were more than happy.

Dr. Fred Richmond: Like I said... the mother... Now to understand it the way I understood it, hearing it from the mother... that is, from the mother half of Norman's mind... you have to go back ten years, to the time when Norman murdered his mother and her lover. Now he was already dangerously disturbed, had been ever since his father died. His mother was a clinging, demanding woman, and for years the two of them lived as if there was no one else in the world. Then she met a man... and it seemed to Norman that she 'threw him over' for this man. Now that pushed him, over the line and he killed them both. Matricide is probably the most unbearable crime of all... most unbearable to the son who commits it. So he had to erase the crime, at least in his own mind. He stole her corpse. A weighted coffin was buried. He hid in the body in the fruit cellar. Even treated it to keep it as well as it would keep. And that still wasn't enough. She was there, but she was a corpse. So he began to speak for her, give her half his life, so to speak. At times, he could be both personalities, carry on conversations. At other times, the mother half took over completely. Now he was never all Norman, but he was often only mother. And because he was so pathologically jealous of her, he assumed that she was jealous of him. Therefore, if he felt a strong attraction to any other woman, the mother side of him would go wild. [to Lila] When he met your sister, he was touched by her... aroused by her. He wanted her. That set off the 'jealous mother' and 'mother' killed the girl. Now after the murder, Norman returned as if from a deep sleep. And like a dutiful son, covered up all traces of the crime he was convinced his mother had committed!
Sam Loomis: Why was he... dressed like that?
District Attorney: He's a tranvestite!
Dr. Fred Richmond: Ah, not exactly. A man who dresses in women's clothing in order to achieve a sexual change or satisfaction is a transvestite. But in Norman's case, he was simply doing everything possible to keep alive the illusion of his mother being alive. And when reality came too close, when danger or desire threatened that illusion... he dressed up, even to a cheap wig he bought. He'd walk about the house, sit in her chair, speak in her voice. He tried to be his mother! And, uh, now he is. Now that's what I meant when I said I got the story from the mother. You see, when the mind houses two personalities, there's always a conflict, a battle. In Norman's case, the battle is over — and the dominant personality has won.
Al Chambers: And the $40,000? Who got that?
Dr. Richmond: The swamp. These were crimes of passion, not profit.
Police Officer [entering room with blanket on arm] He feels a little chill. Can I bring him this blanket?
Dr. Richmond: [lighting cigarette] Oh, sure.
Police Chief James Mitchell: All right.

Taglines

  • A new — and altogether different — screen excitement!!!
  • No one ... BUT NO ONE ... will be admitted to the theatre after the start of each performance of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
  • It is required that you see Psycho from the very beginning!
  • Don't give away the ending — it's the only one we have!
  • The screen's master of suspense moves his camera into the icy blackness of the unexplained!
  • The master of suspense moves his cameras into the icy blackness of the unexplored! (window card)
  • Exploring the blackness of the subconscious man!

Cast

External links

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