Poor frustrated Marion Crane (Janet Leigh of Touch of Evil; The Manchurian Candidate) is not a happy camper. She doesn’t ask for much, just love and happiness with her hunky California sweetie Sam Loomis (John Gavin of Midnight Lace; Spartacus).
|Jeepers, it's 15 days before Christmas already!|
|Those crazy kids Marion and Sam may not have money and time,|
but they'll always have Phoenix! Here's looking at you, kids!
|Caroline (Patricia Hitchcock) called to see if Teddy called! She can flirt with us anytime!|
|Marion is so new to crime; I hope she remembers|
which is Bad-Girl Black or Good-Girl White!
|Don't spend all that $40,000 in one place!|
|Hi, Mr. Lowery, it's just little old me, Marion, off to pick up those headache pills! Gotta run!|
|Marion made it through the rain! Now for Marion's Dinner with Norman!|
|Trusty umbrella service, homemade sandwiches, fresh milk; a pretty girl, taxidermyl|
What's The Bates Motel got that Courtyard By Marriott doesn't?
|He sees you when you're peeping!|
At last, Marion finds shelter at The Bates Motel. It’s clearly had better days since the main road was washed up, but it you love stuffed birds, you’ll love it! Just steer clear of that nice young man’s mother, Mrs. Bates. Word has it that young Norman (played by Anthony Perkins from Friendly Persuasion; Murder on The Orient Express; Pretty Poison ) is rather henpecked. But maybe we should give the old gal a little slack; after all, Mother isn’t quite herself these days, especially when pretty young strangers drop by….
Stephen Rebello’s Psycho commentary track mentions that some first-time viewers felt that Marion comes across as stupid! However, I agree with Rebello that we must keep in mind that Marion is an amateur, not at all a practiced thief; indeed, she seems to be in some kind of fugue state, confused and troubled. As long as Marion has our sympathy, I say give the girl a break while they still can! Psycho wasn’t named on AFI’s 100 Thrills List for nothing!
|Aren't Hitchcock's cameos fun?|
(When in doubt, the answer is "C")
Vinnie whips off his wig and discusses The Shower Scene
It's possibly the most iconic scene in film, certainly in horror/suspense. It is perfection. Two and a half minutes of masterfully crafted shock. Rife with not even implied violence and nudity, but crafted so that you will infer violence and nudity. The knife is never seen entering flesh, indeed there are only two moments where the knife is even seen near Marion. And there's no blood - it's chocolate sauce, as everyone now knows - but it's only seen dripping into the bathwater and down the drain, but we imagine it all over poor Ms. Crane. But it's shot so fast, and so well, that persistence of vision makes you see them together almost constantly.
in the most amazing of places, from Mel Brooks'
High Anxiety to this episode of Tiny Toon Adventures.
Taken out of context and watched on its own, it's still compelling. So much so that film makers have tried to match it in endless kill scenes in Friday the 13th and endless other horror films. But to truly understand the impact of the scene, you have to see it in the context of the film.
First off, the scene breaks one of Hitch's rules - if you TELL the audience what's coming, the dread and suspense they feel will make for a far longer and more harrowing experience. But the scene comes straight outta nowhere; indeed, at this point in the film, you expect to see Marion get back in her car and go back to face the music and AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!
Take this one step further - as far as people knew, Janet Leigh was the star of the film. For her to be removed from the board had never been done before. It left the movie-goers rudderless at sea - they had no idea what was going to happen, where the story was going to go. It was that sense of being utterly out of their comfort zone that gave the moment its true shock. When Norman comes in and begins to clean up, the audience naturally assumes that he's the new hero of the film, exactly as they were supposed to.
The film is filled with left turns where you think yo know what it's about, and suddenly it isn't. You assume Marion's the main character, wrong. You assume the money is the McGuffin - wrong, it gets tossed into the trunk of the car and is never mentioned again. You think Norman is the new hero, and...well...
I swear if I live to be one million and six, that final look at Anthony Perkins (with that grin on his face) will absolutely haunt me. Forget the shower scene . . . forget Mom in the rocking chair . . . forget Frank Albertson being thirstyroony (and hitting on Janet Leigh) . . . that last look at Perkins is where the Young Uncle Mikey went WHOA NELLIE!ReplyDelete
Somewhere in my pile of unsorted collectibles is the Norman Bates action figure I purchased years ago (little plastic wig and all), but I still can't get over the feeling that, when they made the figure, Norman ended up looking like Keanu Reeves.
One man's horror . . .
For some reason I have always preferred Janet Leigh in black-and-white productions, and PSYCHO does nothing to change my opinion. That sharp John Russell cinematography showed off Leigh's expressive range to good advantage (and the Good Lord knows she manages to run through the entire gamut here: from playful romancing to OMIGOD!). Compared to her Vera Miles comes off as something of a let-down (liked her much better in THE SEARCHERS (interestingly enough another film where women stood a good chance of being murdered. Is it me or were some of these actresses in something of a rut?).
Also interestingly enough, after Perkins and Leigh (and the ever-100% delectable Patricia Hitchcock), my next favorite role in PSYCHO is the performance given by Simon Oakland (uncharacteristically cast as a police psychologist). He managed to handle the role rather deftly, and its a pity he didn't have similar acting jobs thrown his way.
Sort of sadly, PSYCHO would leave its mark on Anthony Perkins. Whereas he would go on to do brilliant work in films such as Orson Welles THE TRIAL, Mike Nichols CATCH-22 and John Huston's THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN, people would always associate him with neurotic characters (Dorian you mentioned one of my favorite films, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, and whereas I thought Perkins was wonderful I also suspect I wasn't the only one who was thinking he might have had his mother packed away in the baggage car).
(During the film I was also expecting Martin Balsam to warn Albert Finney to stay away from the stairs.)
Vinnie: nice write-up on the shower scene (can we say Norman almost got clean away?). And yes, a very iconic and oft-copied moment (my particular favorite being in PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE where Gerrit Graham, instead of a knife, gets a bathroom plunger in the phiz.)
Again, one man's horror . . .
Michael, you and Vinnie and I very much are all in agreement with your comments about PSYCHO, and then some; "one man's horror" indeed, my friend! There's certainly no lack of terrifying moments in PSYCHO, but yes, that final scene where we see that fleeting but no less chilling bit where "Mother" and Norman's faces merge -- BRRR! :-O Still, I always do my best to remind me of all the excellent "non-Mother" performances he did so well. I'm especially pleased that you enjoyed Perkins in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS as much as we of Team B. did! Bravo to you also for your quip about "expecting Finney to nix the stairs!" :-D I'm even more delighted Also interestingly enough, after Perkins and Leigh (and the ever-100% delectable Patricia Hitchcock) -- ah, Michael, as always you have excellent taste when it comes to the darling Patricia Hitchcock, who we were also lucky enough to give us a brief but delightful phone conversation. We love Pat! Pat's where it''s at! :-D Glad to get quality time with us here at Team B., dear pal, and warmest wishes to you and the rest of the gang at Schloss Wolff!Delete
Well, I'm definitely watching this again tonight with the commentary turned on. Most definitely a movie I never get sick of. :)ReplyDelete
Danny, we of Team Bartilucci couldn't agree more! Even when we know what's coming from the devilish Mr. Hitchcock, PSYCHO never gets old. Thanks for joining in the Villain Blogathon fun! :-DDelete
Dor, I've only ever seen this movie once in its entirety. It's so well done, but it hits a person at a level that leaves you really vulnerable. I always have to shut it off just before the shower scene!ReplyDelete
But, speaking of the shower scene, I'm glad you posted that video of the behind-the-scenes technical aspects. I had no idea what went into the scene. The shot of the water from the showerhead, for instance – I always wondered how they were able to do that without getting water on the camera lens.
Wonderful post, Dorian, and an essential contribution to the Villain Blogathon. Thanks for joining us, and thanks for such a great analysis of "Psycho".
Ruth, my friend, I can relate to your mixed feelings regarding PSYCHO, and I hope it didn't make you feel too uncomfortable. In fact, it actually took me YEARS to watch PSYCHO, for just what you said about how vulnerable we viewers feel! It wasn't until a few years later that my older brother watched it with me in my teens, and explained how it was just a movie, and showed me the special effects so as not to totally freak me out. In fact,back in the day, when my dear late mom first saw me watching PSYCHO with my bro, Mom said, "Why don't you watch a nice happy show instead?" :-D Anyway, thanks a million for your swell comments, dear pal, as always!Delete
Stop me if I've told you this before. My hubby's first viewing of "Psycho" was from the back seat of his parent's station wagon. He always fell asleep at the drive-in and they expected him to do so on they night they saw "Psycho". There was no sleep him in that night, and for many nights to come!ReplyDelete
I didn't see "Psycho" until I was an adult and it confirmed Hitchcock's genius which I had jadedly begun to take for granted.
As always, I enjoyed this trip through the movie with Team Bartilucci.
Paddy, it sure must have taken your dear hubby MANY sleepless nights indeed! I wonder if some enterprising young filmmaker has considered making a documentary about "MY FIRST PSYCHO" or the like? :-) In any case, we of Team Bartilucci are delighted that you enjoyed our wild-and-crazy PSYCHO post for the Villain Blogathon, my friend! :-D Warmest wishes to you and yours from us at Team B!, as always!Delete
All blogathon long I've been waiting for somebody to dig into the world of Norman Bates and at last it has happened- and what a job you have done. It's the very definition of a perfect horror film and Perkins gives the performance of a lifetime, even if an unflattering one. Thanks for a marvelous and enjoyable read, in what has quickly become my favorite blogathon.ReplyDelete
Lasso The Movies, thanks a million for your most kind kudos for PSYCHO: They'll Need a Crane! Needless to say, this was a labor of love for us, being devoted Hitchcock fans who also have a playful sense of humor here at Team Bartilucci HQ. We're happy you enjoyed our post for the Great Villain Blogathon! :-DDelete
Psycho is one of those movies where you think there’s nothing new left to say about it, and then of course there always is. I agree such a great horror film, so perfect. Everybody is good in it and as you write, your expectations as a viewer are challenged at every turn, which makes it a very unsettling experience. Love all the extras you included here, thanks for this and for being a part of the event with such a seminal villain.ReplyDelete
Kristina, for starters, thanks for including we of Team Bartilucci in your Trio of Blogathon Terror in the most enjoyable way, in your awesome Great Villain Blogathon! You and the rest of the gang have been spectacular! I for one am already looking forward to your 2015 Great Villian Blogathon!Delete
Next, Kristina, thanks to you, Ruth, and Karen for including me and my dear hubby Vinnie, a.k.a. The Man with the GIF! :-) Hitchcock is THE MAN here at Team B, but your positive feedback and enthusiasm means a lot to us, and we're glad you and the gang enjoy our blog posts as much as we do! Thanks again,dear friend, and warmest wishes (and no bad guy or gals) to you and yours! :-D
Nice point about BOTH murders coming as a surprise (breaking Hitch's rule about suspense). Interestingly, Arbogast's murder was first shot while Hitch was home taking a sick day. When he came back, he declared the footage unusable because it conveyed a sense of impending menace. He reshot it in such a way as to convey a sense of complacency--thus heightening the shock of Mother's attack.ReplyDelete
Glad to have you drop by to chat about PSYCHO in the wake of the Great Villain Blogathon, Joel, and we appreciated your swell comments! Even I didn't initially consider that Hitch why Hitch couldn't use that previous PSYCHO footage, though of course now we can see the wisdom of it. Thanks for joining the chat, Joel, and warmest wishes to you and yours (and no villains except in the movies! :-))!Delete
Psycho is what the word classic was made for - it's used too often today but it really applies to this. I don't like to watch it too often (secretly I like to scare myself!) but I always get too attached to Leigh, even though I know what's going to happen.ReplyDelete
Girlsdofilm, you're after our own hearts here at Team Bartilucci HQ! We totally agree with you that while the word "classic" may be overused to many, Hitchcock and everyone who worked on PSYCHO have definitely earned the right to call PSYCHO a masterpiece! And yes, our family likes to scare ourselves too as we watch it, while at the same time, we really feel for Marion (she should have won her Oscar, if you ask me). If any character really needed a guardian angel, poor Marion did -- so did Arbogast! That's another thing that stays with our family; we feel for all the characters, thanks to screenwriter Joseph Stefano (who we got to chat with in an interview several years ; swell guy!) Thank goodness it's only a movie, and thanks for so much dropping by to join our Great Villain Blogathon! :-DReplyDelete
I have to feel sorry for poor Norman Bates. Maybe it's Anthony Perkins behind the character that makes him likable, or maybe Norman is really a poor devil. Anyway, he must be the most dangerous kind of villain: the one you don't imagine to be villaineous. And, of course, Bernard Herrmann's score just rises the suspense. Underful write-up, and hilarious gifs!ReplyDelete
Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
Le, thanks for your kudos about my PSYCHO blog post! You make excellent points about how Norman Bates (and of course, Hitchcock and Robert Bloch's original novel and the eventual film) somehow make us viewers feel like hating him yet somehow pitying him in a way, the kind of villain even psychotic Norman didn't realize how evil he was -- YIKES! I'm glad you got a kick out of our GIFs (all credit to Vinnie, my husband and GIF-Master! :-))! Thanks again, Le; we're glad you joined the Villain-ous fun! :-DDelete
Dori as usual you've made the film you're discussing absolutely come alive with your brand of humor and interesting facts like sprinkles on the ice cream cone. And you've made the story pretty accessible even for the most unwavering scaredy cats. Bravo on your submission to The Great Villain Blogathon. It's an excellent addition to the mix or dastardly scoundrels, femme fatales and general psychopaths. I really really loved the Arbogast gif. I love Martin Balsam and poor Marion (Janet Leigh) Whether Norman is a tragic figure or not, the film is an indelible vision of abject horror and classic suspense. Well done my friend!ReplyDelete
Joey, my dear, you always manage to put a smile on my face, bless you! These posts are always a labor of love for me, but it's even better to know you're enjoying my riff on PSYCHO! And of course, hats off to Hitch himself for creating characters that make you care about them, no matter how shocking they are at first glance. Like you, I always feel for poor Marion and Arbogast. Amazing how these scary things can move us, too, including your own beautiful writing and music. Face it, dear friend, you're a Renaissance kind of gal, too! Thank, Peaches; you're a sugar bowl with two handles, as always! Hugs to you and Wendy, too!Delete
P.S.: I've just finished something more playful: The Romantic Comedy Blogathon, co-starring my fave Oscar-winning actress Mary Astor! :-D
I always was sad that others spoiled this film for me before I saw it (almost impossible not to happen given its status), as those shocks therefore didn't quite work as well as they should have...though the end is still terrifying, and Norman creepy as they come...Great clips and images!ReplyDelete
Leah, for starters, I love the name of your blog,"Cary Grant Won't Eat You"! You're our kind of people! True, movie bloggers like us sometimes wish we'd been able to watch PSYCHO with fresher eyes. Still, we here at Team Bartilucci HQ always find ways to watch PSYCHO and many other classic movies, with fresh eyes, especially now that we have our teenage daughter getting more interested in them. Thanks for joining the PSYCHO conversation, Leah, and feel free to drop by our little chats here at TALES OF THE EASILY DISTRACTED anytime! :-DDelete
Dorian, so glad you mentioned the scene with Arbogast--which I found more shocking than the shower scene. These days, it's hard for people to appreciate the shower scene. But when I first saw PSYCHO as a kid, I knew Janet Leigh was a major actress and I didn't know about the shower scene. So, imagine my surprise when she's murdered a third of the way into the film! Interestingly, CITY OF THE DEAD (aka HORROR HOTEL), an above-average horror pic was released earlier in the year and did the same trick (though with an actress as well-known as Janet Leigh).ReplyDelete
Rick, I felt sympathy for both Marion and Arbogast when I first saw PSYCHO in college (our teacher refused to let us spill the beans (so as not to spoil the shocks). At this point, I was just getting over Marion's murder, so when Arbogast showed up, I assumed HE would now be the hero -- silly me! I've heard of HORROR HOTEL; I may have to check it out, at least to compare and contrast! Vinnie and I are glad you enjoyed our take on PSYCHO! :-DDelete
Loved your write-up Dorian! Do you know I don't remember seeing Patricia Hitchcock in this? Or Hitchcock's cameo either, for that matter. Psycho has long been a family favorite -- it still creeps me out even after all these year! Good stuff.ReplyDelete
Karen, we're pleased as the proverbial punch to have you dropping by for our PSYCHO jamboree of thrills and chills, and a quip or two; you're a gal after our Team Bartilucci's own hearts, you Shadows & Satin gal, you! With all the shocks and suspense, I can understand how you might have unwittingly overlooked our gal Pat; we've loved her since I was a young writer and she was kind enough give us some of her time for an interview, bless her! We're delighted that you love PSYCHO as much as we do. Thanks a million for your kind kudos, Karen, and warmest wishes to you and yours! :-DDelete