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Bates Motel

Psycho (1960)

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None | Films of the Psycho Franchise | Psycho II


"A boy's best friend is his mother"

Psycho
Psycho1
Production
Starring Anthony Perkins
Janet Leigh
Series Order 1 of 4
Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Written By Joseph Stefano (screenplay)
Robert Bloch (novel)
Producers Alfred Hitchcock
Release Date September 8, 1960
Body Count 2

Psycho tells the story of Marion Crane, who steals $40,000 from her employer. She leaves her home in Phoenix, Arizona and ends up at the Bates Motel in Fairvale, California. The motel is run by mother-fixated Norman Bates.

The movie was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is based on the book of the same name, written by Robert Bloch, which, in turn, was loosely based on the true story of serial killer Ed Gein.

SynopsisEdit

"Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece of the macabre stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates, whose 'dark old house' and adjoining hotel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. No one knows that better than Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), the film's ill-fated heroine who is victimized in the now-notorious 'shower scene.' Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, John Gavin, and John McIntire co-star in Hitchcock's most compelling and terrifying film. The screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano."

Plot SummaryEdit

Marion Crane and her boyfriend Sam Loomis meet for a secret romantic assignation during a Friday lunch hour at a hotel in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. They discuss how they can barely afford to get married due to Sam's debts. Marion returns to work at a realtor's office. A client comes in with $40,000 in cash to purchase a house as a wedding gift for his daughter. The client flirts with Marion. Her boss instructs her to promptly deposit the money in the bank, and she puts the money envelope in her purse. Marion then asks her boss if she can take the rest of the afternoon off, and that she was not feeling well. Back at her room, Marion starts packing to leave for an undetermined time while contemplating taking the money. She ultimately decides to steal it, leave Phoenix, and drive to (mythical) Fairvale, California, to give it to Sam. However, upon passing through downtown Phoenix on her way out of town, she is spotted by her boss as he crosses the street at a stopped traffic light, which unsettles her.

On the road now in California, she pulls over at night to sleep but is awakened the following morning by a California Highway Patrolman; he can tell something is wrong because of her furtive, anxious behavior. The officer, however, lets her go. Upon arriving in Bakersfield, Marion pulls into a used car dealership to hastily exchange her car (a 1956 Ford Mainline), for another (a 1957 Ford Custom 300). Driving up US 99 during the rainy night, she imagines conversations in her mind of her boss and the client discussing the stolen money, and becomes increasingly nervous. After accidentally taking a wrong turn, she drives up to the Bates Motel, a remote lodge that has recently lost business due to a diversion realignment of the main highway. The youthful proprietor Norman Bates, nervous but friendly, invites her to a light dinner. Marion, alone in her cabin, overhears a heated argument between Norman and his mother about inviting her to the house. He ends up persuading her to have dinner with him in the motel parlor. Norman talks about his daily life and his hobby, taxidermy and discloses that his mother Norma is mentally ill, but he becomes agitated when Marion suggests his mother be institutionalized. During their conversation, Marion decides to return to Phoenix and return the stolen money. Upon returning to her cabin, Norman, looking through a hole he had made in the parlor wall long ago, sees her undress, and returns to his house behind the motel. Marion subtracts the amount of money she spent from the stolen money, then tears up the paper and flushes it down the toilet. The burden now lifted from her conscience, she takes a relaxing shower. While showering, a shadowy figure of an elderly woman quietly enters the bathroom, shoves back the shower curtain, and proceeds to stab her repeatedly to death with a large kitchen knife. The figure then leaves the cabin with the shower still running with Marion laying on the floor dead. Norman comes into the cabin and "discovers" Marion's dead body. Convinced that his mother had committed the crime, he wraps the body in the shower curtain and cleans up the bathroom. He puts Marion's wrapped body in the trunk of her car, along with all her possessions and, unknowingly, the money, and sinks it in a nearby swamp.

A week later, Marion's sister Lila arrives in Fairvale to confront Sam Loomis about Marion's whereabouts in his hardware store. A private detective named Arbogast confirms Marion is suspected of having stolen $40,000 from her employer. Arbogast eventually finds the Bates Motel. Norman's evasiveness and stammering arouse his suspicions; when Norman mentions that Marion had met his mother, Arbogast demands to speak to her but Norman refuses. From a payphone, Arbogast calls Lila and Sam to tell them about his encounter with Norman, and that he intends to return to the motel to attempt to speak to Bates' mother. He would call Lila and Sam again in an hour. Upon entering the Bates' residence, looking for Norman's mother, a figure emerges from her room and murders Arbogast on top of the staircase.

After three hours, fearing something has happened to Arbogast, Sam and Lila go into Fairvale to talk with the local sheriff. The sheriff is puzzled by the detective's claim that he was planning to talk to Norman's mother, stating that Mrs. Norma Bates died ten years ago, along with her lover, in a murder-suicide. He calls Norman to ask him about Arbogast, and is told that he asked some questions and left. Back at the Bates' house, Norman, seen from above, carries his mother down to the cellar of their house; she verbally protests the arrangement, but he explains that she needs to hide from whoever comes next looking for Arbogast and Marion.

Sam and Lila, posing as husband and wife on a business trip, rent a room at the Bates Motel to search the cabin that Marion stayed in. Lila finds a scrap of paper (with "$40,000 written on it) that Marion supposedly flushed down the toilet, while Sam notes that the bathtub has no shower curtain. Lila, not believing Mrs. Bates is dead, is determined to speak to her. Sam and Lila develop a plan: Sam is to distract Norman with conversation while Lila sneaks into the house to look for Mrs. Bates. Lila searches hers and Norman's rooms. The conversation between Sam and Norman turns sour, Sam accusing Norman of stealing the $40,000 to re-start his life. Norman angrily orders Sam and his wife to leave the motel, then wants to know where Sam's wife was. The two begin to grapple, but Norman subdues Sam, and runs into the house to accost Lila. Lila, spotting Norman approaching, hides in the cellar and sees Mrs. Bates sitting in a rocking chair, her back to Lila. She calls out to the woman, getting no reply; Lila taps Mrs. Bates' shoulder, the chair then rotates to reveal the desiccated corpse of Mrs. Bates, shocking Lila into screaming with fear. A figure enters the basement, wearing a dress and wig while wielding a large knife, revealing Norman to be the murderer all along. Sam then enters behind Norman, just managing to overpower Norman.

At the county courthouse after Norman's arrest, a psychiatrist who interviews Norman reveals not only the killings of Marion and Arbogast, but that Norman had been excessively dominated by his mother since childhood, and when she took a lover, he became insanely jealous that she had "replaced" him, then murdered his mother and her lover. Later, he developed a split personality to erase the crime of matricide from his memory and "immortalize" his mother by stealing and "preserving" her corpse. When he feels any sexual attraction towards someone, as was the case with Marion, the "Mother" side of his mind becomes jealous and enraged. At times, he is able to function as Norman but other times, the "Mother" personality completely dominates him. The psychiatrist also reveals that Norman, in his "Mother" state, had killed two missing girls prior to Marion and Arbogast.

Norman is now locked into his mother's identity permanently. Mrs. Bates, who, in a voice-over, talks about how it was really Norman, not her, who committed all those murders and that she should have 'put him away' years ago, finally saying that she 'wouldn't even harm a fly' (A double exposure shows Norman's face merging with that of his mother's corpse). The final scene shows Marion's car being recovered from the swamp.

GalleryEdit

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Publicity ImagesEdit

DVD and VideoEdit

CastEdit

Uncredited CastEdit

ExtrasEdit

Doubles and Stand-insEdit

CrewEdit

TriviaEdit

  • Actresses Eva Marie Saint, Piper Laurie, Martha Hyer, Hope Lange, Shirley Jones, and Lana Turner were all considered for the role of Marion.
  • The film only cost Alfred Hitchcock $800,000 to make, yet earned more than $40 million. Hitchcock used the crew from his TV series, "Alfred Htchcock Presents," to save time and money.
  • In 1962, Hitchcock exchanged the rights to the film and his TV-series for a huge block of MCA's stock. He became their third largest stockholder.
  • An early script had the following dialogue:
Marion: "I'm going to spend the weekend in bed."
Tom Cassidy: "Bed? Only playground that beats Las Vegas."
  • Hitchcock bought the rights to the novel anonymously from Bloch for just $9,000. He then bought up as many copies of the novel as he could to keep the ending a secret.
  • During filming, this movie was referred to as "Production 9401" or "Wimpy."
  • Hitchcock originally intended to open the film with a four-mile dolly shot from a helicopter, a scene similar to Orson Welles' bravura opening of Touch of Evil (1958).
  • The painting that Norman removes in order to watch Marion undressing is a classical painting depicting a rape. The title of the painting is The Rape of Lucretia.
  • Hitchcock tested the "fear factor" of Mother Bates' corpse by placing it in Leigh's dressing room, and listening to how loudly she screamed when she discovered it.
  • The last shot of Norman Bates' face has a still frame of a human skull exposed over it.
  • Hitchcock insisted that audiences should only be allowed to see the film from the start. This was unheard of back then, as people were used to just coming in at any point during a movie. The reason for this was that the film was advertised as starring Janet Leigh, but her character is killed in the first half of the film.
  • After the film's release Hitchcock received an angry letter from the father of a girl who refused to have a bath after seeing Diabolique (1954) and now refused to shower after seeing Psycho. Hitchcock sent a note back simply saying, "Send her to the dry cleaners."
  • The shot of Marion flushing the toilet, complete with flushing sounds, is believed to be the first such shot in American cinema history.
  • See Shower Scene article for trivia specific to that scene.

AwardsEdit

  • In 1961, Janet Leigh was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress and won the Golden Globe award for the same category.
  • In 1961, Alfred Hitchcock was nominated for both an Oscar and the Directors' Guild of America (DGA) award for best director.
  • In 1961, John L. Russell was nominated for an Oscar for best black and white cinematography.
  • In 1961, Joseph Hurley, Robert Clatworthy and George Milo were nominated for an Oscar for best art direction and set decoration.
  • In 1961, Joseph Stefano and Robert Bloch won the Edgar Allan Poe award for best writing for a motion picture.

ReferencesEdit

None | Films of the Psycho Franchise | Psycho II

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