A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam's California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Alfred Hitchcock had previously cast Vera Miles in The Wrong Man (1956). He wanted to cast her in Vertigo (1958), but she had to turn it down due to pregnancy. Miles was not happy making this film and felt that Hitchcock was punishing her by giving her an unflattering wardrobe that made her look matronly, never mind that it was designed by the famous Hollywood designer Edith Head. For her work, Miles received $1,700 per week. See more »
While driving in Bakersfield, no car dealership can be seen through the windshield as Marion turns off a major road onto a wide, unlined street. The next exterior shot shows her car turning off a four-lane, lined street into California Charlie's used car lot. See more »
...from the first time I saw it at age 14 until today whenever I run across it.
This is the rare example of a much-ballyhooed film that is truly deserving of all the hype surrounding it. It would have been nice to have experienced the film without any knowledge of the plot twists. Unfortunately, for most viewers, the big surprises are not possible since so many of the scenes are part of our popular culture.There were, however, so many unexpected surprises.
The opening scene with Janet Leigh and John Gavin in the hotel room was amazing and (pardon the cliché) so real. Hitchcock and Janet Leigh did a brilliant job of pulling us into Marion Crane's story, that of a woman in love with a divorced man who might as well be married considering his heavy financial obligations that leave him unable to marry in a practical sense even though he can in a legal sense. He doesn't even have a proper home - just a room in the back of the store he owns.
Marion is then seemingly set up as the center of the movie as she thinks she has found a solution to her problems - a felonious one. Then the focus is skillfully shifted to the Norman Bates character as the "protagonist" victimized by his insane mother (or so it seemed) and then the focus is shifted once again to Marion's sister's search.
The movie was adapted from a novel so some of the original audience would have been familiar with the plot of the book. In the novel, Norman Bates was a middle-aged man. I think it was a brilliant stroke to have the Norman of the film as a man in his twenties, a boy who never grew up in a man's body. Anthony Perkins is so identified today with his role of Norman Bates that it was surprising to see how endearingly he played him in the early scenes. And he did one of the best stammers I've ever seen in a movie when he was being questioned by the private detective (Martin Balsam) who is also searching for Marion. I also wasn't expecting to see how protective the local sheriff and his wife were of Norman when they were being questioned about him and his mother. You could tell they didn't want somebody (Norman) whom they thought had been dealt a bad hand to have anymore publicity and scrutiny than he already had.
This film is mentioned in the documentary "Moguls and Movie Stars" as an example of how films were becoming more like TV as the 60s began - spartan art design and a script that was bold in the amount of sex and violence it had, even if the vast majority is implied. You have to be impressed by the versatility that is Hitchcock. Making movies in England? No problem. Making movies in the American studio system? No problem. Modernizing to deal with the evaporation of the production code? Again, no problem.
Weird factoid - for you TCM fans out there Robert Osborne is credited as "man" in Psycho, although I don't remember him ever mentioning it. The only person it could possibly be unless he never comes close to having his face on camera is the parson as the sheriff and his wife are exiting church. See what you think.
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