Director Alfred Hitchcock was so pleased with the score written by Bernard Herrmann that he doubled the composer's salary to $34,501. Hitchcock later said, "33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music."
When the cast and crew began work on the first day, they had to raise their right hands and promise not to divulge one word of the story. Alfred Hitchcock also withheld the ending part of the script from his cast until he needed to shoot it.
Director Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to the novel anonymously from Robert Bloch for only $9,000, in U.S. dollars. He then bought up as many copies of the novel as he could to keep the ending a secret.
Paramount gave Hitchcock a very small budget to work with, because of their distaste with the source material. They also deferred most of the net profits to Hitchcock, thinking the film would fail. When it became a sleeper hit, Hitchcock made a fortune.
Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make this movie so much that he deferred his standard $250,000 salary in lieu of 60% of the film's gross. Paramount, believing that the film would do poorly at the box office, agreed. His personal earnings from the film exceeded $15 million. Adjusted for inflation, that amount would be just over $120 million in 2016 dollars.
Every theater that showed the film had a cardboard cut-out installed in the lobby of Alfred Hitchcock pointing to his wristwatch with a note from the director saying "The manager of this theatre has been instructed at the risk of his life, not to admit to the theatre any persons after the picture starts. Any spurious attempts to enter by side doors, fire escapes or ventilating shafts will be met by force. The entire objective of this extraordinary policy, of course, is to help you enjoy PSYCHO more. Alfred Hitchcock"
In the opening scene, Marion Crane is wearing a white bra because Alfred Hitchcock wanted to show her as being "angelic." After she has taken the money, the following scene has her in a black bra because now she has done something wrong and evil. Similarly, before she steals the money, she has a white purse; after she's stolen the money, her purse is black.
For a shot looking up into the water stream of the shower head, Alfred Hitchcock had a six-foot-diameter shower head made up and blocked the central jets so that the water sprayed in a cone past the camera lens, without any water spraying directly at it.
One of the reasons Alfred Hitchcock shot the movie in black and white was he thought it would be too gory in color. But the main reason was that he wanted to make the film as inexpensively as possible (under $1 million). He also wondered if so many bad, inexpensively made, b/w "B" movies did so well at the box office, what would happen if a really good, inexpensively made, b/w movie was made.
Janet Leigh received threatening letters after the film's release, detailing what they would like to do to Marion Crane. One was so grotesque she passed it on to the FBI. The culprits were discovered, and the FBI said she should notify them again if she ever received any more letters.
The amount of cash Marion stole, $40,000 in 1960, would be equivalent to approximately $315,000 by today's standards. The $700 difference she paid when trading in her car, and getting another one, would be equivalent to about $5,500 in today's money.
To ensure the people were in the theaters at the start of the film (rather than walking in part way through) the studio provided a record to play in the foyer of the theaters. The album featured background music, occasionally interrupted by a voice saying "Ten minutes to Psycho time," "Five minutes to Psycho time," and so on.
The movie in large part was made because Alfred Hitchcock was fed up with the big-budget, star-studded movies he had recently been making and wanted to experiment with the more efficient, sparser style of television filmmaking. Indeed, he ultimately used a crew consisting mostly of TV veterans and hired actors less well-known than those he usually used.
According to Janet Leigh, the wardrobe worn by her character Marion Crane was not custom made for her, but rather purchased "off the rack" from ordinary clothing stores. Alfred Hitchcock wanted women viewers to identify with the character by having her wear clothes that an ordinary secretary could afford, and thus add to the mystique of realism.
This was Alfred Hitchcock's last film for Paramount. By the time principal photography started, Hitchcock had moved his offices to Universal and the film was actually shot on Universal's back lot. Universal owns the film today as well, even though the Paramount Pictures logo is still on the film.
In order to implicate viewers as fellow voyeurs Alfred Hitchcock used a 50 mm lens on his 35 mm camera. This gives the closest approximation to the human vision. In the scenes where Norman is spying on Marion this effect is felt.
As part of publicity campaign prior to release of the film, Alfred Hitchcock said: "It has been rumored that 'Psycho' is so terrifying that it will scare some people speechless. Some of my men hopefully sent their wives to a screening. The women emerged badly shaken but still vigorously vocal."
Joseph Stefano was adamant about seeing a toilet on-screen to display realism. He also wanted to see it flush. Alfred Hitchcock told him he had to "make it so" through his writing if he wanted to see it. Stefano wrote the scene in which Marion adds up the money, then flushes the paper down the toilet specifically so the toilet flushing was integral to the scene and therefore irremovable. This was the first American film (and possibly first fictional film) ever to show a toilet flushing on screen.
Alfred Hitchcock ran a deliciously droll and terse radio ad in the summer of 1960. In an era when sponsors used "Brand X" to describe their competitors' products, Hitch's voice said he wanted to compare his new movie with "Brand X". Then, the sound of a horse neighing and horse clippity-clop sounds. Hitch's voice said simply "Brand X is a western." "Now for my picture", followed by a loud scream. End of commercial.
There are several references to birds in this film: Marion's surname is Crane, Norman's hobby is stuffing birds, and Norman states that Marion eats like a bird. Alfred Hitchcock's next film was The Birds (1963).
According to biographers, Alfred Hitchcock himself had a troubled relationship with his own domineering mother who, like Mrs. Bates, forced him to stand at the foot of her bed and tell her everything that had happened to him, although the real relationship was not as disturbed as that seen in the movie.
The film only cost US$800,000 to make and has earned more than US$40 million. Alfred Hitchcock used the crew from his TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) to save time and money. In 1962 he exchanged the rights to the film and his TV series for a huge block of MCA's stock, becoming its third-largest stockholder).
Janet Leigh has said that when he cast her, Alfred Hitchcock gave her the following charter: "I hired you because you are an actress! I will only direct you if A: you attempt to take more than your share of the pie, B: you don't take enough, or C: if you are having trouble motivating the necessary timed movement."
The Bates house was largely modeled on an oil painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The canvas is called "House by the Railroad" and was painted in 1925 by the iconic American artist Edward Hopper. That painting was the very first one that was acquired by New York's Museum of Modern Art (in 1930). The architectural details, viewpoint and austere sky is almost identical as seen in the film.
According to Stephen Rebello, author of "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho", Alfred Hitchcock was displeased with the performance of John Gavin who played Sam Loomis in the film and referred to the actor as 'the stiff'.
The car dealership in the movie was actually Harry Maher's used car lot near Universal Studios. Since Ford Motor company was a sponsor of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) TV show the car lot's usual inventory was displaced in favor of shiny Edsels, Fairlanes and Mercury models from Ford.
Shooting wrapped February 1, 1960, nine days over schedule. A rough cut was finished by April, at which point Alfred Hitchcock was convinced his "experiment" had failed. He was ready to cut the film down to a TV episode, but handed it to Bernard Herrmann to score. After he saw the completed film with the music, he was very pleased.
Alfred Hitchcock was initially disappointed with the film. He even disliked the shower scene and believed the movie would end up on a low budget drive-in double-bill. According to Bernard Herrmann, the director thought of editing it down for broadcast on his TV show. Hitchcock did not conceive of music for the shower scene, but Herrmann did it anyway. After seeing the film with its score, including the shower sequence, that he realized that the movie would work.
Bernard Herrmann related how the shots of Marion driving away after taking the money looked very ordinary. Alfred Hitchcock thought of having the soundtrack convey anxious voices in her head to add to the action and tension. Herrmann noted, however, that it still didn't work until he suggested bringing back the main title music. All in all, Hitchcock was delighted with Herrmann's very significant contribution to the film, giving the composer an unusual amount of credit (for Hitchcock) and stating openly that "33 percent of the effect of Psycho was due to the music."
On the former U.S. Route 99 that eventually turns into Pacific Ave. near the Fife/Tacoma boarder in Washington State, there are several older hotels up along the strip. One of the former owners of one of the hotels is a horror movie buff and puts on costume parties in his retirement. Being a fan of the horror movies, he renamed the motel, Bates Motel. In April of 2012, the hotel was torn down, but the hotel sign is still intact.
When Marion is having a conversation with Norman in his parlor, Norman says in reference to his mother: "She had to raise me all by herself after my father died. I was only five and it must have been quite a strain for her." The actor who played Norman, Anthony Perkins, was his parents' only child and he, like Norman, suffered the loss of his father when he was five years old. From then on, he was raised by his mother alone.
"Psycho" was first scheduled to air on U.S. network TV in the fall of 1966. Just before it would have aired, however, Valerie Percy, the daughter of then U.S. Senate candidate Charles H. Percy (U.S. Senator, R-Illinois: 1967 - 85), was stabbed to death, apparently by an intruder, in a murder that, as of 2011, remains unsolved. It was deemed prudent, under the circumstances, to postpone the scheduled airing. Ultimately, the film was not shown on U.S. network TV until 1970, following a highly successful theatrical re-release the previous year. At that time, Universal released it on the syndication market, where it quickly became a popular staple on local late night horror film showings.
An early script had the following dialogue: Marion: "I'm going to spend the weekend in bed." Texas oilman: "Bed? Only playground that beats Las Vegas." (This discarded dialogue was resurrected for the Gus Van Sant remake Psycho (1998), but was subsequently cut.)
Both Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh have said that they do not mind being stereotyped forever because of their participation in Pyscho. They have said in interviews they would rather be stereotyped and be remembered forever for this classic film than not be remembered at all.
Parts of the house were built by cannibalizing several stock-unit sections including a tower from the house in Harvey (1950). The house was the most expensive set of the picture but came to a mere US$15,000.
One of the reasons why Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make Psycho in black and white is because Hitchcock loved French horror film Diabolique (1955), which was made in Black and White. Les Diaboliques is based on Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac's novel "Celle qui n'était plus" (She Who Was No More). Hitchcock attempted to buy the rights to this novel in 1950s. But director Henri-Georges Clouzot bought the film rights to the original novel. Clouzot reportedly beat Hitchcock by only a matter of hours.
Hitchcock himself hated the infamous psychiatrist explanation scene done by Dr Fred Richman (Simon Oakland) at the end of the movie. He felt the scene was boring and the movie came to a grinding halt at that point. The scene has also been ripped to shreds by critics over the years as the worst scene in the movie, and one of Hitchcock's worst scenes ever. Both Hitchcock and viewers felt the scene was unnecessary, overly obvious, and too talky; slowing down the action and suspense of the rest of the movie. But there was strong pressure from the studios and powers-that-be that funded and distributed the movie to relieve the pressure from earlier scenes; and also to explain the action to less insightful audience members who might be confused by the big reveal at the ending, so the scene was kept in.
According to Alfred Hitchcock, "Psycho" was originally intended to be a comedy. Speaking with the TV program Monitor in July 1964: "I once made a movie, rather tongue-in-cheek, called "Psycho." The content was, I felt, rather amusing and it was a big joke. I was horrified to find some people took it seriously. It was intended to make people scream and yell and so forth - but no more than screaming and yelling on a switchback railway. So you mustn't go too far because you want them to get off the railway giggling with pleasure."
As well as changing the character of Norman Bates, another variation on the novel is that the film expands the opening chapters of the book, going into greater detail about Marion absconding with $40,000.
The look of the tall vertical mansion on the hill contrasted with the low, long motel was a deliberate composition choice. Yet Alfred Hitchcock said it wasn't his intention to create a mysterious atmosphere with the big Gothic house but to recreate the kind of older architecture that existed in the Northern California setting of the story.
Although disputed, it is claimed that the graphic designer and title director Saul Bass directed the shower sequence. Bass certainly story-boarded the scene, but there is disagreement about the level of direction by Alfred Hitchcock and how much credit can be afforded by Bass for the construction of this iconic scene. Janet Leigh flat out denies this claim, saying that Hitchcock directed the sequence 100% himself.
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.
Alfred Hitchcock always preferred to film indoors on a soundstage and only the distant shots of the Bates Mansion were shot outside on the back-lot. To accomplish this and allow for an exterior to interior dolly shot, a second, duplicate, mansion exterior consisting only of the front porch was constructed on the sound stage and the cut from exterior, back-lot, set to interior sound stage can clearly be seen as Lila approaches, visible in the difference in the lighting when the camera cuts from her back to the porch and front door once she gets close.
Alfred Hitchcock and John L. Russell regularly used two cameras to get most of the shots in Psycho, rather than resetting to get different angles, a common practice in television but rare for feature films.
During filming, this movie was referred to as "Production 9401" or "Wimpy". The latter name came from the second-unit cameraman on the picture Rex Wimpy who appeared on clapboards and production sheets, and some on-the-set stills for Psycho.
Except for some shots filmed on backroads in Southern California (the scenes of Marion fleeing Phoenix), the film was produced on the backlot at Universal Studios. According to various sources, Paramount either had no space available or refused to give Alfred Hitchcock any. At any rate, he was happy to work at Universal, where his crew regularly worked on his TV series.
The claim that Alfred Hitchcock and Joseph Stefano originally conceived the film with a jazz score instead of Bernard Herrmann's miniature string orchestra is disputed by Bernard Herrmann's daughter Dorothy Herrmann. In Susan King's interview with Dorothy Herrmann (2011), Dorothy revealed that Hitchcock cut down expenses for Psycho (1960). Hitchcock used very inexpensive actors and he used a string orchestra in order to save money.
In 2006, Scottish artist Douglas Gordon created an art installation consisting of a 24-hour slow-motion version of the film. It was titled "24-Hour Psycho", and played at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Bernard Herrmann wrote the main title theme before Saul Bass created the opening credit sequence. Bass animated it to the music, creating the stabbing, wrenching look in which the credits are ripped in half.
A false story has circulated that George Reeves was hired to play detective Milton Arbogast and filmed a few of his scenes with the rest of the cast just a week before his death. There is no truth to this rumor whatsoever. Reeves died on June 16, 1959, almost two months before Alfred Hitchcock decided to make a film of "Psycho" and exactly one year before the June 16, 1960 date when the film had its world premiere in New York. Work on the script began in October, 1959, four months after Reeves's death. Filming began in November, 1959, five months after Reeves's death. At the time of Reeves's death, Hitchcock was on a world tour promoting North by Northwest (1959). (Source: "The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock," by Donald Spoto.) George Reeves did not live long enough to even know a film of "Psycho" was planned, much less actually appear in it.
On February 8, 1960, exactly one week after he finished "Psycho," Alfred Hitchcock directed an episode of TV's Startime (1959) ("Incident at a Corner", #1.27), that also featured Vera Miles and much of the same crew that worked on "Psycho".
Director Alexander Payne said he couldn't imagine the film being made in color, because it's far more chilling in black and white, but it was later remade in color as Psycho (1998), to universal disapproval.
To achieve the effect of the water coming out of the shower head and streaming down past the camera on all sides, Alfred Hitchcock had a huge shower head made to order and shot with his camera very close to it.
"Mother", or Norma Bates, is played by several actors in the movie; including one male actor and Anthony Perkins even. Several people contributed to her shrieking harpy hag voice. And there was a deliberate attempt to age her up; make her older; since Hitchcock wanted this to be an apocryphal voice of Norman's own conscience and inner demons. Realistically Norma Bates would be about 40 since Norman in the movie is only about 26; but you can hear from the voice of the actors playing her that she is supposed to be a sexogenerian.
In the television series Bates Motel, based on characters from Psycho, during Season 5: Episode 4(2017) Norman Bates is standing in the office eating candy corn while the sheriff looks at the registry book. A tribute to the scene in Psycho where Norman eats Kandy Korn, while Arbogast is looking at the same book.
Psycho is said to be heavily influenced by Henri-George Clouzot's Diabolique (1955). Diabolique was also a lurid, black and white crime story/ film noir, with sharply drawn characters, a misogynistic overtone and loads of suspense, focusing on a grisly murder scene in it's middle and a shock twist at the end. But whereas Psycho had a shocking shower murder scene, Diabolique had a socking bathtub murder scene. Psycho's shower scene is said to be a ripoff of Diabolique's bathtub scene; or certainly influenced by it.
Martin Balsam plays the heroic and tragic private investigator Milton Arbogast in Psycho, Norman Bates' second victim in the movie. Martin Balsam also plays a serial killer himself a couple years after Psycho on The Twilight Zone. It was in an episode called "The New Exhibit" which aired in 1963. He played a museum employee who takes home and is made to take care of wax figures of a variety of serial killers throughout history (Jack the Ripper). The character himself turns out to be a serial killer by the episode's end; and he talks to the other wax figures in the episode; much like Norman Bates does in Psycho.
Michael Powell directed an infamous movie in 1960 called "Peeping Tom", which has been called the "British version of Psycho" by critics. This is ironic because Psycho itself it directed by an Englishmen! But Peeping Tom concerns itself with English characters and takes place in Britain; whereas Psycho takes place in America and concerns itself with Americans. The only British character in Psycho is Caroline; she plays Marion's co-worker at the beginning of the movie; and is played by Brit Patricia Hitchcock, Alfred's daughter.
In the novel, Norman is described as being in his 40's, short, overweight, and homely. However, Alfred Hitchcock wanted audiences to be able to like and sympathize with the character, so he decided to make him more of a "boy next door" and cast Anthony Perkins, an actor in his 20's who was tall, thin, and handsome.
According to the opening title cards, the action of this film begins on Friday, December 11. Extrapolating from the production / release dates, one can determine that the year was 1959, as December 11 fell on a Friday that year.
This was the last film Alfred Hitchcock made for Paramount Pictures. To avoid interference by studio executives, he shot the film on the Universal Pictures lot, where he had already moved his offices in order to produce Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Universal would later get the distribution rights to the film as well.
Vera Miles' Lila Crane character is heroic in the first movie and villainous in the second one. In the first Psycho her stubborness and refusal to give up investigating her sister's disappearance is what winds up solving the mystery and stopping the killer in his tracks. In the second Psycho she is hellbent on revenging her sister's death; and her actions wind up causing the killing spree in the first place.
Psycho stars Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and John Gavin all starred on episodes of Fantasy Island. They all also starred on episodes of The Love Boat as well, along with Ted Knight, who makes an appearance at the end of Psycho as the guard who brings Norman a blanket, and who also starred in an episode of The Love Boat as Gunner Norquist, a rival of Captain Stubbing/Gavin MacLeod (much like he was a rival of Gavin MacLeod on the Mary Tyler Moore Show).
Jeanette Nolan's husband John McIntire played Sheriff Chambers in this film. Jeannette Nolan (who did some voice-work for Norma Bates and for screams in this film) also played some roles in Alfred Hitchcock's show "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." One of the episodes was "The Right Kind of House."
At the time of the movie's release (1960) the population of Phoenix was 439,170 up 311% from the 1950 census of 106,818. In 1960 Phoenix was the 29th largest city in the United States (up from the 99th largest city in 1950). In 2017, the population of Phoenix was 1,615,017, making it the fifth most populous city in the United States.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Director Alfred Hitchcock originally envisioned the shower sequence as completely silent, but Bernard Herrmann went ahead and scored it anyway, and upon hearing it, Hitchcock immediately changed his mind.
Although Janet Leigh was not bothered by the filming of the famous shower scene, seeing it on film profoundly moved her. She later remarked that it made her realize how vulnerable a woman was in a shower. To the end of her life, she always took baths.
When Norman discovers the body of Marion Crane, he shouts, "Mother! Oh God! God! Blood! Blood!" Alfred Hitchcock had the bass frequencies removed from Anthony Perkins' voice to make him sound more like a frightened teenager.
After the film's release Alfred Hitchcock received an angry letter from the father of a girl who refused to have a bath after seeing Diabolique (1955) and now refused to shower after seeing this film. Hitchcock sent a note back simply saying, "Send her to the dry cleaners."
Alfred Hitchcock received several letters from ophthalmologists who noted that Janet Leigh's eyes were still contracted during the extreme closeups after her character's death. The pupils of a true corpse dilate after death. They told Hitchcock he could achieve a proper dead-eye effect by using belladonna drops. Hitchcock did so in all his later films.
The ending involves a superimposition of three elements that many people fail to notice. The last shot of Norman Bates's face has a still frame of a human skull superimposed on it, almost subliminally. The skull is that of Mother. This then dissolves into the shot of the chain pulling the car with Marion's body out of the swamp. The chain is placed so that it appears to moving through where Norman/Mother's heart would be, symbolically showing that the two are tied together.
Janet Leigh wore moleskin adhesive patches covering her private parts when she acted out the shower scene so she would not really be nude and the camera would not pick up anything supposedly obscene. However, after the warm water of the shower washed off the moleskin, Alfred Hitchcock still did one more take. The take was used in the finished film.
In Robert Bloch's novel, Norman Bates is short, fat, older, and very dislikable. It was Alfred Hitchcock who decided to have him be young, handsome, and sympathetic. Norman is also more of a main character in the novel. The story opens with him and Mother fighting rather than following Marion from the start.
Contrary to a widely told tale, Alfred Hitchcock did *not* arrange for the water to suddenly go ice-cold during the shower scene to elicit an effective scream from Janet Leigh. This urban legend appears to have originated with Universal tour guides making up an interesting thing to tell tourists as they passed the "Psycho" house, one of the most popular attractions on the lot. Janet Leigh said that the crew took great care to keep the water warm, and filming of the scene took an entire week.
Norman's mother was voiced by Paul Jasmin, Virginia Gregg and Jeanette Nolan. Nolan provided some of the screams when Lila discovers the corpse of Mrs Bates. The three voices were thoroughly mixed, except for the last speech, which is all Gregg's.
Alfred Hitchcock even had a canvas chair with "Mrs. Bates" written on the back prominently placed and displayed on the set throughout shooting. This further added to the enigma surrounding who was the actress playing Mrs. Bates.
The shower scene has over 90 splices in it, and did not involve Anthony Perkins at all. Contrary to popular belief it wasn't due to a scheduling conflict Perkins had for the Broadway musical 'Greenwillow' but actually a deliberate decision on Alfred Hitchcock's part. On this subject Perkins states "Hitchcock was very worried that the dual role and nature of Norman Bates would be exposed if I were to appear in that scene. I think it was the recognizability of my silhouette, which is rather slim and broad in the shoulder. That worried him."
Despite his reputation for cultivating extended working relationships with his leading ladies, after observing the reception of Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock reluctantly told Janet Leigh that they could never work together again, as she would always be remembered for her onscreen death as Marion Crane.
Alfred Hitchcock strictly mandated, and even wrote into theater managers' contracts, that no one arriving after the start of each showing of "Psycho" would be admitted into the theater until the beginning of the next showing. Advertising artwork deceived audiences into thinking that Janet Leigh was its star, and patrons arriving after her murder would wonder where she was. Newspaper advertisements cleverly piqued audience curiosity with such statements as "You MUST see "Psycho" from the very beginning. No one - not even the President of the United States, not the theater manager's brother, not even the Queen of England (God bless her) - will be allowed into the theater after the beginning of each showing of "Psycho". This is to allow you to enjoy "Psycho" more. By the way, after you see the film, please do not give away the ending. It's the only one we have". News cameras photographed audience members waiting in lines outside theaters to see "Psycho", creating tremendous curiosity about the film and adding extra publicity.
At the end of the shower scene, the first few seconds of the camera pull-back from Janet Leigh's face is a freeze-frame. Alfred Hitchcock did this because, while viewing the rushes, his wife noticed the pulse in Leigh's neck throbbing.
When Alfred Hitchcock was off due to illness, the crew shot the sequence of Arbogast inside the house going up the stairs. When Hitchcock saw the footage, he complimented those responsible but said the sequence had to be re-shot. Their version made it appear as if Arbogast was going up the stairs to commit a murder. Hitchcock re-shot the sequence.
Joseph Stefano and Alfred Hitchcock deliberately layered-in certain risqué elements as a ruse to divert the censors from more crucial concerns - like the action that takes place in the bedroom in the beginning and the shower murder. The censors reviewed the script and censored the "unimportant" extra material and Hitchcock managed to sneak in his "important" material.
Despite the fact that the entire film is in black and white, several viewers vividly (and specifically) recall the "red" blood as it swirled down the shower drain. Obviously, this could not be true, not just for the fact of the black and white film, but the blood was actually Bosco chocolate syrup. Although feature films were produced in color at the time, newsreels were shown in black and white. Filming the movie in black and white might have made it seem less gory (see other trivia), but it also might have seemed more real to viewers at the time who were used to seeing the news in black and white. Perhaps by coincidence, Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) is "stabbed' by a rolled up newspaper in High Anxiety (1977).
The shot of Arbogast falling backward down the stairs was a process shot of Martin Balsam sitting stationary and waving his arms, as if losing his balance, in front of a screen projecting a previously filmed dolly shot moving down the stairs.
Among the major promotional items for the film was a lengthy coming attractions trailer (filmed in several languages) of Alfred Hitchcock taking the audience on a seemingly lighthearted tour of the house and motel. At the end, Hitchcock pulls open a shower curtain to reveal a close-up of a woman screaming. The actress is not Janet Leigh but Vera Miles wearing a wig similar to Miss Leigh's hairstyle. The logo "Psycho" simultaneously comes onto the screen and cleverly covers Miss Miles' eyes so that the switch is not easily discernible.
The MPAA objected to the use of the term "transvestite" to describe Norman Bates in the final wrap-up. They insisted it be removed until Joseph Stefano proved to them it was a clinical psychology term. They thought he was trying to get one over on them and place a vulgarity in the picture.
Alfred Hitchcock paid the title sequence designer Saul Bass (also credited as "Pictorial Consultant") $2,000 to draw storyboards for the scene where Arbogast is killed at the stairs. Bass was excited about the movie and asked Hitchcock for the opportunity. Hitchcock discarded his work because the shots showed Arbogast's feet slowly going up the stairs and this prepared the audience for a shock. Hitch wanted it to be a surprise and that's why he filmed Arbogast in a completely natural way.
During preproduction, Alfred Hitchcock said to the press that he was considering Helen Hayes for the part of Mother. This was obviously a ruse, but several actresses wrote to Hitchcock requesting auditions.
Alfred Hitchcock was very uneasy about the morphing of Norman's face into Mother's at the end of the film. He sent out three different versions of the film during its initial release. The first version included the ending seen on all prints today, the second contained no morphing at all, and the third contained the trick at the end, yet also included it at an earlier point in the film. When John Gavin as Sam Loomis comes back to the Bates Motel to look for Arbogast, there is a zooming shot of Norman standing by the swamp, looking very sinister. The third version of the film included the subtle morphing of Norman's face into Mother's at this moment.
Because he was working with a low budget, Alfred Hitchcock did not want to use top marquee names with the exception of Janet Leigh. But he hired her because he knew audiences would be shocked to see a star of her stature killed off early in the movie. (There is a slight giveaway in the credits, however, where instead of first billing, her name appears last as "And Janet Leigh as Marion Crane.") She was paid $25,000 for the role.
Bernard Herrmann had written a cue for the climax where Mrs. Bates is revealed to be a skeleton and Norman the true killer. However, on the advice of Alfred Hitchcock, Herrmann re-used the theme from the shower scene. The alternate cue can be heard on the 1997 album conducted by Joel McNeely and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
In the Collector's Edition DVD documentary, Janet Leigh says that a nude body double was used in portions of the shower scene. The DVD notes include a quote from Alfred Hitchcock, in an interview with François Truffaut, in which he says the same thing.
Marli Renfro was paid $400 as Janet Leigh's body double for some shots (according to some reports, she was only used for the scene of Marion's body being wrapped in the shower curtain). Although Leigh said for many years that there was never anyone actually naked in the shower, she admitted late in her life that Renfro did some shots nude. She also mentioned in her autobiography that she was nude in some scenes as the flesh-colored moleskin was washed away from her breasts. "What to do? ...To spoil the so-far successful shot and be modest? Or get it over with and be immodest. I opted for immodesty."
Immediately prior to the closing sequence of Norman Bates in his jail cell, as the camera moves down the hallway to where police have confined him, the uniformed guard at the cell door is Ted Knight, best remembered as pompous, dim-witted news anchor Ted Baxter on Mary Tyler Moore (1970). and also the uptight judge who was Rodney Dangerfield adversary in Caddyshack (1980).
Marli Renfro, unbilled nude model who doubled for Janet Leigh in portions of the murder sequence, was featured as a Playboy cover girl on the September 1960 issue while the film was still in theaters. Quite appropriately, she was pictured on the cover taking a shower.
The version on Blu Ray is an edited version of the film. It is missing a shot from the shower undressing scene, a lingering close up of bloody hands, and additional thrusts of the knife for the killing inside the house. Despite this the Blu Ray is rated R.
Bernard Herrmann composed the cue "The Swamp" for the scene where Marion's car is sinking in the swamp. But Alfred Hitchcock told Herrmann not to use the swamp cue in order to increase the suspense and the tension through silence. So the swamp cue wasn't used in the film.
According to Stephen Rebello, the Hays Office censors requested changes to the shower scene. Some believed they had caught a brief glimpse of one of Janet Leigh's breasts. (Rebello confirms that "there are definitely a couple of frames showing a bare breast and nipple.") Alfred Hitchcock waited several days and sent the film back unedited. This time, it passed the censors' inspection. For the "couple of frames" in question, Marion's head is turned from the camera, so it's not clear whether the breast belongs to Leigh. Leigh maintained: "It was me the whole time in that shower except for the time when he's wrapping the body in the shower curtain." But Robert Graysmith claims that Leigh's body double, Marli Renfro, was used for some of the shower scene shots as well.
Norman in the book is about 40; in the movie he is about 26. Hitchcock deliberately aged him down to make him seem less predator and creep-like; and more like a put upon victimized man-boy, to elicit audience sympathy for him and to make the ending reveal when he turns out to be the killer more shocking.
During post-production, Alfred Hitchcock had several wrangles with the censors over scenes they considered objectionable, including the opening scene (with Marion in bed in her bra after obviously having had an afternoon tryst with Sam), the suggested nudity and brutality of the shower sequence, and both the visual and aural depiction of a toilet. He managed to mostly get his own way, however, although he later said the opening scene should have featured Janet Leigh's bare breasts.
The shower scene was originally written to see only the knife-wielding hand of the murderer. Alfred Hitchcock suggested to Saul Bass, who was storyboarding the sequence, a number of angles that would capture screenwriter Joseph Stefano's description of "an impression of a knife slashing, as if tearing at the very screen, ripping the film."
According to Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990), the two previously unidentified women whom Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) killed were Holly (Sharen Camille) and Gloria (Bobbi Evors). Holly, whom he killed on July 4, 1951, was a teenage girl who tried to have sex with him, thereby earning the wrath of "Mother." Norman killed Gloria, an older woman, for the same reason.
Both Marion and Norman have voiced over interior monologues in their heads: Marion imagines various people commenting about her theft at the beginning, and Norman talks to himself in his mother persona at the ending.