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Psycho is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces of suspense. You don’t have to be psycho to enjoy the first movie in the Based On True Crime triple hosted by Cory and Darrell. Join us as we explore mommy issues, love gone bad and crimes of passion.
This movie was based on the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch. While not based on a specific case, the book plays on the idea of the killer next door. It explores themes of love pushing people over the edge, murder for love, multiple personalities and so much more. Alfred Hitchcock pushed the boundaries of of suspense, violence, sex, and many other areas of movies in the late 1950’s early 1960’s. But because of his drive and genius we have a great movie.
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) has been quietly doing her job for 10 years. But she is ready for something more. She has been secretly meeting with her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin) over lunch. They have been hiding their illicit relationship. She wants to take it public and be married to him. He has been burned in many ways. He has been working hard to pay off his dead father’s business debts and he is stuck paying alimony to his ex-wife. He wants to go honest with her but he knows he has nothing to offer her. Marion does not care. They come to an agreement before she leaves.
She gets back to the real-estate office. Her boss brings in a client who is paying for his daughter’s house in cash. Marion takes in all that is said and decides to use this money make a new life for herself and Sam. She goes home packs up and leaves town with the money. But as she travels her conscience gets the best of her. She has headaches, is nervous when pulled over, trades cars and gets off the main highway. She ends up at the Bates Motel.
The Bates Motel is run by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and it has seen better days. Since the highway moved the motel get’s little business and Norman is bored. His hobby of taxidermy of birds does little to fill his days. When Marion arrives he is excited and happy. He wants to take her up to the house for supper, but mother disapproves. So he watches as she eats and they have a conversation about being trapped and getting out. It spurs her to make the move to return the money and face the consequences. Set on this she decides to take a shown and make a fresh start in the morning.
Norman spies on her from the office and is aroused. But Mother is not happy. She comes and kills Marion in the shower. The death scene is iconic and so amazingly shot it is jarring. Norman cleans up Mother’s mess and disposes of Marion, her things and the $40,000 in the swamp.
Lila Crane (Vera Miles) shows up in Sam’s store to find her sister. She knows about the crime but knows, they just want the money back. But she finds the Sam does not know where Marion is or about the crime. But she is not the only one looking for Marion. Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam) is a Private Investigator is searching for Marion to get the money back. Arbogast searches every place to stay in the area and finally ends up at the Bates Motel. He questions Bates and Norman says she left the next day, but he lets slip that Mother talked with Marion. Arbogast fills in Sam and Lila and returns to question Mother. He sneaks up to the house and is killed my Mother. Norman sends him to the swamp.
Sam and Lila are suspicious and go investigate after notifying the local sheriff of their suspicions. They find out that Norman’s mother is dead. Sam distracts Norman and Lila goes to find Mother. What she finds in the house is shocking. Dresses in the closet, the outline of one person in Mother’s bed and in the basement the mummified body of Mother. Norman goes to attack her, dressed as Mother, but Sam stops him.
We find out from the doctor at the station, that Norman was jealous of her mother’s lover and killed him and his mother. To erase it he dug, he stole his mother’s body, preserved her and began talking to her. He then slowly became her. He killed others as Mother to protect Norman. In the end he snapped and Norman ceased to exist and only Mother remained.
Hitchock used black and white to push the boundaries. He plays with light and shadow to convey depth, menace and so much more. He used Hermann’s score to punch up the action. All in all he is a master film maker and did not resort to gore to build suspense and make us afraid. This work is a piece of art.
The iconic music:
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.” (source imdb.com)
Name That Movie:
The clue this week was: Starting at Zodiac and Jake Gyllenhaal, Jake also stared as the title character in this time travel cult film.
Which lead us to the following movie: The movie was Donnie Darko.
Next Week: The Based On True Crime triple continues next week with Zodiac.
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