The shower scene.

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Psycho is a 1958 pulp novel by Robert Bloch, which details the life and crimes of the profoundly disturbed Norman Bates. more...

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Bloch's novel was adapted into an acclaimed feature film in 1960 by Alfred Hitchcock. The affecting, subtly humorous screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano, and, overall, is quite faithful to the novel. Commonly regarded as one of Hitchcock's best films, Psycho has also been acclaimed as one of the most effective horror films. The film spawned several sequels, though they are generally seen as works of lesser quality.

In 1998, Gus Van Sant's remake of Hitchcock's Psycho was released. Though Van Sant utilized an unusual approach (his Psycho followed Hitchcock's nearly shot-for-shot), his version of Psycho received mixed reviews, and was awarded a Golden Raspberries Award.

The book had Mary Crane from Dallas, Texas as the leading lady. Since a real Mary Crane exists, Alfred Hitchcock changed her into Marion Crane from Phoenix, Arizona. The original film version of Psycho starred Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Martin Balsam, John Gavin, Vera Miles, and Simon Oakland.

Plot summary

The movie's first scene takes place in a cheap hotel room in Phoenix and shows Marion Crane (Leigh) and her boyfriend Sam Loomis (Gavin) in their undergarments after a Friday afternoon tryst. Marion is clearly unhappy, torn between her desire to be with Sam and her shame at these discreet meetings. But, Sam explains that between his father's unpaid debts and alimony payments to his ex-wife he is forced to live in the back room of a store. Until his finances improve, they cannot marry. Marion returns to find that her boss has just sold a house to the rich Tom Cassidy (Frank Albertson), for $40,000. Cassidy flirts with Marion, asking if she is "unhappy." "You know what I'd do about unhappiness," he tells her, "I'd buy it off." He then plops down $40,000 in cash, explaining that his daughter has never had an unhappy day in her life and this house is to be her wedding present. Marion's boss is uncomfortable with that amount of cash in the office and asks Marion to deposit it at the bank for the weekend, explaining that he'll get Tom to write a check the next week. Instead of depositing the money she packs and leaves town, the money the ticket to her and Sam's happiness.

Hitchcock builds his trademark tension as Marion becomes convinced that people know of her crime, trading her car for another in California, because she believes she is being followed. Driving at night in a pouring rain, Marion realizes that she can go no further and turns off at the sign for the Bates Motel. The place seems deserted, but she notices the figure of a woman in the window of the house around back. Honking her horn for service, Norman Bates (Perkins), runs down from the house and helps her into the office.

The motel, he explains, receives few visitors, as a newer freeway has bypassed the road she was following. Only those who are lost or take the wrong turn ever come here, but Norman keeps it open to give him some relief from taking care of his ailing mother. Despite finding out that she is only 15 miles from Fairvale, and Sam, Marion decides to stay the night. Norman cheerfully offers to share his dinner with her rather than force her back out into the storm. While settling into her room Marion overhears a fight between Norman and his mother through the open window. The mother refuses to allow Marion to come up to the house, accusing Norman of a "cheap erotic mind" that "disgusts" her and of him lacking the "guts" to send Marion away. Norman sheepishly brings some food down to the motel, inviting Marion to dine in the office's parlor, which is gaudily decorated with examples of Norman's hobby of taxidermy: birds being his favorite subject. As she eats, Marion discovers that Norman's mother is not only ill, but also overly controlling of her son. "Do you ever go out with friends?" she asks. "Well a boy's best friend is his mother," he replies. As they talk Marion comes to realize that she must return to Phoenix and make amends.


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