Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #17: What Do I Do With My Free Afternoon? (Title Sequence and Opening Scene of Psycho)

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This week finds us entering Hitchcock's Universal Years. The first film up: Psycho

 

We are starting with the film's iconic title design sequence and the very first scene of the film. 

 

Head over to Canvas to watch the clip, and then come back here and discuss.

 

Here are three topics to get the conversations started:

 

1.     Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?
 

2.     As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does the meaning of this shot remind of any other Daily Doses (and/or films) we have watched in the 1940s or 1950s?
 

3.     In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

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Sam Loomis is yet another example of the Hitchcock male who is content to enjoy a physical relationship with an attractive, unattached female but who is himself marriage shy.  Sam's excuse, alimony poverty, allows him to fend off Marion's desire to have him make, literally, an honest woman out of her.  Just as Lisa Fremont declares that she is finished with Jeffries, Marion declares an end to her relationship with Sam, but the temptation of $40000 in cash draws her back in, since the infusion of so much cash would strip Sam of his final excuse for not marrying her.  In the same way, when Jeffries refuses to make an honest woman out of Lisa, she reverts to crime - burglary  of Thorwald's apartment - in an attempt to solve the mystery which has been stealing all of Jeff's attention. Both Lisa and Marion show that they are moral women caught in an immoral dilemma, driven by men whose morality doesn't extend to the way they treat the women who love them.

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How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

The moving lines of the graphic along with the strings of the score tell us that what we are about to see is going to be ‘edgy’, nervous.  It’s also going to be fast paced and constantly on the move.  The actual words presenting the title of the film, the names of the main players, etc., are fragmented, skewed, one might say schizophrenic.

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity?

We are about to enter a very specific reality.  The world of a very specific, mostly ordinary, person at a very specific point in time.  This is a person whose day to day reality might not be all that different from your own.  At least up until now.

 

Why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside?

Once again we, the audience, are being implicated as voyeurs.  Much as we were in Rear Window.  Someone else will be revealed as a voyeur later in the film, peering at this same woman through a cleverly hidden little peephole.

 

Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character?

Marion is clearly the one in charge here.  We are on her turf, and Sam has come here to be with her.  Also, Marion tells Sam that they are not going to continue the way they have been going with this relationship.  She is the one who is calling the shots here, and Sammy Boy better toe the line.  We get the feeling that Sam will soon be heading back to wherever he came from and we will be left behind to share Marion’s reality.

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1 and 2. The graphics featuring lines traveling at varying speeds, directions and lengths are as chaotic as one could get and still convey the necessary credit information. The score punctuates the out of control and random feeling of the graphics by its own random and varying tempo. One of the main themes of psycho is escape. The music and lines presage Marion's flight from Phoenix, and her abrupt, random stop at the Bates Motel. In the film, Marion and Norman talk about escaping to a private island. Marion wants to escape, and thinks Norman does too, because of his poor situation with his shrewish mother. She doesn't realize that Norman wants to trap and kill her after she randomly is caught in his web. Randomness is another theme of the film.

 

This is shown by the specific date and time stamp Hitchcock places on the opening scene. (Hitchcock also placed a similar stamp on the opening of "Notorious," which he wrote with Ben Hecht). By showing us the specific date and time of an ordinary, random window through which we view an ordinary and random couple having an ordinary random tryst, Hitchcock reverts to a favorite idea that evil lurks in everyday places among ordinary people. So, at any given date and time, through any given window, in any given town the seeds of crime and evil can be sown. In our particular window, we see the genesis of Marion's theft borne of her desperation to be in a respectable relationship with Sam.

 

3. Marion is someone who is capable of moral breaches, as seen in her illicit relationship with Sam. Although her affair may be tawdry and a minor lapse in accepted morality of the period, it leads her to a larger crime of theft of a substantial sum of money from someone who has placed trust in her. In her discussion with Sam it is clear she is violating her sister's trust in her by carrying on a sex affair with him and she has violated her boss' trust in her by stealing the money. Marion is untrustworthy and a criminal, no matter how normal she looks on the surface. Criminality is another theme of "Psycho."

 

Mario is about to run into Norman, who also appears fairly attractive and innocent on the surface, but is capable of horrendous criminality. Their crimes aren't equal, but each is a criminal just the same.

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Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? With the graphics quick and crisp moment and the score producing an image of nerve-grating music, the patron gets the impression of a story of danger and suspense. The perfect score.

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched? The date - a work date; and the time - way after lunch, shows the audience the the two in the room are doing something nefarious. Going through the window, further adds to the "secret" meeting.

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. The secret affair the Marion has established in this scene shows the she leds with heart; that she has problems making ethical decisions and that she can be tempted to find a quick fix for a problem.

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? -- Sharp lines and a break in the words we know, including Hitchcock's name at then end; we know the words, but they are disjointed, cracked...  we think we know the story, but it too will be disjointed and cracked.

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched? -- We have become Peeping Toms, taking a view from the rear window at a couple within. That he is so specific on the date and time, and the presentation of the information, made me chuckle; until we entered the room and the small drama played out before is... which was not humorous and left me disjointed. Cracked.

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. She likes hotel rooms? We also see her unclothed! Gasp. I have no defense for my answer, the woman is a hussy and deserves Norman's cracked and disjointed judgement. Fictionally, of course.

 

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

     

    It' pretty obvious, someone is fractured in this film based on the title coming in in vertical stripes. But the music is really amazing. I have viewed this film many many times, but have missed that wide panoramic shot of the city and the deliberate time and place titles. We are in a city, someone is having an affair and we are the peeping Toms observing through a tiny opening in a hotel window. I was pretty shocked by the underwear scene. I did not think that films were that risque. Not to mention the affair.

 

  1. As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

     

    I'm not sure about the date and time. The time, of course, an extended lunch hour for Janet Leigh, who obviously tells her boss what to do... or doesn't care what he thinks. She took a long lunch to take advantage of the check out time at 3 p.m. giving them limited time, a sense of urgency to get out of that room. Of course the POV shot through the window, Rear Window material.

     

     

  2. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as the main character? Defend your answer.

     

    Again, I was very surprised the film opened with an affair and bras... perhaps a clue as to more sexy scenes coming up. Norman Bates was a voyeur and we are in the opening scene. Marion Crane moves from her boss to the affair and how she wants it to stop. Again we see a marriage potential between two characters, one that is not quite ready to commit. Janet Leigh is exercising her "power" over men a wee bit in that opening scene. Also, between her demands and the fact that her co-star wasn't such a Hollywood star would be indicative of her role as leading character.

     

    I love this movie and The Birds, the two most watched Hitchcock films in my life. I do now have a greater appreciation of the ties that bind all Hitchock films together.

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Bernard Herrmann's score, with all strings, no brass, mimics screeching, and Saul Bass's title design also suggests piercing.  The score and title design work perfectly together.  

 

The establishing “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” titles tell the audience that the events that are about to unfold begin during working hours shortly on a Friday shortly before the weekend begins.  The shot is reminiscent (as others have pointed out) of the beginning of Rear Window -- the audience is a collective voyeur into an illicit relationship at a seedy hotel.  

 

This opening scene of Psycho establishes Marion as deceitful (with her employer) as well as with the hotel clerk (the dialogue alludes to registering as a married couple).  The dialogue also establishes that Marion has second thoughts about her actions (which recurs during the film).  

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

The deconstruction of the letters in the title sequence seems to indicate something that is seemingly whole (when the letters are together) is really torn in two--a schizophrenic mind and person who seems to function normally, but is really broken inside.  The stridence of the music, the screeching and high-pitch of the strings indicate a tautness, ready to break quality.

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2. As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

It establishes that it is almost the beginning of the weekend for most workers; 2:43 in those days would remind the audience that it is almost bank closing time.  It reminds me of Rear Window, only this room is more tawdry and darker, letting us know this is a clandestine tryst.

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3. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

 

Marion Crane says she must get back to work, speaks of stolen hours with her lover and says this will be the last time.  Loomis is an occasional visitor to Phoenix and we get the impression she is just a diversion for him.  To me, this establishes Marion as the more rooted and, therefore, important, character.

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1.     Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

Last week, I learned the importance of watching the opening credits, so kudos to Dr. Edwards for providing another chance to watch opening credits in today's daily dose, along with his (Hitchcock-inspired?) use of doubling to include with the credits the opening scene showing Janet Leigh. 

 

I thought the Hermann score was fantastic, and it set the edgy mood that was perfect for this particular film. As for Bass' graphic design, I was not impressed at all. As I watched it, with its stripped-down graphics of fifteen horizontal and vertical lines opening and closing like elevator doors, I felt as if I were watching a prototype PowerPoint presentation. On the plus side, the graphic design did provide an unsettling effect, with its jerky and off-kilter displays of the text (the only text centered in the frame was the title of the movie and the names of the Director and his top stars), and I liked the read-between-the-lines shuffling of the text for "PSYCHO." However, for my taste, Saul Bass goes a step too far in his quest to strip down his graphics, as for me they are not visually interesting. I suppose the fifteen horizontal bars used in the opening credits might have been intended to represent venetian blinds and voyeurism, but when it comes to the use of interesting graphic design, I want to see more than a histogram.  

 

2.     As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does the meaning of this shot remind of any other Daily Doses (and/or films) we have watched in the 1940s or 1950s?

The mid-afternoon time on a workday establishes that we are seeing a tryst between two people who are playing hookey from their jobs (which is corroborated by the dialogue, when Janet speaks of needing to get back to work). Hitchcock would never have wanted to enter the hotel room in a conventional way, by opening a door and walking into the room. He would have considered that to be a cliché. Entering through the window provides us a Peeping Tom POV, which seems to have been one of his favorite POVs, which he so exploited in Rear Window. One could argue that the Peeping Tom POV is just one variation of the Spectator POV, which Hitchcock seems to have used in most of the films we have seen in this course, starting with the opening of the silent film ​The Pleasure Garden and continuing in The 39 Steps, The Lodger, Notorious, ​etc.

 

3.     In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

 

What a difference a year makes! In 1959, Eva Marie Saint was not allowed to say "make love," but in 1960 we no longer have to settle for seeing a train penetrate a tunnel. I suppose the scene with Janet Leigh in her bra was one of the raciest seen in movies since the glory days of the pre-Production Code era. But I am not a film historian, so I am only guessing here. I think it is difficult to appreciate the impact that a scene would have had on its audience at the time of its release versus how we might interpret the scene today. I suppose the Saul Bass design of the opening credits would not have seemed PowerPointy in an era before PowerPoint. The opening scene establishes Marion Crane as a main character in two ways. She is shown in the opening scene, and this is where Hitchcock traditionally introduced his main characters, and she is laying down the law to her boyfriend, thus establishing that she is a straw that stirs the drink.

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Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

 

It's no secret that Herrmann used an all string score to emmulate screaming or screeching. The Bass titles come in with a stabbing motion which of course we see later in the shower.

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

 

The precise location, date & time might point out that on any given day something extraordinary can happen to an ordinary person. The shot through the window reminds us of Rear Window's voyeurism.

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

 

This opening hotel scene lets the viewer know that Marion is not very honest. There is some foreshadowing here as Marion steals money and also meets her demise in a hotel (and we know how "mother" feels about women like Marion).

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Further Reflections:  After watching the clip, please go to Twitter (#Hitchcock50) or the TCM Message Board (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.to continue your reflections on this clip. Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own):

1.     Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

The screeching strings and the gray lines seem to “stab” the dark background from various directions. The strings seem like a “scream” and the gray lines “stabbing” the dark background portend the shower scene.

2.     As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

I think AH is giving us a “Dragnet” feel, the exact time when something illicit or criminal occurs. It also grounds the film as realistic as if based on something that actually occurred.  There is discussion on the Internet that Psycho is based (somewhat) on actual events. Of course we learn that Janet Leigh steals $40,000 to run away from her employer and leaves town and drives the back roads to avoid capture. I lived in Prescott AZ, about 100 miles north of PHX and I can assure you that the state of AZ roads and the surrounding county roads heading any direction from PHX have some pretty creepy old motels versus Interstate 17 that connects PHX to I-40 up in Flagstaff.

The opening shot reminds me of Rear View Window on a grand scale at the start (he pans PHX as a whole) and then microscopes down to the hotel room. In addition, it is very hot – just like NYC was hot during Rear View Window.

3.     In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. Marion Crane asserts her control of Sam by telling him that this is the last time they will meet for an afternoon tryst and she spurns his desire to have her skip working Friday afternoon. Marion is clearly an independent person in her own right with her plans to take greater control of her life by stealing the $40,000.

 

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1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

 

The opening sequence of "Psycho" is very indicative of themes of the film. The music is startling and unsettling. The breaks in the title show that things appear to be solid and smooth on the surface, but the more you dive into the film and characters, you can see something is broken and demented.

 

2. As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

 

The specificity shows that Marion and Sam are obviously where they shouldn't be. It's a workday in the middle of the afternoon -- definitely not the time or place one would think of being in a hotel room. The way we enter the hotel room via the camera is genius. It is very voyeuristic and also establishes the tone of sneaking around/deception. Were we to enter in from the door, we wouldn't hear the same dialogue as we would have if the characters weren't aware of our presence through the window.

 

3. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

 

Marion's character drives most of the dialogue and action. We also establish that Phoenix is her homebase while Sam mentions he is only here has a visitor.

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1.      Saul Bass’ title design for Psycho introduces the notion of breaking apart, something that happens to the mind of Norman Bates. Bass also limits himself to vertical and horizontal movement, something echoed in much of the production design throughout the film. (Robert Kolker discusses this in his essay “The Form, Structure, and Influence of Psycho.”) Bernard Herrmann’s insistent score, with its jarring bursts of violin, signal that this will be an upsetting story full of danger. That moves into what will become Marion’s traveling music, which is more melodious but still with worrisome minor notes, all on stringed instruments.

2.      In his interview with Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock said he included the date and the time “to lead up to a very important fact that it was two-forty-three in the afternoon and this is the only time the poor girl has to go to bed with her lover. It suggests that she’s spent her whole lunch hour with him.” The fact that it’s Christmas shopping season doesn’t seem especially relevant later in the film though we do see decorations up in downtown Phoenix as Marion leaves town. Entering the scene through the window (not an especially good cut from one window to another) makes us “Peeping Toms,” as Hitchcock labeled us in his discussion of Rear Window. We’re seeing a world we’re not supposed to see. Hitchcock often begins films by leading his viewer through a window, as at the beginnings of The Lady Vanishes (1938) and Rear Window (1954). In the Daily Dose for Shadow of a Doubt (1943), we entered another dark bedroom in the daytime.

3.      We empathize with Marion from the beginning. She’s hit a glass ceiling in her life: her lover won’t marry her and she’ll never get a promotion at the savings and loan. The camera stays closer to Marion, vulnerable in her underwear, as she tries to convince Sam that their relationship needs to move beyond hotel rendezvous. 

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? The music enhances the splitting of the titles...the splitting of Norman Bates as himself and his mother.....the music is so haunting it immediately reminds me of the chopping of the knife into Janet Leigh....the high pitch intensity...you cringe as you hear it

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched? The day is an ordinary day during the work week ....mid afternoon little passed lunch time...ordinary city nothing special....as the film pans to the open window...we become the peeping toms drawn into the intimate scene between Janet Leigh and John Gavin

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. I was surprised to see such a risque shot obviously the semi dress of the characters ...and just a couple of years prior in North by Northwest Hitchcock is censored for dialogue....this scene in Psycho really pushes it....Marion Crane is in an illicit affair...she is not comfortable with the relationship but is still with the man....Sam Loomis is much more nonchalant about the affair....they are pressed for time....2:43 ...they must check out by 3:00....she is a risk taker being with the man and also possbily jeopardizing her job ...what else is she willing to risk???

 

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Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

 

I'm so glad we are finally studying my favorite HItchcock movie Psycho, which in my opinion is his absolute best blend of all aspects of film making coming together: Brilliant score by Herrmann, perfect psychological development of characters, great acting and cinematography.  Saul Bass's title design is perfect!  It is symbolic and psychological.  The severe lines of the design and text evolving in between the lines says:  "Are You Reading Between the Line?"  or things aren't what they seem.  In addition the severity of the lines creates a feeling of a cage, or jail.  Saying literally "The main character needs to be locked up". which by the end of the picture is what happens. Filming in black and white is far more atmospheric and creepy then in spectacle color.  I actually prefer black and white.  

 

I have created a panel discussion on Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho, and I encourage students to look at my lecture to get a greater understanding of the brilliance of this score.  From the opening ambiguous "HITCHCOCK CHORD" which is technically a minor triad with a Major 7th interval, to the underlying tension of minor seconds in this spectacular all strings score.  The ostinati punctuations and the basic minimalistic 16th triplet motif that is obsessive, relentless and anxiety provoking.  I feel the Hitchcock's team of Saul and Bernard are perfectly on the same page and everything works brilliantly. 

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

 

The voyeurism in Psycho is far more interesting and erotically charged than the voyeurism of Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.  Reasoning?  Jimmy Stewart is so ordinary that audiences don't see him as a sexual leading man.  (I personally never been a big fan of Stewart, and prefer Cary Grant, and other Hitchcock leading men). I love that we enter the Hotel window under the closed blinds.  The blinds mimic the look of Saul Bass's opening design.  The blinds represent something forbidden, as well as the lines of the blinds are similar to jail bars, Danger looks. 

 

The scene is titillating.  John Gavin is by far one of the sexiest stars. The opening scene of him standing over Janet in bra and slip feels extremely voyeuristic.  John standing over her reflect the dominant/submissive role of sex.  Notice John's pants are black (representing sexual aggression)  Janet is all white, representing innocence and naivete. The hotel room feels cheep and seedy.  This ads to the voyeuristic tendency.  We rarely see so much skin in a Hitchcock picture.  Again people used to seeing "conservative" Jimmy Stewart are now seeing sexy John with his shirt off. 

 

The flashing of Phoenix Arizona is interesting, When one things of Phoenix they think HOT DESERT.  Obviously this reflects the hot scene happening behind closed window.  The date of December ..  it is the last month of the year.  Psychologically the last few days of Janet's character's life.  The time is late afternoon TWILIGHT.  reflecting the darkness.. between light and dark. Something dark is lurking around the corner.  Hitch being specific with this makes the audience psychologically think?  WHY? Why do I need to know this info?  Ironically the audience will learn that it is Janet's last day of happiness before the murder.  We also get that this whole relationship is doomed.  John's character is very poor. Long distance relationship etc.  Many problems. Not to mention it is so sexually charged that ... is really just a relationship of hot sex?   All this goes through the audience's mind. 

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.  

 

What I find so interesting is Marion's garments through the picture. When we see her first she is in white bra and white slip.  The white represents her innocence, her naive nature that throws her into danger. Her love for Sam, the sexy hot stud. We know she is in over her head.  Before the murder scene, her bra changes to black (Norman looks into her hotel room)>  BLACK DEATH!!!!! so obvious!  And it is a sexual style death.  Norman's repressed lust, the guilt of the mother etc.  Alll that is reflected in Janet's bras.  Wild huh? 

 

The dialogue between John and Janet in the hotel scene is titillating.  Turning 'Mom's photo" to the wall, etc.  and laying around on the bed half naked in the summer heat.  The fact that is is already 3:oo in the hotel room.  You know they have been having sex literally all day. 

 

We know Janet (Marion) is the main heroine.  She of course is physically beautiful... typical Hitchcock blonde.  She is the object of sexual desire.  Yet we see her character's anxiety/vulnerability, desperation.  It sets up things great. We get the feel that Marion will do anything be with Sam. She'll steal money, quit her job, follow him anywhere.  We sense her obsession with him.. which later we will Norman's voyeuristic obsession.  

 

Bernard Herrmann's score needs to be mentioned again.  The icy, melting feel of the hotel scene music.  Bernard writes descending dissonant augmented 4th/perfect 4th chord streams descending.  The feel is anxiety provoking, melancholy...Not sweeping romantic passionate music.  The music score tells us danger lurks, and this relationship is doomed.  The crescendo rising 2nds, create tension.  Again I feel it Herrmann's best Hitchcock score.  

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1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

 

The titles and music introduces horizontal movement and vertical movement it resembles volume bars or a heart rate monitor in appearance. The white horizontal lines layered over one another move quickly in racing/stabbing like motion either left or right or both. Usually they meet in the centre and break away etc. It communicates intensity along with the strings which I challenge anyone to try to stop thinking about that sound track after watching Psycho. The music is the best!

 

2. As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

 

I'd say the date time and details given so specifically makes it feel more news worthy and even details similar to crime detectives or lawyers notes on such matters. I think Hitch seeks to plant the seed that the information should come in handy later on but also raising the level of engagement with an investigative audience.

 

The hotel/peep show like entrance eludes to similar voyeuristic notions as cliche as that sounds I think there's certain private times that are breached when the camera and story highlights amourous couples behind closed doors. Could be a nod to his more popular themes.

 

 

3. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

 

There's two ways I see Marion Crane being highlighted as our main character. First she is the blond woman in her skimpies (Janet Leigh is the best) taking the spotlight and secondly her dialogue and amount of coverage is prominent. I'd say more but if there are folks who haven't seen Psycho it's best to keep the suspense thick...

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

                 With only Saul Bass' graphics before us for the opening and Bernard Herrmann's music  we begin to experience a feeling of frenzy; a sense of fleeing with no destination in mind; a jumbled storm inside our brain and finally a sense of no peace!!

 

         2.  As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

 

             Giving us the location, specific day, date and time is in keeping with one of Hitchcock's touches i.e. giving the audience plenty of information perhaps more then the characters know. This is not completely correct  for this scene because obviously the characters know the location and date etc. but we are in on the fact it is 2:43 pm and that "check-out" time at the hotel is 3:00 pm. Only 17 minutes away. Hitchcock may also be trying to let the audience know that this is a contemporary story not years ago or as Dr.  Gehring said "not set in Transylvania". This is a story set in the now! Giving such specific day, date and time also supports Hitchcock's rule about no one allowed into the movie once it has started... the timetable has begun.

                Entering into the room through the window enhances that theme of voyeurism, we are not just a peeping Tom but rather a full watcher as we seat ourselves in the armchair just inside the window and through the POV shots we are definitely in the room with the Marion and Sam. This scene is almost a mini-Rear Window ​opening. We are not looking at several windows but just one specific one...again Hitchcock's use of specificity in this film.

 

         3. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

 

        ​In an era when Lucy and Ricky could not be shown even having a double bed in their bedroom but only twin beds, we see Marion and Sam together on the hotel room bed, We see at various stages of undress ( Marion in bra and slip) with the obvious conclusion that they have made love right before we snuck in. We understand that Sam is cheating on his spouse with Marion who is single. 

         I believe that the scene establishes Marion Crane as a main character by having her inform us that this has been a repeat ongoing relationship and not just a one time hook up. We also learn that Marion cannot continue with this secret affair and that this is "the last time" and that she is in control of the situation and is bringing their relationship to an end. She is effecting the plot as a main character.

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Admittedly, I haven not seen Psycho but I do know the main storyline. I would say that the title sequence is symbolic of one of the themes of the film, that things are not always as they appear. Saul Bass uses lots of lines in the opening, lines that complete things and sets of lines that are incomplete and have space in between them, and for me this is most descriptive of Anthony Perkins's character. As Norman Bates, he is a set of lines that is incomplete, and only in the end do we find out how and why. The music helps establish this discordant feeling because it is energetic and tense. If the title Psycho doesn't convince people that bad stuff will happen, the opening music does a good job. 

 

Again, I have not seen the film but I would think that by establishing the exact location, date and time, he is giving the audience information it will need later. I can only speculate that the main character will travel to a different location, at another date and time, and only later in the film will we know why the information is important. The scene where we are first introduced to the characters is highly reminiscent of Rear Window because it is a private space that we only see through the blinds. We find out that the two are not married and meet like this regularly because they have to. Maybe he's married, we don't know, but we do know that we are privy to information the rest of the world does not have. 

 

I would think for the time period, the 60s, this would create a collective attitude for the audience. In the notes, we know that the codes is lessening and that the 60s were a time of changing cultural attitudes but I suspect that many in the audience still frowned upon an unmarried man and woman sneaking away during lunch to a motel. I think that Janet Leigh's character was labelled from the start of the movie as either someone audience members could root for or not, based on her moral behavior.  

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  • Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?
With only Saul Bass' graphics before us for the opening and Bernard Herrmann's music we begin to experience a feeling of frenzy; a sense of fleeing with no destination in mind; a jumbled storm inside our brain and finally a sense of no peace!!

Makes perfect sense of this "fleeing" based on infidelity...

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Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

 

The music is a lot of sharp, "cut off" or urgent notes; the lines move from side to side - together, I am immediately thinking of stabbing. However, as the music and lines continue moving from side to side,  the lines look to me as if they are running away, which is what Marion Crane does at the beginning of this film. Also, some of the titles, such as Alfred Hitchcock's name, seem to fragment, rather than just move off screen, which suggests to me that something or someone is going to come apart.
 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

I think he is trying to establish it's almost time for the weekend to begin.  I believe he enters through the window because he is again watching someone without their knowledge and the window is the best way to do that. This opening shot reminds me of Rebecca and Rear Window.  It reminds me of Rebecca as we move toward the hotel room window and going through the window reminds me of Rear Window.
 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

 

I think this scene helps to show that Marion is not the most honest, or honorable person.  The conversation with Sam shows that she is really not happy with the way her life is going, so she might be about to make a change.

 

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Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigo and North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film?

 

The graphic design consists of gray lines sweeping across the screen, dragging the credits behind them, and dragging them off. It creates a disturbing tone right away for several reasons

  1. The lines and credits come from any direction – it is unpredictable, and that creates tension. It also hints that the film ahead will have unpredictable, disturbing events.
  2. The lines and credits start coming and exiting from MULTIPLE directions – half from left and half from right, or half from bottom and half from top. This then increases to multiple SECTIONS split up – 2 or 3 sections come in from the left while 2 or 3 sections come in from the right. It is an increase of chaos and unpredictability.
  3. The lines come in and exit unevenly – there is no ‘order’ to it – it is uneven.
  4. The words get fragmented, which is both unsettling and suggests the ‘knife’ motif – as if the words were sliced up.

Janet Leigh’s is the only credit treated differently from the main players. Her name alone leaves the screen being pulled apart. A foreshadowing joke, perhaps?

 

The music starts with dissonant chords (Minor major seventh chords, a ‘nondominant seventh chord in the harmonic minor scale’). Being nondominant, it’s desired resolution is to its own tonic. (I.e. an A minor major seventh chord  by itself want’s to resolve the dissonant note [g sharp] up to a to make a stable A minor chord).

 

What all that musical nonsense means is the chords are dissonant and harsh, and want resolving that NEVER happens – it stays harsh and dissonant. These harsh chords suggest something violent and literally stabbing in nature.

The some of the chords occur off the beat, which again gives an unpredictable, unsettling feeling. This alternates with a regular, literally PULSING rhythym that has an intense sense of drive.

 

The orchestration, as mentioned in the lecture video, is for string orchestra only. The effect is to remove the ‘soft’ quality of woodwinds and horns, and leave only a ‘scratching’ quality in the intense parts and an ‘eerie’ quality in the softer moments.

 

A sustained melody is played over the pulsing lower strings. The melody, while lyrical, has a driving sense because all the notes in the melody are the same time length – it is relentless.

 

This melody also alternates with a sixteenth note-eight note alternating figure in the violins – a  musical ornametal similar to a ‘turn’, which has a grating, ostinato feel to it. In other words it goes nowhere.

 

The music combines with the graphic design to create a feeling of an unpredictable, chaotic, disturbing, harsh, violent, pulsing and driving nature.

 

There is a musical bridge from the credits to the opening scene. The music, now slow, is more somber, low keey, but has an eerie resemblance to the credits music. The pulsing figure from the credits is now slowed down and becomes very like a sigh.

                Here is the pulsing notes from the credits highlighted:

 

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                And here is the slower bridge music linking to the  scene in the hotel room. The highlighted ‘sighing’ notes come from the ‘pulsing’ notes in the credits. In other words, the two musics are related, and gives the somber bridge music a slightly off putting quality.

 

20374292_1616237211740641_72166795792885

 

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

 

The time, date, and location suggest a reality, as in a documentary. This is most likely to establish that in a movie named ‘Psycho’, where an element of delusion might exist, THIS scene is real.

 

Hitchcock enters from a pan of the city, closing in on the window to show several ideas.

  1. It suggests a ‘bird motif’. It is as if we are a bird flying and landing on the window sill, looking in.
  2. It says that this story is just one of many within the large city, and that while ordinary lives go on, something extraordinary may happen. This is disturbing because it also suggests that something extraordinary MAY one day happen to us.
  3. It is another peeping tom mofif – Just as norman will peep, we are peeping in at their private lifes, and at a very personal private moment.
  4. It is also Hitchcock’s way of telling us he will be guiding us on this journey.

 

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.

 

We know that they just had sex. The bed covers are off and the sheets are rumpled. He is topless and she is in a bra and slip.

 

Marion refers to the room as ‘a place like this’, suggesting it is a cheap hotel and not a luxurious, respectable one. It is a hotel for people who do illicit things.

 

Marion also says the line ‘we steal lunch hours.’ This is obviously a foreshadowing to when Marion will in reality steal ON her ‘lunch hour’ (steal from work).

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? While viewing the bonus features of the remake of psycho Danny Elfman is interviewed and he talks about the music from the main credits and he points out the music is fast - bam bam fast fast. its moving fast and furious. And the title design also sets the mood of the film, almost Norman's mind.

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

 

A few things - He is setting up the story by telling the month, date, time and the location. He is also setting up that this couple will be the main characters of this film. And entering the hotel thru semi-closed blinds we are the the peeping toms.

 

 

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.   What is not covered about the BTS of this scene is this scene was a reshoot...the movie censer board gave Hitchcock a deal to keep the shower scene the way it was and for that a member of the board would be on set to view a reshoot of the opening scene because of some of the angles that they saw in one of the first cuts of the film.

 

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? Lots of lines and a very intense score which lets us know there are going to be very intense moments happening in this film.

 

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched? The specifics of the day and time want to ground you in reality, almost as if this was a documentary rather than a work of fiction. The entrance through the blinds hearkens back to Hitchcock's voyeur motif. .

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.We see she is not as morally upright as she could be, since she has taken her lunch hour to meet with her lover in a seedy hotel. We see she can do bad things, as she does when she steals the money later.

 

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the title design and music have become iconic, representing suspense and horror to come. I can't count how many times it's been used since.  it changed the way horror has been introduced to the audience.

The titles break up the line pattern in the way the brain of a psychotic might break up.

 

the opening scene through the window makes the audience the peeping tom. and the date/time feature is almost a documentary crime film.

 the character is introduced as a bad girl.  and we all know what will (probably) happen to bad girls in film! 

 

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