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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1.  The images of gray lines on a black background create a symbol of perhaps  crossing the line, and individuals crossing paths.  The music is frantic, creating a feeling of urgency and danger, it left me with the feeling of being chased, trying to get away.  As I have seen the movie many times before, during the famous signature scene, the lines and music may also mimic the murder, the scream, the knife.

 

2.  We are introduced to the date, time and city at the opening of the movie.  Once we enter the hotel room via the window this information makes it clearer that this is an illicit rendevous on a Friday afternoon.  Two people who have crossed the line and meeting in the seedy hotel to have a few stolen moments together.  It had a noir feeling to it in the beginning.  We enter the room through the semi closed blinds.  Hitchcock has shown us through a window on different occasions like Rear Window and Shadow of a Doubt.  As a matter of fact the similarity to Shadow of a Doubt is striking as in both cases the camera moves us though the window into the room where we see the characters lying on a bed. Like Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho will move from the city to an "out of the way location"  In Shadow of a Doubt the action switches to small town America.

 

3.  Poor Marion Crane, fate was so cruel.  In the hotel room when we are introduced to her, she immediately becomes the focus of the scene despite John Gavin's shirtless chest. The camera and lighting establish her as the center of attenion.  She was also a well known Hollywood star.  In the early 60s the censors would not allow nudity so the closest Hitchcock could go was having Marion Crane in her bra.  It is quite clear that the two people in the room have been making love and we learn out of marriage another taboo in 60s filmmaking, a bit of ground breaking for Hitchcock.  Marion is dissatisfied with the situation we learn of her feelings and frustration and desperation, so this sets up the rationale for some of the fateful decisions she makes as the story unfolds.

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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 mixture of the tight, fevered score with the slicing graphics gives the sense of tightness, tension, anxiousness, jitteriness, even frenzied action.

     

     

  • 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?
  • This time/date trope reminds me of a crime drama – like “Dragnet,” where we are told “it was Monday and I was working the day watch out of homicide with my partner Frank Gannon when a call came in at 12:05 – a 187 in Hollywood.” It’s like a touch of film noir realism added at the beginning of the film to make us anticipate a crime.

     

     

  • 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 is an adulteress, a “bad girl” – regardless her beauty. That we see her in a vulnerable position creates sympathy for her, and I think we quickly accept that she is going to be our protagonist, and we are going to pull for the villain as our heroine throughout this movie.

    Little do we know…

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The opening credits of Psycho are strong, using the black background, white lettering and the thick gray lines that go with the Music of Herrmann. The music makes the credits work, they are dancing almost to the music, together they pull you in, both strange, emoting a psychotic episode like the title. Especially the ones that look like an audio signal visual output.

 

The opening scene gives a certain realism to the film, like it truly happened, it places it in the now, and since the film is in black and white, it gives it that television aspect, as in the Wizard of Oz the beginning and the end are reality, Oz in color is fantasy. Hitchcock as a TV producer is using that and is well aware of it, just as Spielberg did with reversing the Oz aspect for Schindler's List.

 

There is also a repetition aspect from his other films here, as when as in Rear Window we look through the window to see Marion and Sam together, focusing on Sam's chest. Then following Marion's body her shoulder's, along her spine the criss-cross of her bra. The concentration is on Marion, camera staying on her, but also her words, “This will be the last time for this...”. Marion wants more than just a meeting when Sam comes to town for business, in a seedy hotel. The rest of the film will be following how Marion is going to be achieving that...with or without Sam.

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I think the music and opening images creates a frenzy atmosphere that makes you feel anxious and ready to snap.

I think Hitchcock is establishing the time and place of the story to illustrate that something shady is occurring.  Shooting through the blinds gives  the sense of voyeurism  as in Rear Window. Looking into private moments of other people.

She is established as a person with loose morals, cheating with a married man in the afternoon during her lunch hour. Shows that she is selfish and entitled to what ever she wants.

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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?

 

Immediately the score sets the audience on edge. It is evident from the very beginning that this will be a film that works on people's nerves, as the score continues its intensity throughout the title credits. The movement of the lines for "PSYCHO" intimate (at least to me) the blurring of the line between psychosis and normalcy. The black and white harkens back to the original horror films of the 1930's and early thrillers of the 1940's.

 

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 feel like by establishing such specifics, Alfred Hitchcock is almost setting this up as a "Based on a True Story" type of thing. This is just a regular America town, in the middle of the afternoon, where the story begins. It almost makes it more chilling, since the events that follow this (maybe not exactly) ordinary scene are so gruesome.

 

This shot is reminiscent of the voyeurism in Rear Window. While the idea of a "Peeping Tom" is not as important in this film as in Rear Window (or obviously Peeping Tom, which came out around the same time), we have other instances of voyeurism in the film, including when Norman watches Marion undress later in the film. I think the idea of voyeurism is interesting in this film, given the fact that the killer is psychotic. In a way, the study of psychosis (looking into the mind of an individual) is a kind of 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.

 

First, upon entering the room, the camera immediately goes to Marion. We can see Sam, but the camera focuses on her face. She is also at the center of the shot once the camera stops moving. Throughout the remainder of the scene, the camera is focused solely on her, including the one cut-away to a lunch, her lunch.

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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?

     

    Between the score and the graphics, I feel like things are being torn apart, cut. Some things are hidden and become revealed. The words "Psycho" and "Alfred Hitchcock" become distorted after they are revealed. Everyone has a secret which gets revealed. Some are more shocking than others.

     

  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?

     

    This grounds the film in reality. It happened a few months ago. A year ago. The entry through the window is voyeuristic, like Rear Window. It is also reminiscent of Shadow of a Doubt. Uncle Charlie was lying on a bed. Marion is lying on a bed. The approach to the window is kind of like a mirror to Shadow of a Doubt, coming in high instead of street level.

     

  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 is something illicit, illegal in what Marion and Sam are doing. She regrets it and wants to escape it. She wants to be proper, even though she is very much in love. Sam says they are acting like a married couple, but Marion reminds him they are not,

An aside - I watched Psycho a couple of years ago with my son, who is a Criminal Justice major. He sat there and said, "Oh, I got this figured out." Yeah, right... :)

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1. Grey bars

 

The grey bars of the title sequence evoke the noir shadows of window blinds, prison bars, highway dashes. They echo the bars of the headboard in the hotel room. They create the staff upon which notes of music are plotted and strung. The bars open and close with a mechanical, ruthless speed, like cutting blades of industrial machinery. They also remind me of the serrated stairs of an escalator or quickly closing elevator doors.  The screen itself becomes bisected into what could resemble a type of bar graph indicating life or levels of volume. The bars throb with life force and then disappear.

 

Names

 

The cutting or bisection of the names is also violent. The names form and are impaled. The names form and then mechanically jam- to become unidentifiable- as if to say that people themselves can "go wrong" or "be off by just a little bit, but enough to be unrecognizable as human. The names can be cut into pieces just like human bodies.

 

Music

 

The music is equally "cutting". The aggressive, at times soaring, at times halting strains seem to emulate busy traffic. Sometimes you are screeching to a halt- other times allowed to accelerate. It's telling us we're in a dangerous world that we can't control. The violins themselves are being sawed to pieces by the violin bows. 

 

Overall

When you watch the credits you are instantly agitated, disrupted and forced to submit completely to their timing. If you blink you might miss something important..They are disorienting & do exactly what credit sequence should do which is to sever your cognitive connection to the real world and prepare you to enter the realm of the movie.

 

2. By giving us the exact time and place Hitchcock forces us through the tiniest of apertures into a real world. After the intentionally jarring and confusing whirlwind abduction of the credit sequence we are gently and firmly placed down into an EXACT moment in an exact real place. The tone is calm and the visuals are now realistic and representational. We are breathless and ready to believe, listen, accept, submit. We are lambs led to the slaughter. 

 

semi-closed blind

We are led through a semi-closed blind because Hitchcock wants to squeeze us through the tiny peephole. The blind is kept open by our characters because they are sloppy? They don't bother to close it all the way because of their passion for each other, because the room is hot and they want the breeze. We "sneak" in. They don't necessarily want us there. 

 

3. Marion is shown as the character with the biggest "want". She's introduced as a good girl trapped in a bad girl's lifestyle. We immediately identify with her desire to break free of her trap. We project that she will spend the movie trying to overcome the difficulties in order to get safely married. (This resembles many chorus girl gets the guy story arcs of pre code films) Her brassiere looks like a bondage garment. She's stuck in this strict timetable of having to be back to lunch so her boss doesn't get mad. She's forced to lie and say she's "eating lunch" when she's trying to have some kind of sex life. She's trapped by these caresses and this barred headboard. She's a bird in a cage but not the cage she wants. Ironically, she imagines marriage as a kind of freedom-  not just another cage. She ends up flying free of the bonds of the earth. 

 

Her dialogue is completely foreshadowing when she says "They don't care when you check in, but when your time is up..." Her time will be up in another hotel room but not the honeymoon suite we expect. 

 

 

 

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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 way the lines cross and break the names is indicative of how Norman Bates own mind is broken. The musical themes contrast each other the high agitated strings and there's staccato pattern against the very nice legato lower strings indicate that there is something more to come.

 

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?

 

Hitchcock is establishing that it's late on a Friday afternoon which is important when our main character later needs to go to the bank to make a deposit. The overview of the city and entering through the window remind 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.

 

It's interesting that we meet Marion in a cheap hotel room with her lover, when later she is killed in another cheap motel room going to meet her lover.

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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?

 

 

For me, the lines that Bass uses to divide and reconnect the title and names in the opening credits establish Norman's inner struggle, contending with the increasing influence of his mother on his personality, as he BECOMES his mother (a possible spoiler since I should not assume everyone has seen this film yet?  Sorry).  He is conflicted, and this conflict intensifies through the course of the film, although he has been struggling with his split personality for quite some time, as Simon Oakland's character tells the audience at the end of the film.  I think that the strident violin strings help to establish this idea.  Not to suggest that the strings represent Norman's inner turmoil directly, however, I think they do establish a sense of imbalance, some sort of disturbance or disequilibrium, not unlike the similar idea at the beginning of Vertigo.  The opening strings also establish the recurring music from throughout the film.  Not being trained in music, I don't know the correct terminology, per se; however, the opening music seems to establish a recurring motif that reappears whenever the action in the film is more intense than usual: the shower scene, naturally; the attack on Martin Balsam; and when Norman confronts Marion's sister in the cellar.  Immediately, Herrmann and Bass establish the idea that something is off center.  I have put this into poetry terms before.  I'm not sure they work in terms of music, but I will say that the strings are more strident, or "trochaic" than a more soothing, lilting "iambic" tone, similar to the strident music that Tiomkin used at the beginning of Shadow of a Doubt.  The trochaic meter tends to be more strident and suggests danger or something ominous (think of the three weird sisters at the beginning of Macbeth).  I hope that makes sense and is not too far-fetched.  

 

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?

 

 

This is merely speculation, laughable at that perhaps, but here goes.  I believe the day of the week (Friday) establishes the fact that no one will really miss Marion right away (especially since it is already late in the afternoon, as Sam points out when encouraging Marion not to return to work).  She would not be due back at work until Monday if she did take the rest of the day.  Of course, she raises suspicions when her boss sees her at a stop light later.  Hitchcock also establishes the idea that Marion could possible take the rest of the day off by letting us know that it is already 2:43 P.M.  However, this specific time also tells us that it is 17 minutes until checkout time at this seedier hotel, where they care more about you when you check OUT.  Not sure about the significance of the date (just happens to be two weeks before Christmas  :)) other than perhaps it helps to establish a timeline as this eventually becomes an investigation into a missing person and some missing money?  Knowing when she was last seen, we and the characters can see the investigation unfold, once again with the audience having the luxury of dramatic irony, already knowing what has happened to Marion and why.  Dramatic irony, of course, adds to the suspense as we wonder whether they will find answers to Marion's disappearance and the suspense we feel as Sam and Marion's sister search the Bates' home.  Finally, I like the similarity between the opening to Shadow of a Doubt and Psycho, as I have also noted in previous posts.  Again, Hitchcock invites us to be voyeurs and spy on someone else's "inappropriate" behavior.  Are we supposed to judge Marion for having an afternoon tryst with Sam?  Should we disapprove of her taking the money and running off?  And this motif is repeated later while Norman (and the audience) spy on Marion as she prepares for her shower.  How many viewers look away from scenes like this in a Hitchcock film, just as we do not look away from Miss Torso, the sunbathers, and Miss Lonely Hearts in 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 believe I already began to address this question in response #2.  Let me just add that Marion seems to be a strong-willed woman (something not really accepted by society in 1960?  I apologize if I am wrong with my feelings on that).  Nonetheless, at this point anyway, Marion seems to be someone who is willing to defy norms and do what she wants.  Later, of course, she seems more conflicted and shows some remorse in taking the money, only when it is too late to make amends.  This again is speculation, because I sense that Hitchcock never really cared too much about following conventions, being conservative, or giving into social pressure.  However, I recall from today's discussion with Drs. Edwards and Gehring that Hitchcock was trying to cater to a new group, teenaged movie goers who responded to films such as the classic The Blob.  Perhaps he felt the need to push the envelope by including a scandalous opening scene and an equally scandalous bathroom/shower scene to get viewers away from television and back into the theater?  And finally, as I have also noted, the recent film rating system went into effect in November of 1968, as I am sure many people already know, much to the delight of George Romero and the cast of Night of the Living Dead, many of whom have said publically that their film would have been given an X rating under the old system.  I'm guessing if nothing else Hitchcock wanted to see how far he could go with shock and scandal but not JUST for the sake of shock and scandal, as is the case with too many films today, such as Serbian Film or the remakes of I Spit on Your Grave, ​or even the Vince Vaughn remake of Psycho.  Hitchcock didn't need gimmicks to sell films.  He was masterful enough to let his works speak for themselves without the sake of cheap thrills.  Everything for a justifiable reason in Hitchcock. 

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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 graphic design and the music work together perfectly, with the rhythm of the strings and the black lines rushing across the screen. I also like the way the words and music indicate the meaning of the word Psycho. They are disjointed and fragment in different directions in time with the music. Both working together makes me feel like someone in this movie is seriously unhinged.

 

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?

 

This is a silly reason that we get the location of Phoenix, and the date in December. I live in Arizona. People who live in Phoenix can walk outside in December without coats, for the most part. I can't think why this is would have been important to Hitchcock. I mean he could have chosen a different city and a different time of year. There may be a connection to the book here. Because Janet Leigh is not wearing a coat we get to see her gorgeous figure, maybe that's what Hitchcock was going for. Also, there is a great deal of desolate country between Phoenix and Los Angeles, so that may be part of the set up too. The time of the afternoon, is a clue that a couple are playing hookie from their jobs. 

 

I love the shot with the camera entering the room through the open window. It's a foreshadowing of what is to come. There is going to be another voyeur. In this case the blinds are closed, except for the little slit at the bottom letting in air through the open window. But the camera going into the room through the window also makes us voyeurs as well. We've caught the couple not fully dressed. This implies they've had sex. They are lingering over their goodbye which gives us the exposition information we need to lead us to the inciting incident of Marion, spoiler alert for those who haven't seen the film, taking the money. 

 

The only other opening sequence of Hitchcock's that I can think of is Rear Window. There may be something similar in Frenzy as well, though I think it's going out the window instead of in. But it's been awhile since I've seen that movie.

 

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 wrote about this in the answer above, but Marion and Sam are obviously involved in a relationship. Seeing him without his shirt was not so controversial, but her in her slip and bra was. And the fact that they have obviously just had an afternoon of making love. The way they kiss is a little bit like the kissing scene in Notorious. Here, however, not only are their faces close together and they continue to kiss throughout the scene, they are also laying on the bed together. This is the era when married couples in movies had twin beds!

 

As Marion and Sam talk we discover they must keep their relationship a secret. We discover the reason why later in the opening scene which was not part of this clip. Wanting to stop sneaking around and marry Sam is the reason Marion steals the money. That's the inciting incident for the entire movie. Her decision sets all the later complications in motion. Even after she's dead, she is moving the plot forward because Sam, and her sister played by Vera Miles, are trying to find out what happened to her. Norman might never have been caught if it weren't for the fact that Marion and Sam were in love with each other.

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Music by Hermann gets our nerves jumping with the staccato violin strings and is meshed with the vertical bars that fracture Basses title work which is mirrored in the vertical blinds that open the first sequence of PSYCHO. We are led down the path of anxiety of Bates & our fallen Jane's (Crone) temporary psychosis.

The theme of what makes our neighbors and acquaintances commit atrocities will be explored through the eyes and bloodshed of these two peculiar characters. We're already on the edge of our seats.

Hollywood Hitch ramps up the suspense bar by time stamping the 'ordinary' weekend, pin pointing the location in a hot, arid locale; a tinder box about to explode.

Hitch's camera enters through slotted Venetian blinds, echoing the title motif. He pays homage to THE KILLER, and reverts to the image of the prone criminal awaiting fate from his SHADOW OF A DOUBT, and Cotten's prone position on an iron barred bed, draped with vertical shadow, in noirish theatric key lighting.

Marion Crone is the camera's main focus. She becomes the protagonist as she gives her ultimatum and begins to take control of Loomis' life. The camera angles implore her dominance of the picture frame.

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July 24, 2017 – Hitchcock lecture Part 17

 

 

1. The strong piercing string soundtrack immediately introduces tension, momentum, and a sense of fear. The genre of this film is clearly in the horror and or thriller space. The fragmentation of the typography indicates that there’s more to this film than just the façade, that there’s some cerebral element that the audience should look out for. And finally, the modern (non-serif) typography hints that the film will take place in the present day.

 

 

2. I think the specificity makes us believe that somewhere in the world this thing is actually happening. It’s almost like voyeuristic news footage, introducing our characters. Entering the semi-closed blinds gives the audience private access into the lives of our protagonists. We shouldn’t be seeing or hearing them, but the directly secretly let us in. As for similarities with other films, this shot reminds me of Rear Window’s opening, but in the inverse—unlike Psycho, where the camera starts outside and peaks in, Rear Window starts inside a room and peaks out.

 

 

 

3. Marion Crane is probably not viewed favorably. The audience at the time probably judged her as an anti-hero, as an immoral character that does not value traditional marriage and family. The audience might've  rooted against her, yet, nonetheless, her attractive face and body makes them want to see what happens to her. In that sense we are made to be a pure voyeuristic spectator. This serves the movie well, because when she gets killed early on in the movie, we're not necessarily devastated enough to want to stop watching the film. 

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1.  Before you see the graphics, you hear the agitated and staccato strings of the orchestra.  This is not going to be a smooth, leisurely film!  The graphics echo so much of what's in the film -- dark/light lines; vertical/horizontal -- reminiscent of the "criss cross" of Strangers on a Train. The most obvious use of the lines is to foreshadow the split personalities of both Norman Bates and Marion Crane.  Norman is clinically split, to the point that he even has full conversations with himself in the guise of his mother (including another voice).  For Marion, it's more of a moral conflict -- she's kind of a "good girl" who does bad things -- steals the money, has a "secret" relationship with Sam, so she's shifting from "good" to "bad" for the time she's on the screen.  She does have a crisis of conscience, but it's too late, because Norman gets her before she has a chance to return the money.  Every bit of this is reflected in the graphic and musical elements of the opening.

 

2.  The date and time clearly show that the opening scene is "illicit."  Who can have a leisurely afternoon in bed at lunch time on a weekday in a seedy motel?  NOT the "married couples who sometimes sneak off" as Sam refers to.  We know right away that this is "forbidden," even though we know nothing of the two characters.  The closed blinds and the forward swooping motion of the camera reminded me clearly of Rear Window, but as others have pointed out, there's a nod to Shadow of a Doubt  as well.

 

3.  How does the hotel scene establish Marion Crane as a main character?  We know she's daring, because "good" women in the 1950s didn't do that sort of thing.  She's a liar, because she has her lunch on the bedside table (uneaten).  She likely told her boss she was going out to lunch. We hear her say that she has to go back to work, so there's a conflict -- she wants to stay, but also wants to go.  This is someone who gets her way once she chooses a path to go down.  Sam seems more passive -- sure he'll take the goods as long as she's offering them.  I don't get the sense from the opening that he takes the relationship as seriously as she does, but I could be projecting.  Even though she's lying down when we see the first shot of the couple, you see her full body, including her face.  Sam's body is seen, but his head is cut off.  SHE'S the focus of the scene, and as we soon see, the main character (until she's unceremoniously dispatched with in the shower scene).

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The title design in Psycho makes you feel as though you are peeking through blinds, with the distortion and partial vision that incurs.  The words come in with opposing directional lines, increasing unease.  The furtive string music adds to the feeling of danger and adds a rhythm of telegraphy, like a news room.

 

The specific date that keeps repeating reinforces that feeling that we are getting a news flash.  The entry through the window blind is similar to Rear Window in its intimacy, but this is more secretive.

 

Leigh's character is established as the central one in the way she dominates the conversation and we are privy to her reasoning more than his; he simply reacts to what she says.  No doubt the sexy posture helps too.

 

 

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As Dr. Edwards points out, the music in the opening (and all thru the film) is only performed on stringed instruments. We all know the "slashing" effect during the shower sequence, but this opening is quite a different effect, one of stabbing or gouging, and as I've pointed out previously, sets the audience on edge immediately.

It's in a fast tempo, like North By Northwest, but the effect there, for me, was to help set the pace that much of the movie would take. In Vertigo, the slowly undulating woodwind figures set up the dreamlike and hypnotic psychological effect that movie would exploit.

Here, the only effect seems to be an unsettling tone.

(Interesting graphic for Saul Bass to end on; it looks like nothing less than an actual sound wave on an oscilloscope, or equalizer, and perhaps hearkens back to his interest in Lissajous lines. Maybe someone with better knowledge of wave physics would find it interesting: Is it the last note, or chord, of the opening score? Or, am I reading more into it than there actually is?)

I can't wait to hear what is discussed about the score of The Birds. My mouth is watering already.

 

They're quite right to point out the explicitness of the scene and dialogue here between Marion and Sam; they're indulging in "afternoon delight" while not being married. Try to imagine Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant in that scenario!

It occurred to me that there may well have been some outside (subconscious?) influences on this new type of "horror" film, particularly the Hammer Studio films from England in the late 50s. While in black and white, and low-budget, they were much more lurid and explicit than anything American studios were producing at the time, and it probably would have been teenagers - in England and America - who were the primary audience watching them.

 

Also, it's perhaps the first example of the "bad girl gets murdered for her sexuality" plot device that would come to be so overused in subsequent "horror" movies.

 

One last observation is yet another brilliant bit of foreshadowing in the dialogue. Marion says, "Sam; this is the end." And so it is.

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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 graphic design and the music have a choppy rhythm and look and some of the titles are in slices which is a foreshadowing of the shower scene. The music and the graphic design are very bold and "in your face" which I feel also describes the film. The music is quite unsettling, which fits the film as well.

 

2. 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?

 

This goes back to the voyuerism of "Rear Window". We feel as if we are peeping into a private scene that we shouldn't be watching. This also happens later in the film when Norman Bates peeps on Marion Crane through a peep-hole.

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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 themes of this film are many.

 

 

1) Psychological. (psycho is contained or hidden within that word) shadows and hidden aspects of seemingly normal (Norman?) American people, e.g. a secretary - as in secrecy. Obviously there is madness. Insanity in Norman and even Marion’s temporary insanity, which often gets overlooked.

 

 

 

2) Mothers. The relationship between mother and son in Psycho to some extent mirrors how Hitchcock explains his relationship with his own mother. He has often said she forged his fear early on. Mothers are typically closer to their sons, though perhaps not for Hitch, and Norman finds it impossible to tear himself away from his, even though she has ruined his life.

 

 

3) Duality. Norman and Norma Bates. The American Girl vs the American robber in Marion. (The Bates’ dueling duality reminded me of the same split-identities in Vertigo.)

 

 

4) Isolation. Norman talks about it and Marion begins to experience it as she drives towards her destiny.

 

 

 

5) Crime. Stealing and murder.

 

 

Once again Herrmann and Bass’ creativeness commingle, blend and merge into a single vision. The Bass titles suggest hidden emotions behind the darkened lines - not just the cutting and coming apart of the flesh, but the tearing and ripping of the human psyche. His signature simplicity captures the craziness of the film, which is amplified and then intensified by Herrmann’s violins. Together they produce madness, anxiety, paranoia, a beating heart and running away from….reality.

 

 

 

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 specifics of date and time actually do the opposite. They project anytime, anywhere, just a normal day in an American city and this film is going to document that for us. Hitchcock has recurring currents which sometimes float by U.S. or are anchored throughout a film.

 

The Peeping Tom POV through an open window, this time *is* voyeuristic, but we are not in time to catch the couple “in the act,” just in the smoky afterglow. We, of course later on will see Norman voyeurism peeking in at her getting undressed.

 

We are reminded of Rear Window and Shadow of a Doubt and to some extent Rope though none are voyeuristic in the true sense of the word. In Rope we are on the inside looking out! The peeping tom glass ceiling where we watch the Lodger’s pacing elicits the same feeling as watching the girls come down the staircase in The Pleasure Garden.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

As we only get a touch of Marion Crane (Hitch and his birds and Norman and his!) in this scene, we notice she is a blonde. That’s a good sign right there she is Hitchcock’s heroine - for at least one third of the film. She is the love interest as far as we know, despite the fact that she is having a “mid-afternoon delight” with her lover, there is an innocence about her - perhaps because of her white underwear. This takes us one step beyond the dining room car in N X NW.

 

Actually, at this point, they could both have leading roles. And they do.

 

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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 lines remind me of bars, like prison outfits, jails, etc.,  In addition, the audience never knows from which direction they will come or in what order showing chaos which goes along with the title of the film.  The title “Psycho” is cut into three sections and are moved back and forth, indicating the split in the “psycho” or actor/actress who will be discovered to be psycho.  It is interesting that the only other credit which mimics this action is the one introducing Alfred Hitchcock as the director.

The score of the film is in such staccato that it keeps the audience unbalanced, and as we know is duplicated during the killing scenes. In addition, to me it is reminiscent of a fast-moving train where you miss some scenery and lock on to another. When the movie starts, the music slows almost like a train pulling into a station.

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?

Due to the time element in the story of when Marion leaves and when her sister starts looking for her, the date and time gives the audience an indication of the timeline. It also explains why Marion and Sam are in this hotel during their “lunch hour” having an affair instead of after dinner at their home….happily married. Hitchcock elects to enter through the semi-closed blinds very much like a “peeping tom” as in Rear Window; however, unlike Rear Window, where no one had anything to hide, the blinds are not open because something illicit is happening inside.  

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.

She explains through her dialogue with Sam that he is coming down for business trips and she is taking extended lunch hours.  She also is upset with having to sneak around and lie about Sam.  The fact that she is guilt-ridden because of the circumstances is reflected in the fact that she her bra and slip are white, as is her dress.  Later in the film, after she has stolen the money, she is dressed in black, showing that she has sinned.

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The pace of the music telegraphs that this is a story with some twist and fast turns. The eeriness of the music scares you in the first 3 seconds and yet leaves you wanting more. The visuals are disturbing too with lines of dark and light reflect the tempo of the music and preludes the movies dark side with most shot in deem light.

 

The day of the week is shown to reference it's the end of the week and nearly the start of the weekend. And the time of day tells us it is late in the afternoon in the sleepy town of Phoenix. The camera moving in from the outside in reminds me of Rear Window except that was from the inside out.

 

From the brief scene we conclude these two are having a tryst on a weekday and she is more into the relationship than he is and she would marry him right now if he asked. She is torn between doing the right thing and being a bad girl. She may be viewed as a tramp by the 1960's audience but she loves Sam and is holding out hope they marry soon. The fact they are in a seedy hotel and her lunch is still uneaten tells us they were not there for a prayer meeting. If only she had stayed there and not returned to work it would have been more of the same to come in the weeks ahead.

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With the first slashing notes of Herrmann's score and the racing lines of Saul Bass' title design we know that this is not going to be any ordinary movie--especially when the film's title and Hitchcock's name suddenly shift abruptly in different directions. The opening score is meant to keep us on edge.

 

The notes of the time, date and place give it a film noir feel (recently Eddie Muller mentioned on Twitter that he considers Psycho film noir!) like we are experiencing a crime that took place and how it all began. We enter the hotel room similar to entering Uncle Charlie's boarding room in Shadow of a Doubt or Jeffries' apartment in Rear Window; we are voyeurs whether we want to be or not.

 

It is definitely a boundary pushing scene with Marion and Sam in states of undress after being intimate. This is the next level from the suggestive talk between Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest. We know Marion is a good girl who enjoys being bad spending time with Sam when she should be doing something else. We wonder what is going to happen next, especially in the last line of the clip which foreshadows her fate. "This is the last time..."

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Bass and Herrmann's opening credits alone is an exciting experience. What a movie event! It certainly sets up that we are in for a ride. It's dizzying and mysterious but we are in for an exhilarating ride. Superb.

Because of the jarring opening credits once we get to the location and time that Hitchcock establishes it settles down but it still makes us feel uneasy. I'm not kidding you I got goosebumps watching this opening. I can I wait to watch this movie again. But enough about me… :-) when the camera zooms in on the half shut window it has the same feel as a Rear Window . Another peeping Tom experience. This one much more lured. I remember once when I was looking in the window… Again I'm kidding I just wanted to make it about me.

We are mostly drawn into Marion as the main character. She's doing most of the talking. She's talking to Sam about her boss. Her work. Their Secret afternoon dalliances. We are getting to know our character Marion. Oh Marion Marion Marion Marion. Oh dear Marion. Just stay in your own dreary world of work and afternoon delights. Just stay there!

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With the title design and score it feels as though we are being transported to a different world. The score is very dramatic and frantic signaling a significant change will occur early on in the picture. The title design feels fractured with the credits seemingly going in different directions (like Hitchcock's name).

 

Noting the location, time, and day makes it feel as though this is very important to remember later on. Something will happen and given the fact that it's so specific whatever it is will be big. The opening reminds me of Rear Window giving us the feeling that as the audience we are voyeurs once again, peeking into the private lives of these two characters. 

 

Viewing that first scene, Marion appears to me as a good girl that loves Sam and is willing to do anything to be with him including meeting in secret within a seedy motel. For moviegoers at the time this certainly would have appeared to be in bad taste, thinking Marion to be a harlot. 

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You have the cutting of the lines and breaks in the characters names as they are being introduced which shadows the coming attraction of the film. The cutting of flesh in the shower scene. The music is extremely sensitive to the graphic design and flows so well alerting the viewer to impending danger. 

 

With Hitchcock's specificity he is most likely suggesting the set up of a crime scene. In crime scenes, one always states the date and time and it follows the city be stated as well. There are no secrets. Everything is out there for the viewer to know. 

 

I love how Hitchcock enters the hotel room thru the blinds as this is how a voyeur would do so. The scene is set up like "Rear Window" in this regard. We enter the room uninvited to see a very personal situation between two lovers. There are gaps in the blinds to get a sneak preview. The lines in Saul Bass' graphic designed opening scene also reminds me of the blinds, vice versa.  The gaps in the blinds also suggest there is some coverup going on here and it is not 100% private.

 

Right in the first scene, Sam's reaction to her stating "this is the last time..." suggests to me it is not in his mind to see her any other way, and that he is good with the nature of the tryst. Whereas for her, she is unsatisfied always meeting in a  hotel. She has no idea how true some of her last words to him really are by saying it is the last time. They never meet up again so the irony of it all, unbeknownst to a first time viewer, is quite unique. Second time around, etc. it gets better when heard every time. As a viewer we have become the wiser. 

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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’s very bare, black and white, primeval, shocking. Nothing good is going to come of this. No happy ending.   Reminds me of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring which has similar feel and theme as Psycho.

  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 he was borrowing from  the True Crime type of film, as if this were true and he is reporting on it, like a documentary.  Peeping Tom is the feel I get, as in Rear Window.  There is also the sense of a private eye (Martin Balsam later) trying to look into and investigate this character, who is really not a nice girl.

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 is having an affair, rather sleazy with the fellow, and doesn’t seem too worried about societal conventions. She steals money and runs off with it.  She is going to die in a hotel room.  Do we feel sympathy for her?  We never, in my opinion, get a reason to.  Her murder is sudden, shocking, insane, almost random. 

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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 music and the graphics are staccato and slashing which puts the viewer in an anxious frame of mind from the start. A person watching knows this will not be a walk in the park!

 

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 and date specificity establishes the lunch hour and also that it's not the end of the work day yet. Ms. Crane has not much screen time as we know, so this is itemizing the time she has left on earth.....We have entered the room this way in Shadow of a Doubt to gaze at the murderer and Rear Window as we meet our hero for the first time. 

 

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.

It is Marion Crane who is dictating the terms of this relationship. She is strong enough to tell him it's the last time and that this isn't working. (Of course we know it's her last but that's getting ahead of ourselves!) We realize the film will be about her, not him. She's given the most camera time and most of the dialog.

 

 

 

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