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

After all the times that I have watched Psycho, I am noticing for the first time how the violin strings remind me of birds. The music foreshadows tension and danger . . . and Norman Bates’s hobby of taxidermy and stuffing birds. When the violins hit their high notes, I am reminded of the seagulls squawking in Young and Innocent (1937). The title design is fractured, much like Norman Bates's grasp on 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 you of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

The entire sequence goes from the very general to the very specific: in what almost appears to be one camera (but bird-like, menacing, predatory) swoop. I think the specificity helps to underscore what Marion Crane chooses to do with her late lunch hour, which in 1960 probably would have been frowned upon. Maybe it would have cost her her job. The camera moves from outside the blinds through the window, which reminded me of Rear Window, but with a lot more foreboding because in Psycho, the scene is dark, and the camera move is a lot more secretive, surreptitious. The blinds never go up in Psycho, but they do in Rear 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 that 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 would say that Marion Crane is a person who is willing to take chances. She could be risking her job with her willingness to take chances, but she also talks of marriage and stability. Perhaps she is a more complicated character than this first impression would lead one to believe. The blinds that are open only for a few inches (a bit open, almost drawn closed) on this motel scene could signal that what viewers are about to see is ambiguous and can be interpreted in many ways. See also number 2.

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1)  For me, the score represents the main themes by sounding very hurried and anxious, like how Marion Crane is when she leaves Phoenix, which is conveyed perfectly with the string instruments.

 

The graphics, even though straight lines, tells a lot about the main themes of this movie. I feel the lines mainly represent the travels of Marion from Phoenix to the Bates Motel because of the Interstate. I felt this also led to some of the anxiety of the beginning of the film because of the isolation of the interstate and having the thoughts she was having about her scenario with the money.

 

2) I think Hitch is trying to establish the specificity to sort of give accountability to Marion and her actions. Also, probably to show the relation of time between the thought of sneaking out of town and putting forth the plan to execute the thought. Hitch enters from behind the half-closed blinds to reiterate the voyeuristic feelings that the audience will feel when viewing this scene. This sequence reminds me of a cross between the scene outside Uncle Charlie’s apartment in Shadow of a Doubt and Jimmy Stewart’s neighbor-watching sessions in Rear Window.

 

3) This scene gives Marion the motive that establishes both her as a main character and the progression and purpose of the movie: the disparity to be with Sam and doing anything to fulfill it. If this scene was any different or did not exist, I could not say for sure if I would consider Marion a main character because of it.

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1. The music gives us a feeling of anticipation and frenzy. You know something bad is going to happen. Now bring in the fractured title sequence. The fragmented names and the music together are forming a frenzied feeling of dread to come. The violen sounds like screams to me.

 

2. Hitch is trying to established these 2 people getting together at a time of day when most people are at work. They are doing something they don't want people to knowand are trying to hide it.

 

3. It is the middle of the day and these 2 are in a dark room. She's in bed and he is getting dressed.We are given a lot of information about Ms Crane in the dialogue and the fact she is in a situation she doesn't control. He is peering through window is giving the audiences view bring us into the story. This reminds me of rear window. We are peering into the private lives of these characters.

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The title design for Psycho created by Saul Bass summarizes key elements of plot, and thematic content.  The two tone vertical and horizontal bars symbolizes the spit personality of Normal Bates.  The slashing vertical bars foreshadow the movement of a slashing knife. Vertical bars also suggest blood oozing down a wall. Horizontal bars moving both from the left and right of the frame create a sense of motion and movement, while at the same time give the viewer a feeling of being trapped with no escape from the frame, hinting at a fate Marion Crane can not escape.  The vertical bars slash through Janet Leigh’s name punctuating her sense for being trapped in this film as well her ultimate fate at the Bates Hotel.  The score by Bernard Hermann creates a perfect audio accompaniment to the slashing vertical bars, and is the sound equivalent of a slashing knife.  The score also creates a sense of moving forward but with no chance for escape from the looping, repetitive phrasing.  Finally, the discordant score produce anxiety in the listener for which there is no escape while viewing Psycho.

 

 

By being very specific to day, date, and time in Psycho Hitchcock begins a “timer” which hints at the temporal trap Marion Crane has entered.  The viewer knows from the very first establishing scenes time is closing in Marion, an inescapable force of fate.  Time may also be seen as a metaphor for Marion Crane wanting to move her current relationship from that of lover to wife, and she is beginning to feel trapped by time and the possibility her relationship desires will not be satisfied.  The primary reason to establish time so specifically is to heighten the tension and suspense the viewer of Psycho experiences by letting the viewer know time is limited for Marion.  Hitchcock’s camera enters the hotel window establing the films viewer as a peeping tom looking in on the life of Marion Crane, just as the viewer of Rear Window becomes a peeping tom, identifying with James Steward’s character.

 

The hotel room helps establish Marion Crane’s character.  We first view Marion lying on a bed with a  headboard composed of slashing vertical bars, similar to the slashing vertical bars of the film’s tittle sequence.  The bed frame is a cell, or better yet a cage for Marion who is a bird trapped in her own private prison.  An untouched sandwich sits on a table next to the bed further establishing Marion as bird like (as in “eats like a bird”).  The hotel is rented by the hour, and its occupants must leave when “checking out time is up,” again establishing fate  is catching up with Marion.  There are several references within this short sequence hinting at the limited time for which Marion Crane has prior to her fate catching up with her.  Marion Crane tells her lover “this is the last time” they will meet as only lovers, she also states “when your time is up” you have to leave (the hotel). The clandestine nature of Marion “stealing” lunch hints at a future theft which sets into motion Marion’s inescapable fate.

 

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1) The definition of psycho is a crazy or unstable person. The music to "Psycho", while not unstable, is definitely frenetic as is the accompanying title design. Just from the opening the audience is made well aware that this is not a comedy or a musical; something dangerous and unnerving is going to be on screen.

2) I believe that Mr. Hitchcock in giving such an exact time is letting the audience know that what we are going to see is neither special nor noteworthy. These two illicit lovers are doing something in the middle of the day that many in the audience can either identify with doing or wanting to do themselves. This happens everyday in every town in America. Think of it as a tawdry version of "Our Town".

As we (the audience) are peeping into the lives of two strangers what better way to view them than via the binds...not unlike "Rear Window.

3) This hotel is what they euphemistically referred to as a "hot sheet" hotel; it was a place couples could be away from prying eyes [no hotel detectives in a place like this] for a few hours of..."hanky panky", as they also used to say.

Marion's comment about how "hotels of this type" is an indication that this is not necessarily her first time (or her first boyfriend) at such an establishment. She also mentions how married couples can do a lot of things deliberately as perhaps her desire for Sam to put a ring on her finger and make an "honest woman" [a typical phase of the day for Marion, not mine]out of her

I never realized how dated this film is until today.

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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 plays with the ideas of non uniformity. The credits are split, disjointed and irritated. I also like to think of them being sliced through with a knife. The music adds to the anxiety and ominousness of the opening title sequence. Then once we get to the Hitchcock director credit, the horizontal dismantling of the credits becomes a vertical dismantling of the directors credits. Right as the violins fade into a deep somber end.
 
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 that Hitch was trying to let us know that it was a Friday. We all know Friday's at the office are typically more lax that the rest of the week. It's almost 3pm, and we know Marian has taken an extended lunch and when she returns to the office there will be probably only an hour and a half to two hours left in the work day. She seems to have done this often, and since there doesn't seem to be a lot of disciplinary action, it seems she has done this quite a few times and is probably a very popular employee among management. 

With it being Friday, it also sets up the rest of the movie, since it will be a weekend. We know she's supposed to deposit some money on Friday, and if anything went awry, it wouldn't be noticed until Monday. Being that it's Arizona and December 11, we know that it's winter time and that's typically the rainy season in that area. We do get a nice rainy sequence in the film that is visually powerful and important to the progression of the film.
 
I really enjoy the beginning scene where we see the semi-closed blinds. It tells us that there is probably something going on in this room that is potentially being done in secret. It also makes me think of the window/blinds opening sequence in Shadow of a Doubt. It also reminds me of Rear Window as we begin right off the bat being voyeurs.
 
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 hotel room functions as a way to tell us what kind of person Marion Crane is. She's skipping out on work, taking an extended lunch. She's sleeping with a man who travels, and they do this in secret. It shows that she's open to doing things that break the rules, as long as she thinks she can get away with it. She's sexy and is probably used to getting her way. Even at the office. Her boss most likely trusts her, and she probably has co-workers that are jealous of her. 

We also see an internal struggle within her from the very first scene on. Even though she's willing to break the rules, there's part of her that knows she shouldn't be doing this, so she voices her concerns stating that this way of meeting up will be the last time. She later goes on to also have an inner struggle when it comes to a certain "financial situation" she's confronted with.
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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 score introduce the main themes of the film? It gives the audience an uneasy and frigid feeling of the unstable and the erratic behavior that will later be seen throughout the film. The score gives us that erratic and out of control instability, while the graphic design gives the audience a breaking point in different patterns of human psychology. 

 

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 trying 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 trying to specify the location and time for the setting to give us an idea of the background of when the story takes place and what time it occurs, in a film-noir fashion. To make us feel like we are birds, since that was a bird's eye view shot from that sequence. It feels as an extensive sequence from Shadow of a Doubt (1943), which does have some of the same elements that were used in Psycho (1960).

 

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 character? Defend your answer. Marion Crane is an unmarried woman who keeps seeing her boyfriend, but she can't have sex with him in the hotel, because, she wants to get into the action until she is married. She starts off later in the sequence that she comes from a respectable household and that she never would do something that would prove to be immoral and unethical for their standards. 

 

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Full Confession

I have never seen all of Psycho and I don't think I ever will. I love Hitchcock and have seen many of his films multiple times; I saw his peak period in theaters as they were released except for Psycho. Here's why: my mother was a passionate movie goer and Hitchcock fan, but my father would not go to movies at all. So she went alone and then would narrate and critique the films when she got home.The night she saw Psycho, she threw her purse down on the dining room table and cried out , "That (expletive deleted)Alfred Hitchcock--I'll never see one of his movies again!" He had scared her way too much, and she kept her word. I was intrigued and terrified but hoped one day I would get past the shock of seeing my feisty mother so frightened.Then one late winter afternoon in Milwaukee, I was pulling my toddler's stroller up the stairs of our formerly grand but shadowy old apartment building when out of the darkness stepped Norman Bates! It was really him, clutching a bottle of wine and hopelessly lost in the dark and twisting corridors of our building. I was trembling as scary images from Life Magazine and movie trailers came to life! Bates/Perkins was so polite, and I managed to stutter some directions. I never overcame my dread of Psycho, though I have seen it in bits and pieces since. Thanks for listening!

 

In this opening sequence, the score is relentless, almost mechanical, pounding in a way that must be hell for migraine sufferers. Interestingly it disappears once we are in the hotel room. The title graphics split and become hard to read, suggesting a fragmented reality, something fractured and relentless. Unlike the Bass graphics for Vertigo, they are not something that you could watch for aesthetic satisfaction alone. They signal something disturbing and something hard to follow.

 

The date stamping of the scenes in Phoenix suggest a police report, giving a sense of procedural mystery, something close to factual. The camera invades the hotel room through the window. The scene within opens with a focus on the highly engineered and bright white bra--almost like the old lingerie ads with titles like , "I dreamed I was a woman of mystery in my Maidenform bra." The scene is steamy and sensual and kind of low rent, but who are we to feel superior because we are clearly the voyeurs here as no one but the audience could see the scene from this angle-- it makes Rear Window feel wholesome. I look forward to reading the better-informed comments of my classmates!

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Full Confession

I have never seen all of Psycho and I don't think I ever will. I love Hitchcock and have seen many of his films multiple times; I saw his peak period in theaters as they were released except for Psycho. Here's why: my mother was a passionate movie goer and Hitchcock fan, but my father would not go to movies at all. So she went alone and then would narrate critique the films when she got home.The night she saw Psycho, she threw her purse down on the dining room table and said, "That (expletive deleted)Alfred Hitchcock--I'll never see one of his movies again!" He had scared her way too much, and she kept her word. I was intrigued and terrified but hoped one day I would get past the shock of seeing my feisty mother so frightened.Then one night in Milwaukee, I was pulling my toddler's stroller up the stairs of our formerly grand but shadowy old apartment building when out of the shadows stepped Norman Bates! It was really him, clutching a bottle of wine and hopelessly lost in the dark and twisting corridors of our building. I was trembling as scary images from Life Magazine and movie trailers came to life! Bates/Perkins was so polite, and I managed to stutter some directions. I never regained my nerve about Psycho, though I have seen it in bits and pieces since. Thanks for listening! . . .

 

 

Psycho has always scared me, too. I have seen the film, but it's been so long that I have to admit that I'm a bit nervous about seeing it again. But I am going to try. I'll have to watch it on DVD -- so I can turn it off or pause it if I have to.

 

Maybe I'll watch it during the day, too!

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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 Hitchcock Chord is introduced, dissonant and jarring. Bass' titles come at us in fragments like a disintegrated personality as Herrmann's cellos attack us with minor 2nds like a ravenous shark. (You're welcome John Williams.)

 

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 specific day, date, and time establishes the possibility we're watching a police procedural. Then we come in through the window like we're hanging out with Jeff again 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.

 

Marion's the one who wants things to be different than they are. She's the protagonist. She'll probably do something illegal to justify the specificity in the previous question about the day, date, and time.

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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, there are a few elements to the opening credits that really set the tone.  First – the speed.  Everything – the music, the graphics move along at such a rapid pace.  And if in reality, the titles are going along at a normal pace, it’s the graphics that seem to increase the acceleration.  The music (as mentioned, comprised only of strings) cover an amazingly broad landscape of emotion – frenzy, anxiety, fear, brooding, loathing.  The effect of the score is ratcheted up ten notches by these credits that appear ‘broken’, coming together for seconds, only to be broken again.  The effect on the audience is jarring, confusing and disconcerting.  Naturally, Mr. Hitchcock is alluding to the broken nature of our villain’s state of mind, and setting up an emotional baseline for the audience as the film begins; one that will be revisited aurally, several more times before the final credits roll.

The audience knows this will not be an entertaining and adventurous spy-romp like North by Northwest, but a much darker place.

 

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 stamp reminds of just that!   It seems to me to serve as documentation of Sam and Marion’s whereabouts (like a modern security video).  While Psycho is considered by most people to be a horror film, I feel it’s important to note that a great part of this film presents itself like a police procedural.  It’s a sort of ‘tail-end film-noir meets Dragnet’ treatment.  Remember the MacGuffin and the chase!   This is not all about Norman Bates and his Mommy.  The story essentially begins as a crime drama with Marion on the run from her boss and the cops.

Ah, the windows again!  Once again, the audience enters through the window, like a prowler, an eavesdropper and an interloper.  It’s like Rear Window and Shadow of a Doubt, if memory serves.

Another touch I noticed is, again, Hitchcock is introducing his main character using a roving or tracking camera.   We saw him do it very early on with crowds at theaters or sporting events.  Now – he’s scanning the city of Phoenix and flying in through one singular window.  Once again, Hitchcock is the voyeur.  Or can it be argued he is really making his audience the voyeurs –  making us feel uncomfortable with the midday tryst we’re witnessing?

 

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.

Hitchcock obviously had a huge amount of clout (or cash) to get this pushed through the censors.

The only way I can think of answering the question regarding Marion Crane is that she is the very first face we see, juxtaposed against John Gavin’s groin and torso.   But on a deeper level, we sense she is very complicated.   She’s in a cheap motel, having an affair, yes – but she’s no hussy.   Sure, she’s having a great time, but she makes it clear she’s looking for something honorable.  Marion Crane is essentially a good girl who makes a lot of bad choices.

What I find rather interesting is that for the introduction to a main character, we see an awful lot of her back and the back of her head.

And once again we see this pattern of male dominance, or possibly misogyny.  The woman lying down on the bed while the man (even if it’s her father in Shadow) standing above her.  Remember Theresa Wright lying on her bed while her father comes into the room?  Remember Alicia from Notorious lying down when Cary Grant walks into the room?  And here again in Psycho.   And just about every time the man and woman form something close to a perfect perpendicular angle.

 

Note:  It's interesting to note that Hitchcock had very specific instructions to theaters screening Psycho, to maximize the impact.  He had wanted his audience to 'absorb' what they had just seen.   This takes me back to the time I saw the film Seven many years ago in Chicago, with friends.   After that film, I felt shell-shocked and brutalized for the rest of the night.  I wonder if that's what Hitch was looking for in his audiences after seeing Psycho?

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The hotel scene establishes Marion Crane as a character by characterizing her as a version of the hooker with a heart of gold. Not that Sam is paying her for the sex, but in the sense that she is a "bad" girl who really wants to be good. There's no ambiguity in this scene: Sam and Mario are an unmarried couple fornicating in a cheap motel. The scandal is nearly unimaginable. Yet Marion talks about legitimizing the affair - or, at least, stopping the illicit part of it - indicating there is hope for the post soul yet. Her struggle with doing the right thing is at the heart of her plot in 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 title and credits are "broken" and "disjointed", which in a sense mirrors Bates. He, too, is "broken" in a manner of speaking. The lines "cut" through the credits and the letters in the opening credits are "cut". Again, this can be related to way the victims die.

The score is composed of string instruments and yet it is NOT a relaxing, peaceful score. The music is jumpy and jarring. It gets your heart racing in anticipation of what is to come. It is definitely unsettling. 

 

  1. 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 ever-present "peeping tom"! Hitchcock was a "voyeur" and I believe enjoyed looking into the private lives of others in his movies. The shot pans across a city, closes in on a a building with many windows and then zooms in on one specific window. We enter through this window into the **** of a couple, who are unaware they are being watched by the audience! I immediately wondered about all of the other private lives behind all of those other windows that we weren't being permitted to "peep" into. What was happening behind those windows? Were other murders taking place? Naturally, this way of "peeping" reminds us of Rear Window. 

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Daily Dose #17: What Do I Do With My Free Afternoon? 
Title Sequence and Opening Scene from Psycho (1960)

 

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 score reminded me of a highway or train track moving too fast and at the same time introducing the cast and entire staff. The line design even seem to be in the shape of a piano at one point and just before the story started, the design seem to have changed into a musical sheet scale. The music is suspenseful and mysterious with its string instruments enhancing various sounds to increase the fear, suspense and sense of not knowing what was coming. The sounds mixed with lines graphics seem to pull you into the movie

 

 

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?

 

Hitchcock introduces the place, date and time in theses shots to give his audience an introduction to this scene. As he pans the city skies and buildings leading to the hotel window, he is letting us know where this scene is actually taking place, and that it is in the afternoon and it is the beginning of the weekend.

 

Hitchcock also elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside to allow his audience to take a peep into something happening that is perhaps a secret or maybe there is something to hide. It is dark as we proceed into the room and it seems to be a hot, dry afternoon.

 

As I watched this shot, I immediately thought of Rear 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.

 

The hotel room scene functions as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character in several ways. First Hitchcock preferred his leading ladies to be blonde. This fits Marion Crane. Second she is lying on the bed and Hitchcock takes a POV of her in the very first scene at such a low angle to establish her beauty and statuesque state. She seems to be seducing Sam Loomis and in this scene she is definitely not dressed. Lastly, she talks marriage. This gives the audience a sense of speculation and suspense in their future.

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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 score is not as upbeat or cheery as other films have been, it's quite the opposite. It's scary, it's frightening, it signals to the viewer that the film will become terrifying for someone in the 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?

 

I think the date and time are important because it could mean that someone's life will be ending that day or another big event will be occurring. Nobody really knows at the beginning. Entering through the window gives another voyeuristic vibe to the scene, like we had seen in Rear Window as the camera panned over all of the apartment outside the 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.

 

The scene shows that Marion is really the one who seems to be in charge of their relationship. She basically put her foot down that nothing else will happen until they become married. But at the same time, it says that she feels like she can do whatever she wants when she wants, such as skipping out of a day of work to spend it instead with her beau. Breaking the norm will eventually lead to the end of Marion. 

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Couple of things you can say about the title sequence, reading between the lines, as it were. First of all, the straight lines connote order and regularity, and the behavior of the characters in this film is anything but! Also, the fracturing of the cast and crew names, both into and out of their appearance, could suggest the fracturing of the norms and rules that will take place.

 

Herrmann's score? Igor Stravinsky on steroids! Just take a 33.3 rpm recording of "The Rite of Spring" and play it at 48rpm, and there you have it. https://youtu.be/FFPjFjUonX8?t=3m26s

 

Just seeing the name Joseph Stefano's name in the credits bring to mind the first season of "The Outer Limits." Watch a few of these "monster morality plays" (my own term), and you may start to see Stefano's touch in Psycho.

 

This film may not be Hitchcock's "master work," but it is his "master stroke." He foresaw the coming of the new wave of horror, driven by nuclear age angst and rebellion against the moral rigidity of the post-war era. He knew that the new monsters would not be vampires, wolf-men, or creatures from outer space, but seemingly ordinary humans.

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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 way the design and the score come in, they both slice across the screen like a knife. It gives you the sense of dread almost immediately. The difference between the title designs of Vertigo and 'North' is not just the colors, but also the tone. For 'North', it is almost playful and unexpected, but for Psycho, it filled with terror and jolt. Now it seems like commonplace for title designs like this, but back in 1959-60, it was revolutionary. Of course, it was Hitchcock, so it's going to be something you've never seen before. 

 

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?

 

As the day, date, and time is set up, it's like we are seeing the beginning of the police report. And as we all know the story, we are seeing what lead to Marion Crane's death. I think Hitchcock set up the camera to peek into the blinds, because it makes the audience feel as if they are eavesdropping into a very erotic situation: Marion's affair with Sam. There are many shots in Hitch's films that take this ingenious approach, such as Shadow of a Doubt and especially Rear Window, among others. It suggests that the audience is an unwilling spectator drawn into obvious shades of tension and imminent/eventual danger. It was a pretty bold way to be introduced to our heroine.

 

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.

 

The obvious answer is that she is the first person we see, but this is just one clue. There is the point of the camera always with her instead of Sam. When she is getting dressed, we see her in medium close-up, whereas Sam is almost in deep focus. Although he is barechested, we don't really pay much attention to Sam, not until later into the film after Marion's murder. There is also the poster, where Janet Leigh is in her bra, which automatically sets her up as our lead. Our focus point is definitely with her, even after her death. 

 

There is the matter of manipulation towards the audience; sometimes we see the first person and we think they are the main characters, but it is not the case. They maybe the first people we see, but that doesn't mean that they will survive until the very end. This is especially apparent towards the horror genre. They set you up, and then they pull the rug right from under you. Examples include: Drew Barrymore in Scream; Amanda Wyss in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Robbi Morgan in the original Friday the 13th, among others.

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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 title sequence both convey a feeling of frantic and chaotic pacing, a chase is to ensue, but who it the hunter and who is the prey? But as frantic as the opening feels there is also a systematic feel to the graphics, a series  of parallel lines, to possibly  indicate a pattern to the movie events to follow and that there are many "levels" of this story to be told.

 

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?

         All these elements give the film a feel of realism and exactitude. A feeling that something is going to happen at this specific place, date and time and we are going to be witness to it and so we peer in through the blinds. It reminds me of The Wrong Man, which was a true story told by Hitchcock earlier; a story made more suspenseful because it was true, and the movie Rear Window, which (although fiction) seemed real because we were witnessing it through L. B. Jeffery's eyes looking voyeuristically into his many neighbors lives.. Now we can expect the same sort of "truth" with Psycho, exact facts and a lurid sense of the peeping tom looking in on our characters' intimate moments together. 

 

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 and her lover are given our very specific attentions, in their various states of undress and passion. Marion is a most attractive woman in her white brazier and finally quaffed hair and makeup. She is the center of attention.  And given this is 1960, it was a most risqué scene looking at their mid-day tryst.  We are investing time to learn about their lives and their affair; this must be important to the story, since it requires our full attention. The characters talk of plans for the rest of the day as well as wanting to be together in the future, which presupposes that we will be seeing more of this couple as the film progresses. These two, especially Marion, must be a central character of Psycho.

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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?

They compliment each other synchronously and asynchronously, but especially at the end of the intro when the graphics resemble nothing so much as a medical monitor output, facing toward the centerline and the score 'dies down' at the same time. Classical instruments and non-classical music--striking contrast--which is one of the themes of the film. Also, the dischordant score personifies the panic of the one attacked and the energy of the attacker, just as the bold graphic lines slash across the screen like a knife will later.

 

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?

Tension--building a sense of time slipping away, accelerating.
The blinds hint at both privacy and voyeurism, which will be echoed in the scene where Marion prepares for her shower.

 

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.

 

The camera follows her. Although it takes shots of Loomis, it does not dolly around and swing to his movements like it does hers. by this and the sheer amount of time the lens spends on Marion Crane, the audience comes to identify with her.

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Daily Dose #17

Daily Dose #17: What Do I Do With My Free Afternoon? 

Title Sequence and Opening Scene from Psycho (1960)

 

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 first time I saw this minimalist graphic design, I inmediately associate it with the curtain oppened by Norman Bates when he is about to kill Marion. In a certain way, all those lines are similar to the curtains video transition too, so the relation with the idea of curtains is constant for me (it reminds me also of the curtains of the motel that seem normal but hides something). At the same time, when these lines moves, it reveales some credit, as we are discovering this side of Norman's personality. However, when I watched it for a second time, I started to think that a series of parallel lines are symetric and a sign of order, control. In the case of this sequence, because of the speed and the not so uniform order of movement of the lines, it creates a disturbance increases by the score. The kind of glitch present in some of the credits are another ingredient that makes you think that something is wrong, like if something gives the impression that everything is right when it is not.

 

In the specific case of the score, it definitely takes the disturbance to a whole new level creating an atmosphere of mistery, tenssion, fear and a sort of certainty that something really bad is about to happen.    

 

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?

In my opinion, when the date and time are that much specified it is due to a necessity of setting the events happened at that moment in a kind of a timeline in the mind of the spectator. Also, I think it is important to remember that the policemen or the detectives usually have the same method of taking notice of the date and time of the doings in order to solve a crime, so maybe Hitchcock is trying to establish that we are probably about to see something related to such a act and what is a about to happen is really relevant and we must remember when that ocurred in relation with the rest of situations.

 

I believe that with this entrance, Hitchcock remarks the intimacy and privacy regarding the relationship and encounter of Marion and Sam. It is showing us a very personal aspect of their life and we are like Jeff in Rear Window, watching something that we are not suppose to see. Thus, I think that it has a similar approach to the opening scene of Rear Window (not only in the case of the windows of the neighbors of Jeff, but also of his own appartment that we are able to see in some detail when he falls sleep). 

 

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 the first place, this is the first scene and she takes the initiative of the action in it. Secondly, she is the first person we see after the camera gets in the room and pans inside it, after that the camera is usually set in a way that even when it is not a POV shot is posibble to be identified in some level with what she could see from her perspective. In that way, Hitchcock is deliberately highlighting her relevance for the story. Also, through the dialogue we are given a lot of information about her and her relationship with Sam. It is interesting that thanks to this scene it is conveyed that Marion has a free will in experiencing her love life (even if it is a secret) and (now that I consider it) she is shown as someone to see as well. Although, probably at this point it is too soon to say it, finally is because of it that Norman watches through the wall's hole and that seem to be set from the start. Marion is what mainly we are proposed to see and know about. 

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1. The titles are split or sliced vertically and horizontally. This suggests a splitting of the characters personalities. Norman and his mother and Marion's good girl/bad girl. The word psycho completely becomes unfragmented suggesting the psychotic break Norman goes through. The strings are very frantic and causes you to feel anxious and uncomfortable. They convey the slicing of a knife with the sharpness and speed of the strings and bow. Very unnerving. It lets the audience prepare for the suspense leading to the horror that is to come. It sets the tone that this is not going to slick and stylish like North by Northwest, or hypnotic and dreamlike as Vertigo. 

 

2.The date and time sets the scene up as a time of day that most of us would still be at work and not having an "afternoon delight". It also sets up facts you would see in a police procedural  letting us know that Marion's time is is running out. She has not eaten her luch which lets us know that was not her priority. Check out time is 3 PM so again time is running out for her long lunch break and her time with Sam. 

Hitchcock enters the window from the outside through the mostly closed blinds to let us know that what is happening in this room is private and the people inside do not want to be seen. It reminds me of the shot in Shadow of A Doubt as we enter the window of a seedy room and Charlie is in bed. He looks through the blinds to see outside but does not want to be seen. In Rear Window we look out of Jeff's window to see his neighbors, but their blinds are open suggesting they are not trying to hide what they are doing. So as we peek through the blinds we become the voyeurs and are even more of a "Peeping Tom" because it is one thing to look out your window and see your neighbor doing something like Jeff in Rear Window but it is a different story when you go up to your neighbor's window and peek in. And this voyeurism is seen throughout the movie Psycho with Norman.

 

3. Marion Crane is seen as a main character because she is seen first, she does most of the talking and we learn more about her as she converses with Sam. It is kind of like how the main character was established in the scene at the inn for the Daily Dose we saw for The Lady Vanishes. It is interesting to note that as we are introduced to Marion she is wearing white undergarments denoting she is a good girl who wants a serious relationship with Sam and she doesn't like the fact that she has to meet him in "places like this". Then when we see her in the lecture video after she has crossed the line becoming the bad girl by stealing and running from the cops she is dressed in black undergarments. 

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1) The collaboration of Bass and Herrmann is extraordinary effective both visually and aurally. Herrmann's score of violin simulates the sound of screams coupled with the linear lines of Bass' graphic that looks like knives stabbing is so eerie. When I saw it on a TCM/Fathom event a few years back, as the credit begins, I found myself to be on-edge, nervous and highly alert to what is to come.

 

2) Hitchcock precisely set the exact time, date, and place as though as a police report would start out. He is giving us specific details for us to remember whether it is important or not. He wanted to remember this date and time as something will alter that day. Something extraordinary will happened. We have to remember it!

 

Hitchcock loves to explore the voyeur in us, the audience, From the half drawn shaded window as it swooped in, we are vastly becoming invested in his universe. He entered the scene this way is to give it a more intimacy than say an opening door. It is through a window does a voyeur peeps. It reminds me of Rear Window except we are looking inward and out toward the other windows beyond the yard.

 

3) The opening scene serves to tell Marion's story quite clearly. She is working at a dead-end job with no prospect. She is having a tryst with a man who comes into town. She sees him on he lunch hours only. There is something bubbling beneath Marion's veneer. Her tone of voice to her lover is edgy almost nonchalant. It appears Marion's in charge of the situation instead of the lover. It is she who is running the show. She is already planning something when she returns to the office. Her dissatisfaction with her life and hoping for a better her lover is about to take shape and form. The way she is dressed is by far a difference from North by Northwest. A bar and slip in 1959 would have  comandeered a today NC17 is shocking, but the codes were fast disappearing. Even the half-naked torso of John Gavin is risqué in that men of that period. Yes, we have seen shirtless men on the beach and whatnot, however, but never in the bedroom, lying on a bed in the throes of loving making. The 1960s have begun. 

 

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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 score is suspenseful string music played at a quick pace.  The tune is erratic and jarring, eliciting feelings of urgency and tension.  Thoughts of being chased come to mind.  The graphics are a series of horizontal and vertical gray lines cutting through the white text of the titles, splitting the words so they are unreadable.  Perhaps leading the viewer to read between the lines?  The split text might be implying the split personality of Norman Bates, or the words being cut by the lines could be a metaphor for the knife slashing that's to come.

 

 

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 of the day/date/time is to establish the setting and give the viewer a point of reference for events to come.  Shortly after this, the viewer learns that Marion took an extended lunch break to meet her lover for a hook-up, and their time together is nearly up as check-out time is 3pm.  The words THE ELEVENTH made me think of the phrase The Eleventh Hour - the latest possible time before it's too late.  Maybe foreshadowing Marion crossing the line from good to bad.  The shot of the semi closed blinds suggests something secretive and hidden, and the POV camera shot entering the room via the window adds a voyeuristic quality to the first glimpse of the people inside the room.  The viewer is seeing something they're not supposed to, and is a co-voyeur with the director.  This is reminiscent of Rear 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.

 

When the interior of the hotel room is revealed, the first shot is of a blonde woman, Marion Crane, lying on a bed.  There’s a man standing next to her but we only see the lower part of his torso.  Marion Crane is the focus of the shot, and her whole body is illuminated for display on camera.  This suggests she’s an important (main) character.  Interesting how the viewer is shown a contrast between Marion and Sam.  She's wearing white lingerie and has light colored hair, while he's in dark pants with dark hair.  Marion appears the way we would view someone who's innocent and pure, while Sam might have something dark lurking underneath.

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1.  Psycho title design and music by Saul Bass.

The score and the title design for this movie are both perfect.  The music is edgy with sort of a nervous-sounding pitch to it - the use of string instruments only enhances the effect.  The lines going in and out from both sides adds to the edginess.  When the title of the film appears on the screen, the word splits on screen and shifts back and forth to suggest psychotic behavior of some kind and the split and shifting title of the film lingers on the screen maybe a second or two longer.  The music also works well as Marion is traveling to Fairvale to see Sam Loomis.  She's in a hurry, driving in bad weather, the music slows at the point where she gets lost and takes a wrong turn - though that is not in the opening scene.

 

2.  What is Hitchcock seeking to establish

From the title sequence, the music becomes quieter and calmer as it shifts to the scene of the city and to the hotel room occupied by John Gavin and Janet Leigh. However, the name of the city and the date appear on the screen and the musical score takes on a slightly foreboding tone and then the date appears on the screen - as if to warn the viewer that something unpleasant may occur.  Announcing the place, date and time on a movie screen usually doesn't announce good things.   Entering the scene slowly through the open window makes the viewer appear as a Peeping Tom and adds to the fact that the couple in the room are 'sneaking around' having an affair in seedy hotel rooms on a weekday lunch break.  This is reminiscent of Rear Window as we become Peeping Toms along with James Stewart.

 

3.How does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character.

When you first glimpse the couple, you see Marion Crane lying on the bed - the camera faces her, the lights are on her.  Everything else in the room is somewhat darker.  Marion's slip and bra are white - she stands out..  We see John Gavin from the back for a few seconds, in shadow.  When she begins speaking, she is talking about her boss, her frustration with the relationship, her willingness to help the situation to help the relationship, etc.  She is talking about things involving her, which all add to establishing her as a main character.

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The important events in the life of Marion Crane occur on this December day, and these events occur in  small, private spaces with the men in her life.  The opening camera movement is typical Hitchcock as the crane shot moves over a space and closer and closer to the object of interest.  In this case the camera approaches and goes through a window into a crummy hotel room where a Marion and her lover are having a tryst. Marion is a lower middle class working girl who does not have enough money to marry.   The second look at Marion is through a small opening  into her room at the Bates Motel  through which Norman looks at her.  This  is another crummy room where her "lover" is a sexual psychopath with a knife. The murder is accompanied by the shrieking of the violins.  A hopeful, but unsatisfactory life, is ended suddenly and brutally.   

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