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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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DAILY DOSE #17 (Psycho)


 


PERVERTIGO:


1. The title score foreshadows the pierce shower stabbing sounds; the graphics suggest schizoid fragmentation.


2. The opening birds-eye view with date & time mimics a "names-have-been-changed" police procedural and the camera entering through the blinds gives us an omniscient (director's) POV like Rear Window--making us, like Jeff, voyeurs.


3. The bedroom scene seems tame by today's Two Broke Girls standards. You know Marion is the lead because she's making all the decisions having a strong sense of morals but human enough to struggle with them.


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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?
These two knew very well what works! This has to be one of my favorite scores of all of hitchcock movies.
The graphic to me kinda remind me of knives and the score just the suspence and creepiness it add to it.
 
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 is trying to set up your attention to what's about to happen specifically the time and day and place which take us thru the semi closed blinds as voyeurs but more like a Peeping toms. It reminds me of Jeff from Near window.
3.In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. 
Marion Crane is the main character from the very beginning she has more dialogue. There having an affair. She dressed in undergarment.And there both laying around in bed and just the sexuality in this scene is a risk taker. I know for a fact the code forbidden affairs. The one line that stood out for me was when Sam is asking Marion to call her Boss and ask fro the afternoon off because its Friday and its HOT! 

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1. Bernard's score and Saul's title design works with each other perfectly. Bernard's music develop  feelings of suspense and unpredictability and a sense of urgency to the audiences. Saul's title design is also splendid. He designs the title by using the transition of the horizontal lines, as well as splitting and distorting some text and letters in the opening scene. The horizontal lines could represent Marion's transition to sin and she received the consequences of her sin after she was killed in the shower scene, her blood is cleanse and washed away with water. The splitting and distorting the text and letters in the opening scene depicts the split personality of Norman Bates.

 

2. I think Hitchcock point out the time and date specifically because it's the beginning of a series of important events in Marion's life. After this meeting, her life will change forever. The feeling of sinfulness will slowly develop within her as time pass by. She is letting sin develop and control her life. 

 

I think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside to develop a sense of censorship happening inside the room. Sam and Marion was doing an act of crime and sin, an act of sexual relationship and adultery. It is also voyeurism in a sense, we are looking at the lives of other people and their private actions, similar to Rear Window where Stewart is a absolute, bonafide "peeping tom".

 

3. We are introduce to what's happening in the hotel room. We see Marion's whole body and the action of pulling the pants up of a man, indicating that they just have an act of sex. In the scene, by seeing Marion's whole body, we know that the focus is on Marion, another Hitchcock story where the focus is on the blonde girl. She looks up to the man in admiration. She seems innocent and pure judging from her white lingerie ,but after spending the afternoon with the man, she slowly progressed to sin and transgressed to the dark side of human nature. Having sex with Sam is Marion's first act of sin. In the end, she received her consequences for her act of sin.

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The title design/music of this film reminds me of all the psychological thrillers ever directed and produced rolled into one. The score is just brilliant and developes this very primitive black and white design to epic proportions. Simply chilling....untouchable. This is Psycho....depicting the dissociative identity disorder of Norman by fragmenting the titles and completely splitting the design vertical and horizontal.

 

The opening scene is precise with time and place and suggests the need to know for the audience to create a timeline of events to take place. It immediately captivates the viewer and says, pay attention to what you are about to witness or possibly what a detective would need to know in a crime when following the trail of evidence. The POV upon entering the hotel through the window is vouyeristic and a Hitchcock signature.

 

The introduction of characters displays sexual sin/infidelity, the cat/mouse game of lovers who seduce for personal desires and goals. I find it interesting having seen this film once, this scene is directly linked to Norman in the sense he was terribly abused by his mother mentally when she raised him to believe any sexual contact was wrong and he finally killed her and her lover in some Freudian mental breakdown which triggers his illness. Marion is the main character as Hitch gives us her thoughts, questions, vulnerability, and victim persona from the get go. Without this class I could have watched this 10 times and not had this insight. I am thankful and will see this film with a new pair of glasses.....

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Saul Bass’ direct and intended manipulative distortions of the letter graphics is implicit in the distortions of one's mind. Black and white is a ferocity of contrast, a blatant notion indicative of good vs. evil. His use of a black background with white lettering exhibits darkness​ being emboldened by light. It's a permissory, illusive effect with light casting a blindingly​ overshadowing cloud of anything ominous, teetering on nullification, as we seemingly possess an intrinsic inclination to (at least) want to see the good in people, an allotment of a benefit of the doubt.

 

As noted within the lecture video, Herrmann’s entire score is conducted solely with strings, and this opening piece is specifically concluded with heightened pitches, achieving shrill sounds, an indication of shrieks/screams. The hurriedly, intensive pacing of the musical structure crafts a nefariously foreboding effect of a very pursuant Death gaining and gaining on Marion Crane- she is living on borrowed time.

 

Hitchcock's specifications of location, date and time are a foretelling of a fateful Marion Crane. He's literally establishing her whereabouts, leaving a trail (or in following with the birdlike themes within Psycho)- breadcrumbs for the film's investigators. It’s a setup, and Hitchcock is planting intricate clues within our minds, of with which we don't yet know what to do, as we're unsuspecting of such an act (Marion's murder) to occur to a major film star.

 

Hitchcock allows his camera to stealthily drop us in on an extremely intimate moment amongst Marion and her lover, Sam. This type of introduction is in equal step with the couple sneaking away to a hotel room for what's implied to be a sordid affair. Psycho gives a reminder of the opening of Rear Window. The camera panning the city until it reaches its main subject, finding Marion Crane, and making her centric to the plot. Rear Window has a similar introduction to its center most plot point as the camera lingers on Jefferies neighbors’ apartments across the courtyard.

 

A large indicator on establishing Marion Crane as a main character is her dialogue (to Sam) “you come down here on business trips and we steal lunch hours.” Sam clearly comes to her, which signifies her centricity to the narrative. Marion also is rather assertive with her wants/needs telling Sam this is the “last time” she's to be with him in a hotel. This type of dialogue is revealing of one's character, exhibiting their desires, which are written distinctly for main characters more so than any secondary figures.

 

I seek to conclude my analysis with why I love films being shot in black and white-

Photographing a film in black and white creates a certain mood. An evident and defining example is direct comparison in between Psycho 1960 and the shot by shot remake released a subsequent 38 years later (although Psycho 1960 and Hitchcock are both undoubtedly incomparable.) However, for argument's sake, Psycho 1998 did not exhibit the unsettling atmosphere, as the good (white) vs. evil (black) was not a stark contrast within the implicit coloring. Black and white always play off of one another, but they are also comrades, great chums, in the filmmaking process. Black and white are fraternal twins, nurtured alongside one another developing a symbiotic yet contrasted relationship walking the divisive and thinly veiled line of love/hate. However, there is a reliance on their entangled, swirling, love/hate relationship that displays a magnitude of significance when telling a story. And this alone creates an even broader, lusher appeal.

 

Black and white can give certain simplistic complexities within its revelations, specifically, the soul of the film and its characters. The simplicities lie within the mere fact that we witness a soulful emergence; complexities require a peeling off the layers, deeply rooted within a character's/film's very being. We must observe with a keen eye in understanding the film's message and the characters' personalities. And how appropriate of Psycho, a film with such a subject, to be photographed in the contrasting colors reflecting the innermost workings of one's psyche, as the coalescence of such collaborative artistry mark the makings of such a masterful cinematic work.

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The lines Saul Bass uses in the title design evoke the image of the strings from Bernard Herman's score. As the score plays on with its high notes and quick tempo, the lines themselves move on the screen at a similar pace. They change direction and are even bisected at times to resemble sound waves. Along with the score, they are quick and unpredictable, building tension in the viewer.

 

The lines also evoke the image of blinds on a window, which establishes the voyeur theme before the first shot of the film. Then in the first scene, the camera moves beneath the blinds of the window into the room with Marion and Sam. We're voyeurs looking in on Marion's secret life, just as Norman will look in on her preparing to shower later in the film.

 

By providing the time and day in the first shot, Hitchcock treats the story, from the very beginning, as a murder investigation, documenting specifics. Though the audience doesn't yet know who will be murdered, they empathize with Marion as their protagonist. Though the camera spies on both her and Sam, she is the one who shows agency and is presented with a problem. She resists Sam's temptation to remain in the room longer and even states that this will be the last time they meet so secretly. She is the one lying down while Sam stands over her. And when he lies down to kiss her they move from side to side, restless, just as Marion is struggling inwardly with how to proceed with their relationship.

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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 score is irritating; it grates on your nerves.  The graphic design – lines going sideways and then lines going up and down – to me, create confusion. The opening leaves me in a hyper state of sorts; I find I want the music to STOP (which I’m sure is intentional).  This introduces the idea of Norman’s confusion about his sexual/gender identity, and about the state of his mental health [disclaimer – I am not a qualified medical or psychotherapy practitioner! I’m making this argument based on multiple viewings of this film].  I find this tricky b/c sexual/gender identity is NOT a mental illness.  

 

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 have always been intrigued by the specificity of the day and time w/o a year – what IS he trying to convey?  I presume, like many have said, that he’s suggesting Marion is almost finished with her work week and if she knocks off a few hours early, she can being to proceed with her “plan” w/o her absence being terribly noticeable until late Monday morning when she doesn’t show up at work.  At the same time, I think the general nature of the day and time (w/o the year) leaves the context vague, as if to suggest that anyone at any time is capable of crime – if desperate or unhappy enough. 

 

Hitch MUST have been a Peeping Tom, or had a strong desire to be, don’t you think?  There sure are a lot of hints at looking out – or looking in – at people in their private lives. 

 

This shot reminds me of the Daily Dose for Rear Window. It also reminds me of some shots in the movie, The Window, directed by Agostino (?) who collaborated with Hitchcock in earlier films.  I highly recommend The Window!

 

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

This opening scene lets you know that Marion isn’t happy playing by the rules, or possibly that she’s just not happy with her life, with the status quo, and is looking for happiness and excitement elsewhere. It establishes her as a rebel, but one who looks very “normal” and conventional. 

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1) The score is abrasive, it's a grater of sorts on the senses. The back of your head like Wes Gehring mentioned during the lecture video throbs. Your head becomes jumbled and adding Saul Bass' titles with the crossing and blurring lines mimic a blurring of what is real and what is not real in an intense world adding the score only escalates the tension that is inevitably impending on the course of the film.

 

2) By adding the specifics to the shot--FRIDAY DECEMBER ELEVENTH TWO FORTY THREE PM provides a realism. We are with Marion on this fateful day. We are the peeping toms watching Marion fool around with Sam Loomis, and as we continue our journey with Marion Crane we slip deeper into the chaos to come. Also by being so specific some might think that this is a true story of sorts similar to shows and what not today that are extremely formulaic such as The First 48 which is a murder crime reality show where murder cases are investigated within the first 48 hours, etc. 

 

3) Marion Crane is a very rebellious soul by having a scandalous affair with Sam Loomis, and staying away from work where she is currently supposed to be. Loomis is the solution for Crane to act out and rebel from the everyday rules of life and the monotonous routines of everyday life.

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The graphic design and score definitely set the pace with a chaotic and broken look into the intro.

The music literally racks your nerves as it will later in the film.

The imagery depicts a 'broken', 'puzzling' 'display'.

The date and time could possibly be acting like a countdown towards an inevitable doom (like Hitchcock explained earlier about the use of suspense as supposed to just letting a bomb go off-to explain it, describe it, watch it count down etc.).

The semi-closed blinds is definitely a look back into the Rear Window opening sequence (I think mainly because this story is quite the opposite of rear window where the voyeur is no longer the hero, but the villain).

The hotel sequence establishes Marion Crane as a main character by the way she was empowered by the dialogue in the scene.

The man is following her orders somewhat as she calls the shots on how their secret get aways are going to end.

 

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Herrmann's musical score is very jarring and anxiety producing. Bass's graphics are like slashed ribbons sliding, then thrashing, against each other to the music. Both work together to bring about a sense of unease in the viewer before the story unfolds.

 

The specificity of the day and time give you the information that it is a regular working day, during work hours. When we see the closed blinds, we know something is going on beyond that open window which we are not invited to see. It is like the closing of the blinds in "Rear Window", and it gives you the impression something secret, perhaps illicit, is going on.

 

Marion Crane is introduced as a risqué woman that does what she wants. She is very aware of how their meeting will and will not attract attention from both her boss and the hotel staff. She states this is the last time she wants to sneak around with her lover. She is very much in control of the dialog and is seeking control of the relationship.

 

 

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1) I found the opening sequence and music quite "schizophrenic" which will develop the mood for the movie.

 

2) The opening sequence in specifying the day and time provides immediate insight on the actions of the couple, how they are spending working hours tending to their personal needs, which are supposed to be secretive, but Hitch allows us to sneak in through the window blinds. I find this scene has some similarities with Rear Window as it acting a little like Jeff's peeping tom escapades, only we are the peeping tom this time.

 

3) Marion is a rebel. Although, unknown to the viewer at this time, hotel/motel rooms serve a significant function to this movie.

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1)  When I hear the score and see the lines slashing back and forth across the screen, I visualize the shower scene.  It is almost as if the music with its staccato beat is mimicking the stabbing, as does the movement of the black and gray bars.

 

2)  When I see the location and date/time, I'm reminded of old black and white TV police dramas.  To me it seems like a crime scene stat indicating date and time of death.  Maybe this is Hitchcock's way of telling us Marion will die, or maybe that her decision on this day, leads to her death.    

 

The scene with the blinds is reminiscent of Rear Window but unlike the last question relating to voyeurism, I do actually feel like a voyeur this time.  Clearly, this is a private moment that was not meant to be seen.

 

3)  The scene with Marion and Sam is very risqué given the censorship up to this point.  They've clearly had sex and we are seeing a whole lot of body with not much clothing.  We definitely haven't seen this before. 

 

Hitchcock for the most part, has introduced us to either many characters right from the beginning or only the main character.  Here he has chosen to focus just on the main characters of Sam and Marion and given the circumstances, we definitely get a feel for who Marion is.  She's clearly unhappy and wants her relationship with Sam to move forward but a lack of money is preventing this.  Hitchcock is setting the stage for us by showing us that she is willing to flirt with morality.

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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 score are introduced at a fast speed, setting up a fast paced feeling for the viewer with anticipation for something serious to happen and something to happen soon. The moving lines through the titles create a feeling of confusion and that “things are breaking apart; breaking down” referring to the word Psycho.

 

 

I’d also like to add a bit of trivia: Bernard Hermann’s string scoring was so impressive and different that it was a huge influence on the Beatles’ producer George Martin, so George created the similar string pattern for the song Eleanor Rigby.

 

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 the location, day, date and time establishes a city where it is always warm and a city with many desolate areas (hence the eerie location of Bates’ motel) and that establishing a Friday afternoon time to set up the future scene where Marion is now ready to supposedly make an afternoon deposit where her boss is inspired to give her the rest of the day off to start the weekend, encouraging Marion to realize this would be a good time to take off with the money. The warmth of the city also allows the small lake where Marion’s car eventually ends up, to remain thawed.

 

Hitchcock once again enters a room through an open window like that in Rear Window and even the beginning scene in Rebecca where the POV shot moves right up to the damaged Manderley fading into the original Manderley through the dark 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.

 

This scene allows us to surmise that Marion’s life is controlled by certain elements like that of location (Sam does not live in the same city) and controlled by her job, as she is arranging time with Sam on her lunch hour.  Since we realize Marion lives and works in Phoenix and Sam does not, we see Marion controlling the relationship and therefore controlling the scene, making me think she is the main character.

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1. Saul Bass's graphic title design introduces the themes of this film by using horizontal and vertical lines. The title of the film, Psycho, is divided into horizontal lines that then move in opposite directions. It almost forms the word Psychotic. During the dissolve into the opening scene, the vertical lines resemble the lines of a heart beat.

Bernard Herrmann's score is genius. The hard driving strings make me feel unsettled and anxious. I feel like something bad is coming. The score and the title design work so seamlessly together, that I am again wondering which came first, the title design or the score?

2. Hitchcock gives us the specific place, date and time so that we are aware that what is happening, is happening during normal working hours. When we enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds we are being "peeping Tom's" again, just like in Rear Window. What we are seeing is a couple who are breaking the grounds of tradition (and the moral code of the time) by meeting during working hours in a hotel room for an elicit rendezvous when "decent" people would be working.

3. The opening scene of Psycho establishes Marion Crane as a main character, first in the title sequence. Marion Crane is the only character mentioned by name in the title sequence. When the scene opens in the hotel room the camera is pointed at Janet Leigh (Marion Crane) on the bed. We only see the lower part of Sam's body standing next to the bed. Maybe it is just because I am a women, but I also think the camera angles and lighting in the scene make Marion a more sympathetic character than Sam. We can feel her desperation at the situation she is in. Marion does more speaking than Sam, as well.

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1) The title scene and accompanying music create a disjointed mood for viewers. Herrmann and Bass do an extraordinary job!!The names and letters appear clearly at first then suddenly twist and fragment becoming illegible. The gray lines move across the screen rapidly from all directions thereby increasing the tension and mystery. This perhaps represents the distorted mind of Norman and the confused mind of Marion. I agree with Hitchcock and Professor Edwards that Herrmann's string score is iconic and very effective. "it grates on the back of my neck". The staccato string music may represent the stabbing movements or screams in the upcoming shower scene.

 

2)The use of exact time and location give definition and sequence to the story.I agree with my fellow classmates in that this information acts like a countdown toward an inevitable doom. I also agree that this scene has a realistic police procedural tone, preparing us for a full investigation. Hitch wants us to "peek" into the intimate lives of Marion and Sam. We look past the closed blinds (unlike Rear Window) into their forbidden tryst.. I think Hitchcock is emphasizing that 2:43 p.m. is an unusual time for a "hook-up" so to speak. It's a play on one of his themes; unusual things can happen at any time, any place. Very clever. 

 

3) Marion Crane seems to be in charge of their relationship in this scene. She seems to be making the important decisions ("this is the last time") and future plans.In 1960, audiences must have been shocked to see a couple in bed, he woman in her bra and half slip kissing in the glowing aftermath of "illicit" love making. The focus is on her thoughts ("married people can do a lot of things") her sexual principles and her plans.This is great foreshadowing for a main character  and the possible philosophical connections to her murderer like sexual tension.

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The graphic title design is like looking through blinds. This conjures up a voyeuristic theme that we saw in Rear Window. The word Psycho is sliced in pieces. A hint of what is to come in the film. Bernard Herrmann music is psycho. I can't even image what this film would be like without it. The stabbing sounds are haunting and recognizable anywhere. By defining the exact day, date and time of the opening scene, we are brought to this through a window with semi-closed blinds to an afternoon liaison between Marion and Sam. We know that the Marion is a risk taker by engaging in this illicit affair. She working out ways to continue the relationship for a longer periods. The camera is focused on her in her underwear. She will find a way no matter what it takes.

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​1. The score is very intense and unnerving, and you are increasingly aware that something terrible is coming up really fast. The words are very disjointed, showing that they (and Norman) are not put together right, and are definitely not normal (woah that sounds like Norman, is that irony intentional?) and stable.The lines in the title design are in almost constant motion, moving up or down, and are franticly trying to escape something. Escape is a huge theme in this movie because not only is Marion trying to escape the police when she takes the money, and her murderer in the shower, and her guilt of stealing even though she already went through with it, but there is also Norman, who is trying to escape his mother (both literally and figuratively.) The vertical lines could be the knife, water, and impending death, while the horizontal lines are the blinds through which we first see Marion, and the car driving to the infamous motel.

 

​2. TWO FORTY-THREE PM tells us that what we are about to see (Marion and Sam sneaking around) is happening in the middle of the day, 'broad daylight' so to speak, and FRIDAY tells us that it is close to the weekend, a prime time for Marion to 'go home sick' and run off with the money without its absence being noticed for a few days. It gives her enough time to have a head start escaping without being suspected, and have time to cover her tracks and go somewhere unnoticed. This shot is reminiscent of many Rear Window shots, and definitely makes us feel a bit intrusive, seeing something we are not supposed to see.

 

​3. The very first person we see in Marion in her entirety, while we only see half of Sam, standing up. She is also in the very middle of the shot, which shows to me that she is the most important person there and the main character.  She is also the one who is more concerned about their relationship out of the two of them, which has great plot potential as to what she might do to relieve her guilt of sneaking around during lunch hours with Sam.

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1.  The graphic design of fractured lines moving in different directions to a soundtrack that literally puts, not only the visual but, the audio senses into a very disconcerting aura of anxiety.  If the film begins this way, one cannot but wonder how intense the film will be.  In this case, the title design sequence is a prologue to a very intense and reality altering film.

 

2.  This sounds silly, but Hitchcock is specific about the place, the date, and the time of the point we are starting the film because he wants his audience to know these facts for whatever his reasons which he may or may not make known, as the film progresses.  Stretching a point, it may be he is telling us someone has a limited amount of time to live and they won't die here.

 

As in Rear Window, the camera moves toward an apartment building.  Unlike Rear Window, all the blinds are down except for one window.  The blind is partially up and we enter the room through this opening.  We have entered voyeuristically.  The woman is in bed dressed in undergarments and the man appears to be hitching up his pants.  Hitchcock implies a sexual act has occurred.

 

3.  Marion and Sam (the above mentioned couple) remain in this state of attire while discussing their future together.  Apparently Marion wishes to end their relationship when they leave the room.  She isn't happy and she isn't married.  She wants more than Sam can give her.  Sam is committed to financial payments to his ex-wife and doesn't have a real career that would make it easier to pay off the alimony.  Marion wants more than these brief clandestine meetings and then walking Sam off to the train station.  She wants a real life.  It is clear that Marion has real feelings for Sam but they have no real life together or one to offer.  This is her argument  and why she will not see him again.  It seems Hitchcock has given Marion a strong will and disposition to know what it is she may be after.  She clearly knows what she doesn't want.  Her strong presence is prerequisite of a leading character (other than being Janet Leigh).  

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I'm beginning to love the collaboration of Saul Bass and Bernard Hermann. Not only are they iconic, but it's that recognizable thing that you geek out about (or at least I do). They are fantastic at setting the stage for the movie--whatever genre it may be. Vertigo was suspenseful, while North by Northwest was exciting and adventurous. Now, Psycho is a horror and the music very easily makes that known. The constantly moving lines make the opening credits feel claustrophobic, but in a good way. That's something usually avoided in graphic design, but in this case, we want that tight feeling and the fear that goes along with it. Plus, the letters moving side to side fit with the title--it's like the letter version of being unhinged.

 

As I watched this opening shot of the city, the specificity of the day and time felt like we are watching a documentary--something that is going to tell us about an event that has passed and that knowing these details is important. Just as in solving a murder, you want to know the specific time certain events happened. Also, entering the hotel room from the window reminds me of ​Rebecca​, and as with other shots, Hitchcock keeps returning to these experimental shots throughout his career (and creating his "touch" at the same time). I think he wanted to shoot this scene this way because it's like we are intruding on them and it brings attention to the closed blinds, telling us through visuals that this is a secret that they are there.

 

This scene also shows us the kind of woman Janet Leigh's character is. Unlike other leading actresses in Hitchcock movies, where they are proper ladies and that's mostly all we see, Marion has a different side. We catch a glimpse of this in Eve in North by Northwest​, but as the Code is loosening, we see it more. Since they are in this hotel room secretively, they know they should not be there but are anyway. As for camera shots, the first person we see is Marion, so we know she's the main character right away. Then, as it continues, we watch from behind her, as if we are supposed to see things from her point of view.

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Saul Bass' title design and Bernard Herrmann's music come together in the opening of Psycho to create a mood that is stark, forceful, relentless and disturbing. The black background is dark and sinister, while the letters being slashed in half remind me of a knife. Like the title sequence for Vertigo, this is successful in establishing the themes of the film. This has a harsher feeling overall than the spirals we saw in Vertigo, which I think is a good fit for Psycho.

 

The fact that we are shown a very specific date and time (Friday, December the Eleventh at Two Forty-Three P.M) gives the feeling of a crime documentary -- the time is bound to be important to the story. It sets the atmosphere and gives the viewer the thought that something dark is bound to happen. As we enter the hotel room through semi closed blinds, I am reminded of Rear Window. Hitchcock moves us from the exterior to the privacy of the characters sharing an intimate moment. It has the same effect as Rear Window, in that we feel we probably should not be witnessing these lovers.

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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 and graphic design set the entire mood of the film. The haunting vibe of the score followed by the almost cryptic graphic design prepare the viewer for the journey the film will take them on.

 

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?

Part of Hitchcock's signature touch was the oddly specific details of his films. I think this was one of them. He wants the viewer to pay attention to detail. He's setting up the story with the time. He wants to draw attention to the affair and the fact that she was going to be late when returning to work. I also read some other replies talking about how it gives off the feeling of a crime documentary. I've never thought of that before, and I think that's a very interesting point! I think he also chose to enter the hotel through the semi-closed blinds to make us feel like we're witnessing something we shouldn't be, since their affair was a secret.

 

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.

I think we're introduced to Marion this way because Hitchcock wanted us to feel a little off about her. She's seductive and secretive. She will go on to do some not so great things in the film, and eventually meet a horrific demise. I think Hitch wanted us to be skeptical about Marion as a character. 

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1, Score/title design:

 

As others have mentioned, how great it is to finally recognize the names and brilliance of the dream team membership. The dynamic score is suspenseful and fitful. The "read-between-the lines" graphic design, with vertical and horizontal line wipes, the missing middle components of the cast and crew names, then filled...tell me something will be "Off". As noted in the video, the entire score is conducted solely with strings, haunting, anxious, eerie, grating.

 

2. Date and time details:

Hitchcock is giving the omnipresent information that is part of his signature, planting clues that will be important as the story progresses. He takes over and around the city until he drops us in through the small opening of the raised blinds because we are seeing something that should have remained private--a tryst between two occasional lovers. It is sordid for us to watch--as in Rear Window.

 

3. The hotel room and Marion's character:

 

This is clearly a post-coital scene (one bed rather the outrageous twin beds of years prior), the man strapping on his pants and the female star lasing in her undies. Marion's dialogue is informative and reveals a great deal about her character than if she had not spoken. She is centered in the frame demonstrating she is the main character and the focus of our attention. She wishes she were married, and tell him this is the "last time."

 



 

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1.    Saul Bass’ opening titles (in terms of graphic design) and Bernard Herrman’s source orchestration score for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960) introduces the main themes of the film, as if something eerie and shocking is going to happen in the film (judging from the shredded lines and the “jagged split” animation movements on the lettering for Bass’ opening title credits) and the suspenseful orchestrations (of Herrman), indicating as a “warning” sign that something dangerous will come in Hitchcock’s film.


 


2.    The opening shot reminds me of the opening of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” where after a glimpse of L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries’ neighbors, we enter his apartment suite.   The difference in “Psycho” is that this is focusing on a much more “intimate” moment between Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin).  I think Hitchcock is establishing (with the mention of “Friday, December the Eleventh” and “Two Forty-Three  P.M.”) is that the danger will occur much later in the day.


 


3.    Not sure how to put this, but this might be a way to show the intimate side of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and the vision of the relationship with Sam Loomis (John Gavin).    And showing the intimate side of Marion and Sam was an early sign that tastes were changing in modern cinema (for example, the French “new wave” films and the rise of the auteur filmmakers, which happened later in the decade during the time that the motion picture code dissolved into the film ratings system).


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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? I have always loved the all-strings composition of the score in this film.  While the lower strings carry the melody or main theme, the higher strings act as the rhythm, in a 'slashing' sound of the same notes on the quarter beat (and vice-versa).  If one were to watch the musicians performing it, the bows of the violins, violas, cellos and basses would be slashing, like the knife in the famous shower scene.  Similarly, Saul Bass' design is a simple series of bars slashing across the screen, cutting apart and re-forming the names of the actors and principals.  Another thing I like is how some of the names are moved on and off the screen.  Almost every single credit moves as a whole either up, down or to one side.  Janet Leigh's credit is 'slashed apart' with half the name Janet and the other half Leigh moving to opposite sides, much like she is murdered halfway through the move.  Another interesting note is the two Saul Bass credits -- the first for Title Design and the second for Pictorial Consultant, where the other contributors' names move to one side while Bass along moves in the opposite direction.

 

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 details of the day and time remind me of "Dragnet", or what a police report subsequent to the crime might use to document or investigate the case -- or perhaps how it might have been presented in court after we have witnessed the film, as if the film itself was 'exhibit A' ?  As for the long tracking shot into the room through the window (which is AMAZING), clearly establishes the audience as voyeur, looking behind the blinds (reminiscent of the bars in the opening credits). As for comparisons to other doses so far, this one most closely resembles Rear Window, with the camera lingering at the bottom of a window with similar blinds, then venturing forth into a world of private drama.

 

In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer.  We see the couple in a hotel room, but soon learn through the dialogue that they are not a married couple.  At least not yet.  We learn a lot in the dialogue about the guilt and shame they feel about meeting in a cheap hotel and about being "secretive"  One of the things I like about the screenplay is use of variations of the same word -- meeting in "secret" and being "secretive" or eating in an "office" as too "officious".  So there is a lot of ambiguity from the start.  The couple has obviously been intimate, but neither (especially Sam) seems ready to commit to a relationship.  But Marion says "Sam let's get married" and "I'll lick the (alimony mailing) stamps."   This scene also shows Marion in a white bra, the first glimpse of her face framed 'between the hills', white usually associated with cleanliness and purity. Later, after the temptation and theft of the money, she is shown in a black bra, yet another risqué shot for 1960, as a woman willing to resort to 'risky' measures to escape her drab world and start anew with Sam.

 

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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!

Everyone needs to watch Psycho at least once before they die. 

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