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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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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? Staccato string music plays as the linear title sequence presents names and then fractures them. Janet Leigh’s name appears as the last of the credits. That is usually reserved for someone being “introduced” or who may not appear in the entire movie (I never noticed that until now.)


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? Phoenix is flat, hot, and under construction, despite the date being a day in December. The first shot pans across the city where we see mountains in the distance. A quick cut brings us to a shot of the hotel. Another quick cut takes us up to the window of the darkened room. The time of day indicates that the couple inside are meeting illicitly. Our coming in through that semi-closed blind underlines that we are, once again, voyeurs. The pan and "peek" was used 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 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 fall right into the middle of Marion Crane’s story…and her conflict. We know that this isn’t the first time Marion and Sam have spent a lunch hour in a hotel room. The set-up of why a fairly nice girl would later be tempted to take the money and run is covered in less than a minute of dialogue. We are already aligned to be sympathetic to this beautiful young woman and are expecting an entirely different movie than what will be served up.


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In a way, the Saul Bass opening credit sequence and first scene of PSYCHO further expose us, as viewers in the Hitchcock audience, to the voyeurism that encompassed a significant part of his later career. The blinds, much like the blinds in REAR WINDOW for example, serve as a way for the audience to become peeping Toms ourselves.

 

One may think that there is no better example of a peeping Tom than Jimmy Stewart's L.B. Jeffries in REAR WINDOW, but I personally think that Norman Bates is THE peeping Tom in the Hitchcock canon. As Drs. Gehring and Edwards said in the video, the scene where Bates peeps through into Marion's room not long before the shower sequence is key to understanding this idea of voyeurism. To me, that is also the second most signature scene to that film behind the obvious shower sequence. 

 

As noted, the production code was being pushed significantly at this time and PSYCHO further elevates the risque nature of Hitchcock and voyeurism by pushing code. It was ultimately to Hitch's advantage as it drew audiences in and one could say that Hitch being a voyeur paid off with the success of this timeless, edge of your seat classic. From Bass' intensely intriguing opening to Herrmann's immediately hooking violin-based horrific score to every moment in between, this is a film that can't NOT be enjoyed!

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The thin lines and the movement from side to side in the opening credits mime the slashing of a knife, as do the frenzied, staccato violin chords. Initially, evenly spaced and building toward a crescendo, those chords echo the sound of thrusting.  As with a knife. Together, the graphics and score recall death by a thousand cuts. And of course the high pitch of the violin foreshadows Marion’s screams in the shower scene.


 


In presenting the time stamp Hitchcock establishes that time will be important—he must construct that timeline for us to follow in the narrative.  And as we saw in the video this week, details, details, details matter for Hitchcock.


 


Because it’s Hitchcock, we know by now that a woman will play a crucial role in the film—not just any woman but one worthy (!) of watching.  So as we sweep in under the blinds and glide toward her with her lover in the opening pan, we become part of the intimacy, the sexual fantasy that animates the storyline.  

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Saul Bass' title sequence characterize the motifs of Alfred Hitchcock Psycho. The gray, straight- line pattern remains the same, but they depict the strong themes of double-personality and double-narrative, or the plot twist. The opening scene resembles Rear Window. I must not be the only one who sees that bizarre and noticeable cut to the curtains and window, just before entering the room.

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Its been about 15 years since I last watched Psycho --- I hope I can remember somethings about this film. 

 

Bass' title credits along with Hermann's score, communicate what we the viewer are about to watch: their design work is sparse, tense and nerve wracking, the film will be the same. If we go back to Hitchcock's desire to communicate an emotion we can see that fully realized in this title sequence. Like the film, it communicates a lot of ideas but remains mysterious and mercurial.

 

Opening the film with a call back to Rear Window and the feeling of peeping in on someone's personal life, helps communicate the notion that we're partaking in something illicit, and as we focus on Sam's naked torso, and Marion's face Hitchcock pulls a switchon us as we expect Janet Leigh to be in the film till the final credits roll.  

 

https://media.giphy.com/media/ySMlUbk6qZENa/giphy.gif

 

 

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

The lines crossing the screen seem like blades as they slice the titles and credits. This is enhanced by the music which stabs at you and induces anxiety. The strings are akin to my nerves being plucked. I know something is off kilter with the tone of the film’s score and its visual intro. I’m made uncomfortable and feel a sense of forboding from the outset. I actually feel as if I need to look around me to see any approaching danger. I’m jarred from the outset, and in an alert state, waiting for some violence to take place. I almost feel as if I am the intended victim.

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 date and time indicate the work week will soon be over, and the weekend is ahead. Christmas is just around the corner, so businesses have projects to wrap up and preparations to make for the holidays. That can be frenetic in and of itself, with many people out and about preparing for their own festivities. But Phoenix looks like anything but Christmas.

We are all basically voyeurs when we see a film, but these films of Hitchcock just lay this experience right before our eyes. Hitchcock wants us to see the world as he does – surreptitiously as through a camera lens. Entering the hotel room through the blinds is making the audience into peeping toms. We know something is going on in that room that plays an important part in setting up the characters. We see this used in Rear Window as Stewart plays voyeur; in The Lodger as crowds move to get a better look at a crime scene and the lodger himself is being watched by the landlords and the jealous boyfriend; in North by Northwest by being a part of an intimate conversation of innuendo between Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint; in Rebecca by peering through the ruins of Manderley, a locked estate; in Downhill as the couple rent a room; in The Pleasure Garden as the lecherous audience members and the dancers observe each other; in the Ring as the boxer and his wife use a mirror to spy on each other; and in Strangers on a Train as we overhear 2 passengers’ conversation.

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 is a late ‘lunch’ at a hotel with a couple that are having an affair. Marion’s mention of “this kind of hotel” and the checkout time shows this is been ongoing. Marion says it’s the last time because she knows that these business trip, secret hotel room encounters are a dead end. She’s the main character because she is the one questioning the situation, and looking for something more for her free afternoons. I think she’s open to a new adventure, but still wants the excitement that a clandestine entanglement offers.

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

The music and the graphics combine to foreshadow plot elements. Hermann is the Hitchcock of music in the sense that he is msterful at evoking specific feelings / reactions with his score. Here, the shrieking violin motif that underpins the shower scene is mirrored visually with the stabbing lines that Bass deploys across the screen. In Hermann's score, this motif is joined periodically with what I have come to call his Marion's Flight music, which accompanies her escape from her situation, her town, and eventually her life.

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 date/time reminds one of the opening of any episode of Dragnet or any police procedural aired at the time or since. It puts us in mind of the contect of illicit behavior, or crime. We are about to witness what will become a chain of evidence.

Entering the room from the closed blinds also telegraphs the elicit nature of what is going on therein. The blinds are drawn against us seeing the details of their sexual relationship. The setting being in a hotel undermines the stability of that relationship and support's Marion's opening overtures for change.

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

Marion is the one so dissatisfied with the status quo that she pushes for change. She makes the overtures for change, he resists, and she overwhelms his objections. She is active, he is passive.

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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 graphic design is sharp and its movement of lines across the screen violent and strong. Likewise the music is making "lines" into your hearing, sharp, short, violent. There are sequences of smooth violin notes being played that suggest travel and movement. Nothing is still in this movie. It's action all the time.

     

  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?

    Establishing the time lets the television generation know that it's important, perhaps a crime will be committed; an investigator has established this time after the fact while piecing together what took place. Obviously the semi-closed blinds tell us that Marion and her lover didn't want to be discovered. Marion continues this secrecy until she is killed.

  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 appears soon after the time and date are established. She is the one dominating the dialogue; she is making the decision not to see Sam anymore because there's no future in it and she's going to go her own way. She doesn't seem to see Sam as anything but an interlude in her life.

 

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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 graphics show lots of straight lines,  telling us that things can't always on the straight and narrow.

The score is fast and at times dramatic.  

 

 

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?

 

With the showing of the date and time, its telling is that maybe something is about to happen that is time sensitive.  

 

 

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

 

She is pretty and blonde and looks like a woman desperately in love but frustrated that this isn't the perfect relationship.

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? The intense staccato music score with high pitched strings and a rapid pounding beat add an intensity and an edge of your seat nervous quality, which when combined with Bass' design of rapid multi-lined graphics cutting into the titles /credits that make them appear sliced and disjointed, how perfectly it expresses the sudden decision by Marion Crane to embezzle, and the mental illness of Norman Bates to murder.

     

  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? Setting up a timeline that it is late in a work-day on a Friday, we see that a week-end is approaching.  Entering the room through the window, I think, helps show the secretive liason between the two characters meeting in a "cheap hotel room" acting as a married couple. Rear Window voyeurism on display again.

 

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 hear Marion say "it's the last time" and see that she is dissatisfied with how things are.  She is obviously ready and willing for a change, whether it's good or bad.  

 

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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?

 

First off, the score is very violent and unsettling. The titles are unsettling too. They rush in and out from the side, but to extend it further, they are assembled in pieces, preparing us for the split personality of Norman Bates/mother.

 

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 by choosing such specific, Time, place, and location, he makes the audience wonder why they would be important, and ultimately coming to the conclusion that the date, time, and place were not important. If the date, time, and place are unimportant, then it could be any date, any time, and any place. Coming through the blinds is similar to Rear Window and shooting through the window, but here it is taken much further. In Rear Window, we never see what happens behind closed blinds. Here we go through the closed blinds, and what do we see, Janet Leigh in her underwear with John Gavin, obviously just having finished making love.

 

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 first character you see is Janet Leigh, but further she is the one controlling the conversation. John Gavin suggests she take the afternoon off and that they stay longer (she says check out is 3:00). He suggests that married couples do this all the time (she counters with married couples do a lot of things, reminding him  that they are not married). Ultimately she tells him they are not going to do this afternoon hotel thing anymore.

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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?

 

Both Design and music introduce sharp and straight to the point that the movie delivers. The whole psychotic feeling comes into play where the lettering breaks uneven bringing your attention to what possibly happens inside a mentally unstable person.

 

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 now so famously attention to detail brings you the background information of the character's secretarial work that's shown later on. The semi closed blinds definitely brings Shadow of a Doubt with a little bit of Rear Window to mind.

 

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 is definitely introduced as a vulnerable woman trying to redeem her secrets and way of life. With or without censorship, the remainder of the opening sequence had to bring about what the characters were about visually to set the tone of what could happen next.

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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 is so scary that you just know something bad is going to happen in this film. The broken lines in the graphic tell the viewer something is broken/not right and it's going to happen quickly. There is an uneasiness in the combination of visual and auditory sensory, definitely an anxiety.

 

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

The date and time is letting us know the weekend is approaching and the work day is almost over. The couple is doing something illicit in the hotel room and entering through the semi-closed blinds gives us a voyeuristic look into their private life. Similar to Rear Window when the characters are being watched.

 

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 in my opinion is a strong character. She dominates the scene in the hotel room by ending the relationship, she doesn't want to continue sneaking around and meeting in a hotel where check out is at 3p. She wants more with life and is looking to make a break for it. During the time period this movie was filmed women were usually subordinates and were happy being secretaries or home with the kids, not usually in a relationship where she is calling the shots.

 

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1.  The titles of Saul Bass and the music of Bernard Herrmann work perfectly together, just as they had twice before.  The here is off-putting;  the viewer is a little unnerved from the very first sound and image.  White titles on a black screen, and the way the lines of print are jagged, and move back and forth, is very like the slashes of a knife.  The strings of the violin act as a counterpoint, with sudden strong sounds that are very knife-like in their own way.  If I had never seen this movie before, I would be expecting a movie with violence, and a movie that would keep me on the edge of my seat.

 

2.  It's a wonderful contrast between the jarring images of the title sequence and the shots that establish the time and place of the film.  All of a sudden we have a chance to catch our breath.   The establishment of a specific time and place is a touch that is common in film noir.  Oftentimes movies establish a very specific time and place when referring to a crime being committed.  In this case, this is the moment that Marion Crane has made up her mind that things need to change in her relationship;  essentially, her course to the Bates Motel has been established.  The push in through the blinds is reminiscent of Rear Window, of course, although now our voyeurism feels more seedy.  The Lady Vanishes also begins with a push in through the window.

 

3.  The scene establishes her as the main character through her dress, (or state of undress) and through the way she addresses her lover.  She is in love with this man, and is being proactive in her attempt to bring them together.  Interestingly, Marion's brief journey on screen is a series of interactions with men.  Starting with her boyfriend, then her boss, then the sleazy guy who throws the cash on her desk, then the highway patrolman, then California Charlie the car salesman, and finally Norman Bates.  And all of them objectify her in some way.  Except for Norman, of course.  He is the most sympathetic of all.  And you could say it is her interaction with a "woman" that brings about her demise.

Janet Leigh is a vastly underrated actress who has little dialogue in this movie and has to convey her emotions through her facial expressions without over emoting and she does so brilliantly.

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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?

     

    Well, the titles are splitting apart which suggests a plot that will be tearing and rending something or someone...

    The music screeches and gives the sound of something horrific like screams.  

    The two together are perfect.

     

  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 suppose the time and date are to establish the length of time that the events occur.  We need to have a base line to know how quickly things will progress.

    Entering through the blinds shows that the events inside are not to be disturbed; they are private.  The camera sneaks in just as these two characters are sneaky.

    Not really placing any other shots...??

     

  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 is very steamy.  Interesting that it is only one year after NxNW.

    She is definitely the star/main character.  Her dialogue is interesting and leading.  We want to know the back story to the tryst.  Plus she is the "icy blonde" that Hitch likes.  

     

    Having seen the film so long ago, this opening scene is very interesting because I can only picture the hotel.  I look forward to watching it again, and I am also really nervous to see it since I am terrified!!!

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The graphics in the opening sequence are about one splitting apart and two coming together. It's a visual interpretation of an individual (a name in the title) being torn apart and the complementary action of two parts of person forming a whole.  Together with the  music, the whole opening is really angst-filled.  The music has a driving forcefulness that hints at speed- a linear movement that makes me feel the urge to flee or to hurry to get somewhere before its too late.  Then it slows just a little and a thinner higher melody is worrying and nagging, not soothing. 

 

I think the specificity of day and time is more important than the city because  a weekday afternoon  immediately establishes the rendezvous as illicit. When there are secrets to keep, things are only going to get more complicated.  Going through the window to move into the interior shot is such a fabulous touch!  We again are put in the position of voyeur. Our eyes even need a few seconds to get used to the gloom, at first not seeing the objects in the room, after being "out" in the noonday sun! 

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  1. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film

The music lets us know that something violent is about to happen. It's very jarring to the ear...it's almost the kind of sound a knife might make if it could make music. As for the visual, the graphic design represents the cutting/knifing that's about to come. It also represents Norman's split personalities.

 

 

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 day/time specificity was to show how quickly a life can change. In the space of one day, Marion went from being an honest woman trying to do the right thing in breaking up with Sam to stealing money to ending up dead in a roadside hotel. As for Norman, he spent his whole life in this secluded house until on this specific date and time Marion Crane showed up in his life and changed everything. The opening shot definitely reminds me of REAR WINDOW. I think the semi-closed blinds could be an extension of  the "slicing" we see in the opening credits--the blind slats are equal in size to the slicing in the opening sequence

 

3. 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 opening scene, Marion gives a lot of information about herself---she's tired of being the other woman, she wants to end it, she's a secretary on her lunch break. We also know she's a main character simply because it's JANET LEIGH portraying her!  The fact that she was killed off so early in the film was a pretty big deal then (it was actually the first film that ever did that!) and it added to the suspense of what's going to happen next.

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1. The music and the graphics are violent, jarring, and fast-paced, foreshadowing the violence that is to come.

2. The specificality gives Psycho almost a documentary feel, setting it in a specific time and place, making it concrete and real, that much more terrifying. Coming in through the blinds takes vouyerism up a notch, like Rear Window on steroids.

3. This scene establishes Janet Leigh as a femme fatale, with an emphasis on fatale and fatal to boot.

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The music is jagged and unnerving, combined with the titles which are broken parallel and horizontal lines make the viewer tense from the outset of the film and foreshadow the stabbing in the shower.

 

The partially open shades are similar to fully exposed or lifted shades in Rear Window.  Another classmate said something to the effect the blinds, "suggest the stabbing motion of the knife." Good call! The fact that they are only partial exposed tells the viewer something is going on inside that no one should see. Sex as an "Afternoon Delight" between unmarried adults spells taboo and bad girl and boy. Crane is also a bird's name and in an ironic twist, what the English call an easy natured, girl, a "bird."  

 

However, this Bird wants to get married and to end the afternoon trysts.  The boy, however, does not have enough money to set up a nest for the two.  This sets in motion the motive for Marion to steal $10,000 in cash a customer brings into the real-estate office where she works and the need to head out west to where her boy lives, so they can marry and build a nest together.

 

We know the rest of the story; the money is merely the "Magoffin" Hitchcock uses to push his little Bird toward the Bates Motel and Norman Bates and Mother!

 

Of Course, the "Bird" simile will become a reality in The Birds. 

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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?

     

    Saul Bass's bold, black-and-gray, parallel bars that slide back and forth--and through each other--are an abstract manifestation of a knife slashing (vertical bars) or stabbing (horizontal bars), then pulling out of, a body--repeatedly. This is a stylistic representation of the brutal murder that will be at the heart of PSYCHO.

     

    The murder--the granddaddy of all slasher scenes--often imitated, but never duplicated--has Janet Leigh the victim of a psychopath's continuous slashing with a large, sharp knife. Saul Bass's animated bars in the title sequence mimic--or, in this case, foreshadow--the infamous shower scene. The graphic lines slide in and out of each other--smoothly--just as a sharp butcher knife would slide in and out of human flesh.

     

    When the bars surgically slice the title--PSYCHO--horizontally into thirds, they presage the split personality that will commit the crime: 1 body, 2 personalities = 3.

     

    Bernard Herrmann's accompanying score in the murderous shower scene will feature famous staccato and high-pitched, or shrieking, notes on violins and other strings. But in the title sequence, we don't hear any of the shower music. Instead, we get jagged, nervous traveling music that will later play over Janet Leigh's nighttime drive in the rain after she steals $40,000 from her place of employment. The title music conveys the rapid, nervous heartbeat of an animal being chased, darting through the woods, running for its life. In Marion's case, she's being chased by her guilt as she drives from Phoenix to Fairvale to give "Sam" the stolen money.

     

    Bass's sliding  lines, especially the vertical ones, could also represent the repeated center stripes from her POV as she travels down the road that will lead to an off-the-beaten-path motel and, ultimately, to her doom.

     

    Finally, those horizontal lines in the title sequence also represent the Venetian blinds hanging in the window of the No-tell Motel.  It's through those blinds that the camera--we--enter the room where "Marion" and "Sam" are finishing another tryst in their ongoing adulterous affair. 

     

     

  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?

     

    By fonting "Phoenix" and a specific day, date and time on the screen, Hitchcock is giving us what amounts to a police-blotter style of reportage that had been popular on television throughout the decade prior to 1960, especially with the police procedural "Dragnet." ("Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true....," etc.) Right out of the gate, Hitchcock is adding this touch of verisimilitude, as if he's saying "What you are about to see is not just a movie. It's real.​ It happened."

     

    The camera-through-the-window tracking shot is reminiscent of the opening sequence of SHADOW OF A DOUBT when the camera passes through the window into the darkened room-for-rent, discovering "Uncle Charlie" lying on the bed, staring into space, at one point with his eyes closed--like a corpse. Also, in the opening of REAR WINDOW, the camera goes out a window, pans the courtyard, then comes back through the window revealing a sleeping "Jeff" and his apartment.

     

  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 NORTH BY NORTHWEST, "Eve" and "Roger" are fully clothed. The sexuality of their scene in the train's dining car is transmitted strictly via their risqué banter and the looks that pass between them. The scene is sexy through innuendo, letting the dialog and facial expressions do the talking.

     

    In contrast, PSYCHO's motel scene is far more "raw": Janet Leigh is wearing bra and slip; John Gavin is shirtless. Our first view of Leigh is a foreshortened view--the POV from the foot of the bed--in such a way that her pert breasts, although farther from the camera than her feet, dominate the shot. Although the Production Code is beginning to lose power in 1960, Hitchcock was still unable to shoot it as a nude bed scene, as it no doubt would have to be shot today. By today's standards, nothing else would seem realistic. However, Hitchcock is pushing the envelope, so to speak, doing as much as he can to imply that sex has taken place and that the couple, when we first see them, have put some of their clothes back on.

     

    (On the other hand, strictly judging by their hair, I'm not exactly sure they've actually had sex. Both Gavin's and Leigh's hair is perfect, every hair in place. Maybe they are supposed to have used so much hairspray that day that their hair wouldn't have budged even in a hurricane. But, this is Hollywood when stars were still being glamorized to a ridiculous, unrealistic degree.)

     

    At any rate, when they stretch out on the bed face-to-face, we learn through dialog that this is an illicit affair, that "Sam" is married. "Marion" tells "Sam" "This is the last time," apparently meaning "We've got to stop meeting like this!" Of course, she's probably said this innumerable times before. But she's tired of the surreptitious trysts and wants them to have a legitimate life together. This is what causes her to later throw caution to the wind and steal the $40,000, money they can use to pay off "Sam's" debts and start a new life together elsewhere. 

     

    The motel scene also establishes "Marion" as a flesh-and-blood human being. It also titillates the audience, especially the male audience. Having seen her in the very opening scene half-undressed, once it later becomes apparent that she's going to take a shower, the (male) audience is again titillated into expecting to see her fully nude. When PSYCHO was released in 1960, Leigh was familiar to moviegoers, having appeared in more than than 30 movies at that point. Although her name is the last cast name listed in opening credits ("...and Janet Leigh as Mario Crane"), she is ostensibly the star of PSYCHO. 

     

    But knowing he has teased the audience into thinking she will perhaps be visibly nude in the shower, Hitchcock pulls a switcheroo: he instead, right before their eyes, has her killed. It's as if he's saying, "Oh, you think you can predict what's going to happen in my movie? Oh, really? You want to see something? Well, get a load of...this!" 

     

    (Cue the shrieking violins.)

     

    Hitchcock was a trickster: he's not only killing off his apparent star; he's slashing the moviegoers' naughty expectations, throwing at the audience one of the most effective curve-balls in the entire history of film. He played the audience like a Stradivarius.

     

    In short, Hitchcock has set us up: the fact that Leigh is the presumed star of the picture; her character's humanity; and her familiarity with the audience all serve to make "Marion's" brutal murder in the shower--some 47 minutes into the film--all the more shocking.

     

    Right before she is murdered, she has decided to return the money and take her lumps. We root for her. This, also, makes her savage murder in the next couple of minutes doubly horrific.

     

     

     

    Personal Note:

    I know firsthand just how shocking the movie was in 1960. Having heard my parents talk about VERTIGO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST, when they were going to PSYCHO in its first release, I insisted on going with them. I was 10. Not knowing what the movie included, they took me. To this day, I remember grown-ups yelling at the screen during the shower scene, "Oh my God!" It was as if everyone in that theater was being stabbed with each slash of the knife. Fortunately, it was a cold, wet Sunday when we went to the theater. Consequently, I was wearing a car-coat with a detachable hood--which, lucky for me, was attached. During the shower scene, I pulled the hood over my head and with the drawstrings reduced my view to a peep-hole (shades of Jimmy Stewart in REAR WINDOW). But I never looked away from the screen. To this day, almost six decades later, the montage of the shower scene and the reaction of that entire audience remain indelibly etched--slashed, if you will-- onto my grey matter

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  • Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann ... main themes of this film?

The musical score and the graphic design are solidly married as one.  If you had no visual and/or no music it just wouldn't work.  You can tell the two have worked together prior as they are so in synch with what is needing to be sold to the audience right from the start.  The visual is just simply brilliant (using this word a lot in this course) as it to me, represents the mind's fragility and the psychic break Mr. Norman Bates has had and continues to have in the film.  Also, Marian has a break from her "normal, successful day job," but we know from the opening scene she is a risk taker and not your normal 1960 working woman.

As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona ...does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched?

​I believe the three titles of detail places us right in the middle of Phoenix on a December day in the late afternoon.  Kind of a lazy, almost vacation-like place with the working day coming to an end shortly.  The level of detail tells us that this will be important for later, like the time of a surgery ...or of a crime.  We know later this is important as the search starts for her.  We also learn from their discussions it is a lunch break.  But we can tell it is not a high class hotel room as basics from an IKEA-like 'Hotel are Us" place.  Not usually normal to have lunch at 14h43 ...and we see Marion has not had time to eat ...actually.  The blinds semi-close tells us something secret it going on inside, yet those inside want to have some visual viewing.  Once we see a half dressed lower portion of the man and the sexual look in her eyes, the position of Marion and her Madonna-like brassiere apparatus with her post-coital smile we know where we came into the scene at 14h43.  Once more the bed ...what the bed represents with Uncle Charlie, in 39 Steps, in the train with R.O.T. and Eve, with Burt Lancaster ...the massive impact Hitchcock centers on with things that occur while in bed.  Of course never for sleeping.  That same theme landed with soap operas in the 1960 and may continue now, as so much dialogue and evil betrayals occur in bed vs. couches, backseats of cars, etc.  We learn that something immoral has occurred as he is a married, traveling business man and she is a single working woman, maybe divorced, again not common in 1960.  We even think she isn't a mother with her perfect body, flat stomach and no signs of pregnancy with zero stretch marks.  This is highly against the norm as she isn't super young being 32 years in the film.  Most women of this generation started having kids by 18-20 years old.  I know Eve Kendall was 26 years old in NBNW, but looked older and acted more experienced too.  Their sexual intensity has not decreased since their afternoon liaison  (how long have they been there, lunch is normally about noon isn't it??) and it appears that they would need the room for another session until we hear Marion with her guilt and final sayings ...but, we know she has business to take care of at the bank yet from our previous viewings.

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

Marion is the bra and slip on of the time, but nothing fancy.  She is a natural beauty and has totally been vexed by Mr. Loomis to allow her to have the sexual need to meet in such a place, and several times in the past.  I tells us Marion is a risk taker, is tempted, is not married for some reason we aren't aware of (highly unusual for a woman of her beauty), is not honest as having an affair with a married man, may not be religious, is not too fancy as she allows him to take her to a seedy hotel and she has some pull at the bank with her boss to have a lunch so late in the day.  I assume banks in 1960 on Friday nights were not open later than 17h at the time of watching this scene.

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Psycho and repression comments Part Il

 

I keep thinking about Marion and the film.  It was very bold and telling that she had a white bra and white slip on in the hotel room.  We could still forgive her maybe as we didn't fully know her story, only the things implied.  This was before the actual bank crime, but after the affair had been in process.  When Norman was peeking at her, she had a black bra and a black slip after the crime.  Black vs. white, good vs. evil, pure vs. impure.  

 

Reading more about the Italian painting Norman removed from the wall to watch Marion undress and shower was disturbing.   Susanna was the a self portrait of sorts as the female painter, Artemisia Gentilileschi(1593 - 1652), painted this after being sexually assaulted by her father's friend in her own home at the age of nineteen.  Susanna was naked as she was bathing and two older men were coming towards her "preying" on her.  In the Bible the men do continue to bother her and in the Book of Daniel she is sexually assaulted.  Marion would be naked in the shower, like Susanna and Norman was preying on her, although not older than her and not a man of power other than he owns a hotel and big house on the hill with his 'mother.'   What a disturbing painting, good therapy for Artemisia as she took the older man to court in the 16th Century, but it being so essential to Alfred Hitchcock is both shocking and disturbing as to his psyche.  

 

Unlike the "Last Tango in Paris" sexual assault scene again on a 19 year old woman (continues to be have negative reactions by audiences) that scored a "R" rating, in 1960 with the changes happening in censorship the painting had to tell the story.  But most of us missed it or didn't know the painting so it was lost on the majority of viewers I imagine.  The actual trailer for the film with Hitchcock has the painting brought into the camera as a "tease" for the viewers.  The trailer gave it more importance than the film.  Important to note, Marion was not sexually assaulted as we know the definition to be today, but she was assaulted with the knife in a violent way.  Imagine filming this 45 seconds for one week with 70 shots.  Black and white, milk chocolate and still brutal and disturbing.  Please note the blog and research sites did not always agree who painted this painting.  For further reading see references below and I have attached the painting.

 

Whew ...heavy stuff in this entertainment world.   Hitchcock would have been interesting on the psychiatrist couch.

 

References:

 

The Art of Film:  Psycho Painting (December 16, 2012).  Retrieved from:  http://theartofilm.blogspot.com/2012/12/psycho-painting.html

 

Echo stains Blog (date unknown).  Retrieved from:  https://echostains.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/behind-the-paint-susanna-and-the-elders-by-artemisia-gentileschi/

post-60686-0-14908600-1501282533_thumb.jpg

post-60686-0-14908600-1501282533_thumb.jpg

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2. As the titles end [in Psycho], 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?

 

Since I have seen the Daily Dose for Psycho, I heard on a DVD special feature (not for Psycho because I still haven't been able to bring myself to see the film again, even though I have seen it and know what to expect) that Hitchcock added “Friday, December the eleventh” and “Two forty-three p.m.” because he saw some Christmas decorations in the background of some location shots in Phoenix. Not sure if that is a true story but it sure solved his problem creatively.

 

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The collaboration of Saul Bass and Bernard Hermann portending masterfully what will come, psychosis, double personality, crime.

With regard to the timely location in Phoenix and the voyeuristic introduction of the characters, I think contributing to make the best Mac Guffin in Hitchcock's filmography.  We began to see a character, we enter in their lives and in their concerns, we identify with the couple and their problems.  It is a private scene that we see "hidden". As in Rear Window, we get into the lives of people through the director ´s eye.

Obviously, this scene would have been more difficult or impossible to do on the censorship. But times changed, and, in addition, the fact to be made almost like a film of class B, I think, allowed Hitchcock, - on the other hand always sought tension the rope to the maximum - make the scene as he wanted to

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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?

 

First, I think all three collaborations are perfect and each fits their respective films perfectly. In this case, both Bass and Herrmann go minimalist, the former with just bare lines, slashing left and right, while the latter goes with an only-string approach.

 

The score is a tension-filled, restless one, with continuous ups and downs that only help to make one nervous. I liked Dr. Edwards' expression that it felt like "scratching in the back of his skull". The title sequence, with its continuous stripes, might even resemble slashes from one side to the other. But also, the skewed title might be a foreshadowing that something is twisted, or something is not necessarily what it seems.

 

Both help create a sense of restlessness from the beginning. It sorta has us in our toes from the start, even though what comes after, is a fairly calm scene with Marion and Sam at the hotel room.

 

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 don't know, but I get the feeling that the specificity of the location and date lead us into focusing on Marion, where she is and what she's up to. I think it's Hitchcock's attempt of fooling us into thinking that her character will be the focus of the story. I mean, she is, but my point is that it might increase the shock of seeing her die halfway through the film.

 

As for the window, it's yet another part of "Hitchcock's touch"; the voyeur aspect of us, the audience, looking at a couple through their hotel window. In a way, it reminded me of some of those 30-40's films (Rebecca, Lady Vanishes) that started with a pan of a certain area (Manderley, the inn) as it enters the room. In that aspect, it also reminded me of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, as it puts us in the room with the titular couple, or Rear Window as we start in Jefferies apartment looking at him sleeping.

 

3. In the remainder of this sequenece, 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 Norhwest 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 are quickly presented with her situation, involved in a relationship that might or might not have future. We are drawn to her predicament of wanting a more steady relationship with Sam. She is determined to do the "right thing", even if it means leaving him if they don't start a "respectable" relationship. She doesn't seem to care about money or personal possessions, as long as she can be with Sam.

 

 

 

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