How Are We Supposed To Read This Pose?
I suspect Tony Perkins sat for this still a few months before Psycho was released. It was supposidly done at Paramount, and in 1960, so maybe it was part of the campaign for the Hitchcock film. If you looked at this image prior to Psycho’s release, you might think it was cute --- just another instance of a young star having fun with the conventions of Hollywood fan photography. If you came upon it in the Fall of 1960, after that never-to-be-forgotten summer of Psycho, your reading would have been very different. The only thing this picture needs is red paint instead of the gray. Otherwise, it’s Norman --- or better yet, Perkins as we would always think of him after that fateful role forever wiped out any possibility that he’d continue as a popular romantic lead. Tony’s even got his hand covering his face as though he’d just walked into that Bates Motel bathroom after Mother’s visit. The stark white background evokes memories of that little cell they’ve put him in at the end of Psycho. I think this is one creepy shot. It seems to suggest that Perkins himself is a little nuts. Was that the idea? Surely not. Actually, I’m not all that sure this was done for Psycho. It looks more like something Warners might have sanctioned for Tall Story, which was released a few months prior to the Hitchcock film, and featured Tony in one of his gawky, gulping boy parts (there’d be no more of those!). Either way, it sends out a very different message, for me at least, than the one that was no doubt intended.