John McIntire plays a great listening scene as
Sheriff Chambers. Again we get a whole essence of this man's life from two
brief bits, home and church, that he has in Psycho (McIntire comes back for final explain of
Mother/Norman, listening again but with no dialogue). There were few active in
the 50/60's with this character actor's authority, and he seemed to live at
Universal, where Psycho was filmed even though Paramount released it. I love McIntire's phoned
"We got worries here" to Norman, and his enunciation of
Ar-bo-gast, as if he never heard aname remotely like that in his life.
There's reference to Chambers/McIntire offscreen visit to the Bates Motel and thorough
questioning of Norman, who I'm sure cooperated fully with the sheriff (no knives here).
Chambers remembers what happened with Mrs. Bates ten years before, of which
Gavin's Sam Loomis seems not to have a clue. Had Loomis but recently moved to
Fairvale? You'd otherwise assume he'd lived there all along and took over
the hardware store from a father whose debts Sam has been trying to pay. Would
he have been too young to recall the "bad business" out
at the Bates place?
Tension reaches summit when Sam and Lila check
in the motel to do their own sleuthing. Norman
is suspicious and even those who didn't realize he was Mother knew this guy was
dangerous. Sam is aggressive with him and we're poised for something awful to
happen, especially in light of what's already been shown. Marion's trek up the hill and into the house
must have been almost unbearable for 1960 audiences. Sam
jabs Normanabout the $40,000, Norman not knowing what the hell
he's talking about. Sam and Lila had found the slip of paper with the figure
written by Marion,
so it's confirmed she was there. That fragment must have fluttered out of Marion's hand when she
tossed remnants into the toilet, although I'm surprised other scraps didn't
survive considering what a weak flush that commode had (wonder what cost was for Hitchcock
and Revue to plumb that corner of a soundstage to equip Psycho's
shower and loo).
Lila's tour of the Bates house is what we've waited the whole
of Psycho to share. Here is where the film's deluxe trailer with Hitchcock
makes a perfect companion, even if AH plays his tour largely for laughs. We
want to see every inch of this place. So much detail and character revealing stuff.
Mother's room is stately and solidly furnished, assuming you could live with statuary and replaced that mattress. But considering Mother'spresent state,
wouldn't her room stink to heaven? A realist treatment would have had Lila
throwing up the moment she stepped in. Of course, Hitchcock wouldn't go that
far, thank heaven (but what of 1998's not-seen-by-me remake?). And then there is Norman's
room. He apparently had dolls as a child. Most of decor reflects that
long-before, though Norman does still sleep in the room, his sickly and unmade
boy-bed not dissimilar from ones I used to see in homes of film collectors.
There is a classical record (Beethoven's Eroica) on the phonograph, not dusty
so we can assume Norman
played it recently.
The shrieking part comes when Norman clonks Sam
on the head and heads for the house. When I ran Psycho to a University crowd,
they cried out in unison as Lila went toward the fruit cellar, "Don't go
down there!!." We don't worry of mechanics that permit Mother's corpse to
turn all the way around in her otherwise stationary chair. The moment is just
too classic to split hairs over. A swinging light bulb and Norman/Mother's
entrancestill disorients for its suddenness and ferocity. And those sound
effects. Were they a combination of everyone's screams? For me, they are most
unearthly of everything heard in Psycho. This is where memory of the movie ends
for majority who've seen it, but in 1960, someone had to explain what had made Norman and Mother tick.
We're hep to the psycholgy today because Psycho has been imitated so much. I wonder how
many switch off at this point, or head back to DVD menu for
extras. Ever wonder who holds a record for times seeing Psycho? For myself, I'd
say fifteen at least. Does that seem excessive, even allowing for nut I am about
this stuff? And yet I'd suspect there are ones who make my 15 viewings look
punk. Anybody out there crossed the hundred mark?