This movie is really good and really scary. I think it shows just how much a great a director and talented actors can do with what could be termed a typical horror script.
Janet Lee is an attractive blonde named Marion who is in love with a guy named Sam. Aw. But he won't marry her because they don't have that much money. Doesn't he realize they can live off anything as long as they have each other?!?! Apparently not. So on a whim one day, Marion steals money from her prat employer and gets the hell out of Dodge (Phoenix, actually).
Since Marion didn't really plan this out at all, she behaves very suspiciously. Has she never seen a cop show? Now, I know you're thinking that's the biggest mistake of her life, BUT IT ISN'T! Her biggest mistake is staying at the creepy Bates Motel just outside of a small town, where the nice young man at the desk asks her if she'll have dinner with him (OMG don't do it!!!!!)
I need to take a quick aside to say that Anthony Perkins, who plays Norman Bates, is ah-may-zing in this picture. He has just the right balance of charm that makes you think he's harmless, and then he says something to get your alarm bells ringing. And then, just like that, he's back to being harmless and you're willing to trust him again. I could completely see why Marion would accept his usual offer to eat with him; and then still stay in the motel, even after he admitted he "likes to stuff things." O.O
I also have to say... the Bates' house is hilariously Gothic. Yes, it is moody and atmospheric. But, um, this is the middle of Arizona? Two-story Victorians without air conditioning are not meant to be livable in that environment. No wonder Norman was crazy; his brains were cooked! (I also found out on Alberti's Window that the inspiration for the Bates' house came from House by the Railroad by Edward Hopper. Art historieeeeee!)
So Marion goes back to her hotel room to take a nice, relaxing shower, and then--screech! screech! screech! She's stabbed by Norman's mother... or who we're led to believe is Norman's mother. My Friend Amy asked if the fact that Marion dies at this point made the narrative of the film lose energy. I don't think it did at all; Marion was resolved to go back to Phoenix and repent of her sins at that point. In effect, her narrative was already over. And our sympathies quickly shift to poor Norman with the psycho mother, as he tries to cover up her evil deed.
One thing I really liked about the movie--aside from the acting--was the sound track. It was flipping beautiful and perfect for the film. The composer was worth every penny Hitchcock paid him.
I think of all the Hitchcock movies we've watched so far, this one is the best. It is an absolutely gripping, perfect piece of story telling. Even though I knew pretty much what was going to happen, I was still shocked and scared. This is definitely a movie I'm going to be thinking about for a long time.
Next week on Summer of Hitchcock, we're watching The Birds and twittering about it! The event will take place on Friday night at 9 PM EST. Amy will be giving away an Amazon gift card to the people who tweet the movie and read the short story by Daphne du Maurier beforehand.
But before I close this post, I have to ask: if you were on a road trip and ran across a hotel named The Bates Motel, would you stay there just for s&g's, or would you keep driving?
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