Psycho (1960) » Trivia


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SPOILER: At the end of the shower scene, the first few seconds of the camera pull-back from Janet Leigh`s face is a freeze-frame. Alfred Hitchc*ck did this because, while viewing the rushes, his wife noticed the pulse in Leigh`s neck throbbing.

SPOILER: Alfred Hitchc*ck received several letters from ophthalmologists who noted that Janet Leigh`s eyes were still contracted during the extreme closeups after her character`s death. The pupils of a true corpse dilate after death. They told Hitchc*ck he could achieve a proper dead-eye effect by using belladonna drops. Hitchc*ck did so in all his later films.

SPOILER: In the Collector`s Edition DVD documentary, Janet Leigh says that a nude body double was used in portions of the shower scene. The DVD notes include a quote from Alfred Hitchc*ck, in an interview with `Francois Truffaut`, in which he says the same thing.

# # SPOILER: Alfred Hitchc*ck (and his cinematographer) may actually have put one over on the censors. If you watch the sequence of the hand clutching around the shower curtain, you will see the curtain on the left side of the frame, the hand comes in center frame and diverts you from what can just been seen out of focus in the background right of the frame. If you increase the contrast on your monitor (particularly effective by tilting the monitor of a portable DVD player) the background visual information clearly resolves itself into a pair of naked br**sts. Janet Leigh claims that she was not nude during the filming of this scene and was actually wearing a moleskin suit for the shot where she falls forward over the side of the tub. This is not disputed, but there was a nude model used for overhead and insert shots; this would be the case for the br**st shot in question. Leigh insisted to her death that no nude woman, herself or a stand-in, was used in the actual filming, but modern video technology, including frame-by-frame advance, reveals one, in profile so as to expose no "private parts" and with the top of the frame at shoulder level so as to prevent identification.

SPOILER: Alfred Hitchc*ck even had a canvas chair with "Mrs. Bates" written on the back prominently placed and displayed on the set throughout shooting. This further added to the enigma surrounding who was the actress playing Mrs. Bates.

SPOILER: Janet Leigh wore moleskin adhesive patches covering her private parts when she acted out the shower scene so she would not really be nude and the camera would not pick up anything supposedly obscene. However, after the warm water of the shower washed off the moleskin, Alfred Hitchc*ck still did one more take. The take was used in the finished film.

# # SPOILER: Joseph Stefano and Alfred Hitchc*ck deliberately layered-in certain risqué elements as a ruse to divert the censors from more crucial concerns - like the action that takes place in the bedroom in the beginning and the shower murder. The censors reviewed the script and censored the "unimportant" extra material and Hitchc*ck managed to sneak in his "important" material.

SPOILER: Janet Leigh only had three weeks to work on the movie and spent the whole of one of those weeks filming the shower sequence.

SPOILER: The MPAA objected to the use of the term "transvestite" to describe Norman Bates in the final wrap-up. They insisted it be removed until Joseph Stefano proved to them it was a clinical psychology term. They thought he was trying to get one over on them and place a vulgarity in the picture.

SPOILER: Controversy arose years later when Saul Bass made claims that he had done the complete planning, and even directed the famous shower scene. Those who worked on the film have refuted this claim.

SPOILER: When Alfred Hitchc*ck was off due to illness, the crew shot the sequence of Arbogast inside the house going up the stairs. When Hitchc*ck saw the footage, he complimented those responsible but said the sequence had to be re-shot. Their version made it appear as if Arbogast was going up the stairs to commit a murder. Hitchc*ck re-shot the sequence.

SPOILER: The stabbing scene in the shower is reported to have taken seven days to shoot using 70 different camera angles but only lasts 45 seconds in the movie.

SPOILER: The novel upon which the film is based was inspired by the true story of Ed Gein, a serial killer who was also the inspiration for Deranged (1974), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

# # SPOILER: Immediately prior to the closing sequence of Norman Bates in his jail cell, as the camera moves down the hallway to where police have confined him, the uniformed guard at the cell door is Ted Knight, best remembered as pompous, dim-witted news anchor Ted Baxter on "Mary Tyler Moore" (1970).

# # SPOILER: In Robert Bloch`s novel, Norman Bates is short, fat, older, and very dislikable. It was Alfred Hitchc*ck who decided to have him be young, handsome, and sympathetic. Norman is also more of a main character in the novel. The story opens with him and Mother fighting rather than following Marion from the start.

SPOILER: During preproduction, Alfred Hitchc*ck said to the press that he was considering Helen Hayes for the part of Mother. This was obviously a ruse, but several actresses wrote to Hitchc*ck requesting auditions.

SPOILER: Among the major promotional items for the film was a lengthy coming attractions trailer (filmed in several languages) of Alfred Hitchc*ck taking the audience on a seemingly lighthearted tour of the house and motel. At the end, Hitchc*ck pulls open a shower curtain to reveal a close-up of a woman screaming. The actress is not Janet Leigh but Vera Miles wearing a wig similar to Miss Leigh`s hairstyle. The logo "Psycho" simultaneously comes onto the screen and cleverly covers Miss Miles` eyes so that the switch is not easily discernible.

# # SPOILER: Alfred Hitchc*ck was very uneasy about the morphing of Norman`s face into Mother`s at the end of the film. He sent out three different versions of the film during its initial release. The first version included the ending seen on all prints today, the second contained no morphing at all, and the third contained the trick at the end, yet also included it at an earlier point in the film. When John Gavin as Sam Loomis comes back to the Bates Motel to look for Arbogast, there is a zooming shot of Norman standing by the swamp, looking very sinister. The third version of the film included the subtle morphing of Norman`s face into Mother`s at this moment.

SPOILER: The trailer was shot after completing the movie, and because Janet Leigh wasn`t available anymore, Alfred Hitchc*ck used Vera Miles in the shower sequence in the trailer.

SPOILER: After the film`s release Alfred Hitchc*ck received an angry letter from the father of a girl who refused to have a bath after seeing Diaboliques, Les (1955) and now refused to shower after seeing this film. Hitchc*ck sent a note back simply saying, "Send her to the dry cleaners."

SPOILER: Alfred Hitchc*ck strictly mandated, and even wrote into theater managers` contracts, that no one arriving after the start of each showing of "Psycho" would be admitted into the theater until the beginning of the next showing. Advertising artwork deceived audiences into thinking that Janet Leigh was its star, and patrons arriving after her murder would wonder where she was. Newspaper advertisements cleverly piqued audience curiosity with such statements as "You MUST see "Psycho" from the very beginning. No one - not even the President of the United States, not the theater manager`s brother, not even the Queen of England (God bless her) - will be allowed into the theater after the beginning of each showing of "Psycho". This is to allow you to enjoy "Psycho" more. By the way, after you see the film, please do not give away the ending. It`s the only one we have". News cameras photographed audience members waiting in lines outside theaters to see "Psycho", creating tremendous curiosity about the film and adding extra publicity.

SPOILER: There is a rumor that the this film was not passed for release because it was claimed that Janet Leigh`s nipple was visible during the shower scene. The nipple wasn`t in the film at all, but the cinematography and score are so well performed here, it caused the release board originally to think that there was a nipple visible and send the film back for re-editing. The production team went through the shower sequence cut by cut to illustrate that there was not. Alfred Hitchc*ck made no changes (none were needed), but merely sent it back, assuming that they either wouldn`t bother to watch it, or would realize their mistake.

SPOILER: The last shot of Norman Bates`s face has a still frame of a human skull superimposed on it, almost subliminally. The skull is that of Mother.

SPOILER: Alfred Hitchc*ck tested the fear factor of Mother`s corpse by placing it in Janet Leigh`s dressing room and listening to how loud she screamed when she discovered it there.

SPOILER: Despite the fact that the entire film is in black and white, several viewers vividly (and specifically) recall the "red" blood as it swirled down the shower drain. Obviously, this could not be true, not just for the fact of the black and white film, but the blood was actually Bosco chocolate syrup. Although feature films were produced in color at the time, newsreels were shown in black and white. Filming the movie in black and white might have made it seem less gory (see other trivia), but it also might have seemed more real to viewers at the time who were used to seeing the news in black and white.

SPOILER: The blood was Bosco chocolate syrup.

SPOILER: The sound that the knife makes penetrating the flesh is actually the sound of a knife stabbing a casaba melon.

SPOILER: Contrary to a widely told tale, Alfred Hitchc*ck did *not* arrange for the water to suddenly go ice-cold during the shower scene to elicit an effective scream from Janet Leigh. This urban legend appears to have originated with Universal tour guides making up an interesting thing to tell tourists as they passed the "Psycho" house, one of the most popular attractions on the lot. Janet Leigh said that the crew took great care to keep the water warm, and filming of the scene took an entire week.

SPOILER: Alfred Hitchc*ck paid the title sequence designer Saul Bass (also credited as "Pictorial Consultant") $2,000 to draw storyboards for the scene where Arbogast is killed at the stairs. Bass was excited about the movie and asked Hitchc*ck for the opportunity. Hitchc*ck discarded his work because the shots showed Arbogast`s feet slowly going up the stairs and this prepared the audience for a shock. Hitch wanted it to be a surprise and that`s why he filmed Arbogast in a completely natural way.

For Psycho (1960), Alfred Hitchc*ck deferred his standard $250,000 salary in lieu of 60% of the film`s net profits. His personal earnings from the film exceeded $15 million. Adjusted for inflation, that amount would now top $150 million in 2006 terms.

# # On the Interstate 99 that eventually turns into Pacific Ave. near the Fife/Tacoma boarder in Washington State, there are several older hotels up along the strip. One of the former owners of one of the hotels is a horror movie buff and puts on costume parties in his retirement. Being a fan of the horror movies, he renamed the motel, Bates Motel.

Stuart Whitman was Hitchc*ck`s first choice for the role of Sam Loomis.

Alfred Hitchc*ck was so pleased with the score written by Bernard Herrmann that he doubled the composer`s salary to $34,501. Hitchc*ck later said, "33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music."

As part of publicity campaign prior to release of the film, Alfred Hitchc*ck said: "It has been rumored that "Psycho" is so terrifying that it will scare some people speechless. Some of my men hopefully sent their wives to a screening. The women emerged badly shaken but still vigorously vocal."

# # John Gavin starred in the final episode of Alfred Hitchc*ck`s TV series, _"Alfred Hitchc*ck Hour, The" (1965) {Off Season (#3.29)}_, as a trigger-happy sheriff who relocates to a new town where he and his wife check into the Bates Motel on the Universal lot.

The score, composed by Bernard Herrmann, is played entirely by stringed instruments.

Alfred Hitchc*ck and Joseph Stefano originally conceived the film with a jazz score instead of Bernard Herrmann`s miniature string orchestra.

Alfred Hitchc*ck originally envisioned the shower sequence as completely silent, but Bernard Herrmann went ahead and scored it anyway, and upon hearing it, Hitchc*ck immediately changed his mind.

The shower scene has over 90 splices in it, and did not involve Anthony Perkins at all. The scene was filmed between 17 December 1959 and 23 December 1959 while Perkins was in New York rehearsing for a Broadway musical, "Greenwillow".

Alfred Hitchc*ck ran a deliciously droll and terse radio ad in the summer of 1960. In an era when sponsors used "Brand X" to describe their competitors` products, Hitch`s voice said he wanted to compare his new movie with "Brand X". Then, the sound of a horse neighing and horse clippity-clop sounds. Hitch`s voice said simply "Brand X is a western." "Now for my picture", followed by a loud scream. End of commercial!

Every theater that showed the film had a cardboard cut-out installed in the lobby of Alfred Hitchc*ck pointing to his wristwatch with a note from the director saying "The manager of this theatre has been instructed at the risk of his life, not to admit to the theatre any persons after the picture starts. Any spurious attempts to enter by side doors, fire escapes or ventilating shafts will be met by force. The entire objective of this extraordinary policy, of course, is to help you enjoy PSYCHO more. Alfred Hitchc*ck"

# # "Psycho" was first scheduled to air on U.S. network TV in the fall of 1966. Just before it would have aired, however, Valerie Percy, the daughter of U.S. Senator Charles H. Percy (R-Illinois: 1967 - 85), was stabbed to death, apparently by an intruder, in a murder that, as of 2007, remains unsolved. It was deemed prudent, under the circumstances, to postpone the scheduled airing. Ultimately, the film was never shown on U.S. TV until 1970, following a highly successful theatrical re-release the previous year. At that time, Universal released in on the syndication market, where it quickly became a popular staple on local late night horror film showings.

Ranked #14 on the AFI 100 Years... 100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition, up 4 places from #18 in 1997.

Ranked #1 on the AFI 100 Years... 100 Thrills film series.

# On February 8, 1960, exactly one week after he finished "Psycho," Alfred Hitchc*ck directed an episode of TV`s "Startime" (1959) ("Incident at a Corner", #1.27), that also featured Vera Miles and much of the same crew that worked on "Psycho".

If you look attentively you can notice that nearly every time a driver gets out of his car he does so through the passenger side, a seemingly odd behavior. This is due to the bench seating in older cars, and Alfred Hitchc*ck`s desire to continue the shot without either moving the camera to follow the actor or having the actor walk between the car and the camera.

In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #14 Greatest Movie of All Time.

The movie`s line "A boy`s best friend is his mother." was voted as the #56 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).

Alfred Hitchc*ck deferred his standard $250,000 salary in lieu of 60% of the film`s net profits. His personal earnings from the film exceeded $15 million. Adjusted for inflation, that amount would now top $150 million in 2006 dollars.

# # A false story has circulated that George Reeves was hired to play detective Milton Arbogast and filmed a few of his scenes with the rest of the cast just a week before his death. There is no truth to this rumor whatsoever. Reeves died on June 16, 1959, almost two months before Alfred Hitchc*ck decided to make a film of "Psycho" and exactly one year before the June 16, 1960 date when the film had its world premiere in New York. Work on the script began in October, 1959, four months after Reeves`s death. Filming began in November, 1959, five months after Reeves`s death. At the time of Reeves`s death, Hitchc*ck was on a world tour promoting North by Northwest (1959). (Source: "The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchc*ck," by Donald Spoto.) George Reeves did not live long enough to even know a film of "Psycho" was planned, much less actually appear in it.


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