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Trivia / Psycho

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  • Acting in the Dark: Alfred Hitchcock withheld the ending from the cast and crew until it was time to shoot it.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Anthony Perkins lost his father at the age of five and was raised by his mother, like his character Norman.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Billing Displacement: Done deliberately by the advertising, which promoted Janet Leigh as the star of the film. Ironically in the credits she is given And Starring - whereas she still has more screen time than Vera Miles and John Gavin, who get second and third billing.
  • Black Sheep Hit:
    • The original book was this for Robert Bloch, most of whose horror fiction involved the Cthulhu Mythos.
    • It was also a Black Sheep Hit for Hitchcock, whose movies before and after Psycho were sophisticated thrillers with high production values, crossing the line between action movie and drama. He was inspired to make this film as a result of his fondness for William Castle's films. As such many who come to see Psycho (which is often the first, and in some cases only, Hitchcock film people see) can leave with an impression that Hitchcock made cheap slasher-film with shocking twists when in all of these cases, Psycho was an exception and Hitchcock generally disliked plot-twists and averted them for most his career.
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  • Channel Hop: The film was first distributed by Paramount Pictures, then in 1968 was sold to Universal Studios due to studio Shamley Productions getting acquired by Universal parent MCA and Paramount wanting to get their name off the movie as soon as possible (see Troubled Production below).
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Averted with Anthony Perkins. While acknowledging that starring in the film led to him being typecast as a maniac killer, when he was asked if he still would have taken the role knowing what it would do to his career, he replied with a definite "yes."
    • Alfred Hitchcock apparently disliked the performance of John Gavin, who played Sam, and referred to him as "the stiff".
    • Vera Miles was unhappy while making the film, disliking Lila's "matronly" wardrobe. She was convinced that the unflattering clothes were Hitchcock's way of punishing her for being unable to star in Vertigo.
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    • Gus Van Sant has admitted he only directed the remake to show how pointless the idea of a shot by shot remake was.
  • Distanced from Current Events: The first TV airing of the film was to have happened on September 23, 1966 as a CBS Friday Night Movie. Three days before, the daughter of Illinois senate candidate Charles H. Percy, Valerie Percy, was killed in a stabbing. CBS postponed the broadcast (already advertised in TV Guide) as a result, but eventually decided not to air the film. ABC's New York affiliate WABC-TV ended up being the first U.S. TV station to air the movie on June 24, 1967.
  • Doing It for the Art: Hitchcock went to a lot of trouble to try and avoid the film's twists being revealed. Most notably, he went about buying up copies of the source novel out of his own pocket.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Guides at the Universal Studios tour tell the story that when shooting the shower scene, Hitchcock switched off the hot water and made it ice-cold, ensuring that Janet Leigh's screams would be real. Leigh, however, has denied this.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • The censors wanted to cut the shot of the toilet flushing. But Hitchcock insisted that it was important to the plot - the torn up paper proving that Marion stayed in the motel. And so the film is the first to show a toilet flushing on screen.
    • Another shot cut by the censors was of Marion removing her black bra before taking the shower. It's included in the UK release, and the 60th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Discs have the option to watch the movie with or without it.
    • John Gavin was cast as Sam Loomis at the insistence of the studio.
  • Genre-Killer: Many film historians consider Psycho, alongside Touch of Evil (which inspired it) to be the movie that killed Film Noir. Others go further and insist that it ended The Golden Age of Hollywood altogether, because the film's utter lack of idealization, the fact that characters are Anti-Hero at best, that the sympathetic male lead (played by John Gavin) is himself a Sympathetic Adulterer, that the villain Norman Bates is someone the audience is intended to identify with on some level, and the fact that the film's two distinct halves joined together by the famous shower-scene utterly shatters the Hollywood narrative and three-act structure. More to the point, the film did all this, and became a major global box-office hit.
  • Jossed:
    • Anthony Perkins isn't the one doing the stabbing in the shower scene. Popular legend says because of Broadway commitments. But it was actually a deliberate move by Hitchcock, so as not to give the twist away.
    • Janet Leigh also Jossed a legend that the shower water went cold to get a scream out of her. According to her, the crew took great care to keep the water warm.
  • Life Imitates Art: The shower scene ended up genuinely frightening Janet Leigh when she saw it back. Realising how vulnerable a woman was in the shower, she only ever took baths for the rest of her life.
  • Lying Creator: Hitchcock lied to the press that he intended to cast Helen Hayes as Mrs Bates. Several actresses wrote to him looking for the part as a result. He even kept a chair on set with 'Mrs Bates' marked on it to fool people even further.
  • No Budget: Paramount studios had real distaste for the source material. Hitchcock agreed to make it on a low-budget and take a pay cut in exchange for a percentage of the film's gross (and given the phenomenal success and high profit margin, he was laughing all the way to the bank). The film is still a little more expensive than actual low-budget films of the time, such as William Castle's films and B movies which inspired it, but at $800,000 it only cost about one-fifth the budget of North By Northwest the year before.
  • Not Screened for Critics: Alfred Hitchcock actually played this card and then some in order to conceal the film's classic plot twist. This makes Psycho a rare example of a film Not Screened for Critics that is acclaimed by them later.
  • One-Hit Wonder: An unusual case of this applying to a cinematographer; John Russell, who was hired in lieu of Hitchcock's usual cinematographer Robert Burks after the latter proved unaffordable for the film's meagre budget, ended up earning an Oscar nomination for his work here. All of Russell's credits either side of this film were on TV shows and B-movies.
  • One-Take Wonder: The speech by the psychiatrist at the end was considered an extremely important part of the film, since it provided the detailed exposition needed to understand everything that had happened up to that point. But since the speech was so long and full of nuance, by all expectations it should have been a struggle to film. Instead, actor Simon Oakland did it perfectly in the first take, leading Alfred Hitchcock to stand up, shake his hand, and say "Thank you very much, Mr. Oakland. You've just saved my picture."
  • The Other Marty: There were rumours that George Reeves was originally cast as Arbogast and had already filmed some of his scenes by the time he died. As the script wasn't even started until four months after Reeves's death, this is quite unlikely.
  • Playing with Character Type: Bates initially appears to be the same sort of character Perkins was known for playing up to that time - a likeable, socially awkward supporting role. This makes the Twist Ending all the more shocking, especially since it was drastically different from how Norman was in Bloch's book.
  • Real-Life Relative: Marion's co-worker Carolyn is played by the director's daughter Pat Hitchcock.
  • Reality Subtext: Part of Hitchcock's love for the story was because he sympathised with Norman - having also grown up with a rather domineering mother. Thankfully she was not as bad as Mrs Bates. Likewise the screenwriter Joseph Stefano, wrote the screenplay while he was in therapy, dealing with the troubled relationship with his own mother, and was drafted by Hitchcock to specifically highlight the Freudian nature of the story.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: When the film was re-released in 1969, it was rated PG by the MPAA. 15 years later, in the midst of a moral panic that saw the MPAA crack down harder on violent content, the film was rated R. If submitted again today, there's a sizeable school of thought that believes it could be PG-13.
  • Star-Derailing Role:
    • Subverted yet played straight: History will tell you that Psycho was not a box-office nor a critical failure, and it's obviously considered one of the best films ever made. However, many consider it to be the film that simultaneously heightened and ruined Anthony Perkins' career as an actor because he was subject to typecasting afterwards, and most moviegoers only knew him as Norman Bates. Perkins never had any backlash because of it, but plenty of his fans will vouch Perkins was one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood history, and Psycho is to blame. Ironically enough, at the time Psycho was Perkins Playing Against Type. After Psycho, if there was a movie where he wasn't playing a "psycho," it was him playing against type again.
    • The same applies to Janet Leigh. Although not subject to typecasting afterwards, pretty much all she is really remembered for was the shower scene. Movie buffs remember her as one of many promising actresses of the late fifties who appeared in films like The Naked Spur, The Vikings and of course Touch of Evil (which is what inspired Hitchcock to cast her in this film) but none of them were as famous and culturally influential as this film (though of course there are very few films that are as famous and culturally influential as this one period).
  • Throw It In!:
    • Location shooting (for the scene where Marion drives out of town with the money) was done in downtown Phoenix in December 1959. After Christmas decorations were discovered to be visible in the footage, a graphic was added to the beginning of the film setting the date as "Friday, December the Eleventh".
    • Also, Norman's Character Tic of eating candy was a suggestion of Perkins's that Hitchcock happened to like.
  • Trope Codifier: For Dead Star Walking, courtesy of Janet Leigh getting killed off after only forty or so minutes of screen time.
  • Trope Namer: "Psycho" Strings for the film's famous score.
  • Troubled Production: More like troubled pre-production. Hitchcock was repeatedly mocked by executives at Paramount who refused to fund the film because of its controversial subject matter, going as far as refusing to grant him access to their sound stages by falsely claiming they had all been taken up. This caused Hitchcock to take the bill for the movie himself and finance it through his company, Shamley Productions, and shoot the movie at the Universal lot. When the movie was finished, Paramount reluctantly agreed to distribute the film, but only for eight years since MCA had bought Hitchcock's stake in Shamley in 1964, allowing Paramount to clean their hands of the movie and pass it on to Universal four years later.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • Gus van Sant's 1998 remake, thanks to the only new line of dialogue van Sant put in the script. Julianne Moore as Lila is listening to a Sony Walkman when she's introduced, and she says "Let me get my Walkman" when she and Sam are leaving his hardware store.
    • In the original, the way everyone treats $40,000 as such a huge deal very much dates it to the economic status of 1960. It's quite telling that the remake felt the need to add an extra zero so that this would still make sense.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Hitchcock originally wanted the shower scene to play without music, but Herrmann begged him to try it. Yes, the Trope Maker for "Psycho" Strings very nearly didn't come about at all.
    • He also wanted the opening zoom in to Marion's afternoon delight to be a single continuous shot a la Touch of Evil, but the technology to do this didn't exist at the time. Restoring that idea now that it did exist is pretty much the only legitimate reason for the existence of the Gus van Sant remake.
    • Hitchcock held exclusive rights to Psycho and he very well could've taken it out of circulation soon after its release, like he did with other films he controllednote , but instead he sold the rights to Universal in 1963 in exchange for shares of studio stock.
    • Hitchcock toyed with the idea of showing the film across two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in heavily bowdlerized form as a last resort if Paramount pulled out of distributing the film. Part 1 would have ended after Marion's murder. Coincidentally, much of the crew was made up of people working on his TV show.
    • Piper Laurie, Eva Marie Saint and Lana Turner were among those considered for Marion Crane.
    • Robert Loggia (who would later play Doctor Raymond in Psycho II), Jack Lord, Leslie Nielsen and Rod Taylor was among those considered for Sam Loomis.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Psycho Wiki.


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