Friday, August 1, 2014

Feeling a bit "Psycho"

I've been familiar with Norman Bates since the early 80s. He's a creepy guy, but there's something about him that draws me in. Perhaps it's his extreme politeness. Or maybe it's the intensity of his eyes. One would never expect on first meeting him that he was . . . PSYCHO!

One of my favorite scenes from the film is when Norman and Marion are getting to know each other while she eats a sandwich in the "taxidermy" room. This is where we get our first glimpse of Norman's psyche.

The conversation reveals that Norman is "trapped" in his world, and also how Marion is trapped by her love affair with Sam and the desperate measure she took of stealing the money.

Because the scene is set in the back room with the stuffed birds, we get an ambiance of "death," as well as a foreshadowing of how Norman "preserved his mother."

Here's the scene:

NORMAN: The rain didn't last long, did it? So... where are you off too?
[Marion looks uncomfortable]

NORMAN: Sorry. I didn't mean to pry.

MARION: Oh, I don't know. I guess I'm looking for a private island someplace where I can be alone and no one can find me.

NORMAN: What are you running away from?

MARION: Why do you ask that?

NORMAN: No reason. No one really runs away from anything. It's like a private trap that holds us in like a prison. You know what I think? I think that we're all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.

MARION: Sometimes... we deliberately step into those traps.

NORMAN: I was born into mine. I don't mind it anymore.

MARION: Oh, but you should. You should mind it.

NORMAN: Oh, I do...(laughs)...But I say I don't.

MARION: You know... if anyone ever talked to me the way I heard... the way she spoke to you...

NORMAN: Sometimes... when she talks to me like that... I feel I'd like to go up there... and curse her... and-and-and leave her forever! Or at least defy her! But I know I can't. She's ill.

MARION: Wouldn't it be better if you put her... some place...?

[Marion does not finish the sentence as she thinks of the right thing to say. Norman leans forward with a concerned look on his face]

NORMAN: You mean an institution? A madhouse?

MARION: No, I didn't mean it like...

NORMAN: [suddenly angry] People always call a madhouse "someplace", don't they? "Put her in someplace!"

MARION: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sound so uncaring.

NORMAN: What do you know about caring? Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing, and the tears, and those cruel eyes studying you? My mother THERE?
[subdued tone] Oh, but she's harmless. She's as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.

MARION: I'm sorry. I felt that... well, from what you told me about your mother is that she might be hurting you. I meant well.

NORMAN: People always mean well. They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, oh, so very delicately!

1 comment:

  1. It's masterful dialogue, courtesy screenwriter Joseph Stefano working from novelist Robert Bloch's story. One of the greatest films of all time - and it was nearly not made because the studio didn't believe in the idea.