Psycho

Bob Dylan wore me out. I awoke and avoided the news. I got to the office and did some work on the latest quiz I was giving my class. I saw that I had a class assignment for the spring semester. No one ever actually spoke to me about it beforehand. That is communication in the new millennium. I went home and had lunch and did my laundry. I looked through the record stores but didn’t buy anything. I watched Bono and The Edge again on Elvis Costello’s Spectacle show. I went back to the office and prepared for class. I was tired and glad that my week of teaching was over. I thought about which movies I’d like to see over the weekend, and I returned home to watch “Psycho” again. One reason to see it again was that it was a Blu-ray disc. The quality of the images was good, and the audio was pretty impressive, too. I liked how the opening tells us that it’s December 11, a Friday at 2:43 in Phoenix. I had a sad feeling watching Janet Leigh. I’d thought about her for a while after I watched that Columbo episode. I thought about her last appearance in Stockton. I keep thinking that the whole story of “Psycho” really should have ended when her boss saw her driving in her car. If she had any sense, she would have gone home, or to the bank if it was still open in order to do the right thing. What drove her to do this? She was not going to get away with this crime, and besides, $40,000 couldn’t last a lifetime. Her sister Lila would say that patience didn’t run in their family. You notice that Lila comes to one wrong conclusion after another, so she seems particularly reckless in going to the house to investigate. Vera Miles was very good as Lila. The one really strange thing, though, was how she brought her arm backwards to strike that light to make it swing at the end. That always seemed to be like the most unlikely reaction to what she saw. There are two things about the shower scene that are striking. There is the time it takes for the death to happen. Time seems to stretch forever, making the horror of death sink in deeper with its isolation, making it appear that all of life is futile. Then there is that close-up with the open eyes, very haunting and disturbing. That might be the most memorable shot of the entire movie. You also can’t take for granted Bernard Herrmann’s score. What struck me was how people didn’t know how to talk to each other at crucial times. Marion doesn’t deal the policeman very well, inviting suspicion with every word that came out of her mouth. She also couldn’t help turning her head back to look at him. Marion said things to Norman that made him angry, but she didn’t show any fear. She had a lame statement about meaning well. Norman was giving off danger signals, bur Marion was oblivious. There was also Sam trying to have a conversation with Norman. He sure revealed his hand too soon. He antagonized Norman when he was supposed to be buying time. John Gavin was one of the weak links as far as acting ability goes in this picture. Simon Oakland was not quite convincing as the psychologist. He talks about the murder not delicately in front of a relative, and then he gets right back to talking about Norman. One of the people to look for is Ted Knight. The movie has a sure hand. Hitchcock’s mastery was pretty awesome. I tried to imagine how audiences of 1960 reacted to the shower scene. I bet there was some screaming. I wondered how many bodies they found in the swamp. I read that among the women considered for the role of Marion were Eva Marie Saint, Lee Remick, Angie Dickinson, Piper Laurie, Martha Hyer, Hope Lange, Shirley Jones, and Lana Turner. It was the first American film to show a toilet flushing. Janet Leigh wears white underwear in the opening scene, and black after she commits the crime. I could watch this movie several more times and see new things in it. I kept thinking about the money. I wanted to know what everything looked like after they pulled up the car from the swamp. I would have found it very hard to take if Hope Lange or Shirley Jones had been Marion. Would Shirley Jones have done The Partridge Family? Marion didn’t seem to mind the whole taxidermy thing that Norman was into. In fact, she said that a man should have a hobby. There was a mystery to her that I didn’t see in her sister. In the novel, Norman had an interest in pornography, and Marion’s earring was a clue. I thought the whole sequence with Marion driving in the rain was very good. I guess the encounter with the cop earlier influenced her, because otherwise she might have just pulled over to the side of the road again. What really gets to me every time I see “Psycho” is Arbogast’s decision to sneak into the house. I would have thought that a private investigator would be cautious. Nobody shows good judgment in this house. Sam shouts Arbogast’s name, alerting Norman that something is going on. I could never understand how anybody could make a sequel from this movie. Vera Miles was in Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man,” another great movie. She is still alive and is 84 years old. From the most recent photos of her that you can see on the Internet, you wouldn’t be able to recognize her as Lila Crane. John Gavin is also still alive, and he is 83. Some of the people who died on October 31 include Harry Houdini (1926), John Houseman (1988), Federico Fellini (1993), River Phoenix (1993), Marcel Carné (1996), Ring Lardner, Jr. (2000), and Studs Terkel (2008). Today is a birthday for Peter Jackson (53), Larry Mullen, Jr. (53), Jane Pauley (64), David Ogden Stiers (72), Dan Rather (83), and Lee Grant (88). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 31, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” was released in 1962. In 1988, Debbie Gibson held a séance at her Halloween party to contact the spirits of Liberace and Sid Vicious. In 1991, Joseph Papp died of prostate cancer at age 70. In 1993, River Phoenix collapsed on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room in Hollywood, dying at age 23. My choices for the Top 5 Biggest Jerks of October 2014 are: 5. Lew Wolff, 4. Michael Zehef-Bibeau, 3. Sean Harrington, 2. Jaylen Ray Fryberg, and 1. Eric Matthew Frein.

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