Psycho (1960 film)

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Alfred Hitchcock showing Norman Bates' house.

Psycho is a 1960 film about a secretary who is on the run after stealing money from her employers, and her encounter with a profoundly disturbed motel owner.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay written by Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch.
Don't give away the ending — it's the only one we have! Taglines

Norman Bates[edit]

  • [before discovering Marion's body] Mother! Oh, God! Mother! Blood! Blood!

Marion Crane[edit]

  • Headaches are like resolutions. You forget them as soon as they stop hurting.


  • Tom Cassidy: You know what I do about unhappiness? I buy it off. Are, uh, are you unhappy? [waving around his $40,000] Now, that's, that's not buying happiness. That's just buying off unhappiness. I never carry more than I can afford to lose.
  • Hardware store customer: So far of those I've used, I haven't had much luck with any of them. Well, let's see what they say about this one. They tell you what it's ingredients are, and how it's guaranteed to exterminate every insect in the world, but they do not tell you whether or not it's painless. And I say, insect or man, death should always be painless.


Marion: Sam, this is the last time.
Sam: For what?
Marion: For this. Meeting you in secret so we can be secretive. You come down here on business trips, the occasional lunch hour, and I wish you wouldn't even come.
Sam: All right, what do we do instead? Write each other lurid love letters? I can come down next week.
Marion: No.
Sam: Not even just to see you? Have lunch? [smiles] In public.
Marion: Oh, we can see each other. We can even have dinner, but respectably — in my house with my mother's picture on the mantle, and my sister helping me broil a big steak for three.
Sam: And after the steak, do we send sister to the movies? Turn mama's picture to the wall?
Marion: Sam!
Sam: [begrudgingly] All right. Marion, whenever it's possible I want to see you and under any circumstances, even respectability.
Marion: You make respectability sound disrespectful.
Sam: Oh no, I'm all for it. But it requires patience, temperance, with a lot of sweating out. Otherwise though, it's just hard work. But if I could see you and touch you, you know, simply as this, I won't mind. [He nibbles at her neck]

Mother: No! I tell you no! I won't have you bringing some young girl in for supper! By candlelight, I suppose, in the cheap, erotic fashion of young men with cheap, erotic minds!
Norman: Mother, please!
Mother: And then what? After supper? Music? Whispers?
Norman: Mother, she's just a stranger. She's hungry, and it's raining out!
Mother: [mockingly] "Mother, she's just a stranger"! As if men don't desire strangers! As if... ohh, I refuse to speak of disgusting things, because they disgust me! You understand, boy? Go on, go tell her she'll not be appeasing her ugly appetite with my food or my son! Or do I have to tell her because you don't have the guts! Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?
Norman: [shouts] Shut up! Shut up!

Marion: [about Norman's taxidermy] A man should have a hobby.
Norman: Well, it's, it's more than a hobby. [He fondles a stuffed bird on the bureau next to him] A hobby's supposed to pass the time, not fill it.
Marion: Is your time so empty?
Norman: No, uh. Well, I run the office and uh, tend the cabins and grounds and, and do a little, uh, errands for my mother. The ones she allows I might be capable of doing.
Marion: Do you go out with friends?
Norman: Well, a boy's best friend is his mother. You've never had an empty moment in your entire life, have you?
Marion: Only my share.
Norman: Where are you going? I didn't mean to pry.
Marion: I'm looking for a private island.
Norman: What are you running away from?
Marion: Wh-why do you ask that?
Norman: People never run away from anything.

Norman: The rain didn't last long, did it? [Pause] 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 in 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: She sounded strong.
Norman: No, I mean... ill. She had to raise me all by herself after my father died. I was only five and it must have been quite a strain for her. She didn't have to go to work or anything like that. He left her a little money. Anyway, a few years ago, Mother met this man, and he talked her into building this motel. He could have talked her into anything. And when he died too, it was just too great a shock for her. And, and the way he died. I guess it's nothing to talk about while you're eating. Anyway, it was just too great a loss for her. She had nothing left.
Marion: Except you.
Norman: A son is a poor substitute for a lover.
Marion: Why don't you go away?
Norman: To a private island, like you?
Marion: No, not like me.
Norman: I couldn't do that. Who'd look after her? She'd be alone up there. The fire would go out. It'd be cold and damp like a grave. If you love someone, you don't do that to them - even if you hate them. You understand that I don't hate her. I hate what she's become. I hate the illness.

Marion: Wouldn't it be better if you put her... someplace?
Norman: [alarmed] You mean an institution? A madhouse? [suddenly cold] People always call a madhouse "someplace", don't they? "Put her in someplace."
Marion: I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean it to sound uncaring.
Norman: [intense] What do you know about caring? Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing, and the tears, and the cruel eyes studying you? My mother there? But she's harmless! She's as harmless as one of those stuffed birds!
Marion: I am sorry. I only felt... it seems she's 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! [sighs] Of course, I've suggested it myself. But I hate to even think about it. She needs me. It-it's not as if she were a... a maniac — a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?
Marion: Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough. Thank you.
Norman: [smiles] Thank you, Norman.
Marion: Norman.

Arbogast: Is anyone at home?
Norman: No.
Arbogast: Who is? There's somebody sitting up in the window.
Norman: No, no, no there isn't.
Arbogast: Oh sure, go ahead, take a look.
Norman: Oh, oh, that, that must be my mother. She's, she's uh, an inv-invalid. Uh, it's, ah, practically like living alone.
Arbogast: Oh, I see. Well, now if this, uh girl, Marion Crane were here, you wouldn't be hiding her, would ya?
Norman: No.
Arbogast: Not even if she paid you well?
Norman: No, ha, ha.
Arbogast: Let's just say for the uh, just for the sake of argument that she wanted you to, uh, gallantly protect her. You'd know that you were being used. You wouldn't be made a fool of, would ya?
Norman: [angrily] But, I'm, I'm not a fool. And I'm not capable of being fooled. Not even by a woman.
Arbogast: Well, this is not a slur on your manhood. I'm sorry...
Norman: Let's put it this way. She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother.
Arbogast: Oh, then your mother met her. Could I, could I talk to your mother?
Norman: No, as I told you, she's, she's confined.
Arbogast: Yes, well, just for a few minutes, that's all. There might be some hint that you missed out on. You know, sick old women are usually pretty sharp.

Sheriff Chambers: This detective was there. Norman told him about the girl. The detective thanked him and he went away.
Lila: And he didn't come back? He didn't see the Mother?
Sheriff Chambers: Your detective told you he couldn't come right back because he was goin' to question Norman Bates' mother. Right?
Lila: Yes.
Sheriff Chambers: Norman Bates' mother has been dead and buried in Greenlawn Cemetery for the past ten years!
Mrs. Chambers: I helped Norman pick out the dress she was buried in. Periwinkle blue.
Sheriff Chambers: It ain't only local history, Sam. It's the only case of murder and suicide on Fairvale ledgers. Mrs. Bates poisoned this guy she was involved with when she found out he was married. Then took a helping of the same stuff herself. Strychnine. Ugly way to die.
Mrs. Chambers: Norman found them dead together. [whispering] In bed.
Sam: You mean that old woman I saw sittin' in the window out there wasn't Bates' mother?
Sheriff Chambers: Now wait a minute, Sam. Are you sure you saw an old woman?
Sam: Yes! In the house behind the motel. I called and pounded but she just ignored me.
Sheriff Chambers: You want to tell me you saw Norman Bates' mother?
Lila: But it had to be, because Arbogast said so, too. And the young man wouldn't let him see her because she was too ill.
Sheriff Chambers: Well, if the woman up there is Mrs. Bates, who's that woman buried out in Greenlawn Cemetery?

Norman: Now mother, uhm, I-I'm gonna bring something up...
Mother: Ha, ha, I am sorry boy, but you do manage to look ludicrous when you give me orders.
Norman: Please, mother...
Mother: No! I will not hide in the fruit cellar! Ah ha! You think I'm fruity, huh? I'm staying right here.This is my room and no one will drag me out of it, least of all my big bold son.
Norman: They'll come now, mother. He came after the girl and now someone will come after him. Mother, please, it's just for a few days. Just for a few days so they won't find you.
Mother: Just for a few days? In that dark, dank fruit cellar? No! You hid me there once, boy, and you won't do it again. Not ever again! Now get out! I told you to get out, boy.
Norman: I'll carry you, Mother.
Mother: Norman, what do you think you're doing? Don't you touch me! Don't! Norman! Put me down! Put me down! I can walk on my own.

Sam: I've been doing all the talking so far, haven't I? I thought it was the people who were all alone all the time who did most of the talking when they got the chance. Here you are doing all the listening. You're alone here, aren't you? It would drive me crazy.
Norman: I think that would be a rather extreme reaction, don't you?
Sam: Just an expression. What I meant was, I'd do just about anything to get away, wouldn't you?
Norman: No.

Sam: I'm not saying that you shouldn't be contented here, I'm just doubting that you are. I think if you saw the chance to get out from under you would unload this place.
Norman: This place? This place happens to be my only world. I grew up in that house up there. I had a very happy childhood. My mother and I were more than happy!

Sam: You look frightened. Have I been saying something frightening?
Norman: I-I-I don't know what you've been saying.
Sam: I've been talking about your mother. About your motel. How you're gonna do it?
Norman: Do what?
Sam: Buy a new one in a new town where you won't have to hide your mother.
Norman: Why don't you just get in your car and drive away from here, OK?
Sam: Where will you get the money to do that, Bates? Or do you already have it, socked away?
Norman: Shut up!
Sam: A lot of it, $40,000. I bet your mother knows where the money is and what you did to get it. I think she'll tell us.

Dr. Richmond: Now to understand it the way I understood it, hearing it from the mother (that is, from the "mother half" of Norman's mind), you have to go back ten years, to the time when Norman murdered his mother and her lover. Now he was already dangerously disturbed, had been ever since his father died. His mother was a clinging, demanding woman, and for years the two of them lived as if there was no one else in the world. Then she met a man... and it seemed to Norman that she threw him over for this man. Now that pushed him over the line and he killed them both. Matricide is probably the most unbearable crime of all. Most unbearable to the son who commits it. So he had to erase the crime, at least in his own mind. He stole her corpse. A weighted coffin was buried. He hid the body in the fruit cellar. Even treated it to keep it as well as it would keep. And that still wasn't enough. She was there, but she was a corpse. So he began to think and speak for her, give her half his life, so to speak. At times, he could be both personalities, carry on conversations. At other times, the mother half took over completely. Now he was never all Norman, but he was often only mother. And because he was so pathologically jealous of her, he assumed that she was as jealous of him. Therefore, if he felt a strong attraction to any other woman, the mother side of him would go wild. [to Lila] When he met your sister, he was touched by her, aroused by her. He wanted her. That set off the "jealous mother" and "mother" killed the girl. Now after the murder, Norman returned as if from a deep sleep, and like a dutiful son, covered up all traces of the crime he was convinced his mother had committed!
Sam: Why was he... dressed like that?
District Attorney: He's a transvestite!
Dr. Richmond: Ah, not exactly. A man who dresses in women's clothing in order to achieve a sexual charge or satisfaction is a transvestite. But in Norman's case, he was simply doing everything possible to keep alive the illusion of his mother being alive. And when reality came too close, when danger or desire threatened that illusion, he dressed up, even to a cheap wig he bought. He'd walk about the house, sit in her chair, speak in her voice. He tried to be his mother. And, uh, now he is. Now that's what I meant when I said I got the story from the mother. You see, when the mind houses two personalities, there's always a conflict, a battle. In Norman's case, the battle is over; and the dominant personality has won.
Sheriff Chambers: And the $40,000? Who got that?
Dr. Richmond: The swamp. These were crimes of passion, not profit.

[last words]
Mother: [voice-over] It's sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son, but I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now as I should have years ago. He was always bad. And in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls, and that man, as if I could do anything, except just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. Oh, they know I can't even move a finger and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet just in case they do suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching. They'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly."


  • A new — and altogether different — screen excitement!!!
  • No one ... BUT NO ONE ... will be admitted to the theatre after the start of each performance of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
  • It is required that you see Psycho from the very beginning!
  • Don't give away the ending — it's the only one we have!
  • The screen's master of suspense moves his camera into the icy blackness of the unexplained!
  • The master of suspense moves his cameras into the icy blackness of the unexplored! (window card)
  • Exploring the blackness of the subconscious man!


External links[edit]

  Novels     Psycho  (1959) · Psycho II  (1982) · Psycho House  (1990)  
  Films     Psycho  (1960) · Psycho II  (1983) · Psycho III  (1986) · Psycho  (1998)  
  Television     Films     Bates Motel  (1987) · Psycho IV: The Beginning  (1990)  
  Series     Bates Motel  (2013–17)  
  Miscellaneous     Books     Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho  (1990) · Robert Bloch's Psychos  (1997)  
  Films     The Psycho Legacy  (2010) · Hitchcock  (2012)  
  Other     Psychopathy · Psychosis