The Flaw in the movie Psycho(1960)
Psycho, it is regarded as one of the best and most iconic horror and suspense movies of all time. It’s director Alfred Hitchcock is by far one of the best directors of all time. Many will agree and I too agree with this notion. Psycho is a great film and was quite controversial during it’s time for it’s sexual references, violence and ending subject matter. However despite all these things I think that Psycho stands the test of time and is still many of people’s favorite horror films. I recently watched it again as I saw it on cable and it was when I was watching up to a certain scene that I realized there is a big flaw in the movie that I bet many people never notice or disregard because of the time it was made. Before I go ahead and explain what I noticed I will mention that there is spoilers in this so if you have never seen the film and don’t want to know then don’t read and if you don’t care then please keep reading. With that being said here is the huge flaw I found in the movie Psycho.
The scene is when the detective Arbogast goes to the Bates Motel(looking into Marion’s murder who of course was killed at the Bates Motel) having been to a few motels already and came across the Bates Motel going over his procedure. He is met of course by Norman whom he makes small talk with in the rain before Norman invites him into the check in room. Arbogast asks Norman if anyone has stayed here recently and if he’s seen Marion(he shows him her photo), Norman declines saying no one’s stayed there in a few weeks and Arbogast insists he at least looks at the photo. Norman looks over the photo and says no he has never seen Marion before and is rather convincing at least to me he is. He then says no nobody has stayed here in a few weeks and that he’s never seen Marion before. Here’s where I have a big issue and see a huge flaw in the film.
Websites will claim that Norman’s answers and talk is suspicious and doesn’t add up and that he’s contradicting himself which is correct but to a point. People fail to see that Arbogast is asking the same questions that he’s already gotten the answers to, yet he’s already convinced that Norman knows something, I don’t know about you but I never see Norman nervous and he plays it off well. The detective’s persistence in asking questions throws Norman off but I feel it’s one-sided. What I’m getting at if it isn’t clear is that I figure most people would be satisfied with the answers given to them, ask a few more and then just assume Marion stayed a night and drove off the next morning.
The detective never thinks Marion did this and only thinks Norman knows something and his questioning is off and it’s too alarming. Hitchcock makes it seem as if the detective already knows something or is having the detective come off as intimidating but in a very odd manner by asking the same questions. This bothered me because while Norman does act strange he acts way stranger later on with other people and I would say out of all the people he talks with, the detective is the least one that he acts strange with. I feel like perhaps they gave the detective too much direction where he was supposed to frighten Norman but to me it never fully comes out that way yet you still get the full effect despite certain questions not being asked.
I get that all detectives are thorough and ask a line of questions as standard procedure but it’s just the way he asks them and how Norman responds that makes me think that they left out parts. None of his line of questioning to me could arose suspicion or lead to contradictory statements by Norman but yet in his subtle answers the detective is able to keep asking hellbent on saying something is up with Norman. Now Norman does slip up as he mentions his mother which of course then turns the whole story around but again this conversation never really had to happen if the detective just had even a slight thought that Marion simply stayed a night and drove out of state. The detective asks to see Norman’s mother because Norman slipped up and said she didn’t like Marion drawing the conclusion that his mother and Marion had met and spoken. Of course Norman says the detective can’t talk to his mother because she’s ill. The detective persistent as always insists on talking to her to which Norman again tells him she’s ill.
Again call me crazy but if someone told me twice that they’re mother or relative was ill I’d say oh I’m so sorry or have some sympathy and yes even if I was a detective I’d still say it. I find this to be another odd part, like if someone tells you you can’t talk to someone because their ill(yes we all know “mother” is ill alright) but my point being that on the outside we don’t know anything and the detective should have just moved on. The detective is of course told Marion stayed there, moved on elsewhere, I think he should have believed that because he is truly never given real odd statements other then twisting his own words to get what he wants to hear.
He goes to the pay phone, calls Marion’s sister and of course says that Norman is suspicious, yeah but he’s only suspicious because that’s how it was written and the sell job on Norman being suspicious to me is just not good enough. He mentions the mother and then says he’s going to return. I’ll jump a bit because this isn’t an issue to me but to end this part, Arbogast returns, goes into the Bate’s house goes up the stairs where he is stabbed and falls down the stairs as “mother” killed him. Technically, in my eyes the detective’s dumb persistence got him killed and the idea of talking to a sick woman by breaking into someone’s house just seems a bit off to me.
So that’s where the flaw ends right? Not exactly there’s still Marion’s sister and boyfriend, Lila Crane and Sam Loomis. From the get go we find that Lila is even more persistent then the detective and very curious and suspicious. Yes, Lila is her sister so she more than anyone would know of Marion’s idea’s and what she would do but the lengths and odd points Lila makes just seem a bit extreme to me even if it is to find her sister. She never looks anywhere else and is determined and sold that it happened at the Bates which is true but again with little to go on why wouldn’t anyone look elsewhere, other places around the Bates or further into town? Nope, just the Bates is looked into. I can however forgive Lila’s erraticness because after all she is Marion’s sister(so it’s both against her and helps her) but if there was ever a more sloppy scene it would be Sam confronting Norman.
Sam goes back to the check in after he and Lila pretended to be a couple to check in to investigate because Lila wanted to see for herself. Sam’s questioning to Norman is at first idle small talk and Norman doesn’t talk much which Sam finds odd(I can buy this, Norman is acting strangely but then again he doesn’t get many people). Here’s my other issue, Sam delves into Norman’s personal life asking if and why he doesn’t sell the place and move on and get a place of his own, I could think of several, his “mother” is ill, he likes to keep to himself, it’s not Sam’s Business, he could make something up, etc. My point is that Norman could have told him tons of things but instead we are given a cheap he’s hardly speaking routine which leads to Sam’s accusations against Norman. He asks him about the money which Norman knows literally nothing about and when he keeps asking dumb questions Norman attacks him.
I’d have no issue with this except the question he asks Norman to further upset him is one Norman actually has no knowledge of. Of all things to set him off why was it a question to which he didn’t know the answer or know what Sam was talking about for that matter? Sure he could have attacked him because Sam was nosy as all hell which he was but we are instead given the idea that Norman attacks him because he is being asked questions to which Norman really doesn’t know anything about. So that’s my gripe with the movie, the persistence and unlogical idea that three people don’t think of plan B and are just totally 100% sold on plan A despite Norman not truly selling them on any such suspicion other than a little off-putting answers. I still love the film but I thought I’d share my thoughts on the flaws I found.
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