By now most people have seen the film Psycho as a remake. The current generation may not realize that the series Bates Motel is based upon an original black and white Alfred Hitchcock horror film story line. Trademark elements of Hitchcock films are about regular people who put themselves in some kind of trouble like the movie titled Rope, from 1948 which was done in color. At the beginning of Rope, two students murdered a mutual friend and the one student says, “It was out of character for David to drink anything as corrupt as whiskey,” and the other student says “Out of character for him to be murdered, too.” It is not out of character for a Hitchcock film that someone is murdered.

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As for the film Psycho, it shows a side of human nature when regular people do things “out of character.” Even though this would be classified as a horror film, there is also a comedic trace throughout the film from the dry humor of Norman Bates. His sweet demeanor hides the ‘psycho’ well. He does seem like a regular nice guy who went off the edge, abandoning logical reasoning when Bates was going out of character to become ‘mother.’ Marion Crane is another example of someone who unexpected stole money after working for the same employer for ten years. People are not simply doing things “out of character,” everyday regular people are unpredictable, capable of bad choices, even murder.

The film begins as though it is a true story unfolding at an actual time of day and place, with the next scene of two lovers laying together. Marion is seemingly tired of how things are as she conferred with Sam, her lover. She goes to work robotic-like, no emotion just a regular day at the office. In the office is a man named Cassidy, a friend of Marion’s employer who is talking about how much money he has and the plans he has to buy a house for his daughter, paid in cash. It was Marion’s duty to deposit the money for this man Cassidy. Her intentions to pack up and leave with the money is becoming clear as the camera goes from her staring at the bed, to a shot of where the money is then to her luggage laying open filled with clothes. Now that Marion has made the decision to leave with the money, her bad luck begins.

As Marion is stopped at a traffic light, she makes eye contact with her boss as he is crossing the street. After this scene, the music in the film indicates the arising tension along with the voice-over of Cassidy and her boss talking about her, maybe her own imagination of what they would say about her missing. During the night, she pulls up to a motel on the side of the road because of the heavy rain. She is greeted by a kind fellow, Norman Bates the motel innkeeper. Just like she saw the opportunity to steal the money, Bates sees his own opportunity, an attractive woman who wants to stay the night. He is very accommodating to her, offering to feed her sandwiches and milk. He even makes a little joke, “We even have stationery with Bates Motel printed on it, in case you want to make your friends back home envious.”

As Bates goes to the main house to prepare food, Marion overhears a conversation Bates has with his ‘mother.’ Worried she has caused trouble over the food, she reluctantly agrees to eat with him in the “office that is too officious.” Moving toward the parlour area behind the office, Marion sees the stuffed birds. Their conversation becomes more personal as Marion answers his questions about where she is going. Bates makes an interesting observation when he says “We are all in our private traps, clamped in them.” This statement Marion can identify with. She feels slightly uncomfortable with his words. She comes to the realization she has made a bad choice, creating her own trap by stealing. Even though she has come to her senses and wants to return the money, Bates murders her because of his own abandonment of reason. A series of bad choices leads up to her death. The motivation behind Bates’ actions of killing Marion was because of his own trap he was born into. He lost his ability to think logically, being driven by his own inner thoughts. He was oblivious to the money he sank along with the car so killing Marion for money was not his reason as the investigator assumed. What did he need money for? It seems he had all he needed, his mother and his birds.

This is typical of Hitchcock films that depict real life. Once a bad decision is made people do not always get a second chance to make things right. Everyone has their own motivation for their bad decisions. Most of the time it is for self-serving reasons. This is human nature. Hitchcock understood that everyday regular people are the ones who are capable of illogical reasoning, doing things “out of character.”