Jamie Lee Curtis’ mom takes it on the lam! Join me as I have a hell of a lot of fun examining Alfred Hitchcock’s great low-budget suspense flick. I compare it to Hitch’s other work, to the 1998 shot-for-shot remake, and to Death Proof, The Searchers, A Fistful of Dollars, and Dirty Harry. I quote from Peter Bogdonovich’s book a few times. And I examine the motifs and symbols (birds = chicks; windows = windows). I mix up the name of the town and the name of the cemetery several times. I bring up the delicate subjects of Mama Bates’ age and the depth of Norman’s desert swamp. Plus, I rewrite the picture so it’s as conventional as possible—with a happy ending! Oh, and I laugh like a ninny. Enjoy!
I misspeak about the age calculations I do at one point. Perkins is 28, and Mother has been dead for 10 years, so she must have died when Norman was about 18. If she was 25 when she had him, she would only have been 43 or so when she died—not an old lady at all. She must have had him late in life, and perhaps Perkins is playing a little older than he really is. Then it’s believable that Mother would be perhaps 55, but even that seems young for what we see of her. Maybe she led a hard life.
[sigh] I’m also wrong about Dial M for Murder (1954) being Hitch’s most recent black and white film. It was in color, but The Wrong Man (1956) was in black and white.
Start the movie with the countdown just when the Paramount logo has faded to black.
The original “Boy’s Best Friend is His Mother” song.
One of many versions of the parodies.
I thought about the timeline and geography…
- Sam leaves Phoenix around 3 PM and drives all afternoon and all night to Fairvale (about 16 hrs)
- Marion flees Phoenix around 5 PM (her boss is leaving the office) and drives I-10 west until about 11 PM (near LA)
- Marion is awakened on the road by a patrolman around 7 AM, goes into LA suburb for breakfast and to trade cars
- Sam, still driving, arrives in Fairvale around 9 AM
- Boss becomes alarmed when Marion doesn’t show up for work, calls Lila, calls bank
- Marion drives all day toward Fairvale, north on I-5
- Boss and Lila look for Marion all day in Phoenix; Boss engages Arbogast in the afternoon
- Marion gets off I-5 around 7 PM and stops at the Bates Motel, is murdered and disposed of around 8 PM
- Lila leaves Phoenix in the morning and drives all day and evening towards Fairvale
- Arbogast searches for Marion, starts heading for Fairvale
- Lila stops for the night at a (nice) motel off I-5
- Arbogast may drive all night from Phoenix or he might actually have been engaged by phone from LA or even Sacramento
- Lila drives the rest of the way to Fairvale, looks around for Marion
- Lila meets Sam in the hardware store around noon (“Take your sandwich somewhere else”)
- Arbogast arrives in Fairvale and catches up to Lila in the hardware store at noon
- Arbogast starts visiting motels in the afternoon, stays overnight in one of them
- Arbogast continues visiting hotels, meets Norman in the late afternoon, sneaks into house, and is murdered
- Norman disposes of Arbogast’s car at dusk, around 5 PM (shortest days of the year)
- Lila and Sam go to Sheriff around 10 PM
- Lila and Sam go to Bates Motel around 9 AM
- Lila discovers Mother around 9:30 AM; Sam captures Norman, calls police
- Police arrest Norman around 10 AM
- Psychiatrist explains Norman’s life around 3 PM
- Lila and Sam call Marion’s boss to explain Marion’s and Arbogast’s gruesome murders around 5 PM
- Lila calls her parents to explain Marion’s gruesome murder around 5 PM
- Lila and Sam have dinner together around 6 PM; stop at his hardware store to get Lila a baseball bat
- Lila stays in a motel alone all night, hugging baseball bat; does not take shower; calls other family to explain Marion’s gruesome murder; suggests they give Marion’s Christmas gifts to orphans
Dec 24 — Christmas Eve
- Lila drives all day back toward Phoenix; stays in another motel alone all night, hugging baseball bat; does not take shower
- Sam drinks himself silly all day
Dec 25 — Christmas Day
- Lila arrives in Phoenix, takes a hot bath
- Lila makes calls to friends, wishing them a Merry Christmas and explaining Marion’s gruesome murder
- Sam calls friends to wish them Merry Christmas and ask them to call off bachelor party