Psycho (1960), Act 03
EXT. HIGHWAY 99 – LONG SHOT
Mary’s car dashing along.
MARY IN NEW CAR
Mary looks weary, tired with strain and with hard driving. Her eyes are heavy with worry and deep thought.
OUT THE WINDSHIELD
We can see that it is much later in the day, almost dusk.
MARY IN NEW CAR
We hear the sound of an agitated buzz of an intercom system, a sound emanating from Mary’s imagination. After the second buzz, we hear the voice of Caroline.
“Yes, Mr. Lowery.”
“Caroline…? Mary still isn’t in?” Lowery asks, in a worried tone.
“No, Mr. Lowery … but then she’s always a bit late on Monday mornings.”
“Buzz me the minute she comes in.”
Again Mary shakes her head, forces herself to stop hearing these “invented” scenes of her imagination.
Now we cut to the view of the road, from Mary’s viewpoint. Darkness of evening is coming. In the dim twilight we see the neon sign of roadside restaurants and gas stations beginning to blaze on.
INT. MARY’S NEW CAR
Back on Mary’s face, and after a moment, the imagined voices of Lowery and Caroline, again:
“Call her sister! If no one’s answering at the house …”
“I called her sister, Mr. Lowery, where she works, the Music Makers Music Store, you know? And she doesn’t know where Mary is any more than we do.”
“You better run out to the house. She may be… unable to answer the phone …”
“Her sister’s going to do that. She’s as worried as we are.”
A flush of painful guilt and regret rises up in Mary’s face. She closes her eyes for one tight swift moment.
We cut again to the highway. The first oncoming headlights slash at the windshield.
INT. MARY’S NEW CAR
Cutting back to Mary, we can sense by the tense muscles of her face that she is driving faster. The oncoming headlights blurt at her.
Suddenly we hear Lowery’s voice, loud now and frightened, as if the anxiety in the man’s voice was strong enough to break through Mary’s effort to keep her mind silent and her imagination blank.
“No! I haven’t the faintest idea. As I said, I last saw your sister when she left this office on Friday … she said she didn’t feel well and wanted to leave early and I said she could. And that was the last I saw …”
A pause, a thought.
“Wait a minute, I did see her, an hour or so later, driving …”
A pause, then with solemn fear.
“Ah, I think you’d better come over here to my office. Quick.”
A pause. A click.
“Caroline, get Mr. Cassidy for me.”
It is completely dark now, night.
INT. MARY’S NEW CAR
We cut back to her face. We hear Lowery’s voice.
“After all, Cassidy, I told you … all that cash … I’m not taking the responsibility … Oh, for heaven’s sake, a girl works for you for ten years, you trust her! All right, yes, you better come over.”
FROM MARY’S VIEWPOINT
EXT. THE ROAD AHEAD INT. MARY’S NEW CAR
Fast cut back to Mary’s face. Oncoming headlights throw a blinding light across her features. We hear Cassidy’s voice, undrunk and sharp with rage.
“Well I ain’t about to kiss off forty thousand dollars! I’ll get it back and if any of it’s missin’ I’ll replace it with her fine soft flesh! I’ll track her, never you doubt it!”
Lowery’s voice is much more restrained. He’s still in disbelief.
“Hold on, Cassidy … I still can’t believe … it must be some kind of a mystery … I can’t …”
“You checked with the bank, no? They never laid eyes on her, no? You still trustin’? Hot creepers, she sat there while I dumped it out … hardly even looked at it, plannin’ and … and even flirtin’ with me…!”
A look of revulsion makes Mary close her eyes.
THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD AGAIN
Big drops of rain begin to appear.
CLOSEUP – MARY
She is becoming aware of the rain starting.
THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD
The rain increasing and backlit by the oncoming headlights.
CLOSEUP – MARY
Mary starts the windshield wipers.
THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD
The wipers are having a battle with the now torrential rain.
CLOSEUP – MARY
Peering through the blurred windshield.
CLOSEUP – THE CAR WHEELS
Slowing down in the flooding highway.
CLOSEUP – MARY
Peering through the windshield. The oncoming lights are fewer.
CLOSEUP – THE CAR WHEELS
Almost coming to a slow turn.
THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD
Just blackness and rain.
CLOSEUP – MARY
An almost undiscernible light in the far distance, a neon sign blurred by the rain-sheeted windshield.
She presses down, forces the car to move on through the flooded road.
EXT. THE ROAD
As we move closer, we see the neon sign more clearly and can faintly make out the large letters which read “Motel.” Mary stops the car, lowers the window slightly, looks out. We see the sign clearly now: “BATES MOTEL.” Mary opens the car door and dashes out into the rain and up onto the porch of the motel office.
EXT. BATES’ MOTEL – (NIGHT)
Mary pauses on the porch. The lights are on within the office. She tries door, finds it open, and goes into office. The camera follows her into office. There is no one present. Mary goes to the desk, rings a small push-bell. There is no response.
She rubs her forehead in weariness and frustration, goes back out onto the porch. She looks off in another direction, slightly behind the office, and sees …
MARY’S VIEWPOINT – A LARGE OLD HOUSE – (NIGHT)
A path from the motel office leads directly up to this house. There is a light on in one of the upstairs rooms. A woman passes the window, pauses, peers out.
We see her in clear silhouette. She quickly goes away from the window.
EXT. PORCH OF BATES’ MOTEL – (NIGHT)
Mary, having seen the woman, expects now that she will get some attention. She stands a few moments, waiting.
No one comes. Impatience and anger rise in Mary. She dashes out into the rain, to her car, gets in, opens the side window, and begins to honk the horn. After a moment, a young man opens the front door of the house, pauses, and starts down the path.
After a few steps, he turns and runs back into the house. Mary leaves her car, starts a dash for the shelter of the porch. As she runs, we see that the young man has gone back only to get an umbrella. Seeing that Mary is on her way to the porch, he runs quickly, the umbrella unopened in his hand. He gets to the porch a moment after Mary has reached it.
He stops short, looks at her, then at the umbrella hanging useless in his hand, then back to her. There is something sadly touching in his manner, in his look. Mary’s impatience goes and she smiles and this makes him almost smile. He gestures her into the office, standing back to indicate that he will go after her. She goes into the office.
INT. OFFICE OF BATES’ MOTEL – (NIGHT)
The young man follows Mary in, closes the door. He is Norman Bates, somewhere in his late twenties, thin and tall, soft-spoken, and hesitant. Mary is also late twenties, thin, and tall [for a woman]. She’s often told that she should be a Las Vegas showgirl. It’s a striking coincidence. So, striking in fact, that a random thought momentarily crosses her mind: I’ve never worn a man, before.
Mary response is not really a question so much as it’s a statement of the obvious poised as a question.
“You have a vacancy?”
Norman’s response is simple, almost cheerful.
“We have twelve vacancies. Twelve cabins, twelve vacancies.” A pause. “They moved away the highway.”
“I thought I’d gotten off the main …”
“I knew you must have. No one stops here anymore unless they do.” He is behind the counter now, pushing forward the registration book. “But it’s no good dwelling on our losses, is it. We go right ahead lighting signs and following the formalities … Would you sign, please.”
Mary has placed her handbag on the counter. She takes the registration book, picks up the pen, and is suddenly struck with the realization that she’d better use an alias. She writes the name Marie Samuels.
“Your home address. Oh, just the town will do.”
Mary glancing at newspaper sticking out of her handbag: Los Angeles. She realizes he didn’t ask her to tell him, merely to write it down. She smiles, writes Los Angeles beside the false name.
Norman smiles, and then stops smiling out of embarrassment.
“Cabin One. It’s closer in case you want anything … right next to the office.
CLOSEUP – NORMAN
He removes a key for Cabin One. We see that there is a remaining key on the board.
TWO SHOT – MARY AND NORMAN
“I want sleep more than anything. Except maybe, food.”
“There’s a big diner about ten miles on up … just outside Fairvale.”
“Am I that close to Fairvale?”
“Fifteen miles. I’ll get your bags.”
He goes to door, opens it. The rain has slowed down considerably. He smiles at this fact, as if to communicate some pleasure he finds in it. Mary follows him to the door, goes out on the porch, waits and watches as Norman runs to her car, gets in, drives it to the parking space in front of Cabin One.
Mary walks along the porch, waits before the door of Cabin One. Norman gets out of car, with suitcase, runs to the door, opens it, pushes the door open, puts his hand in and switches on a light. Mary goes into the cabin. Norman follows her.
INT. CABIN ONE – (NIGHT)
Norman places suitcase on bed, goes to the window, opens it. He proceeds to further engage her in small talk, something he’s obviously not very good at.
“Stuffy in here.” He turn to her. “Well … the mattress is soft and there’re hangers in the closet and … stationary with ‘Bates’ Motel’ printed on it in case you want to make your friends back home envious … and … the … over there ….”
He points to the bathroom, fairly blushes. Mary says what he, for some mysterious reason, is unable to utter.
Norman quickly, starting to leave.
“I’ll be in the office if you want anything … just tap on the wall.”
“Thank you, Mr. Bates.”
He pauses at the door, gazes at her. She smiles.
“You have something most girls never have.”
“There’s no name for it … But it’s something that, that puts a person at ease.”
“Thank you. Again.”
Norman asks, not really a question.
“You’re not going to go out again and drive up to that diner, are you?”
“Then will you do me a favor?” Without waiting for her response. “Will you have supper here? I was just about to, myself … nothing more than some sandwiches and a lot of milk, but I’d like it if you’d come up to the house and … I don’t set a fancy table but … the kitchen’s awful homey.”
“I’d like to.”
“All right, you get your dresses hanging out and … change those wet shoes, and I’ll come for you soon as it’s ready …” He starts out of the cabin. “With my trusty umbrella.”
He laughs a small laugh, runs off. Mary closes the door, goes to suitcase, opens it, and starts to take out a dress. Her handbag is next to the suitcase. She glances down into it, pauses, drops the dress, reaches into the handbag, takes out the money-filled envelope, stares at it, almost with regret, filled contemplates hiding it, decides to, starts looking for a reasonable hiding place. She looks about, at the closet, the drawers etc., realizes all such places are obvious. Catching sight of the newspaper in her bag, she hits on a solution. She opens the newspaper, places the envelope within it, lock-folds the paper again and then places it on the bedside table as if it were there for later reading. She considers this for a moment, accepts it, and goes to her suitcase to start unpacking.
Suddenly the quiet is shattered by the shrill, ugly sound of a woman’s voice, raised in anger.
“No! I tell you no!”
Mary walks slowly to the window, realizing that the terrible voice is coming from the house behind the cabins. The camera follows her to window and once there we see the light is still on in the upstairs bedroom and the voice is coming from that room. The rain has stopped and the moon is out.
“I won’t have you bringing strange young girls in for supper …” An ugly, sneering note creeps into the woman’s voice. “By candlelight, I suppose, in the cheap erotic fashion of young men with cheap, erotic minds!
“Mother, please …”
This second voice, Mary recognizes. It’s Norman’s.
“And then what? After supper, music? Whispers?”
“Mother, she’s just a stranger … hungry, and the weather’s bad …”
The woman mimicking him cruelly.
“Mother, she’s just a stranger!” Hard, cruel again. “As if men don’t desire strangers, as if … oh, I refuse to speak of disgusting things because they disgust me! You understand, Boy?” Pause. “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, cause you don’t have the guts? Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?”
Norman’s response is blurted out, full of fury and shame.
“Shut up! Shut up!”
There is the sound of a door closing in that room up there. Mary has stood by the window, listening with mounting distress and concern and sympathy. She turns her face away now, gazes sadly at the little empty room.
In a moment there is the sound of the house’s front door slamming shut. Mary turns, looks out the window.
FROM MARY’S VIEWPOINT – (NIGHT)
We see Norman coming down the path, carrying a napkin-covered tray.
INT. CABIN ONE – (NIGHT)
Mary looks at him for a moment, then turns quickly, goes to the door, opens it and goes out onto the porch.
EXT. THE MOTEL PORCH – (NIGHT)
Mary pauses outside the door, is about to start forward when Norman comes round the building and walks along the porch, past the office, stopping only when he is close to her. He stares with painful embarrassment at the knowing look in her eye.
“I’ve caused you some trouble.”
“Mother …” He lets loose with a hollow little laugh, an attempt at sardonic humor. “What is the phrase … ‘She isn’t herself today’ … I think that’s it.
Mary looks at the tray.
“You shouldn’t have bothered. I really don’t have that much of an appetite.”
Norman flinches, realizing she has heard his mother’s reference to Mary’s appetite.
“I’m sorry. I wish … people could apologize for other people.”
“Don’t worry about it.” A warm smile. “But as long as you’ve made us supper, we may as well eat it. Huh?”
She begins to back into her room. Norman starts to follow, hesitates as he sees the total picture of an attractive young woman and a motel room. Bringing down the tray of food, in defiance of his mother’s orders, is about the limit of his defiance for one day. He cannot go into Mary’s room.
“It might be nicer … warmer in the office.’
Without waiting for approval or disapproval, he turns, hurries to the office. Mary looks after him, her face showing amused sympathy, then follows.
INT. THE MOTEL OFFICE – (NIGHT)
Norman looks about, tray in hand, sees there is no reasonable place to spread out a supper. He turns, sees Mary standing in the doorway.
“Eating in an office …” A rueful smile. “Too officious, even for me. I have the parlor behind this … if you’d like.”
Mary nods. Norman walks on, behind the counter and into the darkened parlor. Mary follows.
INT. NORMAN’S PARLOR – (NIGHT)
In the darkened room, lit only by the light from the office spilling in, we see Norman placing the tray on a table. Mary comes to the doorway, pauses. Norman straightens up, goes to lamp, and turns on the light. Mary is startled by the room. Even in the dimness of one lamp, the strange, extraordinary nature of the room rushes up at one. It is a room of birds. Stuffed birds, all over the room, on every available surface, one even clinging to the old fashioned fringed shade of the lamp. The birds are of many varieties, beautiful, grand, horrible, and preying. Mary stares in awe and a certain fascinated horror.
CLOSE UP – THE VARIOUS BIRDS TWO SHOT – MARY AND NORMAN
“Please sit down. On the sofa.”
As Norman goes about spreading out the bread and ham and pouring the milk, we follow Mary across the room. She studies the birds as she walks, briefly examines a bookcase stacked with books on the subject of “Taxidermy.”
CLOSE UP – THE BOOKS ON TAXIDERMY MED. CLOSE SHOT – MARY
She notices, too, the paintings on the wall; nudes, primarily, and many with a vaguely religious overtone. Finally Mary reaches the sofa, sits down, and looks at the spread.
“You’re very … kind.”
“It’s all for you. I’m not hungry. Please go ahead.” Mary begins to eat, her attitude a bit tense. She takes up a small slice of ham, bites off a tiny bite, nibbles at it in the manner of one disturbed and preoccupied. Norman gazes at her, at the tiny bite she has taken, smiles, and then laughs. “You eat like a bird.”
“You’d know, of course.”
“Not really. I hear that expression, that one eats ‘like a bird’, is really a falsie, I mean a falsity, because birds eat a tremendous lot.” A pause, then explaining. “Oh, I don’t know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things … taxidermy. And I guess I’d just rather stuff birds because … well, I hate the look of beasts when they’re stuffed, foxes and chimps and all … some people even stuff dogs and cats … but I can’t … I think only birds look well stuffed because they’re rather … passive, to begin with … most of them …”
He trails off, his exuberance failing in the rushing return of his natural hesitancy and discomfort. Mary looks at him, with some compression, smiles.
“It’s a strange hobby. Curious, I mean.”
“I imagine so.”
“It’s not as expensive as you’d think. Cheap, really. Needles, thread, sawdust … the chemicals are all that cost anything.”
He goes quiet, looks disturbed.
“A man should have a hobby.”
“It’s more than a hobby … sometimes … a hobby is supposed to pass the time, not fill it.” After a pause, softly. “Is your time so empty?”
“Oh, no!” Forcing brightness, again. “I run the office, tend the cabins and grounds, and do little chores for mother … the ones she allows I might be capable of doing.”
“You go out … with friends?”
“Friends? Who needs friends?” Laughs, then with gallows humor. “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” Stops laughing. “You’ve never had an empty moment in your whole life. Have you?”
“Only my share.”
“Where are you going? I don’t mean to pry …”
Mary displays a wistful smile.
“I’m looking for a private island.”
“What are you running away from?”
Mary suddenly looks alerted.
“Why do you ask that?”
“No. People never run away from anything.” A pause. “The rain didn’t last very long.” Turning suddenly. “You know what I think? I think we’re all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever climb out. We scratch and claw … but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.”
“Sometimes we deliberately step into those traps.”
“I was born in mine. I don’t mind it anymore.”
“You should … mind it.”
“Oh I do … but I say I don’t.”
He laughs boyishly. Mary, staring at him, shaking her head softly.
“If anyone ever spoke to me, the way I heard … The way she spoke to you, I don’t think I could ever laugh again.”
Norman’s response reeks of controlled resentment.
“Sometimes when she talks that way to me I’d like to … curse her out and leave her forever!” A rueful smile. “Or at least, defy her.” A pause, a hopeless shrug. “But I couldn’t. She’s ill.”
“She sounded strong …”
“I mean … ill.” A pause. “She had to raise me all by herself after my dad died … I was only five … and it must have been a strain. Oh, she didn’t have to go out to work or anything, Dad left us with a little something … anyway, a few years ago … Mother met a man. He talked her into building this motel … He could have talked her into anything … and when. Well … It was just too much for her when he died, too … And the way he died … Oh, it’s nothing to talk about when you’re eating.” Pauses, smiles. “Anyway, it was too much of a loss for my mother… she had nothing left.”
“A son is a poor substitute for a lover.”
He turns away as if in distaste of the word.
“Why don’t you go away?”
“To a private island, like you?”
“No, not like me.”
“It’s too late for me. And besides … who’d look after her? She’d be alone up there, the fire would go out … damp and cold, like a grave. When you love someone, you don’t do that to them, even if you hate them. Oh, I don’t hate her. I hate … what she’s become. I hate … the illness.”
Mary, slowly, carefully.
“Wouldn’t it be better if you put her in … someplace …”
She hesitates. Norman turns, slowly, looking at her with a striking coldness.
“An Institution? A madhouse? People always call a madhouse ‘someplace’.” Mimicking, coldly. “Put her in Someplace!
“I’m sorry … I didn’t mean it to sound uncaring …”
The coldness turning to tight fury.
“What do you mean about caring? Have you ever seen one of those places? Inside? Laughing and tears and cruel eyes studying you … and my mother there? Why? Has she harmed you? She’s as harmless as… one of these stuffed birds.”
“I am sorry. I only felt … it seemed she was harming you. I meant …”
Norman, high fury, now.
“Well? You meant well? People always mean well, they cluck their thick tongues and shake their heads and suggest so very delicately that …”
The fury suddenly dies, abruptly and completely, and he sinks back into his chair. There is a brief silence. Mary watches the troubled man, is almost physically pained by his anguish.
“I’ve suggested it myself. But I hate to even think such a thing. She needs me … and it isn’t …” He looks up with a childlike pleading in his eyes. “It isn’t as if she were a maniac, a raving thing… it’s just that … sometimes she goes a little mad. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”
Mary, after a long thoughtful pause.
“Yes, and just one time can be enough.”
Norman, cheerfully, correcting.
“Thank you, Norman.”
“You’re not going to … to your room already?”
“I’m very tired. And I’ll have a long drive tomorrow. All the way back to Phoenix.”
“I stepped into a private trap back there—and I want to go back and … try to pull myself out.” Looking close at Norman. “Before it’s too late for me, too.”
Norman looking at her.
“Why don’t you stay a little while, just for talking?”
“I’d like to, but …”
“Alright. I’ll see you in the morning. I’ll bring you breakfast. What time will you …”
“Very early. Dawn.”
“Alright, Miss …”
He has forgotten her name.
He frowns, as if bothered by not being able to match the name to the memory of the name in the registration book.