Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: Marion Crane

The queen of the Penultimate girls, Marion Crane is a female character that we have idolized despite never really getting to know her. Although named "Mary" in the novel, Marion Crane will forever live in our hearts as the girl in the shower, taken too soon. Absolutely gorgeous and stylish, yet Marion Crane is more iconic for being broken scenes of naked glory in Psycho.

Poor Marion was unhappy in her relationshit with her "boyfriend", Sam Loomis. (Yes, they got the name Loomis for Halloween from her boyfriend) He tells her to take the afternoon off and she basically says "kick rocks" and heads back to work. Her boss shows up soon after with a man named Tom Cassidy, a wealthy customer who gives her $40,000 to put in the bank for him. Already in a bad mood, Marion steals the money and goes on the run. While this lead-up is probably the ONLY part of the film people struggle with as far as remembering what happens, it is a major part of the film as far as the character Marion is concerned. We get to see her sexy, angry, conniving, and oh so convincing. If it wasn't for these scenes, the audience wouldn't know ANYTHING about the true nature of the character.

While on the run, she turns off the main road and winds up at the Bates Motel. Once she arrives, she checks into the hotel with the proprietor...Norman Bates. Cue the scary music, give the audience a really uncomfortable feeling, and the movie kicks it into high gear. Once she wraps up the remaining money in a newspaper, Marion overhears an extreme arguement between Norman and his "mother" about his decision to let Marion in the house. Always with a touch of class, Marion manages to keep her cool and eavesdrop without having to break down a wall.

After sitting through Norman's tale of being "trapped" by his obligation to his mentally ill mother, the story starts to layer. Hitchcock tricks us by introducing Marion's conflicting mind about returning the money as she too is in her own personal trap. She very carefully suggests having his mother committed and Norman angrily refuses; then...shit hits the fan.

She bids him goodnight, and returns to her room. While trying to figure out how to fix things with her boss and calculating how much she has spent of his money, she undresses (sporting those insane torpedo boobs). Norman watches her from a peephole as she prepares for a shower. And then...the amazing music Busta Rhymes ripped off comes full force. A mysterious figure enters the bathroom, shadowed by the shower curtain and stabs Marion to death. Norman presumes his mother killed Marion, so he attempts to dispose of all traces of the crime to protect her. He puts Marion's body and all her possessions, including money hidden in newspaper, into the trunk of her car and sinks it in a nearby swamp. The infamous twist ending reveals that the murderer is in fact Norman, who murdered his mother years before and has since developed a split personality in which he kills people under "Mother"'s persona.

The thing that remains so insane about this film is that Hitchcock cast an absolutely humongous star as the lead, and then killed her off before the film even hit the halfway mark. It blew people's minds and made her death all the more memorable. She made it horrifying to take showers and I'll admit, I still do double checks on my locked door if I'm showering in a hotel or home alone. There was a time where I attempted to buy the "Psycho Shower Curtain" and realized I'd be more paranoid than ever if I had the shadowy figure of "Mother" watching me take a shower. So I went against it. The other brilliant thing people often forget is that you never see her die. Through his expert filmmaking, the scene is broken apart and the knife NEVER fully punctures her. We see a screaming woman, a knife blade, some body shots with a knife near it, and chocolate syrup at the bottom of the tub. That's it. What has been noted as one of the most HORRIFYING kills in horror movie history, never shows anything. It just goes to show that expert film making trumps over the top gore, any day.


7 comment(s):

B-Sol said...

What gets me every time is exactly what you pointed out, how Hitchcock makes everyone think they saw her get stabbed, when it's never explicitly shown. Now, Hitchcock had no choice back then, since censors never would've allowed it, but it still speaks to how masterful he was to make you think you saw it (the horrific sound effect really helps too!)

Poor Marion. Think about audiences seeing this for the first time. They're thinking the movie is going to be all about Marion Crane and her stolen money, and then BAM, she's killed off out of the blue...

Nate Y. said...

Great post. I'm reading a really fascinating book right now on Leigh's body double for the shower scene. I think it's called "The Girl in Hitchcock's Shower." I recommend it so far (although I'm only about 50 pages in).

Strange Kid said...

Just goes to show you what a master director and a sexpot lead are capable of, not to mention a stellar performance by the morbid Anthony Perkins.

Great write-up, B!

CSY said...

I LOVE the fact that years after Janet Leigh said because that scene scared the holy beejesus out of her, she's never taken a shower again...she's a bath girl.

Pax Romano said...

The scene with Norman and Marion talking in the parlor, always gets to me. There is something so sad about it - two lost souls trying to connect, what a shame that Norman was a psychopath, if he were not crazy, I think he and Marion might have actually formed a bond.

C.L. Hadden said...

I read somewhere (?) that her lingerie in the film changes as she turns to crime - in the beginning when she is with Sam, we have her in white undergarments, then after she's stolen the money, is on the run, and stops at the Bates Motel - the lingerie is black...just before her fateful shower.

But you know, those late lunches with Sam would be worth it, right?
Damn!

Horror said...

Can't wait to see Psycho in HD!

Seth Metoyer,
MoreHorror.com

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