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March 8, 2019:

PSYCHO THURSDAY

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it was a Psycho Thursday, if you must know, a truly Psycho Thursday.  But I’ll get to that in a minute, for to get to it now would be putting the horse before the cart.  Frankly, I don’t mind the horse before the cart before the horse and I don’t even mind the horse and cart before the gazelle.  But one simply can’t dive in to these here notes without our little preamble. The preamble sets the tone, and without the tone we have no tone and to have no tone is atonal.  And I do not especially care for atonal things. There, now we have set the tone and we can move on to a little thing I like to call the notes.

Yesterday was a Psycho Thursday.  I got up at noon, awakened by the annoying sound of a car alarm gone off and blaring.  I got up to see whose annoying car it was and as it transpired it was my annoying car. I have no idea why it would have gone off, but I shut it off.  Maybe it knew that the iPad alarm hadn’t gone off at eleven.  Who knows?  Well, The Shadow knows.  The Summer knows.  Once up, I answered e-mails, had a telephonic conversation, and them moseyed on over to the mail place and picked up one package, and then I did some banking, after which I came home.  And then began the real Psycho Thursday.  In the package, was a new German Blu and Ray, a big set of all the Psycho films, the 1988 TV movie called Bates Hotel, the 1998 remake by Gus Van Sant and the documentary, The Psycho Legacy, plus all the extras from the various home video releases.  The big come on for this set’s existence is the uncut version of the Hitchcock masterpiece. There’s probably less than twenty seconds of additional footage that existed in a German 35mm print that has been seamlessly added into the normal release we all have.

The additional footage involves one extra shot where Norman Bates is peeping on Janet Leigh undressing.  In the version we all have and that every home video release has contained, we have one shot of her in her bra and slip, then a cut to Norman looking, then back to Janet Leigh having just put on her robe.  In the uncut German print there is an additional shot of Leigh as she begins to take her bra off (and gets pretty far for 1960).  The second sequence with additional footage is post-murder.  Tony Perkins drags the lifeless body from the bathroom onto the shower curtain.  He then looks at his hands and we have a shot of them covered in blood.  Then it cuts to his face, he turns and goes in the bathroom and washed the blood off in the sink.  In the longer German version there are longer shots of his hands covered in blood, mostly holding on the hands as he walks in the bathroom and goes to the sink. The final extended shot is in the Martin Balsam murder.  He falls down the stairs, and mother comes after him, and stabs him again, then raising the knife in the air to stab again, at which point the shot fades out. In the extended German print, she stabs him once, the knife rises and she stabs him again, another rise, and stabs a third time, the knife rises for the fourth stab and the shot fades out.

No one really knows what the deal is here, but I actually have a pretty good idea what the deal is and an e-mail from Universal sent to the German company who released this is somewhat telling: It states that what the German release contains is the Psycho that was released in 1960.  And I completely believe that, for reasons I’ll get to in a minute.  So, what I think happened, and this is just my supposition, is that the film had those brief shots edited out subsequent to its re-release and then TV showings.  I was so scared to see the re-release and then TV showings, because the film I’d seen in 1960 on opening day so scared me silly I was too nervous to put myself through that again.  But when I saw it, I sensed something was not quite right and I remember saying that to anyone who would listen.  Because, as a twelve-year-old, the film was rather seared into my memory, and I have always remembered the bra shot (I was a horny little twelve-year-old), but more importantly, I always remembered vividly the multiple stabs.  And when I saw the re-release with one stab I questioned my memory, of course, but something told me I was right, and now I believe I was right.  I think the film as released in 1960 is exactly what is reflected in that German print. Complicating matters is the Richard Anobile book that replicates Psycho in stills and dialogue.  The extra footage is not reflected in his stills, but his book was done in 1974 and I believe he was given the re-release print to work from.  I suppose we’ll never really know without a definitive answer from Universal, but I feel what they said in their e-mail is indicative that I may just be right.

After watching, I got ready and then moseyed on over to Spumonte in North Hollywood, a favorite Eyetalian jernt that Kay Cole and I enjoy, for her belated birthday dinner.  We had lots of fun catching up and the food was excellent as always.  She had what I normally do – penne with sausage (she had it with spaghetti instead) and I had the pasta special for the evening – spaghetti with lobster in a Pomodoro sauce – really good.  We each had a Caesar salad, too, and they brought her a birthday dessert. After that, I came right home and sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched the Gus Van Sant remake of Psycho, an almost shot-for-shot recreation of Hitchcock’s original, the point of which completely eluded me at the time, and still eludes me now, and apparently eluded audiences everywhere.  In color doesn’t work, the casting is just plain bad, throughout.  Vince Vaughn is a terrible Norman Bates, Viggo Mortensen is awful and this film is why I couldn’t stomach him until Green Book, where he redeemed himself, and Anne Heche isn’t Janet Leigh.  It’s just all wrong, like watching high schoolers try to imitate their betters.  But the odd thing is that while much of it is shot for shot (but not done as well), there are few things that aren’t – the shower scene has weird little quick frame cuts to clouds and stuff, and the same with the Arbogast murder.  The Herrmann score is a plus, of course, but it’s just some kind of silly exercise that simply didn’t work and still doesn’t.

And I watched about five minutes of Bates Motel circa 1988, starring Bud Cort of all people.  I must say, it’s horrible, cutesy, ineptly directed and I can’t imagine it will get better, but we shall see.  After that, I listened to music and relaxed.

Today, I’ll be up by eleven and at one I’m doing an interview for a documentary about Kay Cole.  Hopefully that won’t take more than an hour, then I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, eat, and then relax.

Tomorrow, I have to be up early for she of the Evil Eye, but otherwise I have no plans save for writing liner notes and finishing casting the Kritzerland show so I can choose material.  Sunday, I can relax, but forgot I have to go see the reading of a new musical in the evening.  Next week is just a lot o’ stuff.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do an interview, I must hopefully pick up packages, I must eat, and I must relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player, and your DVD/Blu and Ray player?  I’ll start – CD, too much stuff.  Blu-ray, the Psycho collection.  Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, after my Psycho Thursday.

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