“We all go a little mad sometimes.”
In 1959, author Robert Bloch wrote Psycho, a novel loosely based on Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. A year later, the great Alfred Hitchcock directed the film adaptation as an experiment in creating a well made B-movie. While Hitchcock ultimately created one of filmdom’s most well-crafted thrillers, the adaptation does have noticeable differences when compared with its literary predecessor.
The first major change is the character of Mary/Marion Crane (the movie changed her name from Mary to Marion, but let’s stick with Mary for simplicity sake). In the book we switch POV back and forth between Mary and Norman throughout the early pages, but the movie sticks with Mary throughout the beginning and Norman Bates doesn’t appear until half an hour into the story. The movie follows her closely, adds a few details to the character, and generally works harder to get the audience more emotionally invested in her. It also helps that Mary was played by Janet Leigh, a fairly big name star at the time.
That groundwork gives a lot more weight to the first major horror scene in both the book and the movie. While the book does show you the direction of Norman’s thoughts as he watches Mary in the shower, the movie kills off the person you just became emotionally invested in, and whom you assumed was going to be the main character, with no warning whatsoever. That effectively gives the movie a ‘no one is safe’ feel that the book just doesn’t have and sets up the rest of the plot to be a lot more creepy.
Indeed, on the road from page to screen, plenty of things got changed, and the folks over at CineFix decided to walk you through every alteration.
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