When Psycho was released in 1960, the film received mixed reviews but is now seen as a classic and one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most notable films. Psycho was quite controversial in its time due to its adult nature and gore, but is rather tame compared to today’s horror movies.
The film stars Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates; the proprietor of the Bates Motel, as well as Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and John Gavin. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, which had been released a year prior. The book and the movie are both unique in their own way, but the film has more than a few memorable scenes with incredible dialogue. Here are 10 Iconic Quotes From Psycho.
10 “WELL, A BOY’S BEST FRIEND IS HIS MOTHER”
Not everybody has a perfect relationship with their mother, but Norman Bates definitely had a twisted relationship with Norma. Early in the film, Norman wants to bring Marion up to his house to have dinner with her, but Norma refuses and snaps at Norman for even thinking that would be a possibility. Instead, Norman just brings food to the motel’s parlor.
Marion talks to Norman about how his mother treats him, suggesting that he shouldn’t put up with it anymore. She asks if he ever goes out with friends to which Norman replies, “Well, a boy’s best friend is his mother.” Little does Marion know that Norman is actually norma.
9 “NO ONE REALLY RUNS AWAY FROM ANYTHING. IT’S LIKE A PRIVATE TRAP THAT HOLDS US IN LIKE A PRISON”
While Norman Bates is off-put by Marion Crane suggesting what he should do with his mother, Marion is equally as concerned when Norman asks her where she plans on going after she leaves his motel. Seeing that Marion is uncomfortable, Norman apologizes for prying and asks what she’s running away from.
Marion says, “Why do you ask that?” to which Norman cleverly responds, “No one really runs away from anything. It's like a private trap that holds us in like a prison.”
8 “OH WE HAVE 12 VACANCIES. 12 CABINS, 12 VACANCIES”
When Marion runs away from her secretary job in Phoenix, she has more than a few scares on her road trip. After she embezzled $40,000, she saw her boss walking across the street, was questioned by a car salesman, and was even interrogated by a police officer.
While she is driving she runs into a storm and has to pull off at the Bates Motel. Marion finds Norman at the front desk and asks if he has any vacancies. Norman happy to get a customer (or maybe a victim) eagerly answers, “Oh we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.”
7 “THEY’LL SAY ‘WHY SHE WOULDN’T EVEN HURT A FLY'”
After the twist ending where Lila finds Norma’s skeleton in the fruit cellar, Norman tries to attack her with a knife, but is stopped by Sam Loomis. Soon after, Norman is taken into custody, but he still believes he is Norma. A police officer takes a blanket into Norma (Norman) and the viewer hears an inner-monologue with Norma’s voice.
Believing that he is his mother, Norman thinks, “I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching. They’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know. They'll say ‘why she wouldn't even hurt a fly.”
6 “YOU- YOU EAT LIKE A BIRD”
When Marion walks into the parlor with Norman, the first thing she notices is a stuffed owl on the wall. In fact, Norman’s parlor is filled with stuffed animals since he enjoys taxidermy. Taxidermy is one of the creepier hobbies that Alfred Hitchcock could have given Norman Bates, which is why Marion is initially off-put by the dead animals.
Norman gives Marion a light dinner and while she’s eating mutters, “You-you eat like a bird.” The two then joke about the phrase since birds actually eat quite a bit of food compared to their weight.
5 “I THINK I MUST HAVE ONE OF THOSE FACES YOU JUST CAN’T HELP BELIEVING”
After Marion Crane left town with $40,000, her boss, Tom Cassidy, hired Detective Milton Arbogast to find her. After Arbogast talks with Lila and Sam, he heads to Bates Motel to talk with Norman Bates. Immediately, Arbogast could tell something wasn’t right with Norman. After Arbogast agrees to walk the property with Norman while he changed sheets, he sees Norma in the window of Norman’s house.
While it looked like Norman was living with someone, Norman was technically telling the truth about living alone, but was completely lying about Marion. After he sees Arbogast looking at the house, Norman says, “I think I must have one of those faces you just can’t help believing.”
4 “I’M NORMA BATES”
The ending of Psycho is no doubt one of the most shocking twists in the history of cinema. To make the ending seem even more shocking, Alfred Hitchcock even made movie theaters refuse entry to those who showed up after the movie had started.
This line is very hard to hear, but when Norman goes to attack Lila, the music from Bernard Herrmann includes a track that says “I’m Norma Bates” that is mixed in with the rest of the music. Most people probably haven’t ever noticed because it’s so subtle, but the scene will never be the same once you hear it.
3 “WE ALL GO A LITTLE MAD SOMETIMES”
Anybody could see that Norman and Norma didn’t have a healthy relationship, but Norman always made excuses for her. Norman gets offended when Marion suggests that he shouldn’t be as easy on his mother, but Norman constantly made excuses for her. One of Norman’s excuses for her was that, “We all go a little mad sometimes.”
That’s an understandable assumption, but people typically don’t get as crazy as Norman Bates. Building Norma up as such an insane woman also made the climax of the film that much more shocking when we find out that Norma is actually Norman.
2 “WE’RE ALWAYS QUICKEST TO DOUBT PEOPLE WHO HAVE A REPUTATION FOR BEING HONEST”
At first, when Milton Arbogast starts his hunt for Marion Crane, he visits Sam Loomis' shop where he meets Sam and Lila for the first time. Arbogast initially thinks that Sam might be hiding Marion someplace to protect her from getting arrested for stealing the money from Tom Cassidy’s bank.
He later thinks the same thing with Norman after he accuses him of taking money from Marion to hide her. Arbogast is no doubt an intelligent man, but one of his best quotes from the movie is, “We’re always quickest to doubt people who have a reputation for being honest.”
1 “THEY CLUCK THEIR THICK TONGUES, AND SHAKE THEIR HEADS AND SUGGEST, OH SO VERY DELICATELY!”
The parlor scene is not only a good scene to analyze because of the mise en scène, but also because the dialogue between Marion and Norman was incredibly well written. Norman is talking about how sick he is of his mother controlling his life but says he puts up with it because she is ill.
Marion suggests that he puts her someplace else to avoid the abuse, which offends Norman. Being a bit taken aback, Marion says she was only making a suggestion. Norman replies by complaining about people saying, “They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, oh so very delicately!”.