Thursday, October 18, 2007

Psycho Shower Scene Controversy
Let's continue our Saul Bass kick for one more posting. The well-known graphic designer famous for the AT&T logo and the opening title sequences of several of Alfred Hitchcock's films (and a lot more--too much to list here!), created the storyboard art for Hitchcock's Psycho shower scene.

Paul Martin Lester writes in Visual Communications: Images with Messages that Hitchcock invited Bass to direct the famous Psycho shower scene (p. 154). Imagine that! The scene that epitomizes the Master of Suspense's sixty-year career; the sequence synonymous with the name "Hitch;" one of the greatest scenes in movie history, directed by someone else--albeit one of the most well-known graphic designers in history. I believed it; after all, graphic design is more than simply putting images on paper. On a deeper level, it involves "visual thinking," translating communications into graphic media. The shower sequence conveys a strong sense of terror and shock, without showing gore, as most of today's movies do.

I recently found this web page created by Dr. Glen Johnson, English professor and Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Catholic University of America. Johnson notes that Bass had made the assertion that he directed the famous shower scene after Hitchcock's death. Both actor Janet Leigh and assistant director Hilton Green refute Bass's assertion. A comparison of Bass's storyboards with the completed scene reveals a few differences, indicating Bass did not direct the sequence.

This, of course, takes nothing away from my personal admiration of Bass's work, but the Psycho shower scene could only have been directed by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.


Edward Ott said...

excellent piece of writing and very interesting. have to say psycho is a great movie that i have enjoyed several times.

Elio L. Arteaga, MFA said...

Thank you, Edward. I'm glad you enjoyed it.