gekeken naar Touch of Evil (1958) en Psycho (1960)

Wanneer je deze twee meesterwerken van Orson Welles en Alfred Hitchcock na elkaar bekijkt, vallen onmiddellijk de overeenkomsten op: Beide films zijn in zwart-wit geschoten en spelen zich af in het Zuiden van de Verenigde Staten (respectievelijk een Amerikaans-Mexicaans grensstadje en Phoenix, Arizona), in beide films speelt Janet Leigh en in beide films overnacht ze in een obscuur motel. Tenminste, in Psycho is dat haar intentie…

Janet Leigh
Janet Leigh in Touch of Evil (1958) en Psycho (1960), tweemaal in een motel

In het artikel A Touch of Psycho worden deze overeenkomsten besproken. Het motel uit Touch of Evil moet thrillerauteur Robert Bloch geïnspireerd hebben voor zijn suspense novel Psycho (1959). Maar niet alleen in thematiek, ook in de cinematografie vinden we overeenkomsten. Hitchcock begint Psycho met een knipoog naar de beroemde openingsshot uit Touch of Evil:

The next time you watch the beginning of Psycho, as the camera slowly moves from a distant view of the cityscape of Phoenix into a close-up of the hotel room window, consider another even more famous film opening the dazzling crane and dolly shot that encompasses the first three minutes of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, made in 1958, just two years before Psycho. That shot, which travels several hundred yards across much of a town as we wait for the ticking bomb to explode, is so audacious that even today films like The Player explicitly refer to it.
Psycho Intro
bij de intro van Psycho hoor je Bernard Herrmann‘s disharmoniërende strijkers de geest doormidden zagen
© Universal Studios
A black and white film
requires the simplicity
of a black and white score

Bernard Herrmann

Psycho Novel by Robert BlochThe Southwestern locales of the two films are another similarity, particularly the isolated, deserted motel settings. Dingy motels were, of course, common settings in the film noirs that were the main inspiration for the films’ look. But the motels create an especially powerful atmosphere of dread and alienation in these two films, perhaps because they seem to exist in a dreamscape, disconnected from the rest of the “normal” world. The use of the sordid motel as an instrument of psychological torture and an emblem of decay in Touch of Evil may have inspired Robert Bloch, who wrote the novel that Psycho is based on, to use a motel to capture an American environment suitable as a breeding ground for psychosis and random violence. His novel, based on the notorious 1957 case of Ed Gein, a reclusive Wisconsin farmer and mass murderer, was published in 1959, a year after Touch of Evil was released.
You know what I think? I think that we’re all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.

Norman Bates in Psycho

A Touch of Psycho | Psycho in 1000 stills [ ]