Marian Crane’s Bedroom

Rest and Relaxation…Make Your Friends Envious

Maybe the first time I taught Psycho to a film class, I embarrassed a young man who would go on to become a professor himself and a good friend of mine.

I asked him, via the class, if he remembered seeing a shower spigot in Marian Crane’s bedroom. Not the hotel room, room #1 by the way, where she spent such a brief time of her life thinking and talking and, right next door in his parlor, eating the sandwich Norman prepared for her. Not the room whose shower she decided would be the way to symbolically cleanse herself, purge herself from the awful deed she had accomplished: the stealing of $40,000, itself a down payment on a new home a lecherous client of her boss handed over as a way to “buy his baby” happiness. Or rather “buy off unhappiness.”

It’s a funny thing, but among the many unanswered questions and lost plot threads left to us at the film’s end is this one: we know that the swamp got the $40,000, but who is going to reimburse that old lech for his loss? What will he do now since he can’t take it out of Marian’s “fine flesh” as he promised, or at least as Marian’s mad mind suggested he might have promised? What about his baby’s house, her honeymoon cottage?

Of course, even Marian’s boss wonders who carries such an amount of money on his person, but I guess that’s just the way pseudo-old cowboys behave in Phoenix.

But back to my student and Marian’s bedroom.

The poor fellow claimed that he never saw a shower in Marian’s home bedroom, the place where we see her packing for her trip to see boyfriend Sam, and contemplating the envelope containing that cash. To my student’s credit, he never claimed that I was lying or that it wasn’t there. He just didn’t notice.

“How could you NOT notice?” I cried and then proceeded to run the video over and over again, freeze-framing the shower that looms behind Marian as she packs, as she contemplates her deed, as she wears her black undergarments, and as she buttons up fully as if to say, “No one is touching my body again.”

Always shower before leaving home

My student, let’s call him “Brad,” laughed and felt the friendly shame of one who knows his professor really likes him and didn’t really expect him to have noticed the shower on first viewing. And I really didn’t.

For who does notice such details at first? They are completely irrelevant to the building plot: will Marian take the money? Will she make it to Sam? Will she get caught? And now that she’s dressed in black, will we still love her tomorrow?


I love Marian’s bedroom and wonder what her sister Lila will do with it after she is assured that Marian won’t be returning?

Mainly, I wonder what she’ll do with all those pictures hanging on Marian’s walls and setting on her dresser?

Who are these people?

Those photos of children framing Marian: is it me, or are they posed in awkward positions? Would you put such photos, ostensibly of yourself, on your bedroom wall? Not that there’s anything wrong with them. But I can’t help feeling somewhat creepy as I look at them, as I consider Marian, who has never been married. Who, in her own words, is tired of not being “respectable.”

Mom and Dad, I think I’ll be seeing you soon

The picture of her parents on the wall, to her right, is also intriguing. One of my current students suggested that they are looking away from Marian, as if they don’t want to see what she’s doing or as if they do see and disapprove. I keep wondering if it’s strange to keep a photo of your parents on your bedroom wall? Maybe not, though I should point out that it is placed right next to her bathroom.

The two pictures on her dresser bother me, too. It’s difficult to know who the woman on the right is. As for the scene on the left: is that an old mansion backed by an old silo or lighthouse on some coast? Is it a place Marian has visited, or one she’d like to escape to? A private island?

These are just thoughts I have as I consider a film I love; a film I know its maker loved and one that he poured his heart into, if not his twisted mind. I do know that, as with any artist, every detail in the film is carefully planned and placed. They are meant to show us something, or hide something from us. They work on our minds, our emotions, our psyches. We might not notice them consciously on a first or even second screening.

However, there is always someone in a darkened room who will point them out to us, who’ll help us see what is or isn’t there.

So that we can think, or laugh.

Or perhaps scream.

Watching you, Watching me



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Terry Barr

Terry Barr

I write about music, culture, food, and my Alabama past in One Table One World, The Riff, InTune, FanFare, SongStories, Rock n”Heavy, Counter Arts, and Pop Off.