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Saul Bass and Alfred Hitchcock
genius vs. the mediocre

mere theories?
if I'm wrong

The hand of the master is all over.

The famous bathroom murder storyboard was admittedly done by Saul Bass.
There are claims that Hitchcock directed it, and in a way that can only be correct.
Must have been done on a rostrum camera from a b/w photograph.

Tony Curtis:
When Janet [Leigh] was making Psycho, I'd go on the set and watch them work. Hitchcock had everything planned down to the smallest detail, and he came to the set each day absolutely prepared. Every shot in the movie was laid out on a storyboard. He would set up the stage and the cameras and show the cameraman the drawings, and they would match the shots exactly. That shower scene, for example, was pure geometry—this intricate combination of angles and body parts that rose up somehow in his brain. Then he just plugged the actors into the mathematical equation. Some actors didn't like it because it wasn't personal enough for them. They didn't think they had enough room to be creative. His singleness of purpose and concentration were too demanding for them. But we all know now how effective that method was.
Tony Curtis - The Autobiography, London 1994
Funny how Curtis never thinks about who actually must have made all those drawings, and in exactly whose brain this intricate combination of angles and body parts somehow rose up. Incidentally, his story also explains how they managed to make Psycho on such a tight budget.
Even funnier he has not noticed that Saul Bass was on the set and even had taken a small Moviola along to check every camera set-up.

Self-Serving Hitchcock Talk
My father would never ship a picture before he showed it to my mother. Psycho was completed, and Daddy ran it for Mama. At the end, she said [...] 'when Janet Leigh is lying dead on the bathroom floor after she has been stabbed, you can see her swallow!" Now, imagine all the hands this picture had passed through—the editor, the assistant editors, the sound editors, everyone who had seen the picture over and over—and no one had noticed it but Alma. So a few frames had to be taken out, and that's why in the final version, we cut from Janet Leigh lying on the bathroom floor to the shower head and then back. Initially, it had been designed as just one shot.
Pat Hitchcock O'Connell and Laurent Bouzereau -Alma Hitchcock—The Woman Behind the Man, New York 2003
Have a look at the scene and you'll see this is a completely made-up story. There is no cut in the track-out - it's (not so obviously) a still-photograph anyway, so how could Leigh possibly swallow? And the shower-head shot is cut in before the Bates family members even enter; just like in the storyboard.

Mother is found in the cellar. The movement of the light bulb totally confuses the audience.
One of the great shockers in motion picture history. And the music!

According T.M.F. Steen in Dutch Skoop magazine 5/4, March 1968, Psycho is for, say, 90% Saul Bass' movie. Again, Stefan Blau disagrees, but I'm not at all so sure here Stefan's right. My final guess is, first, that Saul after delivering all those delicacies gratis, wanted, and got, some credit for Psycho, which was grudgingly granted; second, that Hitchcock, like many other directors, then got sick and tired of everybody writing enthusiastically practically only about the wonderful titles and splendid music in his movies. Unlike Otto Preminger, who did not seem to care at all - a totally different character. Hitchcock may have been just plain jealous. He also got rid of composer Bernard Herrmann for what many feel is the same reason.

Saul Bass book
Saul Bass
A life in film and design

by Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham

also check out
Pat Kirkham
Reassessing the Saul Bass
and Alfred Hitchcock Collaboration


the most complete list of Saul Bass' movie work around
dates, directors, alphabetical listing, posters, ads, record sleeves, book designs - the works
Logos & Trademarkssome of these may surprise you
More Movie Graphicshonor where honor is due: more good artists in this field
Screen Aspect Ratioshow you hardly ever see a movie as it was meant to be seen
Bass Business Busthow the Dutch never got to see The Searching Eye
Bass BooksBooks on, about and by Bass

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