Based on Robert Bloch’s novel and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, a beautiful woman is having an affair with a man who feels he is too poor to marry her, and she takes an opportunity to steal $40,000 from her employer but feels guilty and ends up being murdered by an insane person.
On Friday December 11 at 2:43 p.m. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) in a motel room is on a bed in her underwear, and shirtless Sam Loomis (John Gavin) says she never ate her lunch and suggests that she call her boss and tell him she is taking the rest of the afternoon off. He kisses her, and she asks what she would do if he is going to the airport and checking out time is at 3. They lie down together, and she says his time is up. She hates being in a place like this with him, and he says married people do it. She says that when they are married, they can do many things deliberately. He says she talks as if she has been married. She says this is the last time she will meet him in secret. He says he has been coming down on business trips for lunch meetings. She wishes he wouldn’t even come. He asks what they could do instead, write lurid love letters? They have been caressing, but now she gets up and says she has to go. She puts on her blouse. He says he could come down next week to see her in public for lunch. She says they can go out to dinner. He suggests he could have dinner with her mother, sister, and her, and asks what happens after dinner. He says he wants to see her whenever possible even in respectable circumstances. He says it requires patience and is hard work. He hugs her from behind and says he would like to touch her as he is now. He complains that he is working to pay off his father’s debts, and he is dead. He is paying alimony, and she is on the other side of the world. He opens the blinds. She says she pays for motel rooms. He says his debts will be paid off in a couple years. If his wife remarries, the alimony will stop. She says she has not been married, but he says she will swing when she does. She suggests they get married and kisses him. He says she would be living with him in a store-room behind a hardware store in Fairvale. He says that would be lots of laughs. He goes to the window and asks if she wants to cut this off so that she can see someone else. She admits she is thinking of it. He asks how she could even think of that. She tells him not to miss his plane. He says they can leave together; but she says she is late, and he has to put his shoes on. She goes out.
Marion returns to the office and asks a secretary if Mr. Lowery has returned from lunch yet. The secretary says he is late because he is meeting with a man to buy a property. She asks Marion if she has a headache. She replies she does but says it will pass. The secretary offers her aspirin and says she has some tranquilizers too. She tells her that her sister called to say that she is going to Tucson for the weekend. Two men come in. Tom Cassidy (Frank Albertson) tells the “girls” that they ought to get their boss to put in air conditioning because he can afford it now. George Lowery (Vaughn Taylor) tells Marion to get the copies of that deed ready. Cassidy says his daughter is getting married tomorrow, and he shows Marion a photo of her. Lowery says his office is air conditioned, but Cassidy says he would buy happiness and asks Marion if she is unhappy. She says no. He says he is buying the house as a wedding present for his daughter for $40,000 cash. He says that is buying off unhappiness but does not necessarily buy happiness. He shows her the money and tells her to count it. Cassidy admits he does not declare it. Lowery says a cash transaction of this size is very irregular. Cassidy says it is his private money, and Lowery suggests they could put it in the safe and then on Monday morning when he is feeling good—. Cassidy interrupts to ask about the bottle he said was in his desk and laughs. He says he can keep his mouth shut sometimes, and he chuckles at Marion. He tells Lowery he is thirsty and goes into the office. Lowery tells Marion that he does not even want the money in the office over the weekend. He tells her to put it in the safe deposit box in the bank, and they will get a check from him on Monday. He goes into his cool office and closes the door. The secretary tells Marion that he was flirting with her, and she he must have noticed her wedding ring. Marion puts the money in an envelope which she puts in her purse. She knocks and goes into the office to give Lowery the copies. She says she would like to go home because of her headache after going to the bank, and Cassidy encourages her. Lowery asks if she is ill, and Cassidy suggests she go to Las Vegas. Marion says she is going to spend the weekend in bed and leaves the office. She tells the secretary she does not want any aspirin. She says she is going to put the money in the bank and go home and sleep it off. She leaves.
In her motel room Marion looks at the envelope of money on the bed, packs a suitcase, and changes her blouse. She puts a folder of important papers in a black purse, and then she puts the money in.
Marion is driving a car and thinking about a conversation with Sam she might have. While she is waiting at a traffic light, Mr. Lowery is crossing the street in front of her; he notices her and looks concerned but walks on. She is scared and drives on.
Marion is driving at night and getting tired.
A car is parked on a country road, and a highway patrol car parks in front of it. The highway patrol officer (Mort Mills) looks in and sees Marion sleeping in the front seat. He knocks on the window. She wakes up, sits up, and starts the car. He tells her to wait, and she unrolls the window. He says she is in quite a hurry, and she says yes. She says she did not intend to sleep so long. She says she almost had an accident during the night from being sleepy; so she pulled over. He asks if she slept there all night, and she says she could not keep her eyes open. He says there are motels in the area. She says she did not intend to sleep all night and asks if she broke any laws. He says no, and she says she is free to go. He asks if anything is wrong, and she says of course not and asks if she is acting as if something was wrong. He says frankly she is. She says she would like to go, and he asks if there is something wrong. She says no; but she is in a hurry, and he is taking up her time. She starts the car, and he tells her to turn off the motor and asks her to show him her license. She asks why, and he says please. She turns her back to him and looks in her wallet for the license and hands it to him. He looks at it and the Arizona license plate. He gives it back to her, and she drives on with his car following her. She does not turn toward Los Angeles, and he is still following her. A while later the officer’s car gets off at an exit.
Marion drives in a town and stops at a used car lot. She gets out of the car, looks at cars, and buys a newspaper. The highway patrol car slows down, and he sees her. He makes a U-turn parks across the street, gets out of his car, and leans on the door watching her. She is reading the newspaper and does not appear to have noticed the officer. The used car salesman tells her that the first customer is always trouble; so he is going to treat her so fair that she won’t be able to complain. She asks if she can trade in her car for another one. He says she can do whatever she wants. She says there is nothing wrong with her car, and he suggests that she look around and see if she finds something she likes. He says he will have his mechanic check out her car, and she says she wants to make a change. Then she notices the officer watching her. He says she need not be in a hurry and goes to move her car into the garage. He comes back and shows her a 1957 car, and she asks how much it is with the trade-in. He says she is in a hurry and asks if someone is chasing her. She says of course not. She says it is the first time he ever saw the customer high-pressure the salesman. He says it would be her car and $700. She is thinking, and he says she always has time to argue money; but then she says all right. He asks if she can prove that the out-of-state car is hers with the pink slip and all. She believes she has the necessary papers and asks if there is a ladies room. He says it is in the building. As they walk, he looks back and notices the officer watching them. The salesman points the way, and she goes in the restroom. She takes out a document from her envelope of important papers and seven $100 bills from the other envelope. She comes out, and he advises her to take it for a trial spin. She does not want to do that. He says he must be honest with her, and she interrupts and asks if there is anything wrong with making a decision and wanting to hurry. She asks if he thinks she stole the car, and he says no and suggests they go inside.
When they go inside, the officer gets into his car and parks it on the used car lot. He is getting out of his car when she comes out and gets in the car she bought, starts the motor, and starts to drive. Suddenly the mechanic returns in her old car, stops, gets out, and shouts to her. She stops the car, looks back, and sees him carrying her suitcase. She opens her back door and asks him to put it in there. The officer is walking toward her car and watches her drive off.
Marion is driving and is imagining a conversation between the policeman and the used car salesman about her suspicious behavior. She is driving by a railway line and imagines a conversation between Mr. Lowery and the secretary who says she is often a little late on Monday morning. She imagines them making calls to her relatives and not being able to find out where she is. She imagines the secretary saying her sister is worried about her too. She imagines Mr. Lowery remembering that he saw her in her car, and he calls Cassidy and talks about “all that cash.” She imagines Cassidy saying he will get his money back if he has to take it out of her flesh, and he discusses it with Lowery. It has become dark, and it is raining. She has a hard time seeing out the window, only seeing lights.
On a dark road Marion sees the sign “Bates Motel, vacancy.” She pulls off the road and parks. She goes into the office and looks around, but no one is there. She sees an old, large house with lights in two windows. She goes back to her car and toots the horn. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) comes out of the house and apologizes to her for not hearing her with all the rain. He tells her to go in. In the office he says it is a dirty night. She asks if he has a vacancy, and he says they have twelve vacancies out of twelve rooms. He says they moved the highway away, and she says she thought she had got off the main road. He says they keep on with the lights and the formalities. He puts the book for her to register before her, and she signs “Marie Samuels.” The previous name was registered on April 18. He asks for her home address and says the town will do. She says “Los Angeles, and he gets key #1 and says the cabin is right next to the office in case she wants anything. She says she wants to sleep. He says there is a big diner up the road near Fairvale. She asks if they are close to Fairvale, and he says it is fifteen miles. He goes to the car and gets her suitcase and coat and then unlocks the cabin door. They go in. He says it is stuffy and opens a window. He says the mattress is soft and there is stationery with Bates Motel printed on it if she wants to make her friends envious. He turns on the light in the bathroom. He says if she wants anything, she can tap on the wall; he will be in the office. She thanks him and smiles. He says his name is Norman Bates and smiles. He asks if she is going to drive up to the diner, and she says no. He asks her to do him a favor by having a dinner of sandwiches and milk with him. He would like her to come up to the house with its homey kitchen. She says she would like to, and he says all right. He tells her to get settled and take off her wet shoes, and he will be back in a few minutes with his umbrella. He hands her the keys, and she says okay. He smiles and goes out.
Marion opens her suitcase and thinks about where to put the envelope of money, opening drawers and closing them. She opens the newspaper and wraps the money inside it and places it on a nightstand. She overhears an old woman saying she will not let him bring strange girls in for supper for young men with cheap, erotic minds. She asks what will happen after supper. He tells his mother that she is just a hungry stranger, and it is raining. The mother says men desire strangers, and she refuses to speak of such things. She tells him to go tell her she will not be appeasing her ugly appetite with her son. She asks if she has to tell her because he does not have the guts. He shouts for her to shut up.
Norman brings a tray of food, and Marion opens the door and asks if she caused him a lot of trouble. He says her mother is not quite herself today. She says she does not have much of an appetite and that he shouldn’t have bothered. He says he is sorry. He wishes he could apologize for other people. She says it is okay and says they might as well eat the supper he fixed. He hesitates and says it would be warmer in the office and goes in there. She closes her door and joins him.
He suggests the parlor behind, and they go in there. She notices the mounted birds, and they sit down. He says it is all for her because he is not hungry. He says she eats like a bird but explains the expression is misunderstood because birds eat a lot. He says he does not know anything about birds, but he likes taxidermy and stuffs birds rather than beasts. He says birds look good because they are passive. She is eating and says it is a strange hobby. He says it is uncommon and does not cost much except for the chemicals. She says a man should have a hobby. He touches one of the birds and says it is more than a hobby because it fills his time. She asks if his time is so empty, and he says no. He says he tends the office and takes care of the cabins and grounds, and he does errands for his mother, ones she lets him do. She asks if he goes out with friends; but he says a boy’s best friend is his mother. He assumes she has not had an empty moment in her life, and he asks where she is going. He apologizes for prying, and she says she is looking for a private island. He leans forward and asks what she is running away from. She asks why he wants to know, and he says people never run away from anything. He thinks we are all in in our private traps and can never get out. He says we scratch and claw but only at the air and each other without budging an inch. She says that sometimes we deliberately step into those traps. He says he was born in his and does not mind it. She says he should. He admits he does but says he doesn’t and then laughs. She refers to how his mother talked to him. He says when she does that, he feels like he would like to curse her and leave her forever or at least defy her. He leans back and says he knows he can’t because she is ill. She says she sounded strong. He says she had to raise him all by herself after his father died when he was five. He says it must have been a strain for her. She did not have to go to work because he left her some money. He says a few years ago she met a man, and he persuaded her to build the motel. When he died, it was a great shock to her because of the way he died. He laughs and says it is not good to talk about that while she is eating. He says it was too great a loss for her, and she had nothing left. She says except him, but he says a son is a poor substitute for a lover. She suggests he go away, and asks if she means a private island like she wants; but she says no, not like her. He says he couldn’t do it because no one would look after her. She would be alone up there, and the fire would go out and be cold and damp like a grave. He says if you love someone, you don’t do that to them even if you hate them. He clarifies that he does not hate her. He hates what she has become, the illness. She asks if it would be better if he put her some place. He leans forward and asks if she means an institution, a madhouse. He says people call a madhouse “some place.” She says she is sorry because she did not mean it to be uncaring. He asks what she knows about caring. He asks if she has ever seen the inside of one of the places with the laughing and tears and cruel eyes studying you. He asks why his mother should be there when she is harmless as one of those stuffed birds. She repeats that she is sorry, but it seems to her that she is hurting him. She says she meant well, and he says people always mean well. He says they cluck with their tongues, shake their heads, and suggest delicately. He sits back and admits he suggested himself; but he hates to think about it because she needs him. He says she is not a maniac or raving, but she goes a little mad sometimes. He says we all do that and asks if she has. She says yes and that sometimes just one time can be enough. She thanks him and stands up. He hopes she is not going back to her room already. She says she is very tired, and she has a long ride tomorrow all the way back to Phoenix. She confesses that she stepped into a private trap back there, and she wants to go back and pull herself out of it before it is too late for her too. He asks if she would like to stay a little longer so that they could talk. She says no, and he says he will bring her some breakfast in the morning and asks her what time. She says at dawn and says her name is Crane. She says goodnight and goes out. He looks at the register and notices that she signed Marie Samuels.
Norman goes back into the office and listens to her room. He removes a picture from a wall and peeps through a hole in the wall as she takes off her dress and puts on a robe. He puts the picture back and leaves the office. He walks back to the old house and decides not to go upstairs. He sits down in the kitchen.
Marion is sitting at a desk and in a notebook subtracts 700 from 40,000. She writes other numbers and then rips up that page into little pieces and flushes them down the toilet. She takes off the robe and gets into the shower. She turns on the water and starts washing with soap on her neck and arms. She opens her mouth and lets some water come in. A figure enters the room, opens the shower curtain, and stabs her with a large knife several times. She screams during the stabbing. Blood is going down the drain. The person leaves the bathroom, and Marion tries to hold on to the wall with her fingers but gradually slides down. She grabs the curtain with one hand and pulls it from the rack as she falls partially out of the shower by the toilet. Blood and the water are running down the drain. Her eye is open, but she appears to be dead.
In the old house Norman’s voice can be heard talking to his mother about the blood. Norman comes running from the house and goes into the bathroom. He looks and appears shocked and cover his mouth. He closes the window and the door. Then he comes out of the room and goes into the office. He comes back out with a mop and a bucket and goes into the bathroom. He turns off the water and spreads the shower curtain on the carpet by the bathroom. He drags her body to the shower curtain by holding her wrists. His hands become bloody, and he rinses them off in the sink. He turns the water on in the tub and mops up the blood that goes down the drain. Then he mops the blood off the outside of the tub. He uses a towel to wipe off the walls and the floor. He puts the robe on the back of the toilet and the mop and the towel in the empty bucket. He goes out of the room, gets in her car, starts it, backs it up to the room, and opens the trunk. He goes back in the room, wraps the body in the shower curtain, and carries it out and puts it in the trunk. He goes back in the room and gathers her clothes and other things in her suitcase. He checks the bathroom and brings out the bucket and mop. He closes the suitcase, opens the door, and puts the bucket and the suitcase in the trunk. He goes back in and takes the newspaper, closes the door on his way out, and throws it in the trunk which he closes. He gets in the car and drives off.
Norman drives the car to the edge of a swamp and gets out. He pushes the car into the swamp and watches it sink slowly; it stops going down while still visible but then continues to sink until it is no longer seen.
Sam is writing a letter to Marion on his hardware store stationery on Saturday. He writes that the tiny back room he is in now appears large enough for both of them. He hopes she has come to her senses. He turns over the page and writes on the back while a woman in the store is talking about a product and its ingredients which is guaranteed to exterminate every insect and be painless. She likes its qualities. Outside the door a woman is seen removing a suitcase from a car which drives off, and she comes into the store and asks for Sam. The employee calls him, and he comes over from the store-room. She says she is Marion’s sister Lila Crane (Vera Miles), and she asks if Marion is there. He says of course not and asks if something is wrong. The woman has made her purchase and leaves the store. Lila says she left home on Friday. Lila says she was in Tucson over the weekend, and she has not heard from her since. She says it is not her business if he is involved with her; but she wants to talk to her and have her tell her that. Then she will go. Sam tells his employee Bob to go out and have lunch. Bob says he brought his lunch, and Sam tells him to go out and eat it. Sam asks her what thing they could be in together.
Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam) comes in. Sam asks Lila if Marion is in trouble, and Arbogast suggests that they all talk about Marion. He walks over to them, and Sam asks who he is. He gives his name, shows his identification, and says he is a private investigator. He asks Miss Crane where she is, and Lila says she does not know him. He realizes that and says if she did, he would not have been able to follow her. Sam asks his interest in this, and Arbogast says $40,000. Sam gets angry and asks one of them to tell him what is going on. Arbogast tries to calm him down and says his girlfriend stole $40,000. Sam asks what he is talking about, and Lila says she was supposed to put it in the bank on Friday for her boss; but she didn’t, and no one has seen her since. Arbogast says someone has seen her. She tells Sam that they don’t want to prosecute; they only want the money back. She asks if she is there, and he says she isn’t. Arbogast asks her if she came there on a hunch. She replies that she came only on hope. Arbogast says by checking he could believe her. She says she does not care if he believes her; she only wants to see Marion before she gets too deep into this. Sam asks if they have checked if she was in an accident or a hold-up. Arbogast says she was seen leaving town by her employer. Sam says he can’t believe it and asks Lila if she does. Arbogast says they are quickest to doubt people who have a reputation for being honest. He tells Lila he thinks she is there. Because of her boyfriend he believes she is in this town, and he goes out.
Arbogast goes to hotels and rooming houses asking questions.
Norman is sitting outside the office at night and stands up as Arbogast parks there, gets out, and says he almost drove past. Norman says he forgot to turn on the sign and says they have twelve cabins and twelve vacancies. Arbogast says he has been to many motels lately, but this is the first that seems like it is hiding from the world. Norman says he will be truthful and admits he did not turn on the sign because it seems there is hardly any use anymore. He says that used to be the main highway and asks if he wants to register. Arbogast says he only wants to ask him some questions if it is no trouble. Norman says it is no trouble and that today is linen day when he changes the linens. Norman asks if he wants to buy a motel, and Arbogast says no. He says he is looking for a missing person, and he is a private investigator. He is trying to find a girl from Phoenix who has been missing for a week. He says she is not in any trouble, but her family wants to forgive her. Norman says it is unusual for a policeman to be looking for someone who is not in trouble. Arbogast says he is not the police, but he has reason to believe she might have stopped there. Norman says no one has stopped there for two weeks. Arbogast asks him to look at the picture before committing himself. Norman says he talks like a policeman. He looks at the photo and says no. Arbogast says she may have used an alias. He says her name is Marion Crane, but she could have used a different name. Norman says he does not bother with guests registering anymore. He says he shouldn’t even bother to change the sheets, but it is a habit. He hits a switch which turns on the neon sign. He says a couple said last week if it had not been on, they would have thought it was deserted. Arbogast says that is his point. First he said no one had been there recently, and now he said a couple came by. Arbogast says she may have used an alias, and he asks to see the register. Norman hands him the book. Arbogast takes out a sample of her handwriting and notices the name “Marie Samuels” as similar writing and says it is an interesting alias. Norman asks if that is her, and he says Marie is like Marion, and her boyfriend’s name is Sam. He asks if she was in a disguise, and he shows him the picture again. Norman says he wasn’t lying, and Arbogast says he knows he wouldn’t lie. Norman says it is tough keeping track of the time. He looks at the photo and says it was raining, and her hair was all wet. He says it is not a good picture of her. Arbogast asks him to tell him all about it. Norman says she arrived late one night and went straight to sleep and left early the next morning. Arbogast asks which morning that was, and Norman stutters nervously and says it was Sunday. Arbogast asks if anyone met her there or if she arrived with anyone or if she made any phone calls. Norman says no each time. Arbogast asks if he spent the night with her, and Norman says no. Arbogast asks how he would know that she made no phone calls. He says she was very tired, and now he is remembering it better. He says making a mental picture of it helps, and Arbogast agrees. Norman says she was eating a sandwich and said she had to leave early because she had a long drive ahead of her back to where she came from. Arbogast asks about the sandwich, and Norman admits he made it for her, and she ate it in his parlor. Then she said she was tired and had to go to bed. Arbogast asks how she paid, and Norman says she paid in cash. Arbogast asks if she came back after she left, and Norman asks why she would.
Norman says that is about it and that he has work to do if he does not mind. Arbogast says he does mind because it is not jelling together. He says something is missing. Norman says he does not know what he could expect him to know. He says people come and go. Arbogast asks if she is still there, and Norman laughs and says no. Arbogast asks if he would need a warrant to check the twelve cabins. Norman invites him to go with him as he changes the linens on the beds. He sees Norman go to #1 and then hesitate before moving on to #2. Arbogast looks at the old house and sees a woman’s silhouette in a window. Norman sees him looking and asks if he changed his mind. Arbogast asks if anyone else is at home, and Norman says no. Arbogast says there is someone sitting up in the window, and after denying it Norman says that must be his mother. He says she is an invalid, and it is like living alone. Arbogast asks if he might be hiding her even if she was paying him well. Norman says no and smiles. Arbogast suggests that if he tried to protect her, she might be making a fool of him. Norman says he is not a fool, and he is not capable of being fooled by a woman. Then he says she might have fooled him, but she would not have fooled his mother. Arbogast says then his mother met her and asks if he can talk to her. Norman says no because she is confined. Arbogast asks to speak to her for a few minutes. Finally Norman says he has talked to him all he wanted to, and it would be better if he left now. Arbogast says he would save him leg work if he could talk to her. He asks if he would need a warrant for that too, and Norman says yes. Arbogast thanks him and leaves in his car.
Arbogast parks by a pay phone and makes a call to Sam Loomis and asks to talk to Lila. He tells her that Marion spent last Saturday night at the Bates Motel on the old highway. He knows she was in cabin #1. He says the young fellow who runs the place said she spent the night and left the next day. He says he questioned him and got all the information he could get. Yet he does not feel satisfied. He says the boy has a sick old mother who talked to her; but he won’t let him talk with her. Arbogast says he will go back to the motel and then be back there in about an hour. He thinks that Sam did not know she was there. He says he will see her in an hour or less and hangs up.
Arbogast parks his car by the cabins and gets out. He goes in the office and calls for Bates. He notices the stuffed birds and looks in a safe that is open. He looks around and then goes out and looks at the old house. He walks up the stairs. He looks back and then opens the front door and walks in. He closes the door, hesitates, and quietly walks up the stairs. When he is at the top of the staircase, a figure comes out of a room and stabs him with a large knife, causing him to fall backwards down the stairs to the floor. The figure runs down the stairs quickly and stabs him again on the floor.
In his store Sam tells Lila that Saturday night can have a lonely sound. She says that he said an hour or less, and Sam looks at his watch. He says it has been three hours. She asks if they are just going to sit and wait; but he says he will be back and asks her to hang on. She asks how far the old highway is, and he realizes she wants to go out there. He asks if she wants to bust in on Arbogast and the old lady to shake her up, and she says yes. He says that would not be wise, and she says patience does not run in her family. She says she is going out there. He picks up a phone, and she says she is going. He puts his coat on and says she will never find it. He tells her to stay there. She asks why she can’t go, and he says one of them has to be there in case he is on the way. He goes out.
Norman is looking at the swamp.
Sam has parked a truck at the Bates Motel and calls for Arbogast.
Lila hears a car and runs to the door. Sam comes in and says Arbogast did not come back there. He found no Arbogast and no Bates, and he says the sick old lady could not answer the door. Lila says Arbogast would have called them if he had anything at all. Sam agrees and suggests they go see the deputy sheriff. She says all right.
Sheriff Al Chambers (John McIntire) has put on a robe and comes downstairs. Sam introduces Lila Crane from Phoenix, and he explains that she has been searching for her sister. They got a call from a detective saying that he traced to her to the Bates Motel and said he was going to question Mrs. Bates. Mrs. Chambers (Lurene Tuttle) asks if Norman took a wife, and Sam says no; this was his mother. Sam says that was early in the evening, but they have not heard from him since. The sheriff asks how long her sister has been missing, and Lila says a week. He asks why she would come there, and Sam says it was because of him. The sheriff says she probably is running away. Lila admits she stole $40,000. He asks about the police; but Sam explains everybody was hoping they could get her to give the money back, and they had not yet contacted the police. The sheriff asks about the private detective, and Lila wants him to do something because he called and said he would be coming back but did not. The sheriff asks her what she wants him to do. She says she is sure something is wrong out there. The sheriff thinks the detective got a lead from Norman and took off to go after her and the money. Mrs. Chambers suggests that he call Norman and find out what happened. The sheriff asks if he should call at that hour. Sam says he was out when he was there a while ago; but the sheriff says he probably just did not answer the door. He says he lives like a hermit and that there was a bad business out there ten years ago. Lila pleads with him to call him. He agrees and talks to Norman about a private detective Arbogast who stopped by. The sheriff tells them that he was there and left. The sheriff also tells them that Norman’s mother has been dead and buried for ten years. He says Mrs. Bates poisoned the man she was involved with, found out he was married, and poisoned herself. They both say that Norman found them together, and Mrs. Chambers adds, “In bed.” Sam asks about the woman he saw, and Lila says Arbogast said he saw her too. The sheriff asks if that is Mrs. Bates, who is the woman they buried?
Norman puts the phone down and leaves the office and goes in the old house. He walks upstairs and tells his mother that he is going to bring something up. The mother complains that he gives her too many orders. She refuses to hide in the cellar and says she will stay in her room. He says that he came after the girl, and now someone will come after him. He says it is just for a few days so that they won’t find her. She tells him to get out, and he says he will carry her. She tells him not to touch her. Norman carries the old lady down the stairs.
Outside the Fairvale Church Sam and Lila asks Sheriff Chambers and his wife to go out to the Bates Motel with them. He suggests they file a missing person report so that the law can take up this case. Mrs. Chambers invites them to their house, and they walk away. Sam says he may be the type who sees illusions, and Lila says she will not be satisfied until she goes out there. He agrees.
Sam is driving and says they should plan what they are going to do. Lila says they will search the place inside and out. They park his truck, and Norman sees them from the window of the house. Outside Lila says she saw the curtain move. Norman comes down the steps, and Sam says they were going up to ring for him. Norman asks if they want a room. Sam says they are going to San Francisco and decided to stop. Norman goes into the office with them and offers them cabin #10. Sam says he wants to sign in because his boss is paying for the trip, and he wants receipts. Norman opens the register, and Sam signs his name. Norman says he will get their bags, and Sam says he does not have any. Norman says he will show them to their room; but Sam says usually when one does not have bags, one has to pay in advance. Norman charges him $10, and Sam pays him with cash and asks for the receipt. Lila says she will go on ahead and opens the door to #1 and closes it. Sam tells Norman that they will find it, and they go together into cabin #10.
In the cabin Lila says they have to search that cabin no matter what they may find. He agrees, and asks what could have happened. She suggests that with their useless business he may have stolen the $40,000 from her to start a new business. He asks how they could prove it. She wants to get proof now. She says Arbogast was stopped and must have found out something. He says they will start with cabin #1. They go out and walk over to #1. He goes into the office and calls for Bates, and then they go in #1 and search. In the bathroom he notices that there is no shower curtain. Lila finds a scrap of paper by the toilet which has a figure next to “40,000.” He puts it in his wallet. She asks if it proves he found out about the money. He says the old woman told Arbogast something, and she wants her to tell them the same thing. He says she can’t go up there because of Norman. She says that one of them can occupy him while the other questions the old woman. He says they could never hold him still, and he does not like her going into that old house. She says she is not afraid of a sick old woman. He says he will find Bates and keep him occupied. He says that if she gets anything out of the old woman, to go straight back to town without stopping to tell him, and she agrees. They leave cabin #1.
Norman asks Sam if he is looking for him, and they go into the office to talk. Lila walks up the hill to the old house. She opens the door and walks in. She looks around and closes the door.
In the office Sam says he has been doing all the talking. Sam says he thought people who are alone like to talk when they get the chance. He asks if he is alone there. Norman nods, and Sam says he is driving him crazy. Norman says he thinks that is an extreme reaction. Sam says it is an expression, but he would do just about anything to get away. Norman does not agree.
Lila walks up the stairs and enters a bedroom and looks in a closet. She notices the mattress has a deep indentation.
Sam tells Norman that he thinks he would take any chance he could to get out of that place; but Norman says it is his only world. He grew up in that house and had a happy childhood with his mother.
Lila goes into another room and sees toys and a small bed. She opens a book with no words on the binding.
Sam says Norman looks frightened and asks how he is going to buy a new motel where he will not have to hide his mother. Norman suggests he get in his car and drive away. Sam asks where he will get the money for a new place, or has he already got it somewhere? Sam says he could have $40,000. Norman tells him to shut up and goes into the parlor. Sam follows him and says he bets his mother knows where the money is and what he did to get it. He thinks she will tell them. Norman asks where the girl he came with is, and he looks out the window.
Lila is walking down the stairs.
Sam and Norman are struggling, and Norman hits him on the head with a heavy object. Norman looks back, goes out, and runs up the stairs.
Lila sees Norman coming outside, and she hides under the stairs. Norman comes in and goes up the stairs. Lila goes down in the cellar and sees an old woman sitting in a chair with her back to her. She taps the shoulder and sees that it is a somewhat preserved corpse. She screams. Norman rushes in wearing a dress and carrying the large knife. Sam runs in behind him and grabs his wrist so that he cannot stab her. Norman’s wig falls off.
That night people have gathered outside the county courthouse. Inside in the office of the chief of police Sheriff Chambers tells Sam and Lila that only a psychiatrist will be able to explain what happened to Norman. Psychiatrist Fred Richman (Simon Oakland) comes in and tells those gathered that he got the whole story, not from Norman, but from his mother. He says Norman Bates no longer exists because he only half existed, and now the other half took over. Lila asks if he killed her sister, and he says yes and no; but she and Arbogast are dead. He suggests that if they drag that swamp near the motel, they will find them. He asks the police chief if he has any unsolved missing person cases, and he says two. Richman asks if they are young girls, and the chief says yes. He explains that it was the mother half of Norman’s mind. He says that ten years ago Norman murdered his mother and her lover. He had been disturbed ever since his father died. His mother was a clinging woman, and for many years the two lived in their own world. After she met a man, Norman thought she threw him over for that man. That pushed him over the line, and he killed them both. Richman says that matricide is the most unbearable crime to the son who commits it. He tried to erase the crime and stole her corpse and hid it in the fruit cellar. He tried to preserve the body. She was there but only as a corpse. He would speak and act for her, becoming both personalities at the same time. Sometimes the mother half took over. He was never all Norman, but he was often all mother. He was so jealous of her that he assumed she was jealous of him. If he felt a strong attraction to another woman, the mother side would go wild. Richman says he was aroused by Lila’s sister and wanted her. That provoked the jealous mother, and she killed her. When Norman awoke, he covered up the crime he believed his mother had committed. Sam asks why he dressed as a woman. Richman says he was not a transvestite; he was only trying to keep up the illusion that his mother was alive. When danger threatened him, he would dress up as her and speak like her. He tried to be his mother, and now he is. When the mind has two personalities, there is always a battle. In Norman’s case the battle is over, and the dominant personality won. The sheriff asks who got the $40,000. Richman says it must be in the swamp because these were crimes of passion not for profit. A deputy sheriff comes in and asks if he can take a blanket to Norman who is feeling a chill. Richman and the police chief approve, and he goes out.
The deputy delivers the blanket. In a room Norman is sitting alone with the blanket and is thinking as his mother saying that they will put away her son as she should have years ago. She believes he was always bad, and he tried to tell them that she killed those girls and that man; but she could do nothing but sit and stare like one of his stuffed birds. She will just sit there and be quiet in case they suspect her. She says they may be watching her, and she will show that she would not even harm a fly.
A machine with a chain is pulling the car out of the swamp.
This mysterious thriller depicts a woman commits an impulsive crime of opportunity and feels guilty, drawing suspicion to her. Yet the story shifts when she becomes the victim of a much worse crime committed by a jealous maniac. The melodrama explores the strange psychology of a man who was dominated by his mother and could not have a normal relationship with a woman.