Marion Crane is set up as the main character in this film when the film opens on her and then continues to follow her to work, out of work, and to the Bates Motel. However, she dies less than an hour into the film. Despite having limited screen time, Janet Leigh earned an Oscar nomination for her role as Marion. In an interview from “The Making of Psycho” on the Collector’s Edition DVD, Leigh expressed how thrilled she was to be working with Hitchcock. She was so excited by this opportunity that she didn’t mind how early on in the film she was killed off.
Though Leigh was fond of working with Hitchcock, there was still some talk of how Hitchcock treated her on set.
Leigh herself had heard of a rumor that people thought Hitchcock made the water in the shower scene unbearably cold in order to get screams out of her for the scene. She shuts down this rumor completely, saying that Hitchcock was very considerate during the filming of the shower scene. According to her, he not only didn’t intentionally make the water cold, but he always made certain that the water was a comfortable temperature for her. In the “Production Notes” feature of the Collector’s Edition DVD, Janet Leigh herself said of Hitchcock, “I loved him- just adored him.”
However, it is not surprising that rumors such as that one surfaced about Hitchcock given his reputation.
Hitchcock’s relationship with Vera Miles was a bit more troubling because she didn’t have a choice but to be in the film. Vera Miles was supposed to be in Hitchcock’s other film Vertigo, but she had to bow out of it because of pregnancy. Hitchcock was less than thrilled about this. He had signed a contract with Miles, ensuring that she would be in two of his films. Because of this, he had her placed in the role of Lila Crane in Psycho.
Lila, Marion’s sister, becomes a major character. She plays a very active role in finding her sister (along with Sam). I found her to be more active in the process than Sam was. She was pushing to get to the bottom of things, and when they began to do just that, Sam acted as a distraction while Lila went in search of Mrs. Bates. While Sam wasn’t necessarily coded as feminine (because he is still working to find Marion), Lila is certainly coded as masculine for being active instead of passive.
“Production Notes” N.d. DVD.
Psycho. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins. 1960. DVD.
“The Making of Psycho” N.d. DVD.