Psycho, 1960


Alfred Hitchcock


visit the film locations


Los Angeles: Flights: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Visit: the Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park and studio tour, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, north of Hollywood on the 101 Hollywood Freeway


Visit: Phoenix Police Museum, Barrister Place Building, 101 South Central Avenue at Jefferson Street, Phoenix


Many of the same locations were revisited in Gus Van Sant’s bizarre 1998 revisiting of Psycho.

Psycho location: Universal Studios, Studio City, Los Angeles

Psycho location: the Bates house: Universal Studios, Studio City, Los Angeles

Photograph: Nils Reucker

Filmed at the Revue Studios, the television branch of Universal Studios rented for Alfred Hitchcock by Paramount.

Filming began on Stage 18-A (which is where the shower murder – arguably the most famous scene in movies – was filmed).

The fraught car journey of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) was, of course, done with rear projection. The road shots used were filmed on I-99 between Fresno and Bakersfield, California.

Psycho location: Jefferson Hotel, Barrister Place Building, South Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona

Psycho location: Marion and Sam at the Jefferson Hotel: Barrister Place Building, South Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona

Photograph: Flickr © Bradford Rhodes

A Second Unit filmed the opening shot of Phoenix, Arizona, where Marion supposedly lives. Notice the Christmas decorations? The shot was filmed at the beginning of December, but Christmas doesn’t get mentioned and the weather seems surprisingly hot. To cover this glitch, the time and date are added over the shot (‘Friday, December the Eleventh...’), but the season is never referred to again.

The shot was supposed to have been a ‘fly’s eye view’, buzzing over the city and into the hotel window (tying up to the fly on Norman’s hand at the end of the film), but the logistics of the complex helicopter shot were too much for the modestly-budgeted film. The hotel in which Marion and Sam Loomis (John Gavin) spend their illicit lunchbreak was the Jefferson Hotel, but has been renovated to become the Barrister Place Building, 101 South Central Avenue at the southeast corner of Jefferson Street. It now houses the Phoenix Police Museum.

Psycho location: Century West BMW, Lankershim Boulevard, Los Angeles

Psycho location: Marion trades in her car: Century West BMW, Lankershim Boulevard, Los Angeles

The film was shot on a tiny budget, using a TV crew, mostly on the studio lot. The swamp, where Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) disposes of Marion’s car, was intended to be filmed on location at Grizzly Island near Fairfield, north of San Francisco, but budget constraints meant that Hitch finally used ‘Falls Lake’ on the Universal-Revue backlot. The lake is named for the artificial falls built in the studio’s early days.

The fictitious town of ‘Fairvale’ was simply the Universal lot’s ‘Main Street’, and ‘Fairvale Presbyterian Church’ can be seen on Circle Drive here. ‘Fairvale Courthouse’ was the studio’s main executive office, which has since been demolished. And, of course, the Bates house is now a main attraction on the Universal Studios Hollywood. The entrance is at 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City off the Ventura Freeway north of Hollywood.

A couple of real locations were used, however: Marion is stopped by the cop on I-5, the Golden State Freeway at Gorman, north of Los Angeles.

And the used car lot where Marion changes her vehicle is still in operation. It’s now Century West BMW, 4270 Lankershim Boulevard at Whipple Street and Valley Spring, just north of the studio. In 1960 it was Harry Maher’s Used Car Lot, well stocked with Edsels, Fairlanes and Mercurys – one of the sponsors of Hitchcock’s TV show was Ford Motors.

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