Saul Bass and Alfred Hitchcock

Reassessing the Saul Bass and Alfred Hitchcock collaboration
Saul Bass, frames from title sequence for Psycho (1960, directed by Alfred Hitchcock).
The following is an excerpt from Pat Kirkham's interesting article in Design Observer (link via 3:AM Magazine):
In the case of Psycho Hitchcock involved Bass from the earliest stage. They had several meetings before writing began, presumably so that Bass could be fully briefed on Hitchcock’s vision of the film, and thereafter Bass received each section of Joseph Stephano’s screenplay (adapted from the eponymous novel by Robert Bloch) as soon as it was completed.

For the opening sequence Bass, who had read the complete works of Freud in his youth and had been fascinated by psychology ever since, created a mood of dysfunction within a wider sense of order and used permutations of simple bars to suggest “clues” coming together without ever offering a solution: “Put these together and now you know something. Put another set of clues together and you know something else” (see image below).[61] Bars slide onto the screen in various patterns, disturbed by irregularities of speed and length. Oppositions are strong: black and white; vertical and horizontal; short and long; on- and off-kilter; on- and offscreen. Parts of each credit appear on different bars, and the typography is legible only when the bars briefly align. Bernard Hermann’s score moves from tension to terror and back to harmony, sometimes reflecting, sometimes complementing the unpredictability and slippages between ease and unease, function and dysfunction that lie at the heart of this sequence. At the end, the lines align with what become the edges of buildings in Phoenix, where the first scene takes place. The most expensive Bass title to date, it cost $21,000 to produce. Bass was paid $3,000 for designing the title sequence, with an additional sum of up to $2,000 in the contract for production sketches. [Read More]

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