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Hitchcock’s Psycho {1960}.

Moodswing Olympics, and Aspic.

The plot of Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, pivots on the fulcrum of a red herring. Janet Leigh’s character fears that she is in imminent legal danger, and suffers from a troubled conscience, when in fact something far, far worse, something having absolutely nothing even remotely to do with events up to that point, awaits her.

When he dines initially with Leigh, the reaction/mood of Norman Bates {portrayed iconically by Anthony Perkins} changes rather drastically, from chipper, to utterly incredulous, to overtly hostile, to a resigned world-weariness, to a last attempt at joviality. He appears to be friendly and caring, if a bit troubled and mercurial.

When the dogged, unswerving Milton Arbogast {Martin Balsam} calmly dissembles the slowly dissolving structural integrity of Norman’s version of events, he opts to do nothing less than trot out the heavy artillery, proclaiming “If it doesn’t gel, it isn’t aspic; and this ain’t gelling.” Stunned silence proceeds to take over the entire universe, and Bates is duly provoked.

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