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Bates Motel

"Bates Motel" may also refer to:

  • Bates Motel (1987) — a television pilot, starring Bud Cort and Lori Petty
  • Bates Motel (2013) — a US television series, starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore

The Bates Motel, Fairvale

Anthony Perkins standing in front of the motel office, with the iconic Bates house in the background

The Bates Motel is a fictional motel situated approximately 20 miles from the town of Fairvale, California, on an old highway and first seen in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho. The motel has an adjoining house set on higher ground behind the main office and cabins, where Norman Bates lives in solitude with his mother, Norma Bates.

According to Robert Bloch's source novel, it was originally built when Norma's fiancée Joe Considine persuaded her to sell the farmland she owned and build a motel on the land between the family house and the highway. When a new highway opened, with a junction to the old highway approximately 30 miles away, the number of visitors to the motel declined sharply.

The motel and house seen in the film were created by production designers Joseph Hurley and Robert Clatworthy and built for just $15,000 on vacant land next to Laramie Street[1] on the Universal Studio lot. Clatworthy latter recalled:

Joe and I went to Hitchcock’s house in Bel-Air to discuss the film. Even though Hitchcock was an art director himself originally, he spoke only very generally. On the Bates house, he didn't say he wanted any particular look — which was one of the great things about him. He let you present your ideas. I was happy the picture would be in black and white because I always attempted to take out the color, gray it down so it didn't look like a carnival [...] Joe did a lot of illustrations for the movie. It was pretty simple with Hitch, who was a quiet, not particularly exciting man to work with — except that he excited you about his project. If he liked the sketches, that was it. If he didn't, he’d give you very specifically what he wanted changed — just once and that would be it. On the house and motel, he didn't say anything much, so we picked a spot kind of off by itself on the back lot and built the thing from the ground up.[2]
Hopper's "[[House by the Railroad]]"

Hurley and Clatworthy reused parts of other sets for the Bates house, including a tower from the house used in the James Stewart film Harvey (1948), and was constructed with only two walls, as that was all that was required for the purposes of the film.[3] It is widely believed that Edward Hopper's 1925 painting House by the Railroad influenced the design of the house.[4]

The interiors of the Bates motel and house were constructed on Stage 18-A and on the famous Stage 28, home to the "Phantom Stage".[5]

In 1963, the house was used in the film Invitation of a Gunfighter and the two missing sides were added. Since then, the house has made many appearances in film and television, has been moved to different parts of the studio lot twice, and remains a popular part of the Universal Studio Tour.[3][6]

In 1987, accountant Randy Bates opened a motel in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which he named "The Bates Motel". According to an article written about the motel, visitors can rent a copy of Psycho to watch in their cabin.[7]

The 2013 "contemporary prequel" television series Bates Motel sets the motel in the fictional town of White Pine Bay, Oregon.

Image Gallery

Images from the Hitchcock Gallery (click to view larger versions or search for all relevant images)...

Notes & References

  1. Laramie Street is now known as Elm Street.
  2. Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (1990) by Stephen Rebello
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Studio Tour: Psycho House
  4. MoMA: House by the Railroad
  5. The Studio Tour: Stage 18 and The Studio Tour: Stage 28
  6. Retro Web: Psycho
  7. Salt Lake Tribune (16/Jun/1995) - Hotel will star in 'Psycho' anniversary