Professor Firstdraft’s GOODTIME SCRIPTORIUM

Dispatches from the far reaches of the WGF.



I was tempted to post these pages with no commentary – partly because it’s the shower scene from PSYCHO – which really requires no introduction – and partly because I’m terribly, terribly lazy.

But good sense won out, and here we are at number 92 on the list: PSYCHO. Screenplay by Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch.

We’ve all read screenplays that function as little more than instruction manuals for directors and actors. Those are the ones we tend to put down after the first few pages. PSYCHO is the diametric opposite of that: A script that not only truly works as literature, but pierces its way into the reader’s brain on a purely visceral level. Some scripts you read and appreciate; PSYCHO is just a good read.

And with all due respect to Hitch, the iconography of the shower scene in the finished film is rivaled by the deeply terrifying way it appears on the page. I dare you to read this at 2:30am, away from all the comfort of your TVs and tablets and phone screens, when everyone else has gone to bed, and not freak out just a little.

Psycho_52_1959Nov10 Psycho_53

A woman, her face contorted with madness, her head wild with hair, as if she were wearing a fright-wig. I’m so jaded by decades of horror movies that I root for the Blair Witch, and reading those words pretty much ensures I won’t get any sleep tonight. I’ll be tucking the covers under my feet, too.

Oh, and here’s a nice postscript: Our archive also has the Olympia typewriter that Bloch used to write the original novel. It weighs about a thousand pounds. Here it is:

Bloch Typewriter in archive

Here’s the deal: Throughout 2014, we’re posting pages from every script on the WGA’s list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays, as chosen by Guild membership, because we have every one in our library. Sure, we have other scripts that didn’t make it onto the list, either because they didn’t make the cut or because they were produced after the list was generated (presumably SHARKNADO, which we totally have a copy of, is only in the latter category).