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On Air: Norman Bates

» Hear the 'All Things Considered' story

Alfred Hitchcock was a brilliant director, but he was probably equally skilled as a promoter. By the time Psycho was released in 1960, Hitchcock's rotund profile was well recognized by the American public, most immediately through his television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Hitchcock succeeded in creating initial buzz for Psycho by not offering preview screenings for critics. But that was just the beginning.

He came up with the notion that no one should be allowed into the theater once the movie had started. Incredibly, he got theater owners to go along with that stunt.

Also, in the lobbies of many movie houses were life-sized cutouts of the portly Hitch, admonishing audiences not to reveal Psycho's shocking ending.

Perhaps Hitchcock's greatest -- and certainly the most fun -- Psycho promotion was the six-and-a-half minute trailer for the film. It consists of the director's tongue in cheek tour of the Bates Motel, along with Norman and Mother's house behind it.

As he walks the grounds, the director gives hints of the crimes to come -- but before he can go into much detail, he stops himself, saying things like, "It's too terrible to talk about."

And then there is the final brilliant scene of the trailer: Hitchcock stepping into the infamous bathroom of Room Number 1 at the Bates Motel, where Janet Leigh as Marion Crane is dispatched early on in the film.

Except that when Hitch flings back the shower curtain, a la Norman in the movie, who is it standing there screaming? Not Janet Leigh.

It's Vera Miles, who plays Marion's sister in the movie. The stunt throws off viewers as to who is really going to get sliced and diced at the motel.