Sometimes, there are characters in genre pictures that are so darned righteous and awesome, you can’t stop thinking about them or their amazing feats long after the movie is over. This column is dedicated to those cinematic bad-asses that keep us coming back for more. And here’s one that often gets overlooked, and doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Let’s give it up for Sam Loomis. And no, I’m not talking about Michael Myers’ arch-nemesis from the HALLOWEEN franchise, but the guy that inspired his name, Sam Loomis of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic shocker PSYCHO!
Needless to say, spoilers regarding PSYCHO follow.
We first meet Sam in the opening of the film as his girlfriend Marion & him are wrapping up a hot & steamy “lunch” together. (If you know what I mean. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) Everything we need to know about this relationship is established throughout this one scene. Sam was formally married, and in those times, it was disrespectful for an affair of this sort to be going on with a newly separated man. Marion’s age is catching up to her and she wants to get married so they no longer have to carry on their tryst in private. Sam lives out of town in Fairvale, California and is still paying off his father’s debts, on top of alimony. He doesn’t want Marion to suffer the uncomfortable and difficult life that their union would bring about. But she doesn’t care. She just wants to be with the man she loves, any way that she can. For now, this is what their relationship has to be until an ultimatum is made.
Desperate to make it work, Marion sees an opportunity to steal a lot of money and makes a valiant attempt to drive to California and take it to Sam. It’s not the smartest plan, but sometimes, it just takes one moment of madness to do something you’d never thought possible. We all go a little mad sometimes. Unbeknownst to Sam, she never makes it. She’s instead murdered by “Mother” at that quaint little motel off the main highway, The Bates Motel. One of the most heartbreaking moments is getting a glimpse of the letter that Sam was writing just as both Marion’s sister Lila and private investigator Argobast enter his hardware store. Take a look.
His letter is basically saying it’s time for them to get married and make their relationship work. Little does he know at this point that his beloved is already dead. Once word arrives that she may be in trouble, Sam immediately works with Lila to figure out what happened to their loved one. It seems that Arbogast has a solid lead and then mysteriously disappears on them. Sam takes it upon himself to go visit the Bates Motel, where they last heard from Arbogast, but no one’s there. No one expect for that little old lady perched up at the bedroom window.
The pair go to visit the Sheriff to report their findings. And when they realize that he’s unable to do anything other than file a report, Sam and Lila spring into action, hitting up the Bates Motel to do their own private investigating. Sam loves Marion and will do anything for her. Even pretend to be married to her sister if it means uncovering her fate at the Bates Motel, no matter how scared both of them may be of what they’ll find.
Sam decides to distract the quiet young man running the motel while Lila sneaks up to the house to talk to the senile little old woman who may or may not have had a run in with Marion. Of course, we know that Mother is really Norman and he charges in to attack Lila in full-on PSYCHO mode! Sam charges in after him, over powers him and takes him down.
Sadly, once arrested, they learn of Marion’s fate. But Sam Loomis really did try his best to do the right thing to find and protect the woman that he loved, even if it was already too late. In both the sequel novel and sequel movie, Sam ends up marrying Lila – a bit weird all things considered, but I guess after the trauma of losing Marion, both Sam and Lila found something profound to bond over in each other.
Mister Loomis… for trying your best to be a good boyfriend and saving her sister from certain death, we salute you with this hashtag.