Final Girl: Lila

Lila Crane (actress Vera Miles) in Movie, "Psycho."

Final Girl - Lila Crane

Lila Crane is an old school Final Girl from way back. This character is from a novel, "Psycho," written by Robert Bloch. The novel was adapted to film, resulting in a movie of the same name. Lila's persona from the novel was directly transfered to the movie, fully intact, as well. Lila also appears in both the novel sequel and the movie sequel. She's an integral character, overall, for the "Psycho" storylines. Essentially, Lila outwits both the killer and the authorities who move to apprehend the killer. She is more persistent than the authorities. Without Lila, a killer would remain undisturbed in his psychologically twisted activities, and would go unquestioned, due to the natural pace of crime investigation in society. Investigators would have left a case unsolved for a time, the killer's trail unfollowed and growing colder by the minute, in order to do their jobs with incoming stuations, but Lila is persistent about one particular case and situation, so that the authorities don't abandon a specific case too long. When authorities appear truly too busy to keep up on a case, Lila doesn't hesitate to start investigating on her own.

Marion Crane is the focus of the Psycho movie/story in the beginning. She's working in Phoenx, Arizona, U.S.A., with secretarial and office job tasks. She's earned her employer's trust while in the meantime, getting herself secretly mixed up in some off-coloured activities and a questionable lover. Marion is trusted to take money from her employer's place of business and deposit large sums at the local bank - business as usual.

One day, she is given the sum of $40,000 from her employer, and instead of depositing the money like she's supposed to, viewers realize she's premeditated a theft and her own disappearance. She makes off with the $40,000 and heads out of town to meet her lover, Sam Loomis. Marion heads to a town called Fairvale. Our Final Girl is Marion's sister. Naturally, once a large sum of money is assumed to be missing, according to Marion's employer and co-workers, they and authorities end up in contact with Lila. When questioned, Lila is as shocked as everyone else about her sister's recent behaviors, and she's as co-operative with everyone as possible. Lila knows all about her sister Marion's relationship with Sam Loomis, so she heads to Fairvale to go speak with Sam. She hopes by the time she gets to Fairvale, her sister will have already arrived with the $40,000 and that she'll be able to convince Marion to return the money and turn herself in to the authorities.

Meanwhile, Marion's employer hires a private investigator (Milton Arbogast) to track Marion and his money down, but few people seem to be taking the time to actively search for Marion besides Arbogast and Lila Crane. While Lila reaches Sam's place in Fairvale, Arbogast ends up at the Bates Motel, at some distance away. While Marion turns up nothing and finds out that Sam hasn't heard from Marion in a couple of days, Arbogast the detective has learned that Marion may have recently been at the Bates Motel. Lila loses contact with Arbogast right after learning from him that he suspects Marion has been at the Bates Motel and Lila immediately begins to worry.

Lila wastes no time hanging around with no access to new updates regarding her sister's whereabouts. Since realizing that Marion never even made it to Sam in Fairvale, Lila had started worrying more about her sister's well-being, perhaps less about the stolen money.

Not hearing back from Arbogast sets a nervous Lila in motion and she convinces Sam to head with her to the Bates Motel to find out what's going on. Now Arbogast and her sister seem to be missing.

It is really by this point in the movie that our Final Girl, Lila, becomes ultimately important. Arbogast and Marion have both disappeared and nobody knows why or to where. Lila is the only person who holds certain information right at this moment in the storyline. She was the last one to speak with Arbogast and hear his latest update regarding the search for Marion Crane and the $40,000 dollars. It is too early for anyone to presume that either Arbogast or Marion are in physical danger or are dead - although it is proper to continue searching and to worry about their well-being. If Lila were to allow authorities and investigators to finish the search without her at this point, certain bits of information might never surface to allow authorities to find out what is going on in out of town locations.

The information Lila holds: Arbogast's mention of Norman Bates' mother during the last update phone call he placed to Lila.

Final Girl Resourcefulness:

Lila keeps pressing on, using her own critical thinking skills and her own resources. Remember, this film was made during a time when women in society weren't typically assertive. During the late 1950's and 1960's when this film came out to the general public, people also had a certain level of trust in law enforcement authorities. Lila is nearly unusual in her diligence to use her own critical thinking and resources to go find her sister. Normally, it would be a perfectly sound decision for a woman like Lila to speak truthfully with authorities about the disappearance of her sister, then go home and wait by the telephone to hear how authorities were dealing with the whole affair. The fact that Lila made a cognitive link between her sister's disappearance, the $40,00 and Sam Loomis, isn't really enough in the 1950's and 60's to warrant her chasing her sister down before authorities catch up with her. Although this motive becomes known to viewers early on, it never becomes the most important thing that Lila is doing, never becomes a questionable thing, and we trust that Lila is just working on her own need to just find her sister regardless of what authorities do or how slow or fast they work.

Lila's story of what she's doing and her perception of her sister and the theft never change. That is, we never get the idea from any of Lila's actions or statements that she'll try to find Marion and help her escape justice or that she's trying to find Marion for any other reason than to find out WHY her sister would uncharacteristically steal money and then skip town. As viewers, we're always certain that Lila simply hopes that, by finding Marion quickly, the money will be returned more quickly and the authorities will punish Marion for her crimes with minimal application of the laws.

Lila's resourcefulness and assertiveness comes into play each time authorities report that they seem to be at a standstill with the investigation. Lila's questions and her perserverence push the authorities forward. She keeps asking questions until she asks the right questions. She keeps in motion, searching, each time someone else stops or is made to halt.

When Sam and Lila meet with Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers, Lila helps everyone present to connect The Bates Motel with the disappearance of her sister. This happens when Lila offers the information that, prior to this moment, only she had access to: mention of Norman Bates' mother. Lila recounts that the now missing Arbogast mentioned he would report back to Lila as soon as he questioned Norman Bates' mother. He'd seen her at the window of her house which overlooks the Bates Motel. At this news, Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers discloses that Norman Bates' mother couldn't have been at her window, for she'd been dead and buried years before.

Once again, our Final Girl springs into action, heading over to the Bates Motel, even though researching leads at this location is clearly a duty that law enforcement people should jump to doing.When sam and Lila arrive at the Bates Motel, we can clearly see from the way Sam and she interact that Lila is the one making decisions and planning what she and sam do and say.

She arranges that she and Sam promote themselves as a couple once they're at the Bates Motel and prompts Sam to do certain tasks while they're there, and we see Sam willingly comply with all Lila's requests.

Here is where I stop handing out details about final girl virtues related with Lila Crane as to continue on would be to disclose the rest of the story and spoil the tale for anyone who hasn't see Psycho or read the novel yet.

Heck, by this point anyway - Lila's nearly solved the mystery about her missing sister...

What Makes Lila a "Final Girl"?

Lila Crane fits the features of a Final Girl in a number of ways.

Pure/Virgin: She's pure and trustworthy. We trust Lila, even if we can't tell for sure whether she's a virgin or not. She fits the requirement, however, for "appropriate behaviors" for a woman, and we see her practicing proper behaviors consistently while she's surrounded by males throughout the movie. Lila puts herself in a male dominated world of law enforcement officials, business owners, detectives and small town deputy Sheriff personalities, yet she never acts flirtatious or anything less than strong throughout the film.

Sexuality: Nope, Lila's not on the market for anything sexual. We see this in her absolute proper behavior with all the men onscreen. She's beautiful, yes - but she doesn't overplay her looks, she doesn't flirt - not even to entice the males to pay attention to her so she can spend more time talking them into searching more diligently and more quickly for her sister.

Resourcefulness: Lila doesn't wait for anything to be handed to her - neither the physical nor the abstract. This means she doesn't wait for escorts or answers, rides to fetch her sister or answers about her sister. Lila, instead, initiates things and for the physical, she just starts moving toward what she's after.

Intelligence and Curiosity: Lila is obviously intelligent and logical. Viewers see her mental wheels turning everytime she's on screen. Her wheels are turning faster than the authorities are moving in the movie and we get the distinct impression that if the cops, detectives, sheriff would just hurry up and get one mere step ahead of Lila - instead of a step behind - then some people might get saved in a hurry! Lila is curious enough to be thinking like a detective, like her sister might be thinking, like the employer with the stolen money is thinking, and like her own smart self throughout the storyline - which is why viewers want to root for her and see things go her way. For the most part, and from early on in the movie, viewers quickly realize that Lila's the smartest cookie onscreen and that we need to keep an eye on her and that she and her plans trace the fastest, best route to finding out what happened to her sister, Marion.

Shared History With The Killer: Our Final Girl, Lila, is sort of lacking this feature of a Final Girl - unless, of course, we use the connection of her sister being the killer's victim. "The sister of the first victim of the killer" is the only connection that can be claimed in this situation. The killer in this storyline doesn't observe, stalk and build a history with this Final Girl - he reacts to her once he catches on about exactly who she is...this Final Girl actually prompts the killer and is the one, from a certain perspective, who is in control over the killer. The only way he can regain control, get back into and stay in the role as the main power personality and killer - is to make a plan without the benefit of time and proper consideration - and try to eliminate the Final Girl. This Final Girl is ultimately disarming to the killer/threat in the storyline and her best weapon is her mind...meanwhile, the killer's most threatening weapon is his unwell mind.

Gender Bending: As mentioned above, Lila turns tables on the killer very briefly. The 'power' role is generally a masculine role. Lila, for a few brief seconds, is recognized by her own self, by the killer and by both males and females in the audience as suddently being the one with ultimate power. Unfortunately, for the brief seconds when realization hits everyone at the same time, Lila is without the physical strength to overtake the killer and is without authority to do anything significant to apprehend the killer. Almost as soon as the killer, Lila, and the audience all realize her power, everyone is struck with the face of her feminine body...she is female, is smaller than the killer, and recognition of her feminine form suddenly lessens her odds.

Rescue: Lila is rescued by Sam in the film, which brings the gender discrepancy back to proper state for 1950's and 1960's dominant ideology. It would be far too strange for a female to save herself in this storyline - and probably an audience wouldn't appreciate or believe it if Lila Crane ultimately kicked ninja-butt on Norman Bates or if she managed to magically find a lethal weapon within reach by which to slay the killer and save herself before any other heroes showed up.

Hub Challenge Hub #1

Final Girl: Lila is Hub Challenge Hub #1.

This lens is part of a March 2010 Hub Challenge I'm doing. I started March 1 and have a personal goal to publish at least 60 hubs over the month of March.

To check out how I'm doing, see my challenge hub, link below:

Mythbuster Hub Challenges

This hub is part of a series on "Final Girls" and the series will contain no less than 7 Final Girl personalities once my Hub Challenge goal is realized.

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Comments 4 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I have seen Psycho and was impressed by it, but it was a long time ago. I mostly remember bates. I may have to watch it again. Oddly in watching old movies, I am somewhat annoyed that the woman has to rely on a man. I can't remember my feelings at the time.


mythbuster profile image

mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide Author

Hi dahoglund! I'm glad you voiced your opinion here because the thing that annoys you about women's roles in older movies is exactly what makes Lila Crane an old school Final Girl - she manages, a time or two, to move away from reliance on men for things...but ultimately, she is saved by a male character when her life is most endangered. I forgot to place a link in the hub for an online viewing location for this movie. I'll get that done by tomorrow (March 2) - just in case you'd like to review some clips.


no1 6 years ago

Nice Hub. Great movie and characters.


mythbuster profile image

mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide Author

Hey no1, here you are again. Thx for reading and commenting. Sounds like you have some knowledge on "final girls" yourself... it would be nice if you'd sign on with a Hub Pages ID so we can get into some more lengthy discussions. Sound like you're a movie buff, too. Hope to see you again.

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