Monday, April 7, 2014

The Scariest Shower Ever

Over the weekend I saw the movie Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. If you love film history, I highly recommend it! Alfred Hitchcock's life is explored after he has been a well known and supremely accomplished director for over three decades.

Now in his sixties, should he consider retirement, or stick around and find a project that excites him? You guessed it--and Psycho (1960) is that project! I won't disclose anymore about Hitchcock the movie, however, I will share some fun facts from Tuner Classic Movies regarding the famous shower scene from Psycho:

The shower scene in Psycho required 78 shot set-ups and took seven days to film. The set was built so that any of the walls could be removed, allowing the camera to get in close from every angle. Although other scenes were shot with more than one camera, this one used only one cameraman.
Janet Leigh in Psycho
The shower scene was originally written to see only the knife-wielding hand of the murderer. Hitchcock suggested to Saul Bass, who was storyboarding the sequence, a number of angles that would capture screenwriter Joseph Stefano's description of "an impression of a knife slashing, as if tearing at the very screen, ripping the film."

Janet Leigh wore thin moleskin to cover the most intimate parts of her body in the shower. Hitchcock kept a closed set during the shooting of the murder. Even so, Leigh later noted, "Security was a constant source of trouble. Even though I wore the moleskin, I was still pretty much 'on display,' so to speak. I didn't want strangers lurking around, hoping to get a peek in case of any accidental mishap."

Marli Renfro was paid $400 as Leigh's body double for some shots (according to some reports, she was only used for the scene of Marion's body being wrapped in the shower curtain). Although Leigh said for many years that there was never anyone actually naked in the shower, she admitted late in her life that Renfro did some shots nude. She also mentioned in her autobiography that she was nude in some scenes as the flesh-colored moleskin was washed away from her breasts. "What to do? ...To spoil the so-far successful shot and be modest? Or get it over with and be immodest. I opted for immodesty."

Reportedly, a fast-motion reverse shot was used to give the impression that the knife actually enters Marion's abdomen.

To achieve the effect of the water coming out of the shower head and streaming down past the camera on all sides, Hitchcock had a huge shower head made to order and shot with his camera very close to it.
Mr. Hitchcock
Hitchcock has said that one reason he shot Psycho in black-and-white was because he thought the bloody murder might be too much for audiences. He used chocolate syrup as the blood swirling down the drain. Nevertheless, some audience members swore the scene was in color and that they saw red blood.

Here's a link to the actual shower scene, plus one of Janet Leigh discussing it.

Have you ever seen Psycho?  Thanks for visiting and have a great week!


Old Kitty said...

What a way to film that iconic shower scene!!

Love this film - I love how it starts as something else then ends as another thing completely! It's the most amazing kind of cinematic story telling - gory, intelligent and very frightening!

Yay! Take care

Maria McKenzie said...

Well said, Kitty! I love it too;).

The Happy Whisk said...

The shower scene that scared so many from taking showers in their own homes.


Maria McKenzie said...

It is an amazing scene! When I was a kid, my next door neighbor mentioned to my mom that after she saw Psycho, she only took baths.

William Kendall said...

It's been awhile, but I love that film.

Bernard Herrmann as so often with Hitchcock did the score. Hitch thought the scene should be free of music, Herrmann composed something anyway, played it for Hitchcock, and the rest was history.

shelly said...

Like Sir Wills, I love that film. Love the scream and the music building up around the murder. I admit I love movies like this.

Norma said...

I've always been a Hitchcock fan. When I was very young, Mom and Dad thought there might be something odd about me because I really liked his TV show. Got to see the biopic!

Maria McKenzie said...

@William: You'll have to see Hitchcock! They talk about the score and how he originally didn't want one;).

@Shelly: Yes, I too love those movies:). That music and the way the scene is shot is totally unforgettable!

@Norma: I'll have to see if I can find his shows at the library. The series ended the year I was born, and it's not one of those programs they show on the nostalgia channels. I know I'd love it, though!

Intangible Hearts said...

Mirren saved that film!!

Maria McKenzie said...

She was awesome;)!