Psycho - Shower Scene (may not be suitable for younger audience) [YouTube Link]
Motion picture decency standards in the 1960 didn't allow for things like nude women being stabbed to death in showers. Consequently, Hitchcock was forced to create the impression of nudity and violence without actually showing a breast, a buttock, or a knife puncturing skin. The result is a terrifying masterpiece of a montage. And even though it's probably the most analyzed (and parodied) 45 seconds in film history, we're willing to bet the following tidbits slipped past you.
Forget the bloody corpse in the bathtub: what really got "Psycho" censors worked up was the toilet. Just before stepping into that fateful shower, Marion tears up an incriminating note and flushes it. Hitchcock's close-up of the swirling commode water was the first ever allowed in an American film.
What looks like blood funneling down the drain is actually Bosco chocolate syrup. Hitchcock thought it looked more real in black-and-white than the fake stuff. Tastier, too.
The scene is composed of more than 90 shots seen in 70 different camera angles. It took Hitchcock and his crew an entire week to film it. To put that into perspective: The entire film took only six weeks.
The woman who played Janet Leigh's body double in about half of the shower-scene shots was named Myra Jones. In a sad case of life imitating art, Jones was stabbed to death in 1988. Her killer? A mentally disturbed handyman who targeted older women. He'd murdered at least one other before her - that police know about.
After the release of "Psycho," Hitchcock received an irate letter from a man whose daughter had refused to take baths after seeing the French thriller "Les Diaboliques" (in which a man is drowned in a tub). After seeing "Psycho," she refused to take showers as well. Hitchcock's reply? "Send her to the dry cleaners."
Although popular with most audiences, "Psycho" was reviled by ophthalmologists. Eye doctors everywhere pointed out that a corpse's pupil dilate, yet - in a stark close-up of her face after her supposedly deadly shower - Janet Leigh's eyes remain contracted. Ever the obsessed technician, Hitchcock listened, using dilating eyedrops for stiffs in all future films.
The article above was written by Ransom Riggs, as part of a longer article Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho in the Nov-Dec 2006 issue of mental_floss, published here with permission. Visit mental_floss for more fun stuff everyday!
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