Posted by JC on December 14th, 2010
Some of the facts are still in dispute – for example, Hitchcock and actress Janet Leigh both insisted that she didn’t use a body double in the scene. Others disputed this, and there’s an interesting Guardian article by Will Hodgkinson which seems to give credence to the idea that this was simply a ploy to gain more publicity for the film. A naked star is worth a lot more column inches than a naked no-name.
Anthony Perkins, however, was doubled for the entire scene – he was in New York rehearsing a play.
The scene itself was shot in black and white for effect, as indeed was the entire film. It only increases the suspense and the horror. The scene is less than two minutes long, but contains over 70 edits and took seven days to film. The ‘blood’ is chocolate syrup (sorry if I’m shattering some illusions here).
So – here it is. It stands the test of time. The old master at his best.
Weirdly, one of my favorite scenes in this film is when she sells her car at a used car lot. The shower scene is great, but making you feel tense about a scene on a car yard in broad daylight really does take genius.
Gee, how entertaining.
Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but I can’t get past that silly overhand stabbing motion. Yet there are no shoulder and head wounds! That she didn’t survive such a pitiful murder attempt beggars explanation. But then this sequence obviously evokes in many – possibly most – viewers some sort of emotional response. Wouldn’t it be a boring world if we all thought the same?
LOL I was watching the Coloured remake by Gus Van Sant on C4 a few days ago. Truly horrendous especially the shower scene.
My mother was a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock. For her Christmas prezzie, in the late 60s, us kids bought her a book written by Francois Truffaut. Here’s an excerpt to the filming of that infamous bathroom scene.
Man, that Janet Leigh sure was purty; more purty than Lana Turner, but not as purty as Diana Lynn (who was the purtiest).
Films are more interesting that boring politics.
Thanks for that link, Merv. Fascinating interview – and it appears that by then he was admitting he used a body double.
I was intrigued by Hitchcock’s line: You know that the public always likes to be one jump ahead of the story; they like to feel they know what’s coming next. So you deliberately play upon this fact to control their thoughts.
When I was writing TV drama we used to say: Let the audience outguess you – then doublecross the bastards!
This is the book; first published in 1967.
Uugggh! It was the scariest film I ever saw (1962) in Dunedin. Never let my husband move away from my side. Had a thing about shower curtains for a very long time.
I’m reminded of the Mel Brooks’ Hitchcock parody , ‘High Anxiety’ (1977). (Hitch apparently sent Brooks a bottle of wine to show his appreciation).
There’s a scene where Brooks (as ‘Dr Thorndyke’) arrives at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco and, much to his dismay (given he suffers from vertigo), is relegated to a room on the top floor, due to a “reservation mix-up”. He then pesters a spotty, somewhat neurotic and panic-ridden bellboy called Dennis to get him a newspaper. The deeply upset bellboy clearly feels overworked, pushed around and taken for granted by hotel patrons.
While Brooks’ character is taking a shower, the shower-curtain is suddenly ripped across violently and there’s the angry, vengeful bellboy who (with newspaper raised aggressively above his head) launches a frenzied attack, repeatedly ‘stabbing’ Thorndyke with the newspaper while hysterically screaming with each ‘stab': ” Here !, Here !, Here !, Here’s your newspaper !, Happy Now ? !, Happy ? !, Happy ? !.”
As Thorndyke falls to the shower floor in shock, we see thick black newspaper ink swirling into the drain hole.
‘Dennis’, incidently, was played by Barry Levinson, who co-wrote the screenplay and went on, of course, to become a major Hollywood director.