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Making a Killing - Psycho Shower Scene


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Making a Killing Psycho's Shower Scene


One of cinema's most infamous sequences began shooting on 18 December 1959 and continued until 23 December. The shooting was delayed twice, once when Janet Leigh was suffering from a head cold and once because it coincided with her period.

            For a shot right at the water stream, the crew had to block off the inner holes on the shower head so that the water sprayed past the camera lens.

Rumour has it that Hitchcock arranged for the water to suddenly go ice-cold when the attack started. However, this is probably apocryphal, as it has been disputed by most of the parties present at the time.

            Having tested the sound generated by stabbing a number of several fruits, Hitch selected the sound of a stabbed casaba (a Turkish melon) for the sound effects to be used in the movie. The blood seen in the shower was in fact chocolate sauce.

            Hitchcock used shots of Leigh's head, face, hands and midriff, but all the other shots were Maril Renfro, a nude model Hitch had hired to spare Leigh the discomfort of performing naked. Leigh was fitted for contact lenses for the final corpse shot, but in the finished film the close-up of Marion's dead body is a freeze-frame. Alma Reville apparently saw the original version and told her husband that she could see Leigh blink, so he changed it. Note how, in the finished scene,  a droplet of water hangs from Janet Leigh's hair until the circling of the camera steadies out and begins to pull back, which is were the frame is unfrozen.

            In 1973, Saul Bass claimed that he not only storyboarded the shower scene, but was permitted to direct it. He'd already mocked up a short reel to prove that the scene could be done in montage, and he said that as it was such a time-consuming scene that Hitch stepped aside and let him call the shots. Hitch himself claimed that, although hed hired Bass to storyboard Arbogast's murder, he ended up not using his montage. He never publicly acknowledged Bass's involvement in the earlier murder. Janet Leigh and others reject Bass's claims. Saul Bass was there for the shooting, Leigh clarifies, but he never directed me.

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