An Interesting Bit Of Info On The Censored PSYCHO Shower Scene
Universal's new release settles a Savant mystery.
Over at Universal there's this special producer named Laurent Bouzereau who's put out some simply terrific special edition laserdiscs. Expensive collector's editions often become vanity showcases, with 'documentaries' that sandwich interview bites with redundant film clips. 'Supplemental materials' can turn out to be little more than hastily assembled trailers and stills. But the extras on the boxed laser sets of Bouzereau[pi]s JAWS and 1941 are generous, thorough, and meticulously detailed.
Mr. Bouzereau's latest 'supplemental production' proves again that it is possible to write an intelligent docu for a film and avoid the 'talking-heads congratulating each other' syndrome. The PSYCHO DVD, besides presenting intact the famous motel-tour trailer, also shows a censored shot from the much-touted shower scene: While voyeur Norman Bates peers through a peephole, there is an extra, short glimpse of Marion Crane unhooking her bra.
This would be no big deal if the docu didn't point out so well just how many American movie taboos Hitchcock was breaking with PSYCHO. Janet Leigh had already played half a scene in a brassiere, which, even though it now seems hard to understand, was an unheard-of scandal for the time, like the shock of Otto Preminger using the word 'virgin' in THE MOON IS BLUE. Just showing a toilet onscreen was considered a no-no. If you need a good example of this, in THE GRAPES OF WRATH John Ford had to fight for permission to use just the sound of flushing when his two Oakie kids see their first indoor plumbing - the toilet itself remains offscreen!
I was hoping that the missing bra shot would be there, because about a year ago, a college friend of mine named Douglas R. (Doc) Haise brought my attention to it. He pointed out that we both had been looking at it for over thirty years!
Doug retrieved the 'Hitchcock/Truffaut' interview book that we had both read in high school, and that in my case, had a big influence on the decision to stop being realistic about life and to try to work in the movies instead. There on page 213, in the middle of a two-page spread of frame enlargements from the shower sequence, was a still of Marion Crane with her bra undone. The director must've slipped acolyte Francois an alternate cut of the scene from which to pull stills, which, judging from his sly personality, seems exactly the kind of cute stunt Hitch would pull.
Over the years, Doug had asked 'experts' more than once about the extra shot shown in the Truffaut book, and been either ignored or dismissed. When I finally saw the cut scene on the DVD, it was nice to see Doug's observant eye vindicated.
Text © Copyright 1998 Glenn Erickson
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson