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Psycho (1960) - The Shower Scene: shot by shot

 

Introduction

The Shower Scene

Starting with Marion entering the bathroom, each distinct shot is film is described below. Notes are in italics.

Shot 1

  • MOTEL ROOM, LOOKING THROUGH TO THE BATHROOM.
  • Marion enters the bathroom, holding the shredded paper in her right hand, and turns towards the unseen toilet.
  • 9 frames

Shot 2

  • BATHROOM, LOOKING DOWN, STATIC CLOSE-UP OF TOILET BOWL.
  • Marion drops the paper in the toilet bowl and then flushes the toilet.
  • 29 frames
  • Both Stefano and Hitchcock were keen to break a cinema taboo and not only have the sound of a flushing toiet, but to also show it flushing on screen.

Shot 3

  • BATHROOM, MEDIUM SHOT OF MARION.
  • Marion bends down, then moves towards the bathroom door and closes it. She walks towards the shower and begins removing her bathrobe.
  • 71 frames

Shot 4

  • BATHROOM, LOOKING DOWN TO THE FLOOR.
  • Marion removes her bathrobe, leaving it on the toilet, then kicks off her slippers and steps over the edge of the bathtub into the shower. The camera, still angled down, follows her bare legs. Once inside the shower, Marion pulls the shower curtain across.
  • In quite a few of the shots, there is something making a straight diagonal line (cutting?) across the screen. In this shot, it's the edge of the bathtub.

Shot 5

  • BATHROOM, LOOKING TOWARDS THE SHOWER.
  • Blurred behind the shower curtain, Marion moves forwards the front of the shower.

Shot 6

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, STATIC MEDIUM SHOT, LOOKING TOWARDS BACK WALL. SHOWER HEAD AT TOP OF FRAME.
  • Marion rises into the frame. Looking down, her hands busy themselves. Stooping down slightly, she turns the water on. Rising, she looks up towards the shower head and waits expectantly for the water. She seems almost joyous as the water sprays onto her upturned face. She begins to wash her neck.

Shot 7

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, MARION'S POV LOOKING UP, STATIC CLOSE-UP OF SHOWER HEAD.
  • We see the spray from the shower head through Marion's eyes.
  • To avoid spraying water directly towards the camera, a special shower head was constructed to spray the water around it, either side of the lens.

Shot 8

  • AS SHOT 6
  • Marion continues to wash her face. Her mouth is open and she appears to be happy.

Shot 9

  • INTERIOR SHOWER SIDE, STATIC MEDIUM SHOT, LOOKING TOWARDS SIDE WALL.
  • Marion washes her left arm, enjoying the sensation of the water on her skin. Arching her head back in pleasure, she turns her body towards us whilst washing her right shoulder.

Shot 10

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, STATIC MEDIUM SHOT CLOSER THAN PREVIOUS, LOOKING TOWARDS SIDE WALL.
  • Marion turns so that her back is towards the spray, then leans her head back so her hair becomes wet. She continues to scrub her arms, shoulders and neck.

Shot 11

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, STATIC CLOSE-UP SIDE OF SHOWER HEAD.
  • The shower sprays down onto Marion (who is out of shot).
  • This is the second shot which doesn't have an actor (or part of an actor) in shot.

Shot 12

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS FRONT OF SHOWER AND THE SHOWER CURTAIN.
  • The camera continues to move anti-clockwise around Marion. Her eyes closed and mouth wide open, she continues to enjoy the shower, moving her head first towards the spray then away.

Shot 13

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS SHOWER CURTAIN AND BATHROOM DOOR (CLOSED).
  • Marion is facing us, with her back to the shower curtain and the closed bathroom door beyond. Engrossed in the shower, she closes her eyes. Although we cannot see clearly through the shower curtain, we can see the door opening and the vague outline of a figure in the doorway. The figure moves slowly and purposely towards the shower. With her back towards the shower curtain, Marion is unaware. The camera begins to zoom in and track slightly to the left. This movement forwards towards the curtain seems to mimic/mirror that of the intruder. Marion ducks down and right, so that she drops out of the frame. Our focus now is the intruder who is so close to the curtain that their shadow falls onto it. The intruder moves to the side to grasp the edge of the curtain. The curtain is pulled back to reveal the manic face of Mother and her right arm is raised with a knife pointing down and towards the unseen Marion. With the lamp on the wall behind her, Mother's face is in dark shadow -- only her eyes and her toothy grin are dicernable.
  • Hitchcock had not intended to use Anthony Perkins in the shower scene and the actor was in New York during the filming. Stuntwoman Margo Epper, a 24 year old actress and body double with a stocky physique, played the role of Mother throughout the shower scene.
  • Due to the bright studio lights, keeping Mother's face in shadow proved difficult. In the end, make-up was used to darken Epper's face.
  • Up to this point, there has been only naturalistic sounds. At the moment Mother pulls aside the curtain, Bernard Herrmann's iconic score starts.

Shot 14

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS SIDE WALL, HEAD SHOT OF MARION.
  • Too late, Marion turns quickly to her right. Her mouth, still open, is now beginning to form the shape of a scream.

Shot 15

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS SIDE WALL, BLURRED HEAD SHOT OF MARION CLOSER THAN PREVIOUS.
  • As she screams, it's obvious that the water running down her face is making it difficult for Marion to see clearly.

Shot 16

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS SIDE WALL, IN FOCUS CLOSE-UP OF MARION'S MOUTH.
  • Marion's mouth is wide open as she screams. Water runs from her top lip and teeth.

Shot 17

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING UP, BELOW MARION'S POV.
  • Mother's right arm arches back and she swing the knife towards us. Silhoutted by the lights of the bathroom, she appears to be wearing an old-fashioned dress. The knife cuts through the spray of the shower.

Shot 18

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS SIDE WALL, SIMILAR ANGLE TO SHOT 9.
  • Marion's left arm stretches out to try and ward off the knife, which cuts briefly into frame from the top-right. Marion moves to her right, with her back against the wall.

Shot 19

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS THE OPEN DOOR, MARION'S POV.
  • Head on and silhouetted, Mother raises the knife for another swing.

Shot 20

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, WAIST HEIGHT.
  • Marion struggles against Mother.
  • In the confusion of the attack, it's not particular obvious where the camera is. The curtain and Marion's body form two almost parallel lines on either side of the frame, with the cold white tiles in the centre.

Shot 21

  • BATHROOM CEILING, LOOKING DOWN INTO BATHTUB.
  • Marion has grabbed the knife arm but is unable to stop Mother bringing the knife down again. Marion's right arm is across her chest, trying to protect herself.
  • Up to this point, Marion's nudity has been implied. This high shot is the first to explicitly show her nude body. The left nipple appears to be visible in at least 1 of the frames, which means that this is more likely to be Leigh's body double Marli Renfro. This is reinforced by the careful composition which avoids showing Marion's head or face.
  • The shower curtain pole cuts across the left hand of the frame in the opposite direction to Marion's body in the previous shot.
  • Shots 21 thru 25 create a rhythm in the editing, alternately jumping from ceiling shot to scream.

Shot 22

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, HEAD SHOT OF MARION.
  • Still screaming, Marion thrases from side to side.

Shot 23

  • BATHROOM CEILING, LOOKING DOWN INTO BATHTUB, OUT OF FOCUS.
  • Still grasping the knife arm and with her right arm across her body, Marion struggles against Mother.
  • Unlike the previous shot, we can see Marion's head and it does appear to be Janet Leigh in shot. The shot was unfocused partly to ensure the viewer would not be able to see the flesh coloured moleskin worn by Leigh.

Shot 24

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, HEAD SHOT, SIMILAR FRAMING TO SHOT 22.
  • Still screaming, Marion continues her struggle against Mother.

Shot 25

  • BATHROOM CEILING, LOOKING DOWN INTO BATHTUB, OUT OF FOCUS.
  • Still grappling with Morther, Marion stuggles to stop the knife.
  • Even more defocused than the previous overhead shots.

Shot 26

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS THE OPEN DOOR, MARION'S POV.
  • Head on and silhouetted, Mother raises the knife for another swing.
  • This shot mirrors shot 19 and breaks the rhythm established in the previous 5 shots.

Shot 27

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, HEAD SHOT, SIMILAR FRAMING TO SHOT 22.
  • Marion flails -- she no longer has hold of Mother's arm and her right arm isn't covering her chest. She is totally exposed to the attack.

Shot 28

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS THE OPEN DOOR, TIGHT HEAD SHOT, MARION'S POV.
  • The blank face of Mother, as she slashes down again with the knife.

Shot 29

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, TIGHT HEAD SHOT, LOOKING TOWARDS SIDE WALL, OUT OF FOCUS.
  • Marion's head thrashes across the screen, her back is pressed against the wall.

Shot 30

  • INTERIOR SHOWER, LOOKING TOWARDS THE OPEN DOOR, MARION'S POV, OUT OF FOCUS.
  • The knife cuts through the curtain of water.

Shot 31


Shot 32


Shot 33


Shot 34


Shot 35


Shot 36


Shot 37


Shot 38


Shot 39

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