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Hitchcock and the Censors$
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John Billheimer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813177427

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813177427.001.0001

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Psycho (1960)

Psycho (1960)

(p.235) 32 Psycho (1960)
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

The shower stabbing of Janet Leigh in Psycho is one of the most famous scenes in movie history. The Production Code office had problems with this scene, as well as the noontime lovemaking between Janet Leigh and John Gavin in the opening sequence, the flushing of evidence down a toilet, Tony Perkins seeing Janet Leigh partially naked through a peephole, and the suggestion of an incestuous relationship between Perkins and his mother. Hitchcock had carefully concocted the shower scene with the censors in mind, editing down seventy-eight pieces of film into forty-five harrowing seconds that showed no nudity and no piercing of the skin. When the censors couldn’t agree on whether they saw nudity or not, Hitchcock eventually agreed to eliminate an overhead shot of Janet Leigh’s bare buttocks as she sprawled over the tub, using this as a bargaining chip to retain the opening lovemaking scene. He also eliminated a shot of Perkins peeping at Janet Leigh as she removed her bra, but kept the toilet-flushing scene, a victory over years of acquiescing to the Code insistence that no toilets be shown, let alone flushed, on-screen.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Tony Perkins, shower scene, Production Code Administration, censorship, toilet flushing, nudity, John Gavin, Psycho

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