78/52 – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Calling all Hitchcock fans, groupies, or wannabe film makers, the new documentary from director Alexandre O. Philippe, 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene is here and you will not want to miss it. The tagline for the film is “78 shots and 52 cuts that changed cinema forever.” This documentary is an educational, entertaining, and fun look at all the work that went behind the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho. The scene that yielded the sudden, violent, waterlogged demise of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) profoundly changed the course and language of world cinema. Its influences and style are still seen in films today. Hitchcock, in an interview with Francois Truffaut, stated: "It took us seven days to shoot that scene, and there were 70 camera setups for 45 seconds of footage. We had a torso specially made up for that scene, with the blood that was supposed to spurt away from the knife, but I didn't use it. I used a live girl instead, a naked model who stood in for Janet Leigh. Naturally, the knife never touched the body; it was all done in the montage."
Even moviegoers who know Psycho backward and forward and consider it a sacred thing or who have read Stephan Rebello’s excellent book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho’” are bound to learn something new from this documentary that addresses the shower scene from critical, historical, theoretical and technical angles, down to the particular version of “Susanna and the Elder's” painting that hung over Norman Bates’s peephole.
The interviews with people like Marli Renfro, the pinup model who served as Janet Leigh’s body double, or Jamie Lee Curtis are really cool. I loved the way they cut between current directors, film editors, and people like Danny Elfman that score films. Some of them were just sitting together on a sofa and you watch as they light up like little kids watching the scene play out on a TV in front of them, geeking out about what part of Alfred Hitchcock’s artistry most spoke to them.
I give 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene a solid A rating. It’s an excellent movie, well worth the price. I hope you seek it out and enjoy this gem of a documentary.
Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe
Written By Alexandre O. Philippe
Selig Rating A
Running Time 91min
Limited Release Oct 27th Alamo Drafthouse Cedars
Starring: Alan Barnette, Justin Benson, Peter Bogdanovich, Marco Calavita, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tere Carrubba, Guillermo del Toro, Danny Elfman
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.