Take a shower, they said. You’ll feel better, they said.
There have been numerous rumors about the shooting of the iconic shower scene from Psycho. Saul Bass has stated that he and not Alfred Hitchcock, shot the shower scene. This has been denied by Janet Leigh who said, “Absolutely not! I have emphatically said this in any interview I’ve ever given. I’ve said it to his face in front of other people… I was in that shower for seven days, and, believe me, Alfred Hitchcock was right next to his camera for every one of those seventy-odd shots.” Assistant director Hilton Green also denies the claim saying, “There is not a shot in that movie that I didn’t roll the camera for. And I can tell you I never rolled the camera for Mr. Bass.”
There is also a rumor that the knife can never be seen puncturing the skin. This is not true. If you watch the scene frame by frame you can see that the knife in one shot can be seen penetrating Leigh’s abdomen (actually a prop, not really Leigh herself).
The scenes meaning has been discussed by Leigh and Hitchcock and the shower is meant to represent the fact that Marion is cleansing her sins away. She has decided to go back to Phoenix and confess. She steps into the shower as if it were baptismal waters. The water beating down signifies the clearing of her mind, washing away corruption and purging the evil from her soul.
Leigh was not affected by the graphic scene during shooting, but when she saw the film for the first time she was so affected by it that she never took showers again and for the rest of her life took only baths. She would lock all the doors and windows and would leave the bathroom and shower doors open. The film made her realize “how vulnerable and defenseless one is.”