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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Girl In Alfred Hitchcock's Shower by Robert Graysmith


The Girl In Alfred Hitchcock's Shower by Robert Graysmith

Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins star in Alfred Hitchcock's famous movie, Psycho. In the movie Janet Leigh's character is murdered in the shower. The shower scene was considered daring and risque at the time.

Janet Leigh didn't feel comfortable being nude in the movie so they used a body double named Marli Renfro. Renfro was a beautiful red head who had no moral boundaries. She had no problem with nudity, porn movies, dancing or posing nude for men's magazines. She became one of the first Playboy bunnies after posing for the front page of Hugh Hefner's revolutionary magazine, before suddenly and inexplicably… she vanished!

Marli Renfro's disappearance led to rumors that she had been raped and murdered by a serial killer. Robert Graysmith collected her racy photos and admits to becoming as obsessed as the detective in Laura who fell in love with a dead woman's picture. Kenneth Dean Hunt, was arrested for a string of murders including the 1988 slaying of Myra Davis, a model who was a stand-in for the initial camera tests that Saul Bass and Hitchcock carried out for the shower scene. Media reports assumed that Myra Davis and Marli Renfro were one and the same. But what if, like "Laura," she was still alive, and someone else had been murdered in her place?

It sounded like a very interesting book but Graysmith didn't hit it. He included very detailed minutiae about the filming of Psycho, especially the shower scene and about Marli Renfro's life at the time. But he also gives an account of the life and crimes of Henry “Sonny” Busch Jr., a Norman Bates--look-alike in Los Angeles who strangled three women. He was a Mama's boy too, a ne'er do well who was supposedly inspired by the movie, Psycho. He also tries to portray the emergence of pornography in the early 1960's through Hugh Hefner, Playboy, Playboy Bunnies, porn films, the "hip" free sex lifestyle that began then.

Graysmith's running descriptions of Marli and her undoubtedly beautiful body got old. Graysmith went on and on raving about her in soft porn tones. She was beyond a real life woman and had become a sex goddess. As Alison A. Shurtleff "True Crime Reader" (Benicia, CA USA) (on Amazon.com) said, "In chapter after chapter, Graysmith indulges in his puerile obsession with breasts, curves, hips, buttocks, etc., and it feels like watching a young boy with his first Playboy magazine. 'Marli's taut, round buttocks shone in the strong light,' he writes in describing a nude photo shoot." I came to the same conclusion.

He mixes up to much and then doesn't bring the threads together neatly. Except for Marli and Sonny, it's more like his disjointed thoughts and they don't really seem to come together for the main theme of Marli's disappearance. Some think that he was deliberately trying to verbally re-create a "shower scene" with all the short, choppy jumps from topic to topic. If so, I'm not a fan of the end result. It just turned out to be a mess to me. So I don't recommend this book.

**SPOILER**
According to Wikipedia, Renfro married and is known as Marli Renfro Peterson. She has lived in the Mojave Desert since 1970.

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