Monday, March 9, 2009

Bathtubs and Showers

IFC aired the classic French movie Les Diaboliques today. (Don't watch the Hollywood remake with Susan Sarandon.) I won't give anything away, other than to say that afterwards, you may be skittish about taking a bath. If you want to make yourself even more skittish, watch this as part of a double feature with Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

One thing I find interesting is that bathtubs and showers could still make it into Hollywood movies under the restrictions of the Production Code. True, a lot of the time showers were used, it was for comic effect, as in the opening of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, or in Easy Living, when a very fancy hotel shower goes awry.

Hollywood were lucky that the Production Code wasn't so strict that they couldn't show men topless, which meant that they could show the military's communal showers in all those old war movies. Technially, this would be accurate, although I can't help but think that Hollywood included such scenes in order to have some beefcake for the ladies.

Showing people in a bathtub is more difficult. You have to cover up a lot of a woman in order to do it, and the simplest solution for this would be to put her in a bubble bath. Think, for example, of the scene in Some Like It Hot in which Tony Curtis, disguised as the millionaire, is trapped in his hotel room, where he's supposed to be disguised as a woman. The solution? Put on a wig and hide in a bubble bath.

That having been said, it's amazing that we get to see as much of Edward G. Robinson as we do in Key Largo, where he's shown half-naked and smoking a cigar in his bathtub. It's as frightening an image as it sounds.

Production Code or no, however, it's probably a good thing from the point of view of classic movies that American bathrooms don't normally have bidets....

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