The shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a famous, perhaps one of the most famous scenes in cinema history. We’ve all seen it and any good classic film loving pervert loves this film. It has so much subtext and detail, the mark of any Hitchcock film and a lot of it surrounds sex.
This post isn’t about Mr. Bates’ sexual shame and double personality. It isn’t even about how amazing it was that the film includes the obvious sexual relations between Marion Crane and her boyfriend (whose character was also recently divorced). I’m here to talk about underwear.
When we first meet Marion Crane (Hitchcock loved his birds and his blondes) she is wearing white underwear. Although a bit frustrated with a few things, she is nice and obviously well-liked by people. We can look back today and think about how sexy she looks in that amazing lingerie, but she’s even sexier because she bares it in defiance of the strict film code that had more than a few arguments with Mr. Hitchcock about what could be allowed on screen.
White undies are usually associate with virginity, but Hitchcock isn’t thinking about sexual virginity because there is no evil associated with it. Remember that it is sexual shame that makes Norman go crazy not sex itself.
And so the lovers wrap things up and Ms. Crane heads to work where she meets another kind of temptation and succumbs to it. Trusted with the task of putting $40,000 into the safety deposit box she falters a bit. The sweet Marion is pulled away and we see another side of her come out. In order to really finish off the change, we can see it in her underwear. It is after she becomes a thief that she wears black underwear underneath that modest sweat set.
There are other amazing complex layers to this story. This is just one of them. I also like a story told in girdles and bullet bras. They’re usually the best kind.