The Hitchcock thriller Psycho has some memorable scenes, a few of which take place in bathrooms. But Pshcyo’s toilet scene, while not the most iconic bathroom scene, was still a pathbreaker. It was the first American movie to feature an audible toilet flush.
Why is Psycho’s toilet scene unique?
Other films had featured toilets in passing. Silent movies had featured toilets flushing (although it was extremely rare). But the film pushed the envelope on the Hays Code (a self-imposed agreement to stay away from anything morally questionable) by featuring the up-close toilet flush.
It seems silly now, of course. We all flush the toilet. But American audiences were scandalized at the time to see and hear such a seemingly private thing on screen.
Interestingly, it wasn’t Hitchcock who wanted the toilet in the movie, it was reportedly screenwriter Joseph Stefano. According to Screenrant, “Stefano was adamant in showing this to add realism to the movie but Hitchcock stated it must be needed in the script. Stefano then wrote the scene in which Marion Crane flushes evidence down the toilet.”
What gets flushed?
The self-assured Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, steals money from the real estate office where she works and goes on the run. Of course, there’s an ill-fated stop at the Bates Motel, but before the iconic shower scene, we get the toilet flush heard ’round the world.
After her conversation with Norman Bates, the motel owner, Marian returns to her room and makes notes about her finances. Knowing better than to leave such evidence in writing, she tears up the paper and throws it in the toilet. Getting rid of the evidence for good requires a strong flush.
Apparently, it was necessary to hear that to make it clear that the evidence she created tying her to the theft is gone.
Of course, none of that matters to her anyone once she steps into that shower. — WTF fun facts