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The Girl in Alfred Hitchock's Shower [Format Kindle]

Robert Graysmith

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

Marli Renfro was Janet Leigh's body double in the Hitchcock classic Psycho. When she disappeared, it was believed she was the victim of a serial killer. It was a mystery that took decades to solve-and a crime that could only have happened in Hollywood.

Biographie de l'auteur

Robert Graysmith is the New York Times bestselling author of seven true crime books including Zodiac, Zodiac Unmasked, The Sleeping Lady, Auto Focus, and Amerithrax. He was a San Francisco Chronicle Journalist and cartoonist for twenty years, during the time of the Zodiac killings. In addition to being a bestselling author, he has been a Foreign Press Club Award winner, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, a prize winning syndicated political cartoonist, and a gold medal illustrator. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 2.1 étoiles sur 5  9 commentaires
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 You don't need me to tell you 15 novembre 2011
Par Popeye - Publié sur
I agree 100% with the negative reviews. To call this book disjointed and unorganized would be misleading. It isn't even up to those standards. I honestly can say that I have no idea what the author was aiming for, because he jumps from one thing to another with no apparent logic. Calling this mess a waste of time is too kind, because it doesn't deserve any classification whatsoever, really. Judging this book by it's cover is a compliment, because the title is the only thing that is interesting.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Obsession 9 mai 2012
Par JMack - Publié sur
I really would like to write a glowing review of this book, but I am just not able to do so. The concept of this book, even with the payoff at the end, is a fairly solid premise. The execution of the premise makes me wonder how the book found a willing publisher.

The story basically centers around Marli Renfro, the body double in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. It is implied that something tragic happened to her, particularly as the chronology evolves. Parallel to Renfro and the film, the story of convicted killer Sonny Busch is told. His killing frenzy is apparently exacerbated by the film. The connection between the two stories is somewhat thin, then disappears. Mixed in to these stories is the history of "Nudie Cutie" films, Francis Ford Copola, and the early history of Playboy. Straying so far into these areas tells me that the author did not collect enough information to write a quality book. Going a step further, the author inserts himself into the story with his obsession with Marli Renfro. Thus, the book is part true crime, part Hollywood history, and part memior. It seems the story has an identity crisis.

The book is categorized as true crime so it obviously involves murder as stated earlier in the review. Interesting 1950's Hollywood facts are also included in the book. Between the scattered plot and the twist at the end, it is easy to understand why there are so many negative reviews for this book.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Nothing to see folks. Move along, move along. 2 juillet 2012
Par C. P. Anderson - Publié sur
This book is based on an old Internet rumor that the body double for Janet Leigh in the shower scene in Psycho was murdered by a serial killer. As it so turns out, that rumor was true.

This is not, however, what this book is about. It's mostly about another Psycho body double who was not the victim of a serial killer. Unfortunately, her story is really not all that interesting. For some reason, this actress/model (Marli Renfro) is fascinating to the author, but he's never really able to convey why to the reader. Yes, she's very attractive. Yes, she had an interesting life and met some interesting people. But, no, it it's not enough for a book.

There is a second story here - and that about a genuine honest-to-goodness serial killer (Sonny Busch). Unfortunately, his only connection with anything else is general time period and general geographic area. The author tries to build suspense by switching between the Renfro and Busch stories, but really has to reach and - in the end - there is absolutely no connection between the two whatsoever.

Paragraph to paragraph, Graysmith is not a bad writer. In fact, I kind of enjoyed his ability to describe certain milieus and time periods. As for a coherent whole, though, it just makes me wonder how some books ever make their way into print
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Graysmith's Vanity Project 12 avril 2011
Par Michael Rohm - Publié sur
The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock's Shower had its genesis in Graysmith being a dirty young man who collected Mens' Magazines. This was around the time that Playboy not only made such things legal, but almost respectable. One particular model caught his eye, a fiery redhead by the name of Marli Renfro. Graysmith became obsessed with this woman, and vowed to write a book about her. The results are uneven, at best, but still fairly interesting for those interested in the subject.

Before she caught Graysmith's eye, Renfro was a model, who enjoyed outdoor activities, supported herself at times by show-girl dancing and was an active member of nudist colonies, along with her boyfriend. It was through modeling contacts that she learned of Hitchcock's newest film, Psycho and his need for a nude body-double for the now infamous 'shower scene.'

Janet Leigh, the star of the film, was as we all know, to be murderered in the shower by Norman Bates dressed in drag as his 'Mother.' If any of this is a spoiler for you, please contact Doc Brown so you can get out of the late 50s and get on with the rest of the world. Here's another spoiler: Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. Oh, and Rosebud is a sled.

Leigh was not about to strip for the scene, though. This was still 1960, and the Hays Code ensured that there was no nudity in films. Hitchcock managed to get around these rules by putting word out that he needed a body double for Leigh. Renfro had no qualms getting nude and her body was similar enough to Leigh's that Hitchcock could easily use it when shooting anything that didn't feature Leigh's face. The quick-cut, rapid action 'stabs' ensured that the audience was too taken aback by the sudden violence to notice the difference anyway.

Marli performed the scene and, after her body double work was done, she took her paycheck and left. The cruel irony was, she would soon achieve national fame as a model, being featured not only in Playboy but in numerous Playboy knock-offs, but her role in an iconic scene in American cinema was unknown, as both Hitchcock and Leigh, as well as all of the other actors, bit players, make up artists, etc. hushed up the body double info, making it look as if Leigh, and only Leigh, was the performer in the shower scene.

The narrative then switches to a man by the name of Henry Adolph "Sonny" Busch and his mother Mae. If the first part about Marli was for film fanatics and Hitchcock devotees, the story of Sonny and Mother play out like a real-life Norman Bates and his overbearing mother. Sonny was a gawky, timid, weak man, horribly shy around women, and in a love-hate relationship with his mother. The back cover states that Marli was thought to be one of Sonny's victims, but nowhere does Graysmith suggest this. It would be impossible, as Marli was filming Psycho and then, as the book later explains, spending her time dancing in Vegas and being a Bunny in one of the Playboy clubs, with sidelines into the creation of a couple clubs in Nevada, Hefner's early empire, the Rat Pack, etc.

Instead, Sonny comes across as a pathetic little man, a Korean vet with split personality disorder, who was certainly responsible for three murders, and possibly for more. There was a man, never actually caught, called the "Bouncing Ball Strangler," so-called because one of the few surviving witnesses remembered him bouncing a ball, and leaving the bouncing ball on her property after he'd murdered her friend.

The interesting thing about the BBS is that he had a penchant for murdering and sexually assaulting older and even elderly women. While he occasionally went after coeds, his 'bread and butter' was the older and elderly. Sonny did the same thing, due to his 'Mother' fixation, even going so far as to murder an elderly 'date' at his apartment after taking her out to see Psycho (now legendary as a classic date movie), although he generally only engaged in strangulation, not sexual assault.

We're promised in the back cover that these two stories, Sonny and Marli, collide tragically - the most famous unknown body double in cinema history and a real-life Norman Bates. These two leads, while interesting unto themselves, never collide, and after Sonny is arrested and executed for his crimes, that story line is completely dropped - no more Sonny, Bouncing Ball Strangler or obscure LA homicides. The rest of the book is a biography of Marli - her resuming dancing in Vegas, her starring in a 'nudie cutie' and her disappearance from the spotlight shortly thereafter, as well as some of the early movers and shakers in 60s Hollywood such as Russ Meyer and Francis Ford Coppola.

In the last 20 or so pages, Graysmith thinks he discovered that she was murdered but, spoiler alert, it wasn't her, it was the stand-in for Janet Leigh, and the murder of the stand-in took place in 1988, years after Sonny had been executed.

Graysmith finally manages to be tracked down BY Renfro over ebay and she tells her story after her Hollywood days, of marriage, divorce and finally remarriage and happiness in the Nevada deserts. It's a sweet story, but the book is set up in such a way as to make us think the whole thing will end in tragedy.

What this book ultimately is, is a vanity project by Graysmith. He developed a crush on Marli early on in his life and, based on this crush, decided to ultimately write a book about her. If it had been a book about an obscure actress and dancer, that would be one thing, but Graysmith mixes in the real-life homicides of a man unrelated to her completely, his only connection to the narrative being that he was like Norman Bates and murdered a woman after seeing Psycho with her. It could have easily been an indepth investigation into the BBS and his possibly being Sonny Busch (who had numerous black-outs and could not account for his activities).

Instead it tries to combine the two, but does so poorly because there's no narrative structure here. The blurb on the back, that Marli was possibly one of Sonny's victims is not only not touched upon, but impossible given the dates. In fact, Sonny's first murder was the result of his anger at the execution of a a robber and rapist by the name of Caryl Chessman aka "The Red Light Bandit." The case became a cause célèbre because of opposition to the death penalty amongst weenies and wusses - completely unrelated to the Hitchcock classic.

At the end of the day, I personally enjoyed the book, but that's because I the type who doesn't mind taking the scenic back-road route, even if it doesn't specifically lead where I want to go, and that's what this book is. Graysmith is an obsessive, and wants to share all of this information, making the book feel bloated unless you're a fellow obsessive (i.e. me) who enjoys that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, it isn't a great book or even a good book, and I can understand why people have had very negative reactions to it. It meanders and has no real point. People like Sonny are introduced for no reason. It has the makings of an interesting true crime book, but the Sonny case is over all too soon, and it switches back to Graysmith's young lust for a redhead he saw in a mens' magazine decades ago.

If lust is too strong a word, be aware that the prose can be pretty wretched, with Graysmith waxing poetic over Marli's nipples, breasts, butt, etc. A no-nonsense editor would have done good work with this book, cutting out the "oh gee, girls have breasts and they're NICE!" mentality and weaving the story together in a much more organic way. As it is, it is an interesting mess.

Barring the "oh gee, girls have breasts" mentality, the bio of Renfro is interesting, if patchy, but no one would buy a book on "the body double in Psycho" and the story of Sonny Busch and the BBS, and any connections between the two, deserve a far closer examination than Graysmith's schoolboy crush vanity project will permit.

2 1/2 stars.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 generally jumbled, annoying read, although with some fascinating nuggets 31 mars 2011
Par William T. Wiggins - Publié sur
The confusing setup for this book goes like this: a nude model was used as a body double for Janet Leigh in the famous PSYCHO shower scene. Another woman (Myra Davis) served as Leigh's stand-in (for lighting setups, etc; never on-camera) during the The double (Marli Renfro) had a brief, curious career as a pinup model, casino showgirl, Playboy club bunny and general bon vivant in the early '60s before retiring into obscurity. The stand-in was tragically murdered in 1988, but news reports confusingly identified her as the body double. Meanwhile, a serial killer that may have had a PSYCHO-style "mother complex" murdered a bunch of older women in Los Angeles in 1960. This is not the same man that killed Myra Davis in 1988.

These are several interesting storylines. No doubt the author thought he could weave them in and out and make a great cohesive story which touched on each one. Sadly, it doesn't really work at all. Things are not aided by the choice to hop back and forth between stories throughout the book, a very disconcerting conceit. By far, the most interesting aspect of the book is the deconstruction of the historic shower scene: whenever Graysmith is discussing the issues and tidbits surrounding it and other aspects of the PSYCHO shoot, the book is riveting. We learn how Hitchcock cleverly acquired the story rights on the cheap, how he financed the film himself, how he utilized his TV show's technical crew, how he re-invented himself to compete with the likes of Roger Corman and William Castle. But mostly, the nuts and bolts of the week-long filming of the shower scene are dissected, analyzed, laid bare. I was really surprised at the level of creative planning and logistics (both artistic and techincal) that the scene required. This was not just another girl-being-murdered scene in a fright flick; it was designed to be a work of art, a show-stopper. And it certainly is: Graysmith argues it's the single most famous scene in movie history, and that may be true indeed.

We learn of the Hollywood tradition of not crediting the body double in a scene like this: doing so would diminish Leigh's performance to some, and would rob the scene of much of its illicit thrill (a Hollywood star in the nude right before our eyes!). As such, Marli Renfro remained under-the-radar despite persistent rumors about her part in the film. The book goes into great detail about Renfro's life, but more importantly, her lifestyle. The author seems genuinely fascinated by the beautiful red-haired pinup girl, and gushes breathlessly about her many jet-setting and glamorous adventures. We are told of interviews and parties with Hugh Hefner, horseback rides with Steve McQueen, dates with wiseguys and hitmen. Also, great care goes into describing her many nude modeling sessions and her supreme poise and professionalism during same. Frankly, it's a little embarassing, and these parts of the book seem more like a schoolboy's mash note than a dispassionate history.

Oh, and then we have the out-of-leftfield inclusion of the 1960 serial killer. It's written like a thriller novel--we are privvy to the killer's thoughts and conversations as if we are inside his head. The man apparently had a mother fixation like Norman Bates, and the murders coincided with the LA premiere of PSYCHO. A separate book about these murders might have been interesting, but it would have to be a fictionalized account I guess, in order to provide such first-person details ... but then what's the point? This part of the book's "narrative" was totally uninteresting to me, and seemed really out of place in the book.

Oh, and ALSO, the part about the stand-in being murdered and identified as the body double .... that happens about 5 pages before the book ends. So all along we are reading about Renfro's life story as if she is dead, to find out she is alive and well .... I think this is what happened to the author personally as he researched the book, so he makes us suffer the same "twist" ending he had in real life. I guess that's clever, but it really annoyed me, made me feel as if I had been tricked. Are you telling a history or a shock story? Furthermore, are you relying on interviews and archived facts or just "imagining" what a killer is thinking? The book wants to have it both ways.

I think a book about the shower scene itself -- that touched on Renfro's intriguing lifestyle, and touched on the mistaken identity between Davis/Renfro -- would have been a much more interesting read (for me, anyway). As it is, THE GIRL IN ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S SHOWER is a generally jumbled, annoying read, although with some fascinating nuggets strewn here and there to save it from being a total loss. 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.
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