Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Review: The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock's Shower

I recently read The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock's Shower, a non-fiction novel surrounding the mysterious disappearance of Marli Renfro, a former Hollywood starlet.

Marli was the body double for Janet Leigh in the famous blockbuster phenomenon Psycho, which came out in 1960.

The beautiful redhead was paid a measly $500 for her uncredited appearance in the film. Her role in the thriller was kept a secret for decades.

(the killer)

(Movie star Janet Leigh's frightened face)

(Marli's body)

The year 1960 was spectacular for Marli. Soon after her Psycho gig, she appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine.

She then became a Playboy Bunny at the brand new, exclusive Playboy Club in Chicago, serving drinks to legends (such as Frank Sinatra) and wealthy businessmen. She even dated a notorious Chicago gangster.

It wasn't long before Marli started appearing in dozens of other men's magazines. She was so famous in these nudie magazines, she was asked to star in one of the first sexploitation movies, directed by an ambitious young film student. His name was Frances Ford Coppola.

The film was called Tonight for Sure!

Shortly after the film was released, Marli disappeared from showbiz forever. Twenty years later, it was reported in the news that Marli had been raped and murdered by a serial killer in Los Angeles.

Famous crime author Robert Graysmith had been a huge fan of Marli since his youth. When he heard the news of her death, he felt a nagging suspicion if the news was true. In the book, he reveals the real story of what happened to Marli Renfro.

I enjoyed this book to a very limited extent. It contains some interesting trivia about the making of Psycho, about Playboy Magazine, and about the rise of sexploitation films in the United States.

That being said, the book does not live up to the hype it creates. Ninety percent of the book follows two stories: the year of 1960 for Marli and the life of a serial killer named Sonny. The two stories, unfortunately, have nothing to do with each other. It is incredibly disappointing. The book builds up the reader for an ending which does not exist.

The remaining ten percent of the book does live up to its expectations. The real story of Marli is revealed, but it is not very glamorous.

If you are a film geek, this book may be worth a read. If not, don't even bother.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Josie said...

Jen, you write the greatest reviews! Definitely interesting; I had no idea that Janet Leigh had a body double!
xo Josie

Crazy Little World Of Mine said...

Love your reviews!!! Thanks for this one girl. :)

Happy Friday.


Sherin said...

I've never heard of her, but her life sounds like a real life horror movie, especially disappearing and being murdered.
The book could have been great, shame it's not.

Anne Yang said...

Wow, never even heard of her, but so fascinating! I love a good murder mystery, but can't ever read them since I usually read at night, when the monsters are out :) Have a great weekend!


Movies on my Mind said...

Wow, a book about American sexploitation culture... I'm heading straight to the library right now!

Rachel said...

Great review! I haven't read this book, but it sounds like it has some interesting tidbits!

Hope you have a nice weekend!

Bonnie said...

I love Hitchcock. I had heard that Janet Leigh had a body double, but I had totally forgotten.
Wouldn't it be weird to do a shower scene? Or a nude scene?
With a billion people around you?
I might consider it for the right price.
Never say never.
(I have no morals.)
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

David L Macaulay said...

don't you hate that? Like the nonsense Patricia Cornwell theories about the identity of Jack the Ripper

aki! said...

Goodness gracious. You've made me want to read this book!

Punctuation Mark said...

what an interesting story... i will check it out!

Vanilla - notes from my closet said...

I want to know what really happened! :) think I need to read this :)

Love, vanilla

Couture Carrie said...

Sounds awesome!
Fab review, darling!


Cafe Fashionista said...

It's official...I need this book immediately! It sounds absolutely incredible, Jennifer - great review! :)

Lee Oliveira said...

Nothing better than a Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Thanks for the review. I think I might try to read this.


Oh to Be a Muse said...

i just got an update in my email from Goodreads that you just read this. the story sound so interesting--i had no idea who she was. but it sucks that there isn't more suspense.

FashionJazz said...

Always love ur reviews hun! Xx

FashionJazz said...

Always love ur reviews hun! Xx

Mónica C. Welton said...

Love it! Nice work girl! I am a cinema student and it was nice.


Missed Periods said...

What a sad story! Well, two sad stories: her tragic ending and the book's.

♥ joei said...

Oh wow! This is REALLY interesting. I'm a Hitchcock fan and I try to watch all of his movies! I hope they have this for Kindle. Thanks for sharing! :)

Definitely, Maybe

Girl about town.... said...

Wow, what a great review! Despite saying it isn't that great, I'm desperate to read it now! I love the title of it!

Hope your having a fab weekend!

Girl about Town XxX

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

i thoroughly enjoyed this review, Jennifer!

the book sounds like a great read.
i'm just putting it to my 'must-read' list.
thank you.

hope your Sunday is going going super.

betty xx

Haute World said...

Marli's story does sound intriguing - I wonder why no one every bothered finding out what happened to her right after she went missing, especially considering she wasn't completely unknown. A shame the book isn't all that. Does it reveal what eventually happened to her/who killed her?

P.S. I've finally joined Twitter @haute_world. Hope to see you there!

Style, She Wrote said...

Thanks for the review. I find her story intriging and it very disappointing that the author didn't do much to give readers closure. xo style, she wrote

Ashley/ MILK TEETHS said...

what a bummer!! The two story lines have zero to do with each other??

also i have to say that you have such an engaging way of writing, your voice is never boring and i've pretty much read every single one of your entries over the year that i've stumbled on to your blog. you rule miss jen :)

Anonymous said...

this sounds pretty interesting, great description, i'm wary of reading it though based on your review...

amy leah
the coquetiquette

Patrycja said...

Your blog is very creative :)

Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl said...

It was an interesting post for me to read, as I've only recently watched Psycho for the first time and I had no idea the actress had a body double!

Evil Nelly said...

wow, this was such an interesting post, i never knew that it wasnt all Janet Leigh.. thank you so much for this post!

Fashion.MakeUp.LifeStyle said...

Another amazing review for an amazing/beautiful/talented lady. Love your reviews always.

<3 Marina

Damsels said...

that sounds like a good read shame that it fails to deliver. so they lied about her rape?