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.
(Movie star Janet Leigh's frightened face)
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!