Most of the time in movies, those day to day things that we know our characters are doing are just assumed, unless it somehow drives the plot. In the back of our minds, we always knew Michael Corleone loved to eat, but without the restaurant scene in “Godfather II” we would have never known what he was doing in Italy. The same is true for some of those times when a character just wanted to take a bath:
Marion Crane in Psycho – May as well get this one out of the way first, since it is arguably the most famous bath scene in movie history. Shown at her most vulnerable, naked and in a shower, the woman who we assume to be the central character in the movie is killed off in the first 30 minutes. Janet Leigh made being in the water terrifying long before anyone ever heard of a little fishy named “Jaws”.
Tony Montana in Scarface – Let’s just skip over that whole chainsaw in the bathtub thing and jump to the Cuban drug lord lounging in a tub that was larger than the shack he grew up in. Al Pacino managed to make gangsters all over the world suddenly want to clean up their act, at least literally, after seeing him drawing on a Cuban amidst a whirlpool of bubbles.
Vivien in Pretty Woman – Both bathtub scenes from “Pretty Woman” are pretty important to the plot of the movie. The first is Vivien alone, doing her own rendition of “Kiss”, when Edward makes his indecent proposal to her. Fast forward a few days and now they are both in tub, and Vivien has taken on the role of a whole different type of caretaker to the millionaire bachelor. All that’s missing is a scrub down with a konjac sponge, and the hooker turned therapist could also turn tricks as a professional personal cleaner. Oh to see the look on the uptight Edward’s face as his paid escort rubbed a konjac sponge in all the right places.
Angela in American Beauty – A masterfully crafted film about a man’s struggle with growing older, the fantasy bathtub scene with the best friend of his teenaged daughter shows just how deranged mid life can make a man. The careful placement of red roses to cover the exposed places of his dangerous desire exemplifies that somewhere deep down in his subconscious, Lester knew he was so in the wrong.
Bath scenes add a sense of vulnerability to a character that helps us to identify with them as a person. The way in which they were used in the above films was brilliant, and moved the movie forward, while allowing us to see a whole other side of their personality.