As the top 10 bathroom scenes in film shows, movie characters are as likely to be relieving themselves while reading the paper as they are plotting a murder…
The bathroom might have been off limits for cinema in its earliest form just as kissing was unheard of on-screen but as filmmakers began to enjoy a more liberal approach, the room where things are washed, flushed, squeezed, binned and thrown up has become a place of drama, intrigue, a laugh or two, and few very bad smells.
Certainly, as these great bathroom scenes show us, for cinema’s creative minds wanting to draw either a good scare or a hearty laugh, the toilet and its associated components have proven to be an ideal source.
10. There’s Something About Mary (Farrelly/Farrelly, 1998)
Poor Ben Stiller. He’s on the date of his young teenage life with the beautiful Cameron Diaz when, after a quick dash to the loo, he accomplishes the unthinkable. With perfect timing the 1990s kings of toilet humour the Farrelly’s reveal the horny teen has caught his crown jewels in his trouser zipper. Farce ensues as Stiller’s tux-dressed character must face the help of his date’s father amongst others before accepting the inevitable – a mangled appendage and a trip to Accident and Emergency.
9. Naked Gun (Zucker, 1988)
Hapless L.A. cop Frank Drebin is summoned to a press conference about the department’s role in guarding the Queen of England during her visit to the city. Drebin forgets he’s wearing a remote microphone wired to the PA system when he silently excuses himself and heads off to the bathroom. The loud noise of him relieving himself is bad enough but it is only made worse when he starts to sing and whistle! This is all taking place while the press conference is being televised across the nation.
8. Trainspotting (Boyle, 1996)
Don’t do drugs, kids! That’s about the only message you can take from Ewan McGregor’s search for his next hit in the inner workings of the vile public toilet into which he’s just evacuated his bowels.
7. American History X (Kaye, 1998)
Similar to the hard-hitting, emotionally devastating sequence in Full Metal Jacket, American History X’s bathroom scene is played out in two parts. Firstly, Edward Furlong’s Danny confronts a gang who are beating up a helpless student only to be shot in the toilets by the same gang the following day. Edward Norton, playing Furlong’s brother, arrives at the scene and cradles his dead sibling in a tearful, unresponsive goodbye. A feeling of guilt, resulting from his own troubled, violent past, overwhelms him.
6. Scarface (De Palma, 1983)
If Trainspotting taught us not to do drugs, Scarface teaches us not to drug deal, at least in its bathroom sequence (because we’ll ignore the lavish riches and beautiful women for a second). When Al Pacino’s Tony Montana hatches a plan to get rich quick selling cocaine he quickly finds the sector riddled with unsavoury suppliers. His colleague gets bloodily dismembered in front of him before he narrowly escapes the same fate when his friend Manny arrives with his gun blazing.
5. Lethal Weapon 2 (Donner, 1989)
Danny Glover is far too old for this, or so he says, as Roger Murtaugh in Richard Donner’s entertaining buddy cop flick Lethal Weapon 2. When he and his partner Riggs (Mel Gibson) rub some gold smuggling crooks up the wrong way, Murtaugh finds his morning bathroom time interrupted by the realisation the bad guys have strapped a large explosive to the underneath of his toilet. He finishes his number 2 and he’s finished altogether. Cue the bomb squad and a rather crowded bathroom as the experts work around the stricken half-naked cop in an attempt to save his life.
4. The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)
What were you told about room 237? Sometimes the things we’re told not to do become fascinating challenges that cannot be avoided. In Stanley Kubrick’s icy supernatural horror The Shining, Jack Nicholson’s character Jack Torrance becomes the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel during the winter only to find the old building riddled with murderous ghosts. When he enters room 237, he is at first curious and aroused by the beautiful naked woman he finds in the bathroom. He embraces her only to find he is now kissing the rotting corpse of an elderly woman.
3. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
Michael Corleone becomes a man – or at least a mob man – when he decides to murder a drug baron in retaliation for an ongoing feud. Setting up a meeting in a restaurant, Michael secretly hides a gun in the eatery’s toilet. When the time is right, he excuses himself from the table, retrieves the gun, and makes the hit. The great thing about this sequence is how Coppola presents Michael’s short time in the restroom as the moment when boy becomes man. The tension rises as does the sound of a passing train as Michael’s obvious apprehension threatens to get the better of him.
2. Full Metal Jacket (Kubrick, 1987)
In one of cinema’s most powerful bathroom-related scenes, Stanley Kubrick introduces us to the adverse side-effect of preparing a man for war. Emotionally broken and physically exhausted, Leonard Lawrence, better known by his nickname Gomer Pyle, puts the rifle he has been taught to cherish like a helpless infant into his mouth and pulls the trigger. It is a devastating sequence, the emotional wreckage of which clings to the film’s second half like a bad cold.
1. Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)
The infamous shower scene!
Marion Crane skips town having stolen a significant amount of cash and fatally decides to spend the night at Norman Bates’ hotel. Everyone knows the scene by now. Alfred Hitchcock’s technical genius here makes use of close-ups and smartly timed cuts to increase the tension and, ultimately, the impact of Marion’s frightening death.
There really can’t be any other number 1 in the top 10 bathroom scenes!