From: Michael Walker, Hitchcock's Motifs (Amsterdam University Press, 2005)

Confined Spaces

[Editor's note.  Michael Walker's meticulous study of some forty motifs, themes and clusters found in Hitchcock's feature films and TV series is here represented by the motif of "Confined Spaces".  Read it and be stimulated by the author's mix of his personal insights and thoughtful citation of other scholars' work.  Walker is on the board of the UK magazine Movie, and contributed to The Movie Book of Film Noir (1992) and The Movie Book of the Western (1996).]

Confined spaces is a loose term. I wanted a designation which covered two sorts of setting in Hitchcock: on the one hand, small private rooms such as bathrooms and toilets; on the other, a variety of public spaces, from jails to telephone booths, which enclose the characters in more or less claustrophobic ways. There are also more elaborate examples: the action of Lifeboat is entirely confined to the lifeboat itself; that of Rope to the increasingly claustrophobic apartment of the two killers. But my concern here is with small rooms and with ‘boxed-in’ spaces such as booths, bunks and trunks, where the sense of confinement functions in two broadly contrasting ways: either as a retreat/hiding place from the world or as an imprisoning cage. Although there may seem to be little connection between a bathroom and a telephone booth, my argument will be that, if we look at how they are used across the films, a pattern emerges.

Bathrooms and washrooms
Only occasionally are bathrooms and washrooms in Hitchcock’s films used purely for conventional purposes, such as taking a bath (as in The Lodger). More often, something else is going on. In particular, they occur repeatedly in the spy movies. In The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), there is a minor example: Bob finds the MacGuffin hidden in a shaving-brush in Louis Bernard’s hotel bathroom. In Secret Agent, the bathroom scene is much more significant. Shortly after Ashenden and Elsa have first met, Hitchcock stages a long scene between them in their hotel bathroom, in which Ashenden reads Elsa a decoded message and they discuss both the terms of their fake marriage and their forthcoming mission. The General enters during this, and he becomes so upset that Ashenden has been ‘issued with’ a wife and he has not that he assaults a toilet roll, an act which Hitchcock must have been delighted to have got past the censors. Throughout the scene Elsa has been putting on her makeup, but when she presents her beautified face for Ashenden’s approval, he is so rude that she
slaps him, prompting him to slap her. ‘Married life has begun,’ she comments, tartly.

Marty Roth uses Secret Agent to suggest that ‘the espionage thriller (is) a genre that is always on the verge of a homosexual subtext’ (Roth 1992: 37). The bathroom scene is crucial to such a reading: it suggests Ashenden’s distaste at finding himself saddled with a ‘wife’, and his rudeness to Elsa may be contrasted with the way he seeks to placate the General: ‘This girl’s been issued to me as part of my disguise’ (read, as a heterosexual) (40). In addition, although the General is ostensibly a womaniser, he ‘comes across as a dandy and a sissy’, prefiguring Peter Lorre’s performance as Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941) (41). I discuss the gay subtext to Secret Agent further under HOMOSEXUALITY.

The bathroom scene in Secret Agent also links with that in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) in that each refers to the world of espionage: the MacGuffin; the decoded message. Similarly in other spy movies. In North by Northwest, Roger hides in Eve’s washroom on the train when, unseen by him, she sends Vandamm the message which first reveals to us that she is connected with the spies. Later, in her Chicago hotel room, Roger pretends to have a shower whilst spying on her through the door. After she has left, he then ‘decodes’ the imprint of the address she wrote on a notepad, and follows her to Vandamm, who in this same scene acquires the MacGuffin. In Torn Curtain, the two settings of washroom and shower, and the hero’s actions within them, are reversed. Both are in the Copenhagen hotel, but in the shower scene Michael misses the important action – Sarah going off to fetch a book with a hidden message – whereas in the washroom scene he goes into a toilet cubicle to decode the book’s message, which relates to a secret organisation called pi. In pursuit of the first MacGuffin in Topaz, DuBois and Uribe first meet inside the Hotel Theresa in Uribe’s bathroom. Then, on the plane out of Cuba, André goes into a toilet to discover the second MacGuffin: a microfilm hidden in a book Juanita gave him.

Bathrooms and toilets in the spy movies would thus seem to function in a metaphorical sense, as private spaces in which the secrets of the espionage world are referred to in a coded form. First, there is a link with the notion of voyeurism: as if Hitchcock keeps placing his professional voyeurs in these
rooms because he associates the rooms themselves with voyeurism, an association finally made explicit when Norman spies on Marion in Psycho. Second, the typically furtive use of the rooms also suggests that the spies’ activities within them are in some sense a displaced expression of their concerns. Third, the emphasis on such settings would also seem to be a feature of the general sexualisation of the espionage world (see HOMOSEXUALITY).

There is often also a sense, albeit coded, that the bathroom is a site for the return of the repressed (or, at least, suppressed): characters enter a bathroom and ‘buried truths’ emerge, such as Ashenden’s real feelings about being issued with a wife. In Torn Curtain, Michael had tried to keep the book that Sarah goes to fetch a secret from her. In North by Northwest, Roger is much more on the ball: he watches Eve slip out to her rendezvous. In both these cases, the deception by one partner of a romantic couple is to do with the quest for the MacGuffin, again illustrating the ways in which this quest damages personal relationships. In Topaz, the repressed is the MacGuffin itself: André peels back the book’s cover to reveal the microfilm. Juanita has inscribed the book with love, but the MacGuffin is her secret gift, for which she has already been killed. Since we will shortly learn that the Americans have already obtained evidence of the missiles on Cuba (see THE MACGUFFIN), this in fact an extremely poignant scene: Juanita and her colleagues have died obtaining redundant information.

The bathroom and the airline toilet in Topaz mark the beginning and the end of the quest for the film’s two linked MacGuffins, but there is a third confined space which mediates between them: Juanita’s darkroom at the back of her pantry. The darkroom echoes Uribe’s bathroom in that both rooms are illuminated by a naked light bulb, but it is also linked narratively into the functioning of the motif in that it is where the microfilm MacGuffin is prepared. Moreover, just as Rico Parra bursts into Uribe’s room and exposes him as a spy, so Rico’s troops break into Juanita’s darkroom and expose her as a spy, which leads directly to her murder. This emphasises the sense that, in the spy movies, the bathrooms
and toilets function as displaced versions of the spy’s secret rooms.

A very different bathroom scene occurs in Spellbound. Constance and J.B. are staying at Dr Brulov’s house, having pretended to him that they are on their honeymoon. With Constance asleep in the bed, J.B. gets up from the couch and goes, as if in a trance, into the bathroom. He begins to shave, whereupon he is confronted with the symbolic expression of his forbidden sexual desires in the
form of the foam on his shaving-brush. He recoils in horror from this, and then turns and looks at objects and fittings around the room. Each of these – shown in a series of point-of-view shots – causes him to react with shock. On the surface, he is reacting in this manner because everything he sees is white, but some of the fittings are also readable as sexual symbols: for example, there are some ingenious arrangements of water taps. Here the return of the repressed takes the form of an explosion of Freudian sexual symbolism, dramatising just what is being ‘repressed’ on this pretend honeymoon. This is indeed one of Hitchcock’s emblematic bathroom scenes, conveying – albeit again in a coded form – the sexual undercurrents so often implicit in such scenes. We can now see why Louis Bernard’s MacGuffin should be hidden in his shaving brush: he was Bob’s sexual rival, and the shaving brush is like a comic reminder of this.

In the later examples of such scenes, it is obvious that Hitchcock is taking advantage of the fact that, since Psycho, it is possible in a mainstream film to acknowledge the existence of toilets (the offending appliance is hidden under a record player in Secret Agent), something which he had clearly long wished to do. But a general point about the scenes is more surprising. Virtually all Hitchcock’s bathroom and washroom scenes are set in hotels, workplaces (Scotland Yard in Blackmail, a garage in Psycho, the office in Marnie), on public transport or at stations (Chicago in North by Northwest). Indeed, since Murder!, Hitchcock has not staged a single bathroom scene in the home of either the
hero or heroine. There are scenes in which the protagonists in their own homes go to the bathroom, and occasions when we see through the bathroom door – e.g. to see Harry’s body in Jennifer’s bath in The Trouble with Harry – but we do not go into the rooms. Given that we do go into the bathrooms etc. in hotels and other non-domestic settings, this would seem to mark a curious point about Hitchcock’s films, suggesting a prurience about the domestic bathroom which becomes a voyeuristic fascination with those in less private settings.

Confinement and concealment
The bathrooms and toilets in Hitchcock are typically used to hide, or to do something in private. At the other extreme are confined spaces in which someone is imprisoned. Only occasionally is this the work of the villain, as when Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt traps Charlie in the garage in order to kill
her with carbon monoxide poisoning. More usually, it is the police who imprison people in Hitchcock’s films. The intensity of these scenes is commonly attributed to Hitchcock’s well-known fear of the police, which he traces to a childhood incident in which he was briefly locked, as a punishment, in a police cell
(see Truffaut 1968: 22). Hitchcock’s jailed heroes are invariably innocent, and he conveys the trauma of false imprisonment through some powerful expressionistic devices, e.g. the circling camera shots suggesting Manny’s mental crisis when he is first locked up in The Wrong Man or the overhead shot of Blaney shut in his cell in Frenzy. Here, clearly, the cage metaphor applies. Such scenes may be contrasted with those in Murder! and The Paradine Case showing the heroine in jail. Both are much more extended than the scenes for the heroes, dealing with long periods of imprisonment and with debilitating and degrading prison routines, focusing in particular on the lack of privacy due to the ubiquitous presence of female guards. With the heroes, Hitchcock conveys the trauma primarily as shock and a dizzying loss of personal agency; with the heroines it is more the steady accumulation of oppressive details which wear away at the sense of self.

Seeking to avoid capture by the police, Hitchcock’s heroes, like most pursued figures, try to hide. But there is a particular manner of their hiding which occurs across a number of films and which is very suggestive. In three closely connected instances, the hero is with a young woman, but only he is hidden: in Saboteur, when the police stop the circus caravan and Barry hides on an upper rack whilst Pat sits below with the other members of the circus troupe; in To Catch a Thief, when Danielle hides Robie under the foredeck of her motor boat, and when Eve hides Roger behind the closed upper bunk of her train compartment. The first and the last examples are particularly close: each heroine is sitting just beneath the hiding hero and the police question her about him. In To Catch a Thief, the police are in a small plane flying over Danielle’s boat and she waves to them.

Concealing the hero in this manner makes it seem as though he is metaphorically hidden behind a young woman (in two cases, the heroine), as if he were her guilty secret. The examples also suggest a variation of the childhood game of hide and seek. In his analysis of children’s games in Playing and Reality, D.W. Winnicott identifies the strategic role of the mother in the early years of childhood in creating a safe space within which a child can play (Winnicott 1970: 47-52). The fear implied by these little scenes is that the hero has not been safely hidden, and that the woman who knows where he is will reveal his presence to the police. The woman who hides the hero thus symbolises the protective
mother, and the police the hostile, searching father. Once again, the overtones are Oedipal.

This is illustrated most comprehensively in North by Northwest. The last scene between Roger and his mother takes place in a crowded hotel lift, which erupts with laughter at Mrs Thornhill’s question to the pursuing spies: ‘You two gentlemen aren’t really trying to kill my son are you?’ As soon as the lift stops in the lobby, Roger flees – in effect, from his mother. The last time he speaks to her is when he then calls her from a phone booth on Grand Central Station. Both confined spaces (lift and phone booth) symbolise Roger’s claustrophobic relationship with his mother, which symbolically ends with the phone call: she is not heard from again. The moment when Eve releases Roger from the confinement
of the upper bunk is thus, structurally, a rebirth, with Eve herself as the symbolic mother – a point made by Stanley Cavell (Cavell 1986: 255).

The confined spaces where the hero hides are at the opposite extreme from those where he is locked up. But the childhood overtones indicate the way in which the opposition works in the Hitchcockian unconscious: jail is where the father sends ‘naughty boys’ (Truffaut 1968: 22); the mother’s role is to protect the hero from such a terrible fate by hiding him.

This implicit paradigm enables the variations of the hiding scene to be analysed. In The Lady Vanishes, the scene is anticipated by a comic variant and its basic structure is then inverted. As Iris and Gilbert search the train’s luggage wagon for the missing Miss Froy, they look in various trunks and other containers, but the tone is ludic: each disappears in turn into Signor Doppo’s Vanishing Lady cabinet, and Signor Doppo himself escapes from confinement in a trunk by using its false side. Without the threat of the police, comedy is possible: the overtones are of children playing. Then, after the couple have found and rescued Miss Froy, it is she who is hidden in a closet in a train compartment and it is Gilbert and Iris who are scrutinised (they are pretending to be unconscious) by
Dr Hartz, the equivalent of the police.

This is I think the earliest example of the hiding scene in Hitchcock. Since Miss Froy is explicitly a mother figure to Iris, the fact that she is the concealed figure on this occasion suggests that the elements are there, but they have not yet jelled into the dominant form of the scene one finds in the Hollywood movies. Here the children gallantly hide the English mother figure from the murderous
foreign father figure. Oedipal overtones are suppressed in the light of the eve of war tensions in 1938 Europe.

Similarly in Torn Curtain, where Cold War tensions dictate the articulation of the motif. Michael and Sarah are hidden in separate costume baskets on a ship making the journey from East Germany to Sweden. As the ship docks and the baskets are unloaded, a suspicious Russian ballerina shouts out that they contain ‘amerikanische Spione’, prompting an East German policeman to machine-gun them. He shoots the wrong baskets, but it is nevertheless clear that the ballerina functions symbolically as the dangerous communist mother who threatens the children of the capitalist West with death.

Stage Fright offers another variation. At the climax, Eve hides Jonathan from the police in a theatrical coach under a stage. It is only now that she learns that, far from being falsely accused, Jonathan really is a murderer. And she learns this from her father, who is with the hunting police and who calls out to
her. This turns everything round. Now it is the heroine who is threatened, the man she is hiding who is the threat, and the police and her father who are her potential saviours (see HANDS).

The persistence of the hiding scene in Hitchcock, and the way in which the basic ingredients are reworked in different forms to suit different agendas indicate just how patterned his films often are. Perhaps the most remarkable common aspect is that each hiding place is on a mode of transport, albeit stationary at the point when the police intervene in Saboteur and a purely theatrical version
in Stage Fright. In ‘Rope: Three Hypotheses’, Peter Wollen mentions that he once asked Farley Granger why Hitchcock was so interested in trains. Granger replied: ‘The mixture of claustrophobia with movement’ (Wollen 1999: 82). These scenes go a stage further, dealing with a claustrophobic enclosure within the means of transport itself. Consistent with Granger’s comment, most of the hiding places represent a safe space to hide: like symbolisations of the womb where the hero can feel safe under the protection of the heroine as mother figure. This emphasises the ideological violation in Torn Curtain, but also that, when a villain seeks to hide in this manner, as in Stage Fright, the space is no longer safe.

In Frenzy there is a sequence which seems like a perversion of the hiding scene: when Rusk wrestles with Babs’s corpse in a sack of potatoes on the back of a moving lorry. The confined space, here, is like a grave: it’s as if Rusk has crawled into the grave to retrieve something from the corpse, and he is punished for this violation by the sheer intransigence of the woman’s dead body (see THE CORPSE). Yet once again it is fear of exposure to the police which has prompted Rusk to take this desperate measure, and when he leaves the body in effect disinterred and out of its grave (the sack), it is the police who immediately spot it.

There is also a subsequent twist to the hiding scene in North by Northwest. Although Eve protects Roger from the police, she betrays him to the spies. This leads to the famous pursuit by the crop-dusting plane (see TRAINS and PLANES). To escape from the plane, Roger flags down an oil tanker, which only just stops in time. He ends up supine under the tanker; the plane crashes into it. Roger’s position here echoes the boxed-in space of the bunk bed, but now the space is highly dangerous: the plane immediately catches fire and the tanker will blow up at any moment. The association of the two spaces serves to undermine the apparent security of the bunk bed; in effect, Roger under the tanker reveals the mother figure’s duplicitousness: this is where she has really sent him. Roger has to clamber out and flee for his life.

Cages and bars: fears of imprisonment
In contrast to the generally successful hiding places on the various means of transport, there is another set of examples in Hitchcock’s films where the characters are within a confined space but are also highly exposed: when they are in a glass booth. In Blackmail, Frank invites Alice into the phone booth of the shop where she works and produces her glove, which he found in Crewe’s studio
whilst investigating his ‘murder’. This cues the entrance of Tracy, the future blackmailer, who has been watching them. He knows the significance of the glove (he found the other one); as he comments later: ‘Detectives in glass houses shouldn’t wave clues.’ In Strangers on a Train, Guy and Miriam go into a soundproof record booth in the shop where she works. As if confirming the metaphorical associations of the space, Miriam now traps Guy (in a legal sense) by declaring that she is not, after all, going to divorce him. Moreover, as she outlines her intentions – to pretend that the child she is carrying is Guy’s; to join him in Washington as his wife – he becomes so enraged that he shakes her,
an act observed by those in the shop, including the proprietor. Here, as in Blackmail, having witnesses to the private scene makes it especially dangerous: the secrets of the couple are threatened with exposure.

Obviously, in a world in which looking is so important, and, indeed, often so threatening, to be in a glass booth is to be exposed. Yet once again it is exposure to the police which is the real threat. This is made explicit in Blackmail, where Tracy says to the couple in the booth that he wants to phone Scotland Yard. It is also implicit in Strangers on a Train after Miriam has been murdered: there are witnesses to Guy’s violence towards his wife shortly before her murder. Later in the film, Hitchcock actually frames Guy and Bruno together behind some railings as Guy hides from the police, so that the fear of the police (and imprisonment) is there expressed directly by the cage imagery.

A parallel example is the scene in I Confess when Logan and Ruth are caught in the summerhouse by Vilette. The summerhouse is open to observation in a similar way to the glass booths, and Vilette’s recognition of Ruth as ‘Madame Grandfort’ provides him with the material with which to blackmail her. Here the police only become involved after Vilette’s murder, but what happened in and just outside the summerhouse becomes the basis of their whole case against Logan, so that here, too, it is exposure to the police which emerges as the ultimate threat behind this little scene.

The birds’ attack on Melanie in the phone booth in The Birds is obviously a more literal threat. As with Blaney’s imprisonment in Frenzy, Hitchcock emphasises the cage metaphor by including an overhead shot of Melanie as she turns from side to side in her terror. This scene, too, may be connected metaphorically with the fears implicit in the other examples. The police may be seen as social embodiments of the superego, judging and punishing (mis)behaviour. And Margaret Horwitz has argued that in The Birds ‘The wild birds function as a kind of malevolent female superego’ (Horwitz 1986: 281) (see CHILDREN). The sense of a ‘malevolent superego’ out there could be seen as broadly complementary to Bill Nichols’s reading of the way in which the motif of ‘at the window’ functions in The Birds: ‘assault at the window only serves to confirm the fundamentally paranoid constitution of the subject (or ego)’ (Nichols 1981: 159). The bird attacks are an extreme expression of such paranoia. More generally in Hitchcock, it is in the threat embodied by the police that the paranoia so often apparent in the narratives resides.

Both the images of imprisonment in a glass cage and the examples where the hero (especially) hides from the police are indicative of specific fears in Hitchcock’s films where, again and again, the police create the chaos world into which the characters are plunged. As soon as Roger exits from the phone booth into the crowds on Grand Central Station, he becomes a man hunted: police are everywhere. He goes to a ticket office window, the clerk recognises him, alerts the police and Roger is once more on the run.

Moreover, this scene is in turn a reworking of its equivalent in Spellbound, when Constance and J.B., on the run from the police, go to buy a train ticket at Pennsylvania Station. In this case, the ticket clerk is behind bars, and Hitchcock incorporates the imprisonment imagery into the dynamics of the scene. As J.B. – who is amnesiac – approaches the ticket window, he is trying to remember a past destination; as he reaches the window, the shadows of the bars are then cast on his own face. The stress of trying to remember seems compounded by the sight of the man behind bars, and the ‘cage motif’ then transfers to the hero: J.B. collapses on the counter, and Constance has to lead him away. But this little scene has drawn the attention of a policeman, who comes over and offers assistance.

It’s as if the sense of a trap implicit in the bar imagery produces the policeman, like a pre-echo of the hero’s eventual imprisonment in jail, where the cage imagery returns as Constance addresses an unseen J.B. through prison bars.

In short, the fear of the police which haunts Hitchcock’s films manifests itself in any number of ways: not just in the scenes of incarceration, but in the hiding scenes, in the cage metaphor, in the recurring imagery of bars. The confined space motif serves to condense these fears into concrete little scenes, scenes where the ways in which the characters are visualised (in prison; in a glass booth; behind bars) is as important as their actions.

Paranoia about the police is not the only feature of this motif which could be said to have roots in Hitchcock’s childhood. Recalling Hitchcock’s Catholic upbringing, some of the confined spaces involving two people also evoke the confessional. In the phone booth in Blackmail, Frank wants Alice to ‘confess’, but she is too upset to speak. In the theatrical coach in Stage Fright, Jonathan really does confess. The record booth scene in Strangers on a Train is also like a confession: Guy learns what Miriam’s real intentions are; Miriam learns that Guy is ‘serious’ about Anne. When, later, Bruno tells Guy that he has murdered Miriam, Hitchcock films the scene so that the railings Bruno is behind
pointedly evoke the grille in a church confessional. I Confess contains a genuine confession in a real confessional, and the subject of the confession – Keller’s to the murder of Vilette – is not only the equivalent of this scene in Strangers on a Train, but it also has the same underlying fear as all these other examples: that the police will find out. The most painful confession scene is, nevertheless,
in the bell tower at the climax of Vertigo. The top of the tower is a confined space which is exposed in the sense that it has open archways, and this serves to make it physically dangerous. After Scottie has forced a confession from Judy, the ‘superego intrusion’ which then occurs is devastating: a nun appears as if from nowhere, an apparition which so frightens Judy that she steps through an open archway and plunges to her death (see GUILT AND CONFESSION). All these examples may in turn be related to the broader theme of confession in Hitchcock’s work.

Finally, the most famous bathroom scene in all cinema. In Hitchcock’s work in general, the bathroom is a place of refuge. It may turn out to be threatening, as in Spellbound, but even there it is not really a trap; albeit somewhat traumatised, the hero walks out of it. Psycho breaks the rule. Marion treats the bathroom as her private space, and she begins her shower with a voluptuous surrender to the water. ‘Mrs Bates’s’ attack violates this space: Marion is trapped and savagely murdered. The shattering impact of the scene has prompted many excellent analyses, but the point I wish to make here is in terms of Hitchcock’s motifs. First, the return of the repressed takes the form here of a murderous
‘mother’: an extension of the negative representations of mothers in Hitchcock (see MOTHERS AND HOUSES) into a veritable monster. Second, a confined space which has hitherto functioned as a place of retreat from the chaos world is suddenly and violently transformed into the chaos world. In effect, the ‘malevolent superego out there’ bursts into the confined space, with annihilating force. The bathroom has become like the phone booth in The Birds, but with an even more devastating outcome: the attacking intruder not only traps the heroine, but brutally murders her.

In his references to the cage imagery in Hitchcock’s films, Hartmut W. Redottée concentrates primarily on the sense of a trap implicit in the motif (Redottée 2000: 34-36). My argument throughout this discussion has been that there are as many examples in which a confined space functions as a hiding
place or refuge. However, hiding places can be precarious, so that it would be more accurate to say that there is often a dialectic in play: a confined space which seems to be a refuge could also be a trap, and the two contrasting functions may well be in tension. Nevertheless, Marion’s murder is quite exceptional. Although Hitchcock repeats the brutal attack on the heroine in the attic bedroom assault on Melanie in The Birds, the shower-bath murder is the locus classicus of such scenes. Apart from the brilliance of the realisation of the scene, and the fact that it is the film’s heroine who is being slaughtered, another reason is surely the shock of the violation of the hitherto safe space of the bathroom. Indeed, it is partly because of this violation that I have grouped together, under one motif, otherwise diverse spaces such as bathrooms and phone booths. I mention at the beginning that the motif functions in two broadly contrasting ways. In this scene, the contrasting ways are collapsed.

See also APPENDIX I.

Washrooms and the police
The involvement of the police in this motif has been as threatening figures: looking for people who are hidden; locking people up. I would like therefore to mention two contrasting examples: the washroom scene in Scotland Yard in Blackmail, and that on the Chicago station in North by Northwest. In the
former, Frank and his colleague join other policemen at the end of the day’s shift, and the men’s room camaraderie of the scene is most unusual for Hitchcock, especially for Hitchcock’s policemen. Here, for once, we see the police as a community, enjoying one another’s company: all are chatting and joking;
one is using his handcuffs to open a tin of tuna. This is really quite a relaxed little scene, indicating that, even in Hitchcock, the police – albeit when off-duty – are allowed their moments of cheerful spontaneity.

Unfortunately, in the second scene, the police are back in their more familiar role of looking at someone they are pursuing and not recognising him. As Roger, his face covered in shaving cream, prepares to shave, the two detectives from the train burst into the washroom and look wildly around. Since they do look (briefly) at Roger, his disguise is clearly a good one. Off-screen, we then hear the rhythmic crash of them opening the toilet cubicles; they then leave. In fact, what perhaps saves Roger is that he is not the only man shaving, and the other man also has a face covered in shaving cream. It could be that the detectives are still looking for Roger in his redcap disguise. It could equally be that the sight of two shaving men simply fooled them.