Famous Bathtubs in the Movies

By Kerry Knight

Photo Credit: cinemaretro.com
How many classic movies have you seen that had at least one scene centered on a bathtub?  This is especially true of the handsome cast iron and porcelain Clawfoot tubs.

Why?  Because they make a perfect movie prop.  They’re free-standing, so the tub can be moved to any part of the room where lighting is best. Secondly, the camera shots and angles can be varied.  They can be filled to the top with water and filled with bubbles to garner a PG rating.  Some model tubs can hold two people at once (which may eliminate the PG rating).  And, like a Hollywood ingĂ©nue, they’re very attractive with sexy lines, shapes and gorgeous legs.  Hollywood often sells sex, even with bathtubs.   Let’s revisit at a few scenes that these tubs made famous. 

Photo Credit: screeninsults.com
Goldfinger, 1964.  This classic spy thriller featured Sean Connery as the original James Bond.  The opening scene to the epic Bond movie has 007 blowing up a hidden heroin lab before appearing at a calypso club in some part of Latin America. A beautiful dancer in her dressing room emerges from a Clawfoot tub to embrace Bond for a kiss.  James sees a thug standing behind him in the reflection of her eyes, so he spins the girl around to take the hit.  After a brief skirmish, Bond throws the assailant into the tub that’s filled with water. As the assassin reaches for Bond’s gun, 007 knocks an electric fan into the water and electrocutes his would-be assassin.  Bond’s characteristic tongue-in-cheek last words in the scene? “Shocking, positively shocking.”

Photo Credit: klipd.com
Lethal Weapon II, 1989.  This “buddy” copy movie is a great sequel to the popular first one.  In the opening scene, we find LAPD Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) sitting on a toilet that has been rigged with a bomb. When Sgt. Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and the bomb squad show up, they discover that when Murtaugh stands up from the toilet seat, he’ll activate the trigger.  How?  “BOOM, You’re Dead!” is scrawled on the toilet paper.  Riggs decides to sit it out with Murtaugh.  Friendship is a wonderful thing, isn't it?  Then a police captain comes up with the idea of having Murtaugh and Riggs jump into the Clawfoot bathtub for protection against the IED-rigged toilet. The captain says, “It’s a good old-fashioned cast iron tub.  It can withstand a hell of a blast!”  If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t ruin it for you.  I’ll just say that Clawfoot tub was a real life saver.

Photo Credit: rollonfriday.com
Fatal Attraction, 1987. This movie has been called, “every married man’s worse nightmare.”  In it, Glenn Close plays a crazy ― no, completely nuts is a better description ― jilted lover who has just had an affair with Michael Douglas’ character. (Close was nominated for an Oscar for this film and should have gotten it.  She was beaten out by Cher in “Moonstruck.”) In the climactic scene at the end, Douglas is in the bathroom fighting for his life as a knife-wielding Close is slashing away at him.  Douglas is able to subdue her and hurls her head first into the Clawfoot tub filled with water.  He frantically holds on until she drowns, while staring him in the face.  I just got goosebumps.

Photo Credit: ferdyonlinefilms.com
Two Mules for Sister Sara, 1970.  This film starred Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine.  Eastwood plays Hogan, a gun-for-hire, wandering along the Mexican border. He rescues a nun from a group of marauders intent on molesting her. Later on, Eastwood discovers MacLaine’s character, Sara, isn’t a nun after all.  She’s a call girl.  In a great scene, MacLaine is in a Clawfoot bathtub when Eastwood comes in and steps into the tub with her, wearing all of his clothes, boots and all.  Sara says, “Aren’t you going to at least take off your hat?”  Hogan replies, “No time for that.”  Eastwood, always a man of few words, has a way of making them count. 

Photo Credit: celebrityhomeforsale.blogspot.com
In the mid-1980s in the movie, Money Pit, all Shelley Long’s character wanted to do was take a long, hot bath.  However, that’s not the way things turned out.  Tom Hanks, her boyfriend, had purchased a house for them that was a real money pit, absorbing all of his funds as this thing and then that goes awry with the house.  In a memorable scene, Hanks is attempting to fill a large cast iron tub with water when suddenly the upstairs floor underneath the tub gives way, hurling him down to the ground floor below.  He loses it and starts laughing hysterically.  It’s the funniest laugh I’ve ever heard, almost maniacal.  If you watch it, you’ll laugh along with them.

Photo Credit: totallytopten.com
What Lies Beneath, made in 2000, is a truly scary movie without the overt blood and gore. One particularly frightening scene has Michelle Pfeiffer lying in a Clawfoot tub filling with water. Her crazed husband, played by Harrison Ford, had drugged  her with a substance to paralyze her body.  As the water reaches her nose, she can’t pull herself up, but she can move her toes. She fights to turn the water off as it continues to rise, trying to save herself from drowning.  This is truly “edge- of-the-seat” action with great camera angles on this deep-soaking tub.

Photo Credit: scene-stealers.com
American Beauty, 1999.  This film won about every Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG award available that year. The plot involves a sexually frustrated suburban father, played expertly by Kevin Spacey,  going through a mid-life crisis while fantasizing over his daughter’s best friend, played by Thora Birch.  Pretty twisted concept, but well-acted.  The bathtub scene has Spacey fantasizing about the girl as she lies naked in in a Clawfoot tub filled with rose petals. The rose petal-surrounded beauty became the principal image for advertising the movie.

Photo Credit: scene-stealers.com
The Big Lebowski, 1998.  Jeff Bridges is settling in for a warm, relaxing bath in his deep-soaking tub.  His “me time” moment is ruined when some unpleasant revenge-seekers kick in his door, destroy his apartment, and then find him in the tub, naked and very vulnerable.  They proceed to do the unimaginable by tossing a very angry ferret into the tub and then pure mayhem results.  Very funny stuff, but not for Mr. Bridges' character.

In all of these movie examples one thing is common.  The Clawfoot tub plays a key role in creating some entertaining life experiences.  

Maybe it’s time for you to look at owning one of these cinematic Clawfoot tub icons.  Make your own life’s “memorable movie” experiences, hopefully pleasant ones. Cowboy hat optional. 

Clawfoot Tubs Steal the Show in Movies

In this article, I shared several famous Hollywood movies that featured Clawfoot tubs in some of their most memorable scenes.  If you found this article useful, please share it with your friends and co-workers. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the Comment section of this blog.  

Thanks again for visiting with us.

If you’d like to receive a FREE Clawfoot Tub Buyers’ Guide, click here.  Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and I’ll personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.

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Alan and Kerry Knight are the owners of Tub King, Inc., and SeniorBathtub.com  in Jacksonville, Florida. Together they have many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. Their companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you’d like to contact them, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or send an email to Alan@tubking.com.

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