As you probably know, Alfred Hitchcock made the unusual choice of killing off his leading lady half way through his classic movie, “Psycho.” What you may not know is that the gruesome sound of the knife entering Janet Leigh’s body was created by a sound effects geek stabbing a casaba melon.
Ever since I heard this story I’ve thought differently about the casaba melon. Well, actually I thought about it for the first time, having never considered it before. Suddenly it became an intriguing fruit, not just another non-entry on my shopping list.
The next thing I’d like to know is why the sound guy chose a casaba, not, say, a watermelon or a cantelope, for the grizzly job. How was the casaba determined to have the perfect quality, a certain je ne sais quoi, that helped that fruit snag the role of stunt body for Ms. Leigh?
Being an actor, my slightly perverse imagination leaps to an image of a melon casting call. Dozens of them are lined up, pacing, studying scripts. A production assistant pops from a smoky room: “Okay, Honeydew, you’re up.” The other melons size her up as the starry-eyed Honeydew rolls off to meet her fate. She knows the gig involves pain and mutilation, but she’d do anything to work with Hitch.
As the clock ticks in the waiting room, Casaba wonders how long this will take. He’s got a two o’clock cattle call for a Ralph’s commercial.
When Honeydew finally re-appears, she glows, apparently from positive feedback. Little does she know that the part will not be hers, that she will be disappointed once again. She will, however, roll on, seeking other employment in the dream-crushing profession she has chosen.
“Okay, uh, Casaba? ” the P.A. says, pronouncing it wrong, as they always do. For this relatively unknown melon, however, the day will have a happy outcome. The history-making casting choice will raise casaba awareness exponentially, opening doors for future generations of the melon.(Don’t ya just love show business?)
If you’re looking for a casaba melon recipe, click here.
that is priceless; Hitch said that he liked the way the knife sounded in the melon so he used it in his classic film, Psycho; I buy a lot of dvds, I own that movie but when it is on TCM I always watch it. I remember when my 2 brothers and I first saw it at the local theater in Berkeley, CA, those violins still send shivers down my spines!
why don’t we do our own melon casting call? i’ll bring the knife.
What a clever and wonderfully PRODUCEd piece and just when I needed a chuckle.
Thanks again Jessica.
Haha, that’s hilarious, Jessica. I love that movie; it’s one of my all-time favorites. I saw it on the big screen a few months ago and it was like watching it again for the first time — terrifying! Those melons sure do the trick. Well, I guess the violins helped a little, too. 😉
I love this bit of cucurbit lore, especially as a cucurbitologist at the NY Botanical Garden. Please say hi to “Tommy” for me who I knew at The Park School. You know that anyone from Maryland is crabby?
Oh my gosh! My horror buff roomie and I googled about the melon thing because we were kicking ourselves for missing a question about it on Final Jeopardy tonight, and your blog was the first result. I am so delighted to have had you answer this question for us. Thank you so much! Please let me just say that my friend and I love to dance along with you when we watch Phantom of the Paradise.