Psycho at 60: the enduring power of Hitchcock’s shocking game-changer

The defining shot in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is not any of the images in the famed shower sequence, or the overhead of the private detective getting knifed at the top of stairs or the reveal of “mother” as she’s turned slowly in the swivel chair. It happens at the very beginning, as Hitchcock pans and dissolves across downtown Phoenix, Arizona, before finally settling on the room where Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a bored real-estate secretary, is having an afternoon tryst with her boyfriend Sam. The camera enters the scene through a crack in the window, under the shades, furtively catching a peep. Hitchcock is the voyeur, and so are we.