It was the scream—and the shower scene—heard ’round the world. Just 40 minutes into Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, we watch—horrified but rapt—as Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) is stabbed to death in the shower stall of the now infamous Bates Hotel. At first we think Norman Bates’ mentally deranged mother is the murderer, but we come to realize that there is no Mrs. Bates—or no living Mrs. Bates—and that Norman himself (played pitch-perfectly by Anthony Perkins) is the true psycho.

Just how Hitchcock created his masterpiece—and what it did to change the landscape of American filmmaking and audience perception in the 1960s and beyond—is the subject of film critic David Thomson’s authoritative The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder. Thomson’s detailed and insightful primer is the perfect book for Hitchcock aficionados and general film fans alike.

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