Psycho in the Shower: The History of Cinema's Most Famous Scene (2009) by Philip J. Skerry
Psycho in the Shower is a multi-dimensional study of Psycho's astonishing shower scene. Philip J. Skerry shows how it may be the most significant and influential film scene of all and substantiates this claim by providing chapters on the evolution of the scene in Hitchcock's career, with particular focus on his methods for creating suspense and terror in the audience. In tracing the evolution of the shower scene, the author discusses and analyzes many films (both Hitchcockian and otherwise) that lead up to Psycho.
The book places the shower scene in the cultural and social contexts of American popular culture of the 1950s and 1960s, arguing that it helped to create a revolution in both sensibility and cinematic style. Several unique dimensions help to set this study apart from other books on Psycho and Hitchcock: extensive and detailed interviews with people who worked on the film, including star Janet Leigh and screenwriter Joseph Stefano (the last significant interviews before their deaths); a close study of Hitchcock's employment of mise en scene and montage in the scenes leading up to the famous shower murder; a shot by shot analysis of the scene itself and a discussion of the numerous controversies surrounding it; and a provocative and insightful account of the writing of the book itself, which provides a unique look at the author's creative process. The book culminates with examples of how the shower scene has become embedded in the matrix of contemporary culture and the remarkable ways in which the scene affected people on first viewing.
With this book, Philip Skerry makes an ambitious and largely successful effort to restore perspective to the debate that has swirled around Psycho since Hitchcock first ripped back the shower curtain of our expectations in 1960 and plunged his knife into the collective cinematic consciousness.
— John Baxter, Film International