Psycho (1960), Act 01, Scene 01
EXT. PHOENIX, ARIZONA – (DAY) – HELICOPTER SHOT
Above the midtown section of the city. It is early afternoon, a hot mid-summer day. The city is sun-blanched white and its drifted-up noises are muted and blanched in their own echoes. We fly low, heading in a downtown direction, passing over traffic-clogged streets, parking lots, white business buildings, neatly patterned residential districts. As we approach the downtown section, the character of the city begins to change. It is darker and shabby with age and industry. We see railroad tracks, smokestacks, wholesale fruit-and-vegetable markets, old municipal buildings, and empty lots. The very geography seems to give us a climate of nefariousness, of back-door, dark and shadowy. And secret.
We fly lower and faster now, as if seeking out a specific location. A skinny, high old hotel comes into view. On its exposed brick side great painted letters advertise “Transients-Low Weekly Rates-Radio in Every Room.” We pause long enough to establish the shoddy character of this hotel. Its open, curtainless windows, its silent resigned look so characteristic of such hole-and-corner hotels.
We move forward with purposefulness and-toward a certain window. The sash is raised as high as it can go, but the shade is pulled down to three or four inches of the inside sill, as if the occupants of the room within wanted privacy but needed air. We are close now, so that only the lower half of the window frame is in shot. No sounds come from within the room.
Suddenly, we tip downward, go to the narrow space between shade and sill, peep into the room.
A young woman is stretched out on the mussed bed. She wears a full slip, stockings, and no shoes. She feigns an attitude of physical relaxation, but her face, seen in the dimness of the room, betrays a certain inner-tension and worrisome conflicts. She is Marion Crane, a tension, attractive blonde nearing the end of her twenties and her rope.
A man stands beside the bed, only the lower half of his figure visible. We hold onto this tableau for a long moment, then start forward. As we pass under the window shade …