Rear Window (1954)

Reminds me of my childhood suspicions of neighbors.

“I’m not much on rear window ethics.”

My friends and I sat in a tree. Steely expressions. Plastic guns. Walkie-talkies. We had just seen our neighbor commit a grisly murder.

Or was he simply feeding his dog? Darn. I was sure that he was wielding a large sword. And wasn’t that a gun he just lifted? Confound it. Look, look! He’s–oh. Nope.

No matter how many times we were proven wrong, my friends and I were always convinced that our neighbors were utterly diabolical. How heartbroken I was when we discovered that no killing had taken place at the house directly next to mine.

…Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, now that I think about it.

__________

I think it’s high time we watched a Hitchcock. He’s a cinematic genius, widely regarded as one of the very best Hollywood directors. We’ll be watching many of his masterpieces throughout the year, but I believe Rear Window is the best “beginner” Hitchcock film. It has everything that makes a good movie–and more.

For those of you who relate Hitch’s name with dark, sinister stories of immorality and brutal, indiscriminate killing…stop it. Granted, his films are of a mature nature (some more so than others). However, there is very little objectionable content, especially by today’s standards. Hitchcock’s films are all filled to the brim with wit, suspense, and they are always, always entertaining.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting much when I first popped the disc into my DVD player. I thought the film would be another marginal, run-of-the-mill 50s drama.

I do realize that I often attempt to dictate your thoughts. I also realize that I am not a woman; thus, my efforts to do so are in vain. However, if you are expecting this movie to be boring, STOP. I refuse to hear any more from you until you experience the film for yourself. Try it, and you might just be amazed.

As you may know, Rear Window stars two of my favorite screen personalities, Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. Indeed, the two make a rather odd couple, but their acting is excellent nonetheless. Stewart is entirely believable. In this film, Jimmy Stewart is a human, not an actor. He has realistic delays, overlaps, and stammering in his dialogue; he doesn’t just read it off the page.

I suppose I should stop rambling soon, but I’m afraid I’ll have to drone on for a moment longer. Hang in there.

A thriller is meant to, of course, thrill. Sounds obvious, no? Well, it seems that nowadays, “thriller” is synonymous with “violence” and “sexual content”. Hitchcock, especially in Rear Window, displays his ability to keep you on the edge of your seat (I nearly fell off at one point) without resorting to either.

The events preceding the end are actually more climactic than the climax itself. I won’t reveal any more. Luckily for you, I won’t talk anymore, either.

Synopsis

After an assignment goes wrong, professional photographer L.B. Jefferies (Stewart) is confined to his New York apartment with a broken leg. He suffers from severe boredom, the only “excitement” being the visits of his nurse, Stella, and his socialite girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly–who else?). To pass the time, he begins to look out of his large rear window, observing his neighbors. A string of suspicious events leads Jefferies to believe that one of his neighbors has murdered his wife. He enlists the help of Stella and Lisa to find evidence and prove the crime.

Information

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock;

Written by Cornell Woolrich (short story on which it was based), and John Michael Hayes (screenplay);

Starring Jimmy Stewart as L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, Grace Kelly as Lisa Carol Fremont, Thelma Ritter as Stella, Raymond Burr as Lars Thorwald, and Wendell Corey as Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle;

Produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and James C. Katz (1998 restoration);

Music by Franz Waxman.

Facts

The size of the set demanded excavation of the soundstage floor. Therefore, Jeff’s apartment was actually at street level.

At the time, the set was the largest indoor set built at Paramount.

At one time, during the filming, the lights were so hot they set off the soundstage sprinkler system.

While shooting, Hitchcock only worked in Jefferies’ apartment. The actors in the other apartments wore flesh-colored earpieces so Hitch could radio his directions to them.

During the month-long shoot, Georgine Darcy (Miss Torso) “lived” in her apartment all day, relaxing between takes as if it were her own.

Coincidentally, Raymond Burr (Lars Thorwald) went on to play Robert Ironside in the Ironside series. Ironside is a wheelchair-bound detective, a character not unlike Stewart’s in Rear Window.

What’s a more masculine phrase that I could use instead of “sneak peek”?

Next week I’ll be recommending the perfect film for St. Patty’s Day.

-luke

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Simply brilliant. You’re right; its no typical film of that time period. It has a quality that will always make it an engaging picture.

  2. […] generations of viewers. Here was a man who constructed classy suspense. Check out my reviews of Rear Window (1954) and Psycho (1960). I promise to have many more Hitchcock reviews […]

  3. […] (made expressly for the film) in Tati’s PlayTime (1967) and the apartment complex in Rear Window (1954). As if this movie marvel wasn’t enough, Hulot’s own apartment building is one of the […]


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