Friday, August 20, 2010
Movie of the Week
REAR WINDOW (1954)
Starring- James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter
This is the greatest summertime thriller ever made. Alfred Hitchcock is at his suspenseful best in this smart, stylish and voyeuristic story of a man who gets too involved in the lives of his neighbors. I place Rear Window as one of the two or three best films Hitchcock ever made. It has many of the director's hallmarks- a compelling leading man, the cool blonde heroine, great sets and costumes, clever dialogue and a plot that keeps you guessing up until the very end.
Professional photographer L.B. Jefferies (Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair for six weeks following an accident, and in the last week of his time in a cast, he takes to watching his neighbors out the window as a form of entertainment. He gets chided by his nurse and his glamourous girlfriend (Kelly) for his peeping, especially when he thinks he sees some sinister goings on across the way. The plot thickens as the week wears on, and Jefferies looks to find more proof to support his belief that a murder might have taken place. Hitchcock expertly builds the tension throughout, throwing curve balls at the audience as the film works towards its resolution.
Stewart, a Hitchcock favorite, is the perfect leading man for this film, able to be both strong and vulnerable at the same time. He is also likable, considering that he could be considered to be doing something illegal by spying on his neighbors. The issue of voyeurism is up for debate in the movie, but Hitchcock doesn't lead you to feel one way or the other, and leaves it up to you to make up your own mind about what is right and wrong. Grace Kelly could wear a paper bag and look good, but she looks even better in Edith Head's costumes and serves as a nice 'girl Friday' for Stewart. Also of note are the great cast of characters that round out the neighborhood. I try to never remember the exact end of this film, because it is nice to see it as if for the first time every time I watch it. Rear Window takes place during a hot summer week, so make sure to watch it before there are no more summer weeks left.
Things to watch for-
Raymond Burr (T.V.'s Perry Mason) as Lars Thorwald
Flashbulbs can be deadly
A cameo by Hitchcock
All the film's music is diagetic (look that word up, kids)
"A murderer would never parade his crime in front of an open window."