Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Alfred Hitchcock, Cornell Woolrich
Staring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr
Release Date: September 1954
Not breaking any news here, but Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) is an excellent movie. James Stewart stars as L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, a wheelchair bound photographer isolated in his apartment during a sweltering hot stretch of weather. Jefferies takes to voyeurism of his apartment neighbors for entertainment, but his people-watching time-wasting exercise takes a turn when he becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.
Joining Jefferies on the search for truth is Lisa Carol Fremont, played Grace Kelly. It Has to be said, Kelly is one of the most beautiful women, like ever? She is popping off the screen at every moment and it’s rather infuriating to watch Jefferies not fully appreciate what he has with Fremont fawning over him. He does not treat her badly per say, but it’s as if he doesn’t seem himself worthy of her despite all her obvious efforts of getting the most expensive takeout, asking to stay the night, etc. It is not until the final act of Rear Window when Fremont throws herself into danger does Jefferies have an epiphany regarding the car he has for her.
Other characters include Detective Lt. Thomas J. Doyle (Wendell Corey), Stella (Thelma Ritter) and the murder in question, Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr). Doyle is the foil to Jefferies and Fremont’s enthusiasm that something indeed went wrong poking holes in everyone’s theories. Stella is the physical therapist for Jefferies and is witty and sharp.
Thorwald is a menacing fellow, but most so when Hitchcock shows off his directing expertise. When the lights are off and Thorwald is just smoking a cigar, it provides wonderful air of anxiety. In the films final sequence where Jefferies and Thorwald face off, Hitchcock frames the ultimate man of mystery like a God, using his broad shoulders like a jail cell for Jefferies possible escape.
Watching Rear Window now, it is amazing the kind of clairvoyance shown by Hitchcock and short story writer Cornell Woolrich. Jefferies is a man obsessed with the way other people are living their lives. He enjoys making presumptions about them, whether they be true or not. Is that not like today, only that people’s windows are social media? Everyone is guilty of it now, showing the world what they want them to see in terms of a lifestyle or personal demeanor. Not everything is as it seems through through the windows we allow people to see into our lives.
It also goes without saying that Rear Window is a take on the quarantining and self distancing that we are in right now. Being trapped in our own homes, the only thing to do is rumor in our own thoughts and personality. It’s hard to affect change that way, both for yourself and for for other people.
Simply put, Rear Window is excellent. The movie was nominated for four Oscars; Best Director, Best Writing, Best Cinematography (Color) and Best Sound. It is rated top-50 all-time on IMDB.com and is considered by many to be Hitchcock’s best film. It is ranked 42nd on AFI’s top 100 list.
STANKO RATING: A- (4.5/5 Stars)