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Rear Window

Classics, Drama, and Mystery & Suspense movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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Simply classic Alfred Hitchcock. Great stuff.

  • Aug 17, 2012
**** out of ****

**** out of ****

I don't recall ever coming across a house without windows. The window in itself is a powerful invention; often found in households around the world because people like a room with a view. For instance, from my bedroom window I can see not only my backyard, but also that of the people who live just one neighborhood up from ours. It's interesting, because these people could be working in their garden, and I could be watching; yet in the daytime, they'd never notice, for there is no shining light coming from my room to illuminate my activity and silhouette presence when the greatest light source of all is still active. Jeff Jeffries (James Stewart), the prime protagonist of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window", lives in an apartment complex and has arguably a much better view of the lives of others from his place than I do.

He sees so much; the pretty girl across the way who does ballet, the dog that snoops around in the businessman neighbor's garden, the lonely pianist with the clear glass window, and the sad older lady who lives down below. Jeff, a professional photographer, is hurt on the job and breaks his leg, confined to his apartment for at least a few months; which explains why he has the time on his hands to observe the world around him. This is how he spends most of his days. Occasionally, he's visited by his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) and his soon-to-be-wife Lisa (Grace Kelly), with whom Jeff is having second thoughts in regards to their marriage, which has yet to be planned or even confirmed (but it seems inevitable).

Jeff is stressed but not tired. He usually falls asleep to the sounds of the musician next-door and the sights across from his apartment, waking up with either his pair of binoculars or his camera in hand. One day, he's looking about with the zoom lenses on the camera and spies his neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) washing a knife and a handsaw. Previously, he'd seen Thorwald and his bedridden wife fighting verbally and physically. Of course, this leads Jeffrey to become suspicious of his neighbor's activity. The deeper he digs, the more convinced Jeffrey becomes that he's witnessed the aftermath of a cold-blooded murder.

As with most Alfred Hitchcock pictures, "Rear Window" utilizes slow-burn to the fullest effect possible. Hitchcock conjures up suspense by keeping Jeff isolated and grounded in his apartment for the entire film, with him being the primary focus (he sees all). His descent into obsession is very intoxicating, and while it's an undeniably slow descent, Hitchcock is such a talented filmmaker in making it seem to go by so fast. As usual, there is also a great payoff; in the form of a final twenty minutes so impeccably tense that they warrant full marks for the film on their own.

But of course, Hitchcock's film is not only a fine suspense picture, but also a richly thematic labyrinth of endless intrigue. Obviously, this is a film about voyeurism and one of the most influential at that. I don't consider voyeurism as a genre in itself, but a lot of earlier films are about the disturbingly complex relationship between the viewer and the screen; such as "Peeping Tom" and "Blow-Up". These films involve characters with cameras who assume a similar role as the audience; we are mere spectators to the show. There's a quote that sums up this theme in particular, spoken by Lisa: "We've become a generation of peeping toms." Indeed Lisa; we have. And I couldn't love it more. Cinema is a gateway for us all to be voyeurs, but free of the guilt (well, almost free of it). Maybe we are Jeffrey; and the courtyard that he sees through his various tools of voyeurism is the screen.

Sound also plays a big role in the film's thematic resonance. The music is generated from the musician who plays his piano night and day (although mostly day). Therefore, the music is heard by everyone who lives in the apartment complex, including Jeffrey. There's the suggestion that they all act in their own way according to the music, which also serves as an important plot element towards the end. Sound has always been important in Hitchcock's films. As usual, it could even be considered minimal; but not in creating the success that ultimately is "Rear Window". This is quite simply a perfect thriller; we've no doubt seen our share of cheap imitations and knock-offs, but nothing hits the spot quite like a little Alfred Hitchcock to spice up your otherwise boring day. He is God-like in how he commands his actors and his dramatic build-up. I've never seen anything like it and I don't suppose I ever will again. But that's only appropriate.

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More Rear Window reviews
Quick Tip by . August 24, 2010
Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 film "Rear Window", is one of the great est of Hitchcock movies. Jimmy Stewart does a great job in a genre that you don't see him in very often. Grace Kelly, what can I say, very easy on the eyes and a wonderful actress. I loved this suspense movie. By the way, I collect cameras and I love the fact that I own the same model camera as the one he used in the movie, a great German made camera, Exakta, with a Zeiss telephoto lens.
Quick Tip by . August 24, 2010
I always found it quite ironic that a man in a wheel chair would foil the plans of the man that would later go on to become famous for playing Ironside, a man in a wheel chair.
review by . December 18, 2008
rear Window
In my mind Jimmy Stewart's incredible performance in Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 suspense classic "Rear Window" has to rank as the finest single performance in the history of film.  Stewart plays roving news photographer L.B. Jeffries who has the great misfortune of having to recouperate from a broken leg in the stifling summer heat in his tiny mid-town apartment.  He is confined to his wheelchair and passes the time gazing out his window and observing the comings and goings …
review by . October 20, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
The ultimate Hitchcock classic, REAR WINDOW gives us a glimpse into the mind of Alfred Hitchcock, and in turn Hitchcock turns the mirror on us and forces us to admit our darkest desire...to be voyeurs.That is exactly what Jeffries is. Jeffries (James Stewart) is a wheelchair-bound photographer who spends his time cooped up in his apartment, peeping in on the neighbours across the courtyard. He comes up with "names" for them; Miss Torso the ballerina; Miss Lonely-Hearts; The Newly-Weds and so on. …
review by . October 24, 2000
Pros: Great concept and good script; Grace Kelly; excellent character development     Cons: leaves you hanging at the end; the dog bites the dust (which upset me more than anything else in the film.)     Many people rant and rave about Rear Window, declaring it Hitchcok's masterpiece. Yes, the film defines Hitchcock's style better than any film I've seen thus far in my Hitchcock class. HOWEVER, I was not as impressed with Rear Window as I was with some of …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classicRear Windowis both confined and multileveled: both its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbors. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behavior glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder.

Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered.

Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the center of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbors (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch ...

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