Rear Window

October 11, 2011
By EmmaRainear GOLD, Charlotte, North Carolina
EmmaRainear GOLD, Charlotte, North Carolina
18 articles 16 photos 2 comments

There is something to be said for the phrase, “you can’t beat the classics.” 1950s Hollywood was a very different place than the trashy, glitzy celebrity hub of today. Directors such as Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock were empowering movies with genius plotlines, regal sets and extraordinary actors. Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Rear Window ticks all of the above and more as the elegant Grace Kelly and unmistakable James Stewart command the screen with the same shine as Stewart’s character, J.B. Jeffries’ prize camera.

J.B. Jeffries, “Jeff,” is a professional photographer wheelchair bound after an accident during a photo shoot. He passes the long weeks of confinement watching his very unique neighbors out the window of his apartment. Across the backyard, one couple, the Thorwalds argue and bicker constantly. A young dancer Jeff names Miss Torso openly practices her routine for all the men in the neighborhood to watch. Below the Thorwalds, a middle-aged woman nicknamed Miss Lonelyhearts, entertains invisible men and mopes in her singlehood.

Jeff watches all of them from the constraints of his wheelchair and his habits draw negative attention from his insurance nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter) and girlfriend, Lisa Fremont. Lisa played by the stylish Grace Kelly, dismisses Jeff’s concerns about a particular neighbor, Mr. Thorwald after the disappearance of his wife, until a glance out Jeff’s window into Thorwald’s apartment prompts a change of her opinion. Using his photography equipment and Lisa’s feminine intuition, Jeff comes to the conclusion that Mr. Thorwald may be the sort of neighbor no one wants around after several curious events cast a shadow of suspicion over him.

With Thorwald’s curious activities, director Alfred Hitchcok adds suspense to complete the trifecta for a critically acclaimed movie. Grace Kelly and James Stewart light up the screen with their classic romance and Thelma Ritter’s tell-it-as-it-is personality comically relives what would have been a sinister undertone in Rear Window. The plot itself, for being a suspense film, actually remains unpredictable, a rare and commendable treat, as the audience member is left contemplating Thorwald’s innocence or guilt until the very end of the movie. The casting by Hitchcock is as laudable as the writing, for no one could have captured the sophisticated and somewhat egotistical Lisa Fremont as Grace Kelly did, and J.B. Jeffries would have been an ordinary nosy, bored apartment-dweller without the versatile James Stewart cast in the role.

The only downfall of Rear Window is the lack of multiple settings. Nearly all 115 minutes of the film focus on a single room in Jeff’s apartment, only changing to focus on the backyard between the apartment buildings when Lisa Fremont is investigating Mr. Thorwald. The absence of multiple cameras and panoramic shots in today’s movies, dually notes the age of the picture. That, and the obvious deaths of Kelly, Stewart and Hitchcock thirteen plus years ago severely date the DVD.

Datedness aside, Rear Window was one of the first displays of Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliance, and Grace Kelly’s incredible talents as one of the greatest film actresses in American history. She would go on to star in Hitchcock’s famous 1955 film, To Catch a Thief and a year before, capture an Academy Award for her performance in Country Girl. Her legacy was further immortalized when she left her movie career behind to marry Prince Rainier of Monacco and become a princess beloved by the world. Film critics and moviegoers acknowledge that there will probably never be another Grace Kelly or Alfred Hitchcock, and luckily, films such as Rear Window preserve their irreplaceable talents for old fans to cherish and new fans to discover for the first time.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jan. 13 2012 at 6:06 pm
JeremyHerbert PLATINUM, Fairview Park, Ohio
21 articles 0 photos 55 comments
I'd hesitate to call the one setting a "downfall." Hitchcock's intent was to tell a compelling, suspenseful story from just one room, matching Stewart's own limitations, being confined to just one room. The panoramic shots are also a design choice, keeping the film claustrophobic and tightly-knotted. Look at Hitchcock's North by Northwest and you'll see that he wasn't opposed to panoramic shots. Solid review, but I think you might be mistaking production flaws for artistic choices.

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