(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Rear Window (1954)
One Sentence Plot Summary: L.G. Jefferies ignores his incredibly nice and attractive girlfriend in order to pay attention to what’s happening with his neighbors and gets lucky by exposing a murder.
Why It’s on the List: This is the first of two Alfred Hitchcock movies on my favorites list. A number of years ago, I bought two collections of his films that covered just about everything he’d ever done in the Hollywood portion of his career. A lot can be said about Hitchcock as a professional filmmaker and the way poor way he treated many of his female actors. He had an almost fetish like appreciation blondes, and it’s represented here by Grace Kelly. He also was able to attract big name actors like Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant whenever he needed to as well.
This feels almost like a play in that the action is very confined and we really are only in Jefferies’s apartment. Everything outside of it seen from the POV of that apartment. Hitchcock was obsessed with controlling everything. This includes the script, actions, and actors. Under the circumstances of this film, it must have been pretty easy to control everything. I love this movie because L.G. Jefferies starts out as a crazy person, but he’s eventually proved to be correct. He even drags the closest people around him into this mystery. Jefferies is a peeping tom spying on all of his neighbors, but he becomes fixated on the possibility Lars Thorwald (played by Ryamond Burr, most famous for playing Perry Mason) killed his wife. In real life, Jefferies probably would just be reading too much into the situation. The fact that he has a photographer’s eye makes this all the more interesting.
While this movie did come out in 1954, I think our interest in other people hasn’t changed. Maybe we’re not spying on our neighbors as much because air conditioning is a thing and people don’t leave their windows open as much, but we are spying on other people online through social media and becoming absorbed in the drama. There’s also the true crime aspect. Maybe we’re not seeing the Thorwald’s in person but we have all watched true crime documentaries on Netflix or listened to podcasts and wondered who dun it. Rear Window is still relevant in a lot of indirect ways, and Hitchcock had a knack for identifying people’s perversions and obsessions.
*As Disney and HBO Max put it, there are a lot of outdated gender references. Miss Torso, The thoughts on marriage and relationships. Too many little things to discuss
MVP: Alfred Hitchcock is one of the first “American” directors to see movies as a visual medium. What makes this movie work out so well is that he crafts this mini narratives for the all the neighbors who don’t get names or a lot of dialogue. Unless you are watching and paying close attention, you would miss a lot of what happens. Hitchcock was playing a very different game than a lot of other filmmakers were in Hollywood. Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood time period last for almost years, and while he generally stayed in the same ballpark and casted the same type of women as his leads (blondes), he constantly innovated and went against the grain.
Best Performance: Jimmy Stewart somehow doesn’t fall into putty every time Grace Kelly walks into the room, and for that, he’s a far better man than most. He was a bit older by this point and only had a couple truly great films left. This is one of them and he barely even had to move. Stewart somehow makes a peeping tom seem sympathetic and proves him to be correct. Another outstanding performance from one of the best actors ever.
Best Quote: “We’ve become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change. Yes sir. How’s that for a bit of homespun philosophy?” – Stella
Is there a sequel? There is a remake starring Christopher Reeve but no sequel.