Unit 4 Film Review: Rear Window (1954) Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

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Grace Kelly
Lisa Carol Fremont

Wendell Corey
Thomas J. Doyle

Thelma Ritter
Stella the nurse

Raymond Burr
Lars Thorwal

Unit 4 Film Review: Rear Window (1954) Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

As I embark on another Hitchcock film review I am reminded of, again the minimalist nature of this film. It seems that this production could be another, not out of place on Broadway or Shaftesbury Ave. I felt myself reminiscing to the sets of West Side Story when seeing the closed apartments of Greenwich village, NYC., (my old home) as the Burbank studio system saw them. Again Hitchcock stirs the pot of emotion and human shortcomings. This is a film, concerned with a much seedier underbelly of emotion. There is secrecy here as always with Hitchcock. But the voyeuristic stance that Jimmy Stewart is forced into gives the whole production a delicious tinge of the forbidden. Jimmy Stewart plays the role of an injured photo-journalist. The audience is given glimpses into his tenacious nature in the opening pan shot of various accolades, magazine covers and the image that immediately preceded the shattering of his camera and left leg whilst shooting the Indy 500 from the middle of the track. The temperature is off the chart, boredom is at an all time high as the frustrated snapper settles into his sixth week without decent mobility (or a proper scratch). While he has regular visits from the wonderfully hardy and level headed Stella, his personal physiotherapist (Thelma Ritter) and the beautiful and poised Lisa Carol Fremont (Grace Kelly) his only way to pass his time is by gazing out the back window to the (ingeniously) constructed square and the life, lives and lies within. And this is where the story really starts... ‘In this brilliant movie about watching the neighbors, Alfred Hitchcock turns the lens on his audience. "We have become a race of Peeping Toms," notes one character not only commenting on Jeff's obsessive voyeurism but also that of the cinematic spectator.’ Simonpillai R., (2010) What do we see when we spy on people unawares, and what are the inherent responsibilities? The first responsibility seems to be a matter of self-preservation. One must remain hidden in order to peep. Though only one part of the partnership can be aware, the relationship between peeper and peeped is a personal and fragile one (not to mention potentially dangerous and distasteful). And what other responsibilities lie with the

Unit 4 Film Review: Rear Window (1954) Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

spy? Surely they must strive to prevent wrong or harmful doings that they see happening to others, surely? But in doing so they must surrender their anonymity.

This is the situation James Stewart’s character finds himself in. After witnessing increased tension between a neighboring salesman and spouse he starts to notice and interpret strange behaviour. After the disappearance of the wife he witnesses certain acts. A machete and pruning saw being wrapped in newsprint in the kitchen. A large trunk tied and shipped from the premises. The entirety of the missing spouse’s wardrobe being packed and stored.

‘In the hands of a lesser talent, this might have become a self-conscious stunt, but in Hitchcock's it has the tightly wound perfection of a flawless sonnet or sonata’. Sterritt D., (2003)

All of these indicators are enough to obsess James Stewart and encourage him to intrigue and involve Grace Kelly.

The most notable scene (strangely reminiscent of a Simpson’s episode) sees Grace Kelly searching through the (assumed) killer’s apartment. Audiences must have been gripped to the point of nausea when they see Raymond Burr’s killer return home and Kelly trapped.

‘An early ad summed up one of the film's enduring appeals: If you don't experience delicious terror, then pinch yourself--you're most probably dead.’ Levy E., (2005)

Sadly the word limit prevents me from doing this film justice, again an audience member has found themselves powerless to prevent the emotional string-pulling-power of Hitchcock, from beyond the grave.

Critic Bibliography Levy E., (October 10, 2005). ‘EmanuelLevy.com’, rottentomatoes.com Simonpillai R., (May 29, 2010). ‘Askmen.com’, rottentomatoes.com

Unit 4 Film Review: Rear Window (1954) Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Sterritt D., (April 2, 2003). ‘Christian Science Monitor’, rottentomatoes.com Image List Poster Image: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1017289-rear_window/

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