Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Rear Window (1954)

An injured photojournalist (James Stewart) is laid up in his New York apartment with nothing to do save spy on his neighbors through the rear window. From his vantage point he can see directly into the apartments of several of his neighbors and learn about their private lives. Conveniently, they are always perfectly framed and well lit.

Into this he is pestered by his beautiful, stylish, and way too young for him girlfriend (Grace Kelly) who wants to marry his old and dumpy ass. You can see why this is such a problem. Thankfully Hitch acknowledges the irony.

Anyhow, he notices one angry neighbor and gets the impression that he done off'd his wife. His girlfriend and housekeeper, initially unreceptive to his voyeuristic ways, become rapt up in our little mystery. His war buddy cop doesn't see anything he can investigate.

Rear Window is filmed entirely on one huge set. It had 31 apartments, some with electricity and running water. They tore out the first floor so that "ground level" could start in the basement, giving the set more height. It's the only time I can remember looking at a set, knowing it was a sound stage set, and thinking it looked wonderful.

There's a risque scene involving "Miss Torso". She is seen doing ballet in her bra and panties in front of a picture window. At one point she turns away from the camera, takes off her top, and bends at the waist, effectively mooning the camera. Oddly, I couldn't find a good image of it. I know I've seen housekeeper Thelma Ritter a million times, I just don't know where. No relation to John, apparently.

This is the kind of movie Hitchcock did well. A complex scene filled with drama for our hero to draw lines and create suspense. The mystery itself isn't very complex but it serves the story well, and the performances and dialog are excellent, along with the right dose of humor. Maybe my second favorite from Hitch. AMRU 4.
"When I married Miles, we were both a couple of maladjusted misfits. We are still maladjusted misfits, and we have loved every minute of it."

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