Rear Window

"Excellent"

Rear Window Review


Seeing the restored "Rear Window" on the big screen again gave me goose bumps. This voyeuristic mystery is a masterpiece of meticulous detail -- the kind of detail that just doesn't come across on a TV, I don't care how big the screen or how sharp the picture.

All but four of the characters spend the entire movie 50 feet away from the audience's vantage point. They have little audible dialogue. Yet Alfred Hitchcock, genius that he was, managed to portray the littlest nuances of their personalities as James Stewart -- our bored, peeping hero, laid up with a broken leg in his sweltering New York flat -- spies on them all in their apartments from his window.

The story, of course, centers around stir-crazy Stewart's intense scrutiny of one of these neighbors, after witnessing the aftermath of a possible murder. Raymond Burr (sporting badly dyed gray hair), plays a scowling, barrel-chested salesman who steps out several times late one night carrying very heavy luggage and returns with the same bags much lighter. When his bickering, bed-ridden wife is conspicuously absent the next morning, Stewart's analytical imagination goes into overdrive.

The precision with which Hitchcock unveils piecemeal the evidence of homicide gives this picture a sense of high anxiety that sneaks up on you, because the mischievous director lulls his audience into a sense of comfort and familiarity with sharp banter (between Stewart and the snappy Thelma Ritter as his busybody nurse) and other delightful distractions. For instance, the luminous Grace Kelly, at her most intelligent and desirable as Stewart's attentive and adventurous society girlfriend.

While not as crisp as a picture produced today would be, this print of "Window" has uniformly restored its Technicolor splendor and the remarkably precise sound design which helped win the film a pair of technical Oscars.

Hitchcock (who won Best Director) makes the audience strain, just as Stewart does, to hear voices across the courtyard between buildings and over the din of the city. The effect helps to mount tremendous tension as Kelly and Ritter start taking risks to expose Burr's crime -- like sneaking into his apartment to look for clues while Stewart watches helplessly from his window.

Hitchcock's most timeless masterpiece, "Rear Window" is more modern as ever in today's voyeuristic times (witness trashy TV talk shows, "The Real World," "Cops" and "Blind Date"), and its battery of modest, natural performances is equally ageless. Stewart and Kelly have never been more human then they are in this film.

"Rear Window" is also a testament to the suspense master's boundless talent for simple, gripping storytelling.

He establishes the basis of Stewart's character in a single camera pan -- across the cast on his broken leg, over a stack of magazine covers and a smashed camera (evidence of the accident that landed him in a cast), and up to a wall of framed, action-packed pictures divulging his intrepid photojournalism career.

In another shot, he sets up summer in New York, passing across the screen Stewart's sweaty brow, a thermometer displaying 94 degrees and a couple across the courtyard sleeping on their fire escape.

Just watching the bamboo shades on Stewart's windows roll up in the title sequence to reveal nearby buildings full of fascinating neighbors betrays the director's brilliance at a fundamental level.

As is always the case with Hitchcock, this is a movie that only gets better as the trepidation builds. I've seen "Rear Window" at least a dozen times, and my shoulders still get tense as it approaches its ominous climax without ever venturing far from Stewart's windowsill.



Rear Window

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 29th January 1955

Box Office Worldwide: $26.1M

Budget: $1000 thousand

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 63

IMDB: 8.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as L. B. Jefferies, as Lisa Carol Fremont, as Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle, as Stella, as Lars Thorwald, Judith Evelyn as Miss Lonelyheart, Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. as Songwriter, Georgine Darcy as Miss Torso, Sara Berner as Woman on Fire Escape, Frank Cady as Man on Fire Escape, Jesslyn Fax as Miss Hearing Aid, Rand Harper as Newlywed, Irene Winston as Mrs. Emma Thorwald, Havis Davenport as Newlywed, Bess Flowers as Songwriter's Party Guest with Poodle (uncredited), as Girl at Songwriter's Party (uncredited), as Clock-Winder in Songwriter's Apartment (uncredited), Anthony Warde as Detective (uncredited), as Jeff's Editor (voice) (uncredited)

Also starring:


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

45 Years Movie Review

45 Years Movie Review

Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...

Sinister 2 Movie Review

Sinister 2 Movie Review

As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...

Advertisement
Paper Towns Movie Review

Paper Towns Movie Review

After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...

Vacation Movie Review

Vacation Movie Review

Both the characters and the tone have been updated as a new generation of Grizwolds...

Trainwreck Movie Review

Trainwreck Movie Review

Amy Schumer makes her big screen debut with a script that feels like a much-extended...

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...

Advertisement