User Review: ‘Rear Window’

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Hitchcock month has begun at Film Misery! During the month of July we will be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s life and work as part of our Career Appreciation series. Earlier this week I sent a query for reviews of your favorite Hitchcock film.

The first response came from reader G1000 who has done a review/analysis of the classic Rear Window. Here’s what he has to say:

Rear Window is one of the best thrillers ever made, and there’s a reason: the main character doesn’t behave like a superhero. Too often in modern action and suspense movies, the protagonist seems invincible, able to do anything (John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard for example)

Photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries (played by the great Jimmy Stewart) can’t do that. He can’t even walk. Confined to a wheelchair after an shooting incident, he has nothing to do but stare out the window of his apartment.

He becomes a Peeping Tom, watching everyone in the neighborhood. From the newly married couple to the lonely dancer to the husband and wife who lower their dog to the ground in a basket every day, he knows their habits, who they are, and what they do.

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It’s a dreary existence, until Jeff notices the odd behavior of one of his neighbors, Lars Thorwald. He begins to believe a murder has been committed. And that’s when the movie really takes off.

His girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) is skeptical. But soon she starts to become convinced. The question still remains, though. Is Jeff merely imagining things?

The third major character in Rear Window is Stella (Thelma Ritter), Jeffries’ nurse. It’s hard to explain what makes her so appealing. Maybe it’s her charmingly morbid personality. Anyway, she has some of the best lines in the movie.

Stella soon starts to believe Jeff as well, and the three begin to investigate. The trouble is, no one else (not even Jeff’s detective friend) believes them.

The tension starts to build, as Stella digs up Thorwald’s flower bed, and Lisa breaks into his apartment. Will they find anything? And what if Thorwald comes home suddenly?

I dare not reveal any more to those who haven’t seen the film. Suffice to say, it’s one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most suspenseful and thrilling movies (ranking right up there with North by Northwest and Strangers on a Train).

The acting is solid. Stewart, one of the greatest actors of all time, is as good as he’s ever been. Kelly’s character doesn’t have much to do, but she’s solid enough. And Ritter steals the show as Stella.

The real star of course is Hitchcock. I’m not sure this is his best movie (it’s close), but Rear Window is probably his best directing job. It takes a great director to create tension when the action is set entirely in one apartment. But he pulls it off.

It was a crime that Alfred Hitchcock never won a Best Director award, and also that his only Best Picture win was for Rebecca (one of his lesser achievements).

He made many great films, many good ones, and perhaps a few lousy ones in his long career. But Rear Window is the one I’ll remember him by. It’s a brilliant movie.

Here is a clip from the movie:

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  • http://www.filmmisery.com Alex Carlson

    What I thought was amazing in ‘Rear Window’ was Hitchcock’s ability to use virtually no soundtrack to create suspense (a technique that since has been often imitated).

    Also, as a viewer I felt that I didn’t want to believe that the neighbor was the killer. It says so much about the mental state of Stewart’s character and the paranoia that is taking over. Whereas usually in a movie it’s frustrating how illogical the supporting characters are being when they don’t believe the protagonist, here is a case where the audience doesn’t even know if we can side with him.

    Excellent movie.

  • http://www.jeezem.com Mike

    great film

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