Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954): USA

Reviewed by Adina Latoya Livingston, Viewed at the Mann Chinese Theater, AFI Film Fest, Hollywood, CA

One of America’s great directors the late Alfred Hitchcock did an awesome job on this early 1950’s hit Rear Window. In his career he directed more than 50 films. His flair was for narrative, maliciously withholding crucial information and winning the emotions of the audience like no other.The film features the legendary Grace Kelly and one of the most well established actors of all time James Stewart. The film deals with romance, crime and mystery. Most of the drama is concentrated in the confines of Steward’s small apartment, where the camera solely focuses on the lives of different individuals.

Due to a leg injury, Stewart is obligated to stay at home. During a summer heat wave, he passes the time by watching his neighbors who keep their windows open to stay cool. Stewart gains suspicion when certain events take place that seem out of the ordinary. He then quickly contacts a friend who coincidently is a detective to look into the case.  Lisa, an affluent fashion designer, is eager to get a permanent commitment from the unenthusiastic Stewart. In an effort to get his consent, she goes out of her way and gets his meals catered from the Stork Club. Stella, a voice of earthy common sense, insists that there must be something wrong with Stewart to reject the attention of someone like Lisa. Although she puts up a formidable resistance to his “ghoulish” fascination with the Thorwalds, she too enters his fantasy and joins Lisa in a hunt towards solving a mystery.

The primary theme here is of course, voyeurism, but that’s so self evident and so widely commented upon by everyone who has ever discussed that. Besides, Jon Michael Hayes’s sparkling dialogue says most of what needs to be said far better than I could. “We’ve become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look for a change,” the crank but smart Stella opines, offering advice that should be presented before every episode of “Big Brother.” In any case, the real statement of any Hitchcock film is never in the words. They are about feelings and ideas that cannot be expressed verbally – though guys like me will never stop trying. Rear window has been repeatedly re-told, parodied, or referenced. Some of the more popular films head over heals, what lies beneath and Disturbia all dealing with mystery and love.

I enjoyed watching this ancient film because the techniques used are very out dated. In a way, it makes me appreciate modern technology. Also, a lot of modern film makers draw their inspiration from this classic and I think it is worth the watch.


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