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Crime, Thriller, Mystery, Romance
IMDB rating:
Alfred Hitchcock
James Stewart as L. B. 'Jeff' Jefferies
Grace Kelly as Lisa Carol Fremont
Wendell Corey as Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle
Thelma Ritter as Stella
Raymond Burr as Lars Thorwald
Judith Evelyn as Miss Lonelyhearts
Ross Bagdasarian as Songwriter
Georgine Darcy as Miss Torso
Sara Berner as Wife living above Thorwalds
Frank Cady as Husband living above Thorwalds
Jesslyn Fax as Sculpting neighbor with hearing aid
Rand Harper as Newlywed man
Irene Winston as Mrs. Anna Thorwald
Havis Davenport as Newlywed woman
Storyline: Professional photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race. Confined to his New York apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing the neighbors. He begins to suspect that a man across the courtyard may have murdered his wife. Jeff enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his visiting nurse Stella to investigate.
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It didn't work for me, the suspense was missing. Great direction and acting.
I am aware that many people like this film a lot, and after many years it has indeed become a classic, and that's why I saw it for the first time yesterday. And I found it updated which is not very strange since we are talking about a film made in the early fifties. There is not much suspense in the plot mostly because as the story goes by, it is very obvious who the murderer is. The definition of suspense is: that the spectator should be guessing who the guilty person is, or even better: guessing who the bad guy is. In this film, we do know who the bad guy is, but we don't know if he really did it or not. Real suspense would have been that the guy that everyone thought that did it, in fact didn't did it at all, and that the one that looks innocent had done it. Now that would've been a twist! There are a couple of other things that killed the suspense in me. Why a man that is a photographer and tries to convince a policeman that his neighbor killed his wife and has no evidence and is looking through the window with a telephoto camera, doesn't take pictures of the scene of crime and use them as evidence. And how come that a man that is going to murder his wife and cut her in small pieces doesn't draw down the window blinds so no one can see what he is doing and testify against him. But I have to admit, Hitchcock gets away with it anyway, because he makes you see things that only a great director like him can. He will make you believe that Jeff and Lisa are right and everyone else is wrong just by watching this couple's attitude, created through their acting. And there is the strength of these actors; they are extremely reassuring in their personalities that as such, it impregnates the whole film. Just by the way they pose and sit and look you can almost smell that whatever they do is right. On the contrary, Thorwald hasn't a chance because from the very first scene he is doomed; he is the bad guy even before the film has started! And I intuitively guessed it and killed the suspense, sorry. I liked "Vertigo" even if some scenes are a little bit slow and long and I liked "Psycho", that's a masterpiece. But "Rear Window" it's just too obvious.
Here's a good question
Who is the hero in this film? Or Is the a hero in this film?

Jimmy Stewart plays a helpless baby in this film. Stuck in a chair and unable to scream "WATCH OUT" to Grace Kelly, Rear Window has no hero character. Well what about Grace Kelly? She's adventurous enough to go jumping into windows, maybe she's the hero? Maybe not. A hero saves the day which Grace Kelly does not. She is unsuccessful in this case. So is this a thriller without a tell me.
An Interesting Psychological Thriller
One of the most remarkable things about Rear Window is the way in which the perspective of the cinematography contributes to a feeling of claustrophobia for the viewer as we experience everything outside of the protagonist's apartment from his point of view looking out of his window as he recuperates from a broken leg. The film is an interesting commentary on voyeurism, privacy, and gender although I wish that the plot had been a bit more developed than it was and that the audience was given more context for the murder of the villain's wife, the event which drives the action in the movie. I also wish that the conflicted feelings of the protagonist in reference to marrying his girlfriend had been dealt with in a fuller sense.
"Rear Window" describes Hitchcock at his best...
"Rear Window" comes very close to be the perfect Hitchcock film that illustrates nearly all his great abilities...

Hitchcock demonstrates in "Rear Window" that he is a great voyeur, that he loves to spy on his characters making each viewer into a voyeur, forcing audience to see everything from his hero's point of view... James Stewart is hold up in his Manhattan two rooms apartment with a broken leg... He passes his time spying on his neighbors through back window in an orgy of voyeurism...

Speaking of technical challenge, "Rear Window" is Hitchcock prototype... Most of the film is shot from one confined set... It is also notably theatrical since it takes place in one room...

Hitchcock forces limitations on himself, as he did in "Lifeboat" when he shot entirely on a restricted set, in only one boat... And in "Rope" (his first Technicolor film) where the single setting for the production had only walls and furniture...

Having restricted his movements, Hitchcock is demanded to be ingenious in order to keep curiosity alive... He builds a realistic courtyard of apartments with inhabitants in it, and the restriction becomes a potency and the technique a fascinating example of what he chooses to call "pure cinema."

Hitchcock's camera tracks out through the windows... It never goes inside the apartments... We never see close-ups of the characters... We can only see what Stewart sees... We feel like we are watching people through a window instead of in a movie...

Hitchcock doesn't use any kind of music... We hear natural sounds, occasional live music played in the surrounding apartment...

"Rear Window" describes Hitchcock at his best for the way it works on several levels, yet hides its own complexity... Stewart, tied in too by pressure from his high society girl who loves him and wants to marry him... Everything he sees out is related to this problem... He avoids to discuss marriage with her, though he himself does not seem to realize it...

All the while, the people in the 31 apartments that he can see live out their little lives… The tormented middle-aged bachelor, composer/songwriter; the couple who beats the heat by sleeping on a fire escape; the newlyweds and lovers; the tragic "Miss Lonelyhearts" and her fantasies of entertaining gentlemen callers; the hearing-impaired sculptor working day and night; the vivacious and sexy blonde dancer "Miss Torso" who does suggestive routines in bikini tops and, most important, the hysterical "nagging wife" - lying in bed - and her grouchy fed-up husband, a jewelry salesman...

One 'great shot' reveals just how involved Stewart has become in their lives when Miss Lovelyheart - in her romantic dinner for two - raises her glass in a toast to her imaginary lover and Stewart raises his glass as well...

The urban backyard setting is the night city terrain of "Rear Window," a night city shattered by the sharp sound of a loud female scream and the sound of breaking glass...

Hitchcok presents Stewart who sees (or think he sees) what he is powerless to stop... The insidious salesman strangely attracts Stewart's attention... His Passtime becomes an obsession after he suspects that he has murdered his ailing wife and specially when he notices that she is missing... His ravishing fiancée (Grace Kelly) and his nurse (Thelma Ritter) warn him that voyeurism is a crime and is dangerous... But Stewart persists, eventually he was turned on ... This explain perfectly his specific use of a huge zoom lens to do his peeping as he monitors the murderer's activities... The murderer and his wife became subject of Stewart's parody with the "too perfect, too talented, too sophisticated," Grace Kelly...

"Rear Window" is visually very strong... Hitchcock designs the film in such a way so that his view is our view... He manipulates our emotions because he knows perfectly his work... He has the film synchronized in his mind... Shooting and editing are, for him, a simple mechanical phase... The creativity has all taken place before...

The first shot of "Rear Window" is a perfect example of this reality - as his many typical first shots - for the way it visually transmits the whole complex to the audience...

Hitchcock is a master at using his camera to create suspense... Like Stewart, we are restricted in movements, paralyzed inside the apartment, immobile, trapped in a room where we are anxious and uncertain... There is no way we can warn the outcome... This is what 'suspense' is all about—not surprise... An effect of intense and prolonged expectancy, lacking all help in the state of knowing that we possess but the characters do not... And, of course, all this great suspense is created by only 'visual' means...

Stewart gives the performance of his life behaving at ease... He was the perfect Hitchcock character: a voyeur by profession, an unpretentious photo journalist who becomes caught in a terrifying event...

When you see the film, feel the menacing 'look' of the murderer staring those evil eyes at you... And don't forget to catch Alfred Hitchcok in his customary cameo appearance, this time repairing a clock... Enjoy!
In the mid-fifties, Hitchcock brought remarkable suspense by reverting to the logic of a silent film (with an observer behind the lens as the hero)
Many reviewers and critics have commented on Alfred Hitchcock's theme of the voyeur in Rear Window (the mere thought of a voyeur in a suspense film conjures up images from other classic Hitchcock films), and I felt that voyeuristic bug as well. But I realized something that I hadn't thought of as I watched it for the first time- this is a return for Hitchcock to his skills as a master of silent-film chills. As L.B. Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart in one of his most infamous performances) is in his wheelchair viewing out one perspective to other inhabitants in the apartment, the audience views right along-side him. So, for more or less 50 percent of the film, the only sounds we hear are the sounds of mere realism, as Hitch's camera keeps a close eye on things.

As the thrills build in the second hour of the film there is considerably more dialog than the first hour. This could, and occasionally does, present a challenge for the audience member that could either be accepted & payed off or resented- can one sit back and just watch things unfold as in a film from the 20's? Personally, the experience of seeing these events unfold and increase was near electrifying. Along with Stewart's performance, which ranges from amusing to terrified, compelling to frightened (i.e. Hitch's 'everyday man'), there's Grace Kelly as Lisa, who carries her own beauty & inner conflicts, and Raymond Burr as Thorvold, who could have things going a little better with his wife.

If we empathize with Jeff, it's because we become as much apart of his mind-set/POV as he already is, and that's the ticket to the film's true success. Not only is there a magnetic kind of skill to which Hitchcock (and cinematographer Robert Burks) presents us with the apartments' supporting and minor characters and how their fates are played out against the enclosed backdrop, but the psychology of Jeff becomes parallel, or against, to the audience's. This is the story of one man's temptation and compulsion to be involved with those he can see (much like movie-goers have with any given film), and how perception of the realities around him become ours. Rear Window may have become dated for some movie-goers, particularly since the theme has been played on by other movies and TV shows (like The Simpsons for example). Yet there is a certain effectiveness to it all, even in the earlier scenes, that holds an edge over imitators. A+
Why is this movie considered so great? The people that praise it are hoity-toity pretentious "film buffs". I thought the acting was great, and the cinematography was excellent, but I was not on the edge of my seat at all during this film. It was not suspenseful, as I could tell what was going to happen, and I never felt worried about any of the characters because I could tell they would be saved in one way or another.
This must have been a killer to make
This is an excellent movie and I still don't know how Hitchcock was able to pull it off so well. Multiple sets on camera in the same frame and still not confusing or disjointed.

It is also one of his most funny and entertaining pieces and that is another accomplishment given the dark subject matter. It could have been a morbid and nauseating film with the wrong tone but, he keeps it light and still doesn't lose a lick of the tension.

There are so many scenes here that are aces but one favorite is when Jeffries' detective friend visits him to tell him that he is wrong in suspecting foul play. Several things goes on in the scene at once and it is so well written. The looks that Stewart and Corey give each other are priceless.

Thelma Ritter as the nurse is brilliant and it's a shame that she wasn't really acknowledged more for the part. Grace Kelly was excruciatingly beautiful but you couldn't really see her as much more than that. She stopped acting before she developed into an accomplished actor. Her best scene is at the beginning when she realises that Stewart won't marry her.

The best part is of course played by Raymond Burr and as was intended, he does resemble David Selznick. It almost creepy how much he looks like Hitchcock's boss. I wonder how Selznick took it. It is a very difficult part too, virtually silent and incredibly menacing.

You could go on and on about the meaning of the whole thing. One thing comes to mind, though. This is a movie that virtually defines what a movie is. Perceptions, reactions, conclusions and all that defines great art. It's all here.
Copernican Cinema
Spoilers herein.

I just don't like Hitchcock. I admit that he `delivered value' in his day, but as I review his films today, I find them trite, badly dated. The style of acting he used now looks `actorly.' His camera framing is well considered but unimaginative by today's standards. The stories are not engaging (to me).

But this film really is a classic. Not because of the acting or the dialog, but because it was so cleverly conceived. And because the execution is so purely cinematic.

The first problem a writer/director faces is what stance the camera takes. Is it a fairly static `audience' as if you were watching a play? Is it godlike in always seeing things from the best perspective, though sometimes humanly impossible? Is it a character? Or does it follow a character sometime showing their point of view, sometimes their reaction? Does it act?

Do we admit the camera exists -- by introducing jiggle, or showing operator's functions like focusing, developing? Do we dissolve the camera's perspective by juggling time or perspectives? Do we try a `100 simultaneous cameras' approach?

Hitchcock usually uses the static theatrical approach -- way too much for modern tastes. He punctuates this by sometimes doing a character focused shot, and sometimes a spectacular-for-the-time godshot -- as in the `Psycho' shower scene.

But this film is more purely conceived for the camera. There are no godshots. Nearly all the camerawork is from Jeff's eye, or of Jeff's apartment, with a few notable exceptions. What is novel is why this works -- the set and entire story were composed backwards. That is, instead of having some slice of life that the camera discovers, this reality exists as if it were created by the camera before the action starts. Everything that is required to motivate the world is comprehensible from that apartment -- the entire physics of this world is based on its center.

In other words, Hitchcock's achievement here is not how he accommodates the camera to the world, but the world to the camera.

Pure genius.
Through a Glass Not Darkly Enough
First let me get this out of the way. I'm a huge Hitchcock fan. But this simply is not one of my favorites. Usually movies based on noir writer Cornell Woolrich's plots work very well with his unusual twists and turns and core themes of nothing being as it 'seems' until in the end we see 'the truth' behind the facade. There's a little of that here, but just a little. It's as straightforward as possible. Yes, the set for this movie is wonderful. But the 'star' turns from Stewart, Kelly, Ritter, even Burr et. al, are a bit artificial. James Stewart, I have to admit, I've never liked in Hitchcock movies like 'Rope' or 'Man Who Knew Too Much' - his aw shucks, limited acting vocabulary doesn't stretch far. Grace Kelly - I don't believe she is in love with this man for a minute. Her accent is strange throughout and distracting and she is wooden - trying so hard to look beautiful she doesn't dare let a real expression cross her face. Her saving the day from afar is the last thing I'd expect this Patrician Figure to attempt - maybe Teresa Wright or even an Anna Massey, but not Grace. Thelma does her shtick - but does it to better effect in ALL ABOUT EVE. Burr seems a bit uncomfortable in the role of the one-note hapless villain and Judith Evelyn seems lost as sea as well in her rather thankless cameo as Ms. Lonelyhearts. She does her usual hysterical turn, but not as well as she does in THE TINGLER or FEMALE ON THE BEACH. There are some boring stretches along the way and too much artifice here - notwithstanding the interesting 'claustropobic' set, done just as well in LIFEBOAT as far as I'm concerned. The actors never seemed real people but 'stars' playing themselves. As such, they didn't provide enough interest for me as characters and helped keep the movie a bit 'flat'. The so-called climactic scene of Burr confronting Stweart was a real let-down. I can name a lot of H's movies that seemed scarier and more real, and had great photography too, such as THE BIRDS, MARNIE, and the excellently acted FRENZY. Not to mention the tension, editing and groundbreaking cinematic 'vision' seen in his early black and white pictures. But this seems to be everybody's favorite and that's fine with me, there's no right or wrong opinion. This one just doesn't grab me.
Disappointed - AGAIN!
Alfred Hitchcock......Oh dear, I'm going to upset a lot of people here. But he doesn't quite do it for me. So far I've sat through the 39 steps, North by northwest, Rear window and Psycho and so far only the latter has really entertained me. The premise of the film is great one....A guy laid up in bed, believes he witnesses a murder from his bedroom window, and goes about proving it. I like the idea, but Stewart's inkling and further surmises are so fat outweighed by the evidence brought to his bedside, that he'd be registered mentally ill if he'd continued with his allegations in real life...He is of course proved right! It reminds me a lot of 12 angry men, of which I have the exact same criticism. WHERE'S YOUR GODDAM EVIDENCE!!!!

So what is my problem with Hithcock? Well I guess I'm of an age where thrillers have been made as being a lot more gritty...see Se7en, French connection and I suppose I'm basing my reaction to any other thriller upon what I've been brought up with. To me, there is a whole heap of plot-holes and lack of realism, that I just feel the audience of the day must have been very naive. But that isn't the case as films such as 'M' and Casablanca to name but two have proved.

OK, so I understand that a film doesn't have to be realistic to be entertaining....Was the Wizard of Oz realistic...I don't think so, and to be fair I did find this film relatively entertaining, but I kept thinking it was supposed to be a thriller and those annoyances kept annoying me!!!!

Maybe, one day I will get it...Maybe one day I'll be watching this again and saying to my grandkids how great a film it is.....But I think it'll more likely be se7en or 'M'! May your thunder begin!
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