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163 out of 204 people found the following review useful:
Our Obsession with Voyeurism, 8 April 2004
Author: David D Lowery from Chicago
After viewing 'Rear Window' again, I've come to realize that Alfred
Hitchcock was not only a great moviemaker but also a great moviewatcher.
the making of 'Rear Window,' he knew exactly what it is about movies that
makes them so captivating. It is the illusion of voyeurism that holds our
attention just as it held Hitchcock's. The ability to see without being
has a spellbinding effect. Why else is it so uncommon to have characters
movies look directly into the camera? It just isn't as fun to watch
when they know you're there. When we watch movies, we are participating in
looking into another world and seeing the images of which we have no right
to see and listening to the conversations that we should not hear. 'Rear
Window' and Powell's 'Peeping Tom' are some of the best movies that aren't
afraid to admit this human trait. We are all voyeurs.
When watching 'Rear Window,' it is better to imagine Alfred Hitchcock sitting in that wheelchair rather than Jimmy Stewart. When the camera is using longshots to watch the neighborhood, it is really Hitchcock watching, not Stewart. Hitchcock's love of voyeurism is at the center of this movie, along with his fascination with crime and his adoration of the Madonna ideal.
In many of Hitchcock's movies, 'Rear Window,' 'Vertigo,' 'Psycho,' 'The Birds,' etc, the blonde actresses are objects. Notice how rarely they get close with the male leads. In 'Vertigo,' Stewart's character falls in love with the image of Madeleine; in 'Psycho,' we see the voyeur in Hitchcock peeking out of Norman Bates at Marion; and in 'Rear Window,' Jeff would rather stare out of his window than to hold the beautiful Lisa by his side. For Hitchcock, these women are ideals that should be admired rather than touched.
However, the story of 'Rear Window' isn't about the image of women, as it is in 'Vertigo.' 'Rear Window' focuses more on seduction of crime, not in committing it but in the act of discovering it. At one point in the story, Jeff's friend convinces him that there was no murder, and Jeff is disappointed, not because someone wasn't dead but because he could no longer indulge into his fantasy that someone was. Think how popular crime shows are on television, and noir films at the movies. People do not want to commit crimes; they want to see other people commit them.
'Rear Window' is one of the most retrospective movies I've ever seen. In a span of two hours, it examines some of the most recurrent themes in film. When we watch 'Rear Window,' it is really us watching someone watch someone else. And all the while, Hitchcock is sitting on the balcony and seeing our reaction. It is an act of voyeurism layered on top of itself, and it allows us to examine our own behavior as we are spellbound in Hitchcock's world. The only thing that I feel is missing in the movie is a scene of Jeff using his binoculars and seeing himself in a mirror. Why did Hitchcock leave it out? Maybe because it would have been too obvious what he was doing. Or maybe he was afraid that the audience would see themselves in the reflection of the lens.
160 out of 206 people found the following review useful:
Well of course when you've got nothing better to do with a broken leg you will accuse your neighbor of murder!, 3 December 2005
Author: Kristine (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Chicago, Illinois
Finally, I watched "Rear Window" by famous Alfred Hitchcock. First off,
I saw this movie on the top 250, and it's #14 on top of that! I mean,
it's gotta be great or a classic, right? Also, I'm a fan of the
Simpsons, and I got the 6th season where Bart breaks his leg and has to
watch the kids outside and accuses Flanders of murdering his wife,
Maude. I watched it with commentary and the writers said this was taken
from the movie "Rear Window", I had to see this movie! I know it sounds
silly that I was more inspired by a show, but it's a good reference if
it's from The Simpsons.
"Rear Window" is an excellent movie and a great classic that should never be forgotten! After 51 years, this is still a well talked about movie and I can see why. Jimmy Stewart, he's just so great as L.B., I loved his madness and his dark comical role. He doesn't even try, but you can't help but laugh at a lot of his lines, the way he looks, and the way he presents every scene. He didn't have a lot of movement, he is confined to a wheel chair, but he is so effective and perfect. No one could have replaced him as L.B., he's a terrific actor! Grace Kelly, what a beauty! Beauty and talent, what a great combination and she had it. Playing Liza, I loved her character so much. She started out as this extremely feminine lovely woman who is struggling with L.B., because he is having doubts about marrying her, and you can tell she loves him so much and is willing to do anything for him and to make their lives work, despite his adventurous side as a photographer and her being an indoor kitten. When L.B. talks of the murder to Liza, she is doubtful but never dismisses that it could be a possibility, and stays with him into the end. She finally goes into danger and grabs it by the you know what and wins L.B.'s heart.
I loved the ending, to me it was just one more good laugh with L.B. and Liza. I won't tell, you'll just have to trust me, it was a brilliant way to breath and smile again after all the suspense and drama. "Rear Window" is a true classic and I'm extremely grateful to the reviewers of IMDb who saw this movie and gave it great reviews, and the writers of The Simpsons! If it were not for you guys, I nor other members of my generation would probably not view it! Let's keep this classic alive!
96 out of 127 people found the following review useful:
A Deep & Entertaining Classic, 20 June 2001
Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
One of Hitchcock's greatest masterpieces, "Rear Window" is a deep and
entertaining classic with many strengths, and a little bit of everything. A
fine suspense story is combined with romantic tension in the main plot, and
there are numerous sub-plots, some humorous and some moving, all with many
psychological overtones. The main characters are wonderfully portrayed and
full of life. The apparently simple setting in an apartment complex is
developed into a world filled with intriguing and sometimes unsettling
possibilities, and this apparently average neighborhood comes to life with a
wealth of lavish visual detail and interesting minor characters. It is the
kind of film-making that (like many of Hitchcock's greatest movies) is very
flattering to the viewer. The director assumes that his audience will pay
close enough attention to appreciate the many subtleties with which he has
filled the movie. It rewards both careful attention and repeated viewings,
since there is much more here than merely a suspense plot, as good as that
story is in itself.
For the first 30 minutes or so, we simply get to know the characters. Jimmy Stewart gives one of his best performances as a photographer recuperating from an injury, forced to spend several weeks staring out his apartment window at the minor dramas in the lives of his neighbors. Grace Kelly is ideal in the role of his perfect girlfriend, who can never find a way to break down Stewart's reserve. The study of their relationship would have made a good movie by itself. Almost every action and every word between them is filled with meaning, and what they see in the lives of others is an interesting reflection of the tensions and possibilities in their own present and future. Thelma Ritter is wonderful as a colorful, no-nonsense nurse who constantly sheds some light - sometimes unwanted - on what is happening between them. The action and suspense that occur later serves in large part as a catalyst that resolves some of the important issues between the two.
After we get to know the characters and their world, things start to happen, as Stewart becomes engrossed in some of the things he has seen. The ethical and moral concerns of meddling in others' affairs become intertwined with more urgent questions about what may have happened in those other apartments, and from then on the tension builds steadily. It leads up to a riveting climactic sequence filled with suspense, and made even more meaningful by our awareness of its deeper significance to the main characters.
There is much more that could be said, but you should see this for yourself. It is a classic that will be enjoyed not only by thriller fans, but by anyone who appreciates carefully crafted movies with a lot of depth.
106 out of 152 people found the following review useful:
Reading from Top to Bottom...Hitchcock's Sophisticated Masterpiece, 24 November 2004
Author: Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci (dtb) from Whitehall, PA
Not only does REAR WINDOW (RW) have Alfred Hitchcock's trademark wit, suspense, and romance (with a touch of friction) in spades, but it's one of his most well-crafted, cleverly-staged movies; in fact, even though RW is based on a Cornell Woolrich story, I can't imagine this story being told as effectively in any medium other than cinema. However, the technical accomplishments (explained most entertainingly in the DVD's documentaries) would be nothing without the engaging characters. James Stewart's neighbors are interesting enough to warrant their own movies, and in addition to providing a wry microcosm of New York City life (the only dated thing about it is the lack of air conditioning), they all reflect possible outcomes for the somewhat stormy romance between laid-up shutterbug Stewart and the luminous Grace Kelly as his upscale fashion maven inamorata. As Brent Spiner said while hosting a showing of RW on TNT, the real perversion of the film is Stewart's reluctance to commit to the irresistible Kelly! In fact, one of the things I like about the movie is the way it shows these two very different people gradually learning to compromise and work together. The piquant final shot shows that a woman can have a happy relationship with a man without submerging her own personality -- refreshing for the 1950s! Great supporting cast, too, including Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr in one of his last bad-guy roles before PERRY MASON, and the scene-stealing Thelma Ritter. Incidentally, the restored special edition RW DVD was put together just in time to include Georgine Darcy ("Miss Torso"), then one of the last surviving cast members. Darcy died earlier this year; she will be missed.
91 out of 140 people found the following review useful:
"Rear Window" describes Hitchcock at his best..., 23 June 2000
Author: ironside (email@example.com) from Mexico
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"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 aboutnot 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!
78 out of 116 people found the following review useful:
Excellent. Sharp, clever, funny, inventive, with great values all round., 12 November 2002
Author: Aidan McGuinness from Dublin, Ireland
Ah it's a movie that's in IMDB's Top 20, and it has good reason to be.
starter's let's look at the simple premise - James Stewart is L. B.
Jeffries, a photographer who is currently recovering from an injury on
assignment. With his broken leg he's stuck in his apartment, with nothing
better to do than spy on his neighbours and be visited by his girlfriend,
Lisa Carol Fremont (Grace Kelly), his officer friend Wendell, and his
Stella. Jeffries observes the coming and goings of the various apartments
can observe (from his rear apartment window) and it is one of these - a
Raymond Burr - who draws his attention because. could it be that the man
committed some heinous crime? Let's find out.
One of the beautiful things about the movie is its superb use of location. The whole movie, bar a couple of brief scenes, is set in the apartment. This would seem claustrophobic but Hitchcock never inhibits us like this - he lets us escape through Jeffries binoculars and camera lenses, and his roving camera swoops down to let us see what the characters see (but never, thankfully, anything more than that - this is how you do suspense!). The set design is wonderful - the apartment is just the right size and is nicely laid out. However the real praise is for all the other apartments visible to Jeffries - an actual habitable set with multiple stories where characters can be observed only as they pass by their own windows (yeah, they don't care much for curtains). There's a sense of individuality gone in to each home, despite the fact we can only see barely elements of each. This is helped by a nice, differing range of characters inhabiting each and going about their daily lives - there's a mini soap-opera contained in the movie, all observed at a distance. Excellent stuff.
Acting? It's great here. There's some nice depth to the characters here, with them feeling like actual real people rather than slick one-dimensional tags. Stewart is very proficient in this type of role - he was born to it - and Kelly proves she is more than just a pretty face, managing to effuse her character with both grace (*groan*) and steel. Even supporting characters like Stella are good (she has a wickedly black sense of thinking that's hilarious). What's so incredible is that the characters we observe from a distance in the other apartments (and with whom we never actually interact with) have as much depth as most main characters in movies nowadays. Excellent script and acting in this movie.
I've already praised Hitchcock's set location and camera work, so I won't prattle on about him much more. He does a stellar job here and, in my opinion, this is the best piece of work he's done (that I've seen). It's virtually flawless and you're never let down (or bored). Well done. It's a shame he lost out on an Oscar (although he did have tough competition that year with `On the Waterfront').
`Rear Window' is a great example of how you can successfully have sharp acting, script, and directing and not feel the need for a slew of swear words and gratuitous violence. Regarded as a classic, and deservedly so. 9.1/10
98 out of 161 people found the following review useful:
The Master In Control, 8 April 2001
Author: telegonus from brighton, ma
Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, wittily written by John Michael Hayes, is one of his many films I think of as much of a technical exercise as anything else. It is in this sense like his silent The Lodger, the static, confined Lifeboat, and the cut-less, one set Rope. Considered in this light it is a cold masterpiece, playing more with the audience's thoughts and fears than with its softer, more personal emotions. As such, it is a very cerebral and satisfying piece of work. The plot is deceptively simple: a photographer (James Stewart) is stuck indoors with his leg in a cast during a hot New York summer. His socialite girl-friend (Grace Kelly) is eager to marry him but Stewart has his doubts, since he lives a wandering life and is from a different social class. He spends most of his time idling about and playing with his camera. In time he becomes a voyeur (which he probably already is, to a degree) and begins to observe his neighbors' private lives, as he views them through his lens in the courtyard. He develops attitudes toward each of them, ranging from mild amusement to empathy to sexual interest, depending on who he's looking at. Without realizing it he is really looking at different aspects of either himself or his relationship with Kelly. The courtyard is a kind of mirror of his soul. These people and their predicaments represent different sides of his (and to a lesser extent Miss Kelly's) personality, offering glimpses of potential past, present and future selves; and it is not always a flattering picture. The newlyweds are continually having sex; Miss Torso is a beautiful young woman who entertains many suitors; there is a childless, somewhat pathetic-seeming middle-aged couple who dote over a pet dog; Miss Lonelyhearts is a depressed, aging spinster with no apparent friends; and the young, bachelor song-writer, when he isn't trying to compose songs, is either throwing parties or fits. Then there are the Thorwalds, a squabbling couple across the way. Stewart is at first only slightly interested in them until Mrs. Thorwald disappears and her husband starts going out at night carrying paper parcels that look like they came from a butcher shop. Soon Stewart is, understandably, suspicious. He convinces Kelly that something is amiss, but has trouble with his detective friend. His nurse Stella agrees that something is wrong across the courtyard, and the threesome become amateur detectives. Rear Window is great fun. It's a thriller, a romance, a mystery, and at times a comedy of manners. The actors all give superb, unflashy performances. Hitchcock had been making movies for three decades by the time he undertook this one, and he knew exactly what he was doing; everything happens as it should, on time, with no fuss or bother. The courtyard set is magnificently designed and photographed; it looks both artificial and realistic, and seems almost to change at times, as circumstances dictate. This is, after Dial M For Murder, Hitchcock's first truly 'fifties' film, which is to say it is a far cry from the genteel romances and spy stuff he'd been doing before. There's less use of atmosphere here, as a new, more independent director was emerging, decidedly post-Selznick, often using color. Hitchcock is playing a sort game of cinematic chess, moving people and things around here and there, changing camera angles slyly, never showing his hand. The film lacks only warmth. All sorts of learned books and articles have been written about this picture, some of them quite silly; all at least partly right. This is at times a profound film, but it also aims to entertain, it has a light touch, and it can be scary, it's romantic about couples and cynical about people. There's a little bit of everything in it,--it's a work of art.
66 out of 101 people found the following review useful:
Midcentury voyeurism, 16 August 2002
Author: Dennis Littrell (firstname.lastname@example.org) from SoCal
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the quintessential Hitchcock flick, easy to understand,
addictively interesting, featuring great stars (Grace Kelly and James
Stewart), familiar bit players (Thelma Ritter in one of her best roles
as Stewart's talkative nurse), and a kind of almost imperceptible
satire on the human animal. In this case, Hitchcock has glorious fun
displaying a whole range of human behaviors through the device of
watching them through a Greenwich Village rear window before the age of
air conditioners when everyone had to leave their windows open (and
some even slept on the fire escapeI've done that) to cope with the
appalling heat and humidity during an eastern seaboard heatwave.
James Stewart stars as L.B. Jeffries, an adventurerous photographer who has a broken leg and is confined to his apartment in a cast while it heals. Bored beyond belief, he becomes a voyeur of his neighbors. Meanwhile there is his girlfriend, none other than Grace Kelly playing a "too perfect" socialite intent on winning his heart and soul. Trouble is Jeff worries that it won't work out, that they are essentially incompatible, she a socialite, who always goes first class, he a roughing it man of the world comfortable with second class accommodations. Naturally the audience (me!) finds it incredible that he isn't madly in love with her.
Raymond Burr (long TV's Perry Mason) in gray hair and specks has an interesting role as Lars Thorwald, seen almost entirely from a distance across the courtyard doing very suspicious things with knives and suitcases and mysterious comings and goings in the middle of the night. Bored voyeurs wonder what is going on. There is some light romantic play between Stewart and Kelly, but it is decidedly secondary to the voyeuristic adventures seen through the rear window: the saga of Miss Lonelyhearts, the ardor of the newlyweds, the angst of the songwriter, the exhibitionism of the dancing beauty, the pampered dog in a basket, and Thorwald and his invalid and then missing wife. Hitchcock's America at midcentury. Each of the little stories within the story has a plot and a resolution: Miss Lonelyhearts finds her man. The songwriter finds somebody who appreciates his work. Dancing beauty's man (looking from a distance a little like Woody Allen in an army uniform) returns. The groom seeks a break from his exhaustive marital duties, etc. Hitchcock's sense of satire has the softest touch, which is why, I think, he is so beloved. In the final scene Grace Kelly, finding her man asleep, puts down the adventure book she is reading (for his benefit) and picks up Harper's Bazaar to check the fashions. One gets the sense of future marital bliss and especially, marital reality.
There is some tension and some mystery, but nothing too strenuous for little old ladies from Pasadena, and nothing to offend anybody and nothing too graphic. You can see this with the kids and your maiden aunt and all will find it interesting. See it for Thelma Ritter, the sadonic character actress of many films, most notably this and All About Eve (1950).
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
37 out of 45 people found the following review useful:
Another Hitchcock masterpiece, 10 April 2001
Author: FlickJunkie-2 from Atlanta, GA
Alfred Hitchcock is considered by most to be the master of suspense. I
believe he was also a master of understanding human nature. He intuitively
understood that human beings are voyeurs by nature, not in the perverted
sense, but in the curious sense. We are a species that slows down to look
at accident scenes and steals furtive glances at lovers in the park who are
oblivious to everything but each other. A major appeal of cinema and
television is that they offer us an opportunity for guilt free voyeurism.
When we watch a film, aren't we in essence looking through a window and
watching people who behave as if they don't realize we are
Hitchcock realized this and took voyeurism to the next level, allowing us to watch a voyeur as he watched others. While `Rear Window' as a whole is probably not quite at a level with `Vertigo' (which was far more suspenseful and mysterious with a powerful musical score) as a cinematic accomplishment, it is more seductive because it strikes closer to our human obsessions. Hitchcock's mastery is most evident in his subtle use of reaction scenes by the various characters. We watch an event that Jeff (James Stewart) is watching and then Hitchcock immediately cuts to his reaction. This is done repeatedly in various layers even with the other tenants as they interact with one another. For instance, in the scene with Miss Lonelyheart (Judith Evelyn), we see her throw out the man who made a pass at her and then we see her reaction after she slams the door, followed by the reaction of Jeff and Lisa (Grace Kelly). In another scene, Detective Doyle (Wendell Corey) sees Lisa's nightclothes and presumes she will be staying the night. Hitchcock shows the suitcase, then Doyle's reaction, and then he goes to Jeff who points his finger at him and says `Be Careful, Tom'. This elegant scene takes a few seconds and speaks volumes with little dialogue. Such technique gets the viewer fully involved, because if we were there this is exactly what we would be doing, watching the unfolding events and then seeing how others around us responded. In essence, it puts us in the room with them.
Hitchcock was a stickler for detail. For instance, he aimed the open windows so they would show subtle reflections of places in the apartment we couldn't see directly. However, there were certain details included or excluded that were inexplicable. Would Thorwold really be scrubbing the walls with the blinds open? Would Lisa be conspicuously waving at Jeff while Stella (Thelma Ritter) was digging up the garden? Moreover, wouldn't Lisa have taken off her high heels before climbing a wall and then a fire escape? This film had numerous small incongruities that are normally absent from Hitchcock films. Though these are picayune criticisms, they are painfully obvious in the film of a director known to be a compulsive perfectionist.
The acting is superb in this film. Jimmy Stewart is unabashedly obsessed as the lead character. Photographers have an innate visual perceptiveness and the ability to tell a story with an image and Stewart adopts this mindset perfectly. Grace Kelly has often been accused of being the `Ice Maiden' in her films, yet in this film she is assertive and even reckless. Though cool at times, she is often playful and rambunctious. I always enjoy Thelma Ritter's performances for their honesty and earthiness and this is another example of a character actor at her best. Raymond Burr often doesn't get the recognition he deserves for this role, which is mostly shot at a distance with very few lines. Yet, he imbues Thurwold with a looming nefariousness using predominantly physical acting.
This film was rated number 42 on AFI's top 100 of the century sandwiched between `Psycho' (#18) and `Vertigo' (#61). I personally think more highly of `Vertigo' but it is a minor distinction, because I rated them both 10/10. `Rear Window' is a classic, a masterpiece of filmmaking technique from a director who was a true pioneer of suspense.
46 out of 64 people found the following review useful:
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), 15 January 2004
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
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+
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