Rear window is a film about crime, a crime of passion, filmed in a way you have never seen before (until many remakes came by). 1950s saw a huge change in the structure of films and in the perception of the audience with the arrival of many talented directors including the Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock directed many classics Psycho, The birds, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Dial M for Murder etc. Rear window is a cult classic and a much-studied example on how to make an uncomplicated theme made in a single location enthralling. This movie also gave rise to many other films similar to this; like Shia Labeouf starrer Disturbia.
Just like always, the mixture includes Hitchcock flavors like:
Frustrated male protagonist
Misogyny, as the central theme
Strong female character
A quick cameo of Mr. Hitchcock
The movie is about a frustrated photographer Jeff (James Stewart), who can’t leave his apartment for a week due to his broken leg in a cast. The only thing that keeps him happy is the variety of mood swings he notices among his neighbors; a lonely and depressed middle-aged woman, a ballet dancer, a husband and his mentally sick wife, an alcoholic pianist, a new wed couple and an eccentric couple who likes to sleep out in the balcony (except when it is raining). Jeff spent most of his leisure time watching his neighbors while he learns that he is losing most of the assignments coming his way. Added to all this, his love interest Lisa (Grace Kelly) drives him nuts with jealousy for being too “perfect”. In spite of his dry and insulting remarks, she keeps visiting him with more surprises. His life in his condo goes on stereotypically until one fateful night, where he probably heard a woman being murdered. The question is: did the murder really take place?
Rear Window is shot proficiently for a movie made during the 1950s. While better forms of filmmaking kept coming in then, Alfred Hitchcock established himself as one of the best with every innovative theme. There is only one location, i.e inside Jeff’s apartment. The whole movie is from his point of view, how he sees things, what he thinks and his involvement in solving the crime. James Stewart was lively and delivered top class acting. We feel his frustration when is informed that he lost his assignment and when his leg feels itchy. He carried out the tension and suspense part with ease. The dialogues are simple and humorous unlike other films of that era, the ones that had poems and philosophies. We can identify with the dry humor quotes used in this movie, in our day to day lives. Grace Kelly is charming and she does more than being a pretty face. Alfred Hitchcock’s films have misogyny in its basic storyline, at the same time, there are strong/interesting female characters. Lisa is a rich, successful and daring woman who does resemble the woman in Jeff’s dreams; i.e the one who’s willing to go beyond for him. The peculiarity of the final result of the Rear window is the ample amount of thrill and suspense it was able to bring out from a single location and from the POV of one character. Therefore, Hitchcock deserves the applause for his master filmmaking along with stupendous acting from James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
There are some technical fallouts of course. The settings and the effects weren’t up to the mark. Another fault is with the abrupt ending. I wish they elaborated more about the crime that took place. The combination of cinematography and editing was apt. The dialogues, the suspense, and the chemistry between James Stewart and Grace Kelly are what make this movie what it is. The movie has elements of tension, suspense and humor, and it is worth your time.