Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rear Window

No 42 of the greatest movies of all times, as named by the AFI, Rear Window (1954) is simply magnificent. I am not necessarily well acquainted with Hitchcock movies, but I was enthralled from the start.

LB Jeffries (played by James Stewart) has a broken leg and is confined to his apartment. Out of boredom he starts observing his neighbours and speculating about their lives, to the point of being obsessed with them. One evening he hears a cry and starts suspecting one his neighbours, Thorwald (Raymond Burr) of having killed his wife. He begins investigating, with the help of his caretaker Stella (Thelma Ritter) and his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly).
At first nobody believes him, and the whole film turns on one statement by Grace Kelly: "Tell me everything you saw, and what you think it means."
Indeed, all of his accusations are based on what he sees, not what he hears. And on what WE see, because we are basically in the room with Jeffries, unable to move : all is filmed from Jeffries’ appartment, giving sometimes an impression of choking, but also bringing the viewer in from the start. The side stories of the other neighbours  (music composer, dancer, newlyweds, single woman) also provide for an nice breath of fresh air that break the tension, also highlighting the fact that, when you are not watching your environment, anything can happen.

As usual Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance in the film, I did not spot him and had to ask for the «solution». Some key elements remain unanswered, that may have been a bit frustrating to me and to my movie companion.
Nevertheless, I think this is a classic thriller, with impeccable acting : James Stewart is fantastic and Grace Kelly just shines. What a beauty. Special notice of Thelma Ritter, who is thinking and saying all of the things all of the other characters in the film are too polite to think and say themselves.
it is timeless – over fifty years old anf still has not aged a bit. I am just disappointed I waited so long to watch this.

One word for it : delicious. Deliciously stressing, deliciously witty, delicious James Stewart, delicious Grace Kelly.

Lisa: I wish I were creative.
Jeff: You are. You're great at creating difficult situations.

Jeff: [into the phone] He killed a dog last night because the dog was scratching around in the garden. You know why? Because he had something buried in that garden that the dog scented.
Lt. Doyle: [voice] Like an old hambone?
Jeff: I don't know what pet names Thorwald had for his wife

Jeff: Would you fix me a sandwich, please?
Stella: Yes, I will. And I'll spread a little common sense on the bread.

Jeff: She sure is the "eat, drink and be merry" girl.
Stella: Yeah, she'll wind up fat, alcoholic and miserable.

Lisa: Why would Thorwald want to kill a little dog? Because it knew too much?

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