237. Rear Window

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Movie: Rear Window

Release Date: September 1, 1954

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr.

Tag Lines: “The Essential Hitchcock.”

“In deadly danger…because they saw too much!”

“Through his rear window and the eye of his powerful camera he watched a great city tell on itself, expose its cheating ways…and Murder!”

“SUSPENSE OF SCREAMING PROPORTIONS!”

Relevance: Alfred Hitchcock is undoubtedly one of the greatest film directors of all time. He has a long list of incredible films ranging from comedy to drama to horror spanning over six decades. He is widely studied by film students worldwide. This five time Academy Award nominee for Best Director and “Master of Suspense” appears on my list of most influential films twice. ‘Rear Window’ is the first.

I don’t remember exactly when or how I saw the film the first time, but I do remember watching it with my family sometime in the mid-1980’s. It was strange for me to be watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie with my mom. She was not a fan of his or any suspenseful, thriller or horror film. She told the story many times about how my dad had taken her to see ‘Psycho’ when it was playing in theaters. It scared the hell out of her. I always wondered if that was why we didn’t have a shower in our house growing up. We were bathers. But ‘Rear Window’ was a movie she more than tolerated. She actually liked it. Her explanation was that it wasn’t “too scary.” She was also a huge fan of James Stewart and Grace Kelly. She especially loved Ms. Kelly. She frequently talked about how beautiful she was, how she became a real princess and how tragic it was when she died at a very young age.

My mom was correct in saying that ‘Rear Window’ wasn’t “too scary.” It was more of a mystery with a great suspenseful story sprinkled with comedy that completely entertained me as a kid. Mr. Hitchcock didn’t get the name “Master of Suspense” for nothing. It was very suspenseful. His direction as well as the performances by Mr. Stewart and Ms. Kelly were tremendous. Mr. Stewart is so good as the wheel-chaired voyeur…charming, cantankerous, witty and intense. This is his second film for this project (see 240. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for the first) and as I recently had mentioned is one of my favorite actors of all time.

‘Rear Window’ is a movie that I have revisited often throughout my life. Each time I watch it I seem to see something new. That is totally attributed to Mr. Hitchcock’s direction. I am not a film student, just a huge fan of the art, but I have studied all of his films. His work is fascinating and ‘Rear Window’ is stellar example of how good he was at his craft.

Today’s Thoughts: As soon as the first scene of ‘Rear Window’ started today, I was reminded of how much of a genius Alfred Hitchcock truly was. The opening sequence of the apartment complex and its courtyard set up beautifully how its story would be told with minimal dialogue and music, just the sounds of the city in the background. The suspense starts without any real reason. Genius.

I could watch this movie over and over again. It is the perfect blend of mystery, thriller, comedy and drama with top-notch performances. James Stewart and Grace Kelly are so delightful to watch. Thelma Ritter as Stella is superb as is Raymond Burr as the villain, diabolical and creepy. One of the last scenes with the “flashing” of the camera is both clever and chilling and Mr. Burr is perfectly menacing. I couldn’t help but compare him to a Scooby-Doo “bad guy.” Coming from me, that’s a huge complement.

The setting is almost a character itself and it is so well photographed you get the feeling that you are in one of the apartments looking out its window. The experience is not so much like watching a movie, more like you are spying on your own neighbors. That is good film-making.

The word ‘classic’ gets tossed around a lot, but ‘Rear Window’ really is a classic film. It’s a movie that should be watched, studied and celebrated. It’s unique story would have been riveting with anyone at the helm, but Alfred Hitchcock makes it a masterpiece.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Director, Alfred Hitchcock (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay, John Michael Hayes (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color, Robert Burks (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound, Recording. Loren L. Ryder (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Alfred Hitchcock (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, Grace Kelly (winner), National Film Registry (1997), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, Grace Kelly (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director, Alfred Hitchcock (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Drama, John Michael Hayes (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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