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Review: Rear Window


James Stewart star as L. B. Jeffries, a photo journalist who specializes in taking photos in dangerous places. His last one, at a race track, left him with a broken leg and confined to a cast and wheelchair for the past few weeks. As the movie begins we are told numerous things through the slow pan of the camera (not like in some modern movies where we are told basic information through a voice over or text scrawl) treating the audience intelligently and bringing us into the claustrophobic world of L. B. Jeffries and his apartment.

To keep himself entertained while stuck in the wheelchair Jeffries watches his neighbours in the surrounding apartment blocks (The heat wave that has hit New York makes this all the easier as all the windows and shutters are open). There is Miss Torso, a dancer who practices in her underwear, Miss Lonely Heart who makes candle lit meals for her imaginary lover, and a pianist who is stuck on his latest composition (it is this last apartment where Hitchcock makes his cameo, a feature in all his movies, winding a clock) amongst others. Across the way lives a salesman (Raymond Burr) and his bed ridden, nagging wife.

Watching the comings and goings of his neighbours Jeffries drags his physiotherapist, Stella,(Thelma Ritter) and high society girlfriend, Lisa Carol Fremont, (Grace Kelly) into his voyeuristic world.

As the film progresses the odd behaviour of the salesman leads Jeffries and the others to the awful conclusion that he has murdered his wife. This leads to them investigating and getting awfully close to the possible murderer.

A fantastic movie with strong performances by all involved. James Stewart is especially amazing as he is in a wheelchair for most of the movie. The actors portraying his neighbours do an amazing job drawing you into their world and telling you everything you need to know about them in a few short scenes. The sparse soundtrack is also provided via the various radios around the apartments and the occasional interlude by the frustrated pianist.

Hitchcock’s direction and use of the camera is great and ratchets up the suspense as only he can. The scene where Grace Kelly is looking through the salesman’s apartment while James Stewart and Thelma Ritter look on in impotent horror as the salesman returns is particularly gripping. The huge set should also be mentioned for being a brilliant supporting actor to the unfolding drama.

It has also been retold and spoofed many times – a remake starring Christopher Reeve, Disturbia starring Shia Lebouf, The Simpsons etc

Everything about this movie works well and nothing is wasted, hence, the top score. Nothing more can really be said apart from watch this film. You won’t be disappointed.


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