100 Movies to See Before You Die- “Rear Window”

Rear Window is a 1954 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. This film is considered to be one of Hitch’s best films and it went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards (Director, Screenplay, Cinematography -color-, and Sound Recording). The film has made a number of best of lists over the years. It has also been repeatedly remade and parodied with the latest retelling being the 2007 movie, Disturbia. So does Hitchcock’s suspenseful film rise to the level of being considered one of the all time greats and the coveted label of “classic?”

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Should this film be considered a classic? Most definitely. In terms of scale (although it was built on a massive set), this film is small. The film takes place almost entirely from the apartment of L.B. Jeffries. Hitchcock draws us in by making us live the cooped up life of Jeffries and by making us a part of his disturbing voyeuristic tendencies. Even though the camera rarely leaves Jeff’s apartment, it is impossible not to be sucked in by the stories and characters that dwell in the surrounding apartments. Even though I know the ending, this is a film that always has me on the edge of my seat. Stewart and Kelly offer up wonderful performances and keep the viewer engaged. The real treat of the story is all the mini-stories that unfold in the surrounding apartments. I think it really is those peripheral stories that give the film an enduring and endearing heart that would be dramatically lessened had the story only focused on Jeff’s voyeurism at the expense of the secondary stories.

Would I own this film? When does the Blu-Ray version come out? As I said earlier, this is a film that maintains the suspense even if it has been watched multiple times. It is rare, in my experience, for a suspense movies to maintain that suspenseful element over multiple viewings, but Rear Window does. I think the real key is that Hitchcock really makes the viewer care about all the secondary characters. We want to see Miss Torso find happiness. We are sad when Miss Lonelyhearts can’t find love and rejoice when she finds solace in the work of her composer neighbor. That is the real genius of Rear Window. The suspense of solving a murder keeps me engaged but the mini-stories of the neighbors keeps me coming back to the film hoping to learn just a bit more about the fascinating little community Hitchcock created.

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2 thoughts on “100 Movies to See Before You Die- “Rear Window”

  1. Excellent review, as always! I confess that I’ve never thought much about the role the secondary characters play in making this an appealing film, but you’re exactly right.

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