Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring:||James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr|
Considered one of the best films by director Alfred Hitchcock and following his formula of an ordinary man stumbling into trouble, this film is constructed in a way that makes the viewer uneasy.
Award-winning news photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries (James Stewart) suffers a broken leg while trying to photograph a car race up too close; so until the cast is off, he has little to do but watch his neighbors from the rear window of his New York City apartment. His rich girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly, later Princess Grace of Monaco) and his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) warn him that voyeurism is a crime and is dangerous; but he persists, eventually graduating to binoculars and to a telephoto lens.
When Jeff says that he’s seen evidence of a murder, the ladies and Jeff’s detective friend Doyle (Wendell Corey) all react with initial disbelief, but gradually begin to be convinced.
The film is technically very well done, and it’s an interesting change of pace to see Raymond Burr in the role of a possible villain. Since it’s 1954, there’s no profanity, no visible sexual activity or nudity, and very little violence. However, a large portion of the film is shot from the standpoint of Jeff’s rear window, making each viewer into a voyeur. In order to learn the secret of the alleged murder, we must also continue to watch the activities of the other neighbors; and the director masterfully focuses us on the things that we can’t see, but know are taking place. The result is an unclean feeling, mixed in with the suspense. Aside from the rear window footage, the film contains other innuendo as well; Hitchcock was ahead of his time in loading films with secondary content.
Remake: “Rear Window” (1998) starring Christopher Reeve