Page 1 of 3
Alfred Hitchcock: Masterpiece Edition Vol. 4: The hotness of Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr as the world's scariest neighbor....
Universal / 112 Minutes / 1954 / Unrated / Street Date: October 30, 2012
[As preparation for our comprehensive review of Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection, we're investing each of that massive Blu-ray sets films one by one chronologically. If you missed our review of Saboteur, check it out here.]
When professional photographer Jeff (James Stewart) suspects his neighbor Raymond Burr) of murdering his nagging wife, he enlists his socialite girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) to help investigate a suspicious chain of events.
Rear Window has been hailed as one of Hitchcock’s most stylish thrillers, complete with edge-of-your-seat tension. Strangely both confined and multilayered, Hitchcock exploits our voyeuristic tendencies through Jeff’s curiosity. Jeff is a photographer by trade, but after suffering a severely broken leg, he’s put in a substantial cast and confined to a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment. Bored, he’s drawn to the different people living in the apartment complex across a courtyard and uses a telephoto lens on his camera for closer looks. He spies on their activities for a little entertainment. But one particular couple shows signs of conflict that lead to what may just possibly be a murder.
The opposing apartment is intriguing. Its five-stories are highly detailed and realistic. Windows are open and we see many things. Except for the gentle lighting of a studio versus harsh sunlight, it’s easy to get caught up in such a “live” interactive environment. We get to know a married couple, another couple that sleeps on the fire escape, a pretty dancer Jeff names “Torso,” a lonely woman, a pianist who throws parties, and a man who appears to have killed his wife. At the time, Hitchcock had constructed the biggest set on a soundstage and even had to take out the studio’s floor and use the basement to accommodate the village and the people. But despite the mammoth set design, Hitchcock’s camera still rules.
Hitchcock’s camera placement and panning is extremely deliberate. He includes some red herrings during his careful visual dictation, but that’s just part of the fun. Hitchcock almost teases us. Did that man really kill his wife? It’s difficult to find air-tight evidence, but some suspicions begin to add up.