Saturday, January 31, 2009

Films I Love: Rear Window (1954)





Spying on your neighbors becomes an art form in this classic film directed by the legendary master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Without giving out too much of the plot the film deals with the suspicion of a wheelchair bound photographer that a murder has been committed in his neighborhood. He has the vantage point of the view from a rear window in his apartment. He can see clearly a collection of city characters that come and go about their lives. But his roving eye catches some funny business going on in one of the apartments. He shares this with his upper crust fiancee Grace Kelly and his nurse Thelma Ritter and all three become involved in trying to solve the crime. What follows is a superb sequence of twists and turns that keep you fixed on the screen for the whole duration of the film. 55 years after this film made its debut critics still consider it to be one of the best suspense thrillers ever made.


I will add that this film is still relevant today. An underlying theme dealing with the loneliness and isolation experienced by many in a big city environment is very apparent. Without realizing it we live in a society that glorifies voyeurism in the forms of reality shows, youtube confessions and celebrity gossip. We all have rear windows where we can spy on people and pass judgement on them. But above all it is a very entertaining intelligent film, it plays beautifully against your sense of expectation, seamless from beginning to end, like a good crime story should be!

16 comments:

willow said...

I adore this movie. And I was surprised at the amazing details when I first watched it on large flat screen tv a few years back. The set was incredible! Thelma Ritter is the best, isn't she? She's a talent often overlooked.

willow said...

Oh, and p.s., I enjoyed The Sweet Smell of Success tonight, too. Don't you just love Robert Osborne and Rose McGowan's little discussions about the movies?

sweetmango said...

I am a big fan of this movie too...have watched it many times!

Lori ann said...

Hello Mr.Cowboy! i am here thanks to Michelle and Cynthia (mango and oasis)after they left beautiful charming comments at my place, i followed them to their wonderful(you are right),amazing blogs! And they have now led me to you and I wanted to say right away(so I woulden't be considered a voyeur, it is a little like that don't you think? this blog world?)that I am so happy to have found you too. I love the Pink Ranch! I am now a follower!

Maggie May said...

i have so enjoyed browsing your blog! love those singing milkmaids :)

The Pink Cowboy said...

Willow: I'm a Thelma Ritter fan, she does tell it like it is. Sweet Smell is a gem of a movie, so intense.
Lori Ann and Maggie May -Welcome to the Rancho!

Sydney said...

I have watched it many times as well. I have a degree in Film and TV production and the best class I had focused on the work of Hitchcock (the only class I ever took at Harvard, of all things!). His work is fascinating and twisted, just like the man. Thanks for writing about it.

I just watched the fist half of Hush Hush Sweet CHarlotte last night. Could not finish it, but I had only seen it as kid. It was a trip to watch it now, with a totally different perspective. Priceless stuff. Disturbing too.

Steph said...

This is one of my "deserted island" movies. I love it.

affinity said...

What I loved about Rear Window was The important war correspondent's point of view about the beautiful model being too prissy for him to love, and then she is brave and clever, and had always been beautiful. That said, her clothes are amazing...

Cynthia said...

Hi Pink Cowboy, just checking out what's going on at the Pink Ranch. Do you think reading other bloggers comments qualifies as a
kind of voyeurism? I guess it might be okay if we leave out the judgment. Alfred Hitchcock's "Birds" helped me to have a most nightmarish feeling for years as a teenager. I could never freely imaginatively embrace a flock of birds without hearing one hit the window pane! He understood human tendency to fear-and he expressed it with artistic innovative precision that's for sure! I'm no longer am afraid of flocks! <3

High Desert Diva said...

One of my all time faves!

The Pink Cowboy said...

affinity, Grace Kelly's clothes are truly beautiful, they were designed by the legendary Hollywood designer Edith Headd, that deserves a post in the future.
Cynthia,very interesting point. For me a voyeur is an individual who derives pleasure from prying into other people's lives. Now, when blog hopping is participatory then is no longer voyeurism.

tangobaby said...

I'm not sure if I love the movie more than I love Grace Kelly's entrance and that kiss. And when she gets that white frock at Dior.

Two things you might not know... but the story in the film is based not so loosely on the love affair between Roberta Capa (the famous war photographer) and Ingrid Bergman. Capa writes about it in the intro to his book.

And for you Thelma Ritter fans, her best and most touching performance is in Samuel Fuller's INCREDIBLE film Pickup on South Street. Ritter's role makes a wonderful movie even more memorable as a police informant.

CLAY said...

I've never seek this movie before, but knowing your eclectic taste TPC, I'm sure that it is very good! Cheers!

CLAY

Suza said...

Rear Window is one of my faves too. Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo... you were deliciously shivering at the outset of these movies before anything "frightening" had even happened. Suspense is... suspenseful!!

Peggy said...

Hitchcock is my hero. Great post!