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Rear Window

May 9, 2016

Rear Window (1954)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Actors: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr

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Synopsis: Jeff (James Stewart) is an invalided photographer holed up in his New York apartment. Over the course of a number of days, he becomes increasingly engrossed in the suspicious goings-on in an apartment across from him.

Review: Although perhaps just shy of the near perfect mastery of apparatus and psychology that was Vertigo and PsychoRear Window is on the very next tier of Alfred Hitchock films; taking something that in terms of pure material is reasonably generic and hokum, and elevating it through consummate exposition of the technical and theatrical possibilities of his medium.

In fact, very few filmmakers have ‘got’ the medium more than Hitchcock, and as is commonplace in many of his best films, there’s a very wry tension between the seemingly talky, plotty, classical Hollywood feel, and their very acute, psychoanalytical wanderings. It almost takes a few viewings of Rear Window to digest just how subtly differentiated the dialogue-heavy scenes between James Stewart’s Jeff and Grace Kelly’s Lisa are from moments when Hitchcock’s gaze will uncannily shift from their politicking to strange happenings around the courtyard of apartments. Talking about Grace Kelly, it’s surely one of her most iconic film performances: her entry is simply immemorial, appearing almost goddess-like as Jeff wakes from a dream.

Rear Window is also a strong case for Hitchock’s comedic sensibility. The floating, ‘peeping tom’ camerawork allows for some sly running jokes about the curious little inner-worlds most of Jeff’s neighbours inhabit. Arguably the funniest is the growing exhaustion and apathy shown by a newlywed husband who goes from an avowed ‘romantic’ carrying his wife across the threshold, to a hen-pecked man, wearily sneaking a cigarette and some much needed respite from his now-demanding wife! It’s a lovely visual gag in a lovely visual delight of a film. (May 2016)

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