Rear Window, as every other classic masterpiece directed by Alfred Hitchcock, provides a gripping tale of utmost suspense and mystery that can be felt throughout the whole picture. The utterly gloomy and uncanny atmosphere of this movie adds up to an amazingly realistic and unforgettable overall experience. This is definitely Hitch at his very best.
It is also one of the most memorable roles of the magnificent James Stewart. If I would have to choose only one movie out of the four, on which he collaborated with Hitchcock, I would definitely pick Rear Window.
Stewart plays a journalist named L. B. Jeffries, who is forced to stay at home for a few weeks after an auto race accident. With nothing better to do, he starts observing his neighbors through that eponymous rear window of his cozy apartment. At first it all seems to be just a silly way to pass the time. But as the night falls onto the city, something strange happens right across the yard and ‘Jeff’ is quickly drawn into a puzzling life-and-death situation. It suddenly became possible that one of his close neighbors, Lars Thorwald, is a killer on the loose and nobody seemed to have noticed it.
In order for the viewer to get acquainted with the characters, the movie opens with a 30-minute easy introduction. As soon as we know the basics the action suddenly starts to take on totally different turn. The viewer gets wound up in the conundrum that leaves the protagonist sleepless.
Grace Kelly is magnificent as Jeff’s high-class girlfriend, Lisa Fremont. She’s got so much style and glamor, and she proves to be a brave young woman too. There is one great scene, where she has to sneak into the alleged killer’s place and find out if all of the murderous assumptions can actually be proved by palpable facts. I know I was cheering so mightily for her to get out, when dangerous Mr. Thorwald was getting closer and closer to his door, ready to catch Lisa right in the act.
Although the whole movie takes place only on one single street, the diversity of presented characters and a deep look into their personal lives (and apartments) account for a picture, which isn’t boring even for a minute. In the end we are actually able to distinguish all the people, who live nearby, as every night and day we follow them around along with Jeff’s binoculars.
Every true movie fanatic should watch Rear Window, as it is definitely one of the biggest achievements in cinematic craftsmanship. The thrilling script, marvelous acting, great camera shots, and the ubiquitous suspense that won’t even let you blink – it’s all in here, plus many more.
This film actually got so many rave reviews, that it started a wave of many (better or worse) spin-offs. It influenced such films, as Blow Up, Blow Out, or more recently, Disturbia. This is the true power of a Hitchcockian movie. The themes that it presents are untimely. This is why so many directors tried to copy his style, but it’s hard to point out the ones, who were actually close to the true genius of Alfred Hitchcock.