Monday, January 11, 2016

AFI Top 100, #42: "Rear Window" (1954)

Movie Stats:
Released 1954 (UK)
American, in English
Director - Alfred Hitchcock
Stars - James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr, Thelma Ritter

Plot Summary:
Photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (Stewart), laid up for 7 weeks with a broken leg after an on-the-job accident, entertains himself by watching his neighbors & becomes convinced that one of them, Lars Thorwald (Burr), killed his own wife. Kelly co-stars as Jeff’s love interest, Lisa, and Ritter as Jeff’s nurse, Stella.

Mild violence; implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
Did no one close their blinds in the 1950s? I know the explanation is that it’s too hot, but as someone who’s pretty much the opposite of an exhibitionist, I can’t fathom living nearly my entire life with the curtains open, where anyone can see in. It wasn’t very realistic to me.

I could have done without all the “she must have been murdered because women never do x” conversations. That’s not evidence. That’s stereotyping.

I thought it was weird how it occasionally worked really hard to make Lisa seem dumb. [SPOILER] “Why would he kill the dog?” she asked. “Did it know too much?” [SPOILER] Come on, really?

Good Stuff:
Loved the dialogue, especially practically everything Stella said. Very funny.

The costuming for Grace Kelly was amazing. I want to own it all, although most of it would probably look like poop on me.

The camera work is extremely clever. If you ignore the set-like feel, it’s pretty cool how every scene is shot from the vantage point of Jeff’s apartment, like you’re seeing it the way he sees it.

The plot was excellent, intricate and layered.

The Verdict:
Much to my surprise, I liked it a lot. You may recall that I’ve been feeling pretty down on Hitchcock these days, but I thought this was really well done. It’s very subtle. Right up until the very end, I had no idea if Jeff was being paranoid or if he was on to something. He quite literally has no evidence, just a gut feeling; it’s quite easy to dismiss him. I enjoyed that. It’s a rare mystery/thriller that actually surprised me. The acting is solid, the dialogue is great, and it’s an all-around good story.

I give it 4.25 stars.


Patricia said...

I really liked this too. Even better than Vertigo. Which I liked okay, I just thought it had some very slow parts.

On the shades issue, I've always been confused by the "Tossing and Turning" song from the 60s. There's a part that goes:

Jumped out of bed
Turned on the light
I pulled down the shade
Went to the kitchen for a bite
Rolled up the shade
Turned out the light
I jumped back into bed
It was the middle of the night

Why all this shade rolling? I've always put the shades down when it was dark and put them up when it was light. I don't open my shades when I go to sleep, they just stay closed.

I could never decide if it was someone desperate for some lyrics, or that some people have differing shade habits from me.

balyien said...

I wonder if they opened the shades to let in a breeze? Most people didn't have AC back in the day, and some shades are rather effective at shutting out a breeze. I could see where, if you're going to be in bed and not moving around where people can see you, you would open the shades so the air can flow. However, I would not leave them open if I was moving around the room.

(Probably someone was just desperate for lyrics though.)