Rear Window (1954) Film Review

Rear Window

A+

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Original screenplay by: John Michael Hayes: Adapted from the novel by Cornell Woolrich
Cinematography: Robert Burks
Edited by: George Tomasini
Original Score: Franz Waxman (opening and closing titles and the piano tune (“Lisa”) written by one of the neighbors). Hitchcock used primarily diegetic sounds throughout the film.
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr.
Hitchcock’s cameo: 0:26:12. Winding the clock at the fireplace in the songwriter’s apartment. Also note that as the forties became the fifties, Hitchcock’s famous cameo appearance occurred earlier in the movie so as not to distract the viewer.
PLOT: Recuperating from a broken leg, professional photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jefferies (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair in his apartment in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. His rear window looks out onto a courtyard and other apartments. During an intense heat wave, he watches his neighbors, who keep their windows open to stay cool. They are a lonely woman whom Jeff nicknames ‘Miss Lonelyhearts’, a newlywed couple, a pianist, a pretty dancer nicknamed ‘Miss Torso’, a middle-aged couple whose small dog likes digging in the flower garden, and Lars Thorwald, a traveling costume jewelry salesman with a bedridden wife. Jeff is visited regularly by his socialite girlfriend, Lisa Fremon (Grace Kelly), and a nurse named Stella (Thelma Ritter). One night after an argument with Lisa, Jeff is alone in his apartment and hears a woman scream, “Don’t!” and the sound of breaking glass. Later that night, during a thunderstorm, he observes Thorwald making repeated late-night trips carrying a suitcase. The next morning, Jeff notices that Thorwald’s wife is gone, and sees him cleaning a large knife and handsaw. Has Thorwald just murdered his wife?
Stewart, Kelly, and Ritter are all magnificent. Kelly, looking radiant, gets to deliver one of the big screen’s all-time sexy lines when, after changing into something more comfortable, she purrs to Stewart that her new outfit is a “Preview of Coming Attractions!”
Kelly won the Best Actress award from the NYFCC for her marvelous work in this movie.

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