In the latest installment of her Films to See Before You Die, The Daily Shift’s Katy Quinn takes a look at the Hitchcock classic, Rear Window…
The idea for this article came from none other than my favourite website, The Daily Mail. I read one recent article detailing a new movie being shot for release next year that details the life of Alfred Hitchcock played by the wonderful Sir Anthony Hopkins. Then just below it was another article containing pictures of Nicole Kidman shooting a movie about Grace Kelly’s life from Hollywood fame into Monaco’s princess. It was almost destiny.
What better movie to pay homage to than the suspense thriller Rear Window? Released in 1954, Rear Window is still considered to be one of Hitchcock’s finest works and has a place on the United States National Film Registry. The story follows cameraman L.B Jeffries, or Jeff, who has broken his leg while on assignment cooped up in his apartment during a heat wave. In an effort to pass the time, he sits at his rear window which looks out onto a small courtyard and several other apartments, whose occupants are leaving their windows open to stay cool.
Before you start thinking of a peeping tom, remember, this is 1954 and so everything is very tastefully done. James Stewart, who some of you will know from the Westerns that helped make his name, plays Jeff. During his time of spying on his neighbours, he notices one man having a very heated argument with his wife and suddenly, his wife seemingly disappears.
In an effort to understand what is going on across the courtyard, he enlists the help of his socialite, slightly air-headed girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly) and his home-care nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter). The excitement starts from there and of course I am not about to ruin the story for you.
However, if you have watched The Simpsons, you will have seen the episode ‘Bart of Darkness’ when Bart breaks his leg and spends the summer watching the Flanders, and begins thinking that Ned has killed Maude. With that episode, you will have an idea of the route this film takes.
Interestingly, the film received four academy award nominations, none of them in the actor or actress categories. Instead, they include cinematography, best director, best screenplay and colour, because of course being filmed in Technicolor was still a relatively new phenomenon in 1954.
The film goes a lot deeper than just another Hollywood thriller mainly because it is used in certain film study curricula in universities across the world. That is how I first discovered it, the ideas of voyeurism and how reality is perceived by others are important aspects in this movie and ones Hitchcock did in no way by accident. But don’t worry, this film is fantastic entertainment and see how quick you can figure out whether or not the enigmatic neighbour really did kill his wife. The ending won’t be one you expect.