Rear Window is a film that I had been aware of for many years but had only recently watched following my newfound love of films from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly, Rear Window tells the story of a wheelchair-bound photographer, L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies (Stewart), recuperating at home following an accident.
Unable to leave his apartment, Jeff idles away the time watching his neighbours in between visits from his girlfriend Lisa (Kelly) and nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter). He thinks he sees a murder, but how can he be sure?
While perhaps not a very endearing quality, watching the comings and goings of our neighbours is something that many of us do. We make up nicknames and stories for the ones we’re not that close to and pass the time of day when we meet them on the pavement, trying to remember not to say: “Hi, Grumpy Gary!”
One of the joys of Rear Window is that it takes this mundane activity and elevates it, indulging our curiosity by presenting us with a comprehensive cast of characters in Jeff’s neighbours, ranging from a professional pianist to the lonely-hearted singleton who always lays the table for one.
Known as the ‘Master of Suspense’, Hitchcock keeps us guessing as to whether Jeff really did see what he thought he until the final scenes. This is after Jeff calls in favours with a local police chief, Wendell Corey’s Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle, to discussing his theory.
Lisa and Stella entertain his theory as well, eventually joining him on his quest to discover the truth. Ritter delivers some fantastic one liners and retorts while it’s fantastic to see Kelly in what almost feels like her first ‘active’ role, listening to Jeff’s musings and then being his legs to investigate further while he is confined to his apartment.
Rear Window delivers a captivating story that captures many human elements (curiosity, cunning, passion) and is carefully choreographed by a seasoned director and performed by stars at the top of their game. Watch this if you fancy a filmic masterpiece – or if you fancy indulging in some good old fashioned nosiness.
Rear Window (1954)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly
“A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.” – IMDb
- Nominated for the 1955 Academy Award for Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Cinematography – Color and Best Sound – Recording
- Nominated for the 1955 BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source
- Added to the United States National Film Registry in the Library of Congress