Monday, October 29, 2012

Rear Window: A Film Review (RIP #7)

My second film for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII event is Rear Window, a highly acclaimed film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

I thought this movie would fit the theme because it is a thriller and suspenseful. Nevertheless, I kept putting off watching the movie because I was too apprehensive about the tension level (which tells you a lot about my threshold for thrills and chills). I shouldn't have worried. There were definitely suspenseful moments, but I enjoyed them and all of the movie.

Rear Window tells the story of a man stuck in his apartment in his wheelchair for many weeks, due to a broken leg. His apartment window looks onto the backs of several other apartment buildings and he entertains himself watching his neighbors. And one day he thinks he has discovered that a crime has taken place. He tries to convince his nurse/masseuse, his girlfriend, and a friend in the police department that a crime has been committed and at first they all scoff.

This film was a crime thriller but there were so many other aspects I liked. I loved the sets. As the movie opens, the camera pans across the backs of all the apartments. The movie starts with our protagonist, Jeff Jeffries, checking out the activities that he can see. The stories of the residents of each apartment continue throughout the movie. I loved the vignettes of people's lives showcased here.

Another element of the story is the romance between Jeff, the adventurous photographer, and his girlfriend, Lisa, a fashion model. He does not want to settle down and resists her attempts to convince him that they could make a life together. She is the model of perfection; he likes his disorderly and unplanned life. Hitchcock is very good at exploring these types of issues between people.

The movie is based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich, "It Had to Be Murder." The documentary I watched on the DVD set, Rear Window Ethics: Remembering and Restoring a Hitchcock Classic, noted that the short story did not have any of the romance or the stories of the other apartment dwellers, which makes sense. The documentary is also worth watching. Peter Bogdanovich is interviewed and gives his thoughts on the film. Also, excerpts from Bogdanovich's interview of Alfred Hitchcock are included.

I thought this was my first viewing... because I remembered nothing as I watched it, except for the scenes that you see over and over of clips from the movie or in documentaries. My husband, who has tracked our movie viewing (at home, on tape, laser disc, or DVD for 24 years) tells me I saw this 22 years ago. As far as Hitchcock movies go, it does not rank at the top of my list. My favorites are North by Northwest (which we re-watch frequently), Notorious, and Marnie. Vertigo is not at the top of my list either, but I do think it is superior to Rear Window. But I enjoyed it and the background material about how the movie was made.


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

A fantastic movie, one of my favourite Hitchcock films - great choice TracyK. The humour is certainly all in John Michael Hayes' script and not int he Woolrich original though most fot he plot is taken from the story as I recall. It was remade, surprisingly well I thought, with Christopher Reeve after he had his accident, bringing great poignancy to it. Darryl Hannah has the eqivalent of Kelly's role and Robert Forster in the Wendell Corey role of the initially reluctant detective.

TracyK said...

I did see that remake at IMDB and wondered if it was any good. I will give it a try someday. I want to watch or re-watch all the Hitchcock films we have, and all the Bond films we have... there is never enough time.

Katrina said...

Your husband sounds like mine, I often only have vague memories of films, if any at all. Jack remembers them all. I've enjoyed the ones you mention and also Rope and The Birds, although that is scary when you live on the coast as I do. Seagulls always seem to eye people up.

TracyK said...

I did not like The Birds that much, and I have not seen Rope. Having seen some clips from that one recently, I would like to give it a try sometime soon. Living near the coast is nice, isn't it?