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Rear Window

July 9, 2012

by John Farr

John Farr discusses one of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces.

Rear Window (1954)

What It’s About:
After breaking his leg on the job, photojournalist Jeff Jeffries (James Stewart) must pass the sweltering New York summer looking out his apartment window–into his neighbors’ windows-and his natural nosiness causes him to study a battling couple across the courtyard. When the woman disappears, Jeff suspects her husband, Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), of foul play, and enlists his adoring, high-society girlfriend Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) to help him investigate.

Why I Love It:
One of the most celebrated films in history, this classic takes its time, but once the tension starts building, it doesn’t stop until the heart-pounding conclusion is upon you. A new peak for Hitchcock in blending the story of a crime that may have happened with the dark side of human obsession–in this case, voyeurism. The movie marks a high point for James Stewart, who would be remembered as Hitchcock’s most human and vulnerable hero. And who can resist the bewitching Grace Kelly?

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  • Dave

    No doubt, Rear Window is way up at the top of Hitchcock’s best. But does it take its time, building gradually, while still holding the viewer’s interest, any better than does North by Northwest? Do Hitchcock, his actors, cinematographer and screen writer not build the tension of N/NW just as skillfully and gradually, building to a heart-pounding crescendo any less skillfully and effectively than does Rear Window? To my mind, it is a dead heat in many ways. But with the added music of Bernard Herrmann (and the movie’s artful silences), does N/NW not stand head and shoulders above even Rear Window? A very tough choice, but I must disagree with Mr. Farr here. Just by a hair, though. (The hair in the drain of Psycho’s shower.)