Sunday, 5 May 2013

Rear Window (1954) - ★★★★½

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Cornell Woolrich (Short Story), John Michael Hayes (Screenplay)
Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr, Wendell Corey

Hitchcock is the master of suspense and Rear Window is the reason why. It's one of the most suspenseful movies I've ever seen. The momentum of the mystery gradually builds and makes your heart beat a little bit faster with each development. If it wasn't for the unsatisfying climax, I'd call it a perfect film.

L.B 'Jeff' Jeffries (James Stewart), a renowned photographer, has his leg stuck in a cast for many weeks. In the meantime, he's been observing his neighbours outside of his window. He has reservations about being in a relationship with the rich and fashionable socialite named Lisa (Grace Kelly). Jeff thinks that Lisa is not cut out for living his life on the road, whilst she wishes that he would play a bigger part in her glamourous world.

On a rainy night, he hears the scream of a woman and the smashing of a glass. That very same night, he witnesses one of his neighbours leave his apartment twice in the early hours of the morning. Jeff begins to suspect this man of murdering his wife. As the plot thickens, we see that there may be some truth in Jeff's suspicions, taking us on an exciting journey of sleuthing and murder.

The whole film takes place in an apartment block where a small square patch of land sits in the middle of it all. We get a glimpse of the lives of the people living in the apartments with each story being interesting in their own right. The minimalist set production and cinematography was absolutely genius, making the small murder mystery look quite grand. What made it suspenseful was the thought of living so close to a murderer and not even knowing it. I also loved Hitchcock's use of special effects, such as when the camera flashed in the suspect's eyes; we saw how it made everything look like orange circles in his point of view.

I feel like the supporting performances gave the movie real wit and entertainment. Thelma Ritter was hilarious as Jeff's carer. The way she'd talk about murder without sugarcoating it was really funny, which produced one of my favourite lines "Nobody ever invented a polite word for a killin' yet." To my surprise, I found Grace Kelly fantastic in this film. I sighed, thinking she'd be just a pretty face with pretty dresses and a stereotypical damsel in distress. Then bam! She was feisty, intelligent and daring. Her performance blew me away, for she was involved in the most suspenseful scenes in the movie. I need not talk about James Stewart's performance because he's almost always perfect in the roles he plays. Rear Window is no exception.

You know who created all this suspense? Besides Alfred Hitchock... it was Raymond Burr. He played the man suspected of killing his wife. The particular scene that made me say "Oh shit!" was when he realised that Jeff was spying on him the whole time. It was the look in his eyes that gave me chills. Even though he spoke hardly any words, Burr goes on my list as one of the greatest 'villains' in movie history. Speaking of amazing scenes with Burr, my favourite in the whole film was when he sat in his darkened apartment, smoking a cigar. All you could see was the lit cigar being inhaled and exhaled, while the man is clearly looking out the window. This scene was majorly creepy.

There was only one drawback to this movie. The climax seemed so rushed, it was over in less than a minute. One of the techniques used for effect was speeding up the film to show all of the tenants rushing to see what's going on. This worked well, so I'm not complaining about that. What I am complaining about was that it was all over so quickly, that the build up to the climax completely outshone the climax itself. That's not always a bad thing, but it left me disappointed. I feel like it could have been done better.

Despite the ending leaving a bad taste in my mouth, Rear Window was an absolutely breathtaking film. It wouldn't surprise me if this movie topped the list of 'most suspenseful movies of all time.' Every single component in this film worked perfectly together. The actors all had great chemistry, the set production and cinematography set the suspense brilliantly, the dialogue was both chilling and witty. Although it's a near-perfect film, it isn't high on my list of favourite films by Alfred Hitchock.

My favourite films by Hitchock: 
  1. Pyscho (1960)
  2. Rebecca (1940
  3. Vertigo (1958)
  4. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  5. Frenzy (1972)
  6. North By Northwest (1959)
  7. Notorious (1946)
  8. Rear Window (1954)

No comments:

Post a Comment