Us watching someone watch someone else…
A week before scheduled to get out of a leg cast that has made him housebound, photographer L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) witnesses what he suspects to be a murder. He informs his nurse, who dismisses the idea, advising him to stay out of other peoples’ business. His girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), doesn’t believe him until she witnesses a sight herself. From the rear window, the three of them spy on the suspected murderer in attempt to gather evidence.
With Rear Window, the film takes place on one set, and for the majority of the time, in just a single room. The narrative unfolds by the audience viewing a number of seemingly suspicious events. It’s more than clear that you are observing a mastermind at work – a director who can do whatever he wishes to do on the screen and make it work. This film is so finely crafted, I’d say it’s on the lines of perfect, shot for shot. Concerning voyeurism and its place in society, only Hitchcock could hoist this film from being bland to the suspenseful masterpiece it became. Whereas the majority of crime mysteries might lose their appeal after repeat viewings, Rear Window manages to stay interesting no matter how often it is watched.
Grace Kelly, playing the role of Lisa, constantly lights up the screen, dressed in beautiful costumes. Though I must say, the strikingly unbelievable aspect of the film is that Jeff would simply rather gaze out of his rear window than get ‘up close, and personal’ with Lisa. As for Stewart, he has far too many memorable performances to choose a best one, but L.B. Jefferies is definitely up there in the top five. The dry humour he brings to the role coincides well with his character’s uneasiness.
After countless viewings, I still find Hitchcock’s Rear Window thrilling and exciting every time I watch it. Most definitely one of my favourite classics of all time. The whole concept of voyeurism is what holds our attention just as it held Hitchcock’s. I consider this to be one of the most excellent examples of his talent as a director, as well as his technical mastery. It also shows us how a seemingly harmless ‘hobby’ can head to something far more dangerous. A timeless classic!