Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly
Alfred Hitchcock’s work will always resonate and remind us of a time when film was simpler, but Hitchcock was not. His films are multilayered and his characters are typically lovable or loathsome. But his conflicts… well, he understood how to create compelling conflicts, and he understood that there’s never a simple answer – Hitchcock’s protagonists were often forced to trek through extreme terror in order to emerge alive and, victorious, so to speak. All of these trademarks are apparent in Hitchcock’s gripping character study, Rear Window.
The film focuses on Jeff, who’s been laid up with a broken leg and has adopted the practice of spying on his nearby neighbors from the discomfort of his wheelchair. Initially his voyeurism yields mild entertainment, until he sees something strange happening in a nearby apartment. While Jeff never actually witnesses a murder, he does watch a man make numerous trips, large metal briefcase in hand, in the middle of the night. He also notices that the man’s wife is mysterious AWOL. Has something sinister taken place, or is Jeff’s imagination running wild on him? He’ll find his answers, but it’s going to take the assistance of a detective friend and his loyal girl, Lisa to unravel the mysteries of his neighborhood.
We’re constantly forced to question Jeff’s beliefs. One moment it seems as though he’s got the problem pegged, but in the next, evidence surfaces to suggest he’s let his imagination get away from him. That up-and-down mystery drives the film forward, and it’s gorgeous to witness.
The amazing James Stewart portrays Jeff, and was customary for Stewart, he turns in a home-run performance. He’s compassionate and witty, but his tongue can be quite sharp, and when his mind is made up, it’s made up. This is just a brilliant character brought to believable life by one history’s finest performers. And on the other hand you’ve got the gorgeous legend, Grace Kelly doing the character of Lisa an amazing justice. Kelly wasn’t just a pretty face, she was a tremendous performer, full of spunk and smarts, and an understanding of what it took to succeed in front of the camera. She was great, and this particular performance is certainly no exception.
While Rear Window may prove to be a bit of a slow burn, the storytelling and the chemistry between the cast is an absolute wonder to behold. The flick is well-shot, and the mystery builds to a palpable degree. Hitchcock made a number of top shelf films, and Rear Window is unquestionably among them.
If you steered clear of this masterpiece because vintage, or classic films aren’t for you, you missed a captivating slice of excellence.