Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
“It’s probably nothing. It’s just a little neighbourhood murder.”
One of the greatest films of Alfred Hitchcock, in my opinion, Rear window reunited the director with Jimmy Stewart from Rope (1948), in a thriller that was set entirely in one apartment.
This film tells the tale of a successful news photographer (Jimmy Stewart), who’s been laid up with a broken leg, after a racetrack accident, and has adopted the practice of spying on his neighbours from the discomfort of his wheelchair. Almost daily, he is visited by Stella (Thelma Ritter), a nurse, who comes to help him with his muscle problems, and by his beautiful girlfriend Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly). They are lovers, but Jeffries has serious doubts about marrying Lisa because Lisa does lead a social life that is pretty foreign to a man who makes a living traveling to third-world countries. He also sees marriage as an institution that will force him to give up everything, especially his job.
His living room window overlooks a courtyard and an adjacent apartment block. Jeff passes his time by using a telescope, or a camera to watch his neighbours. There are many humanistic typical characters in the apartment block he is viewing. There is a young dancer woman, who practices every morning, a couple of newlyweds, a musician, who isn’t appreciated, in my opinion, and a sad lonely woman, who has some medical problems. But the person, who is spied a lot is a husband (Raymond Burr) of a sick and demanding wife.
Then one night Jeffries witnesses a fight between the arguing couple. He falls asleep in his wheelchair, but wakes up several hours later and sees the husband leave his apartment with a bag, three times. Jeffries asks himself: “Why would a man leave his apartment three times on a rainy night with a suitcase and come back three times?” The next day, he notices that the wife has disappeared and starts thinking that the husband (Burr), may have killed her and dispensed with the body.
From now on, he starts thinking about how to resolve this problem. He asks help from an old friend, who is a detective, and from his girlfriend Lisa, who plays a major role in the story.
All in all, it’s hard to deny that “Rear Window” is one of the all-time great movies. It’s a towering piece of cinema that seems so simple but is far more complex. It’s a brilliant exercise in building curiosity and suspense throughout a film. It is required viewing for all lovers of cinema.
“Nobody ever invented a polite word for a killing yet.”