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Classic Review: Rear Window (1954)

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The “Mount Rushmore” of Hitchcock films to me has always been: Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Rear Window. Seeing North by Northwest and Vertigo, I was not disappointed. But would the very basic plot stand up to the huge scale chase across Mount Rushmore or the church bell tower?

James Stewart is Jeff Jeffries, a world traveling photographer, who, thanks to an injury, is stuck in his room with only the antics of his neighbors to entertain him. However, along with the failing romances, musical parties, and near naked women exercising, he sees a failing marriage slowly escalate, until the wife disappears. Suspecting the husband of murder, he invites his police friend to investigate. After no evidence is found, he continues his search for clues enlisting his socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) and housekeeper (Thelma Ritter) to keep up the search.

Since there is only about 10 minutes of “action” so to speak, Rear Window is forced to rely mainly on suspense. Luckily, the man who is known for that skill was behind the camera. Using a giant set, reminiscent of a cuttaway dollhouse, Hitchcock is able to pump up the suspense at just the right time. When Kelly goes into enemy territory, we as the viewers, are just as helpless as Stewart is. In fact, the majority of the movie is played from Stewarts point of view, giving you exactly what he sees and hears, therefore you suspect the same things as Stewart does.

Add a racy Kelly, and a perfect Raymond Burr as the slightly off neighbor, and you have a Hitchcock classic. It, for me, is not on the same level as North by Northwest or Vertigo, but Rear Windows still stands as a piece of suspenseful art.

My Rating: B+

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