Saturday, June 23, 2012

Random Movie Review: Rear Window

Rear Window (1954)
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly

I was a little dismayed to find out that there was a remake of this movie with Christopher Reeve and Daryl Hannah. I guess the wave of rehashing old ideas started a while ago. Hopefully this means that this won't be on the long list of movies that they seem to drag out of the grave and beat to death. Even worse, it appears the Reeve version was post-accident and he lives in a house decked out with paralysis assistance. This means they were trying to find roles for him and thought they'd butcher a classic in the process. No disrespect to Reeve or his accident, but couldn't they just have done an original story instead of jamming his disability into this role?

But I digress. The original film, which is the one I watched, is quite good. Grace Kelly does a great job as the airy girlfriend who not only becomes interested in what is happening, but gets herself heavily involved. Stewart's character is a photographer known for getting the close-ups and daring shots that has broken his leg during a shoot and ends up holed up in a wheelchair with nothing to do but watch the world from his rear window. After watching a couple argue, he notices the wife is gone and a series of bizarre events leads him to believe he's killed her. He can't convince his detective friend and decides he needs some hard evidence to do so. When he sends his maid and girlfriend over to check it out, calamity occurs.

Hitchcock was long the master of suspense and this movie had a whole new technique. To have a movie shot almost entirely from the perspective of the window leads to characters moving in and out of screen as opposed to screen following them, as is the restrictions of watching anything from a window. The result is that L.B. 'Jeff' Jefferies (Stewart) only has the pieces of information he can gather from the shared yard and the rooms with the rear windows in the opposite apartment. He has to wildly extrapolate with that information and when his assumptions turn out to be truthful, he is left caught in his own apartment.

I enjoy the fact the camera rarely turns in on the apartment and never into any of the other apartments. It keeps the focus on the scenes unfolding in the opposing apartments.

It would have been interesting to be around in a time when cinematic techniques like this were being discovered. I guess we are watching the entire digital effects era turning over now, but these earlier accomplishments seem to involve much more creative prowess. Maybe I'm just generational-ly cynical.

Anyhow, this movie isn't perfect, but it is terrific. I will give it an 8.5/10

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