3/3/14: Rear Window (1954)

Rear WIndow

When I retired on 11/11/11, I figured it would be easy on my health. But this past winter was a killer & I slipped on the ice & screwed up my leg. I say retired, but really I was laid off & forced to retire. I worked in finance for a big Hartford insurance company for 28 years. “You heard of that market crash in ’08, right? I predicted that, but I didn’t see my own layoff coming. Go figure! Anyway, right after Bear Stearns went bust in March ‘08, our CEO went on disability with a kidney ailment, they said. ‘Nerves.’, I said. And I asked myself, ‘What’s big finance got to be nervous about?’. Collapse!’, I says. When insurance CEO’s gotta go to the bathroom ten times a day, the whole country’s ready to let go.” Since then, I work part-time at the podium for Rave Cinemas, Manchester. But because of my leg, my General Manager wouldn’t let me work at the podium. So I sat in my living room peeking in on my hot next door neighbor, who dances around in just her bra & panties, with my binoculars all day long. Eh, with all the cell phone & web cameras these days, “we’ve become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house & look in for a change. How’s that for a bit of homespun philosophy?” Well, luckily I didn’t have to stand to Blog Classics, but it would have been nice to supplement my retirement a little.

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Today’s Blog is on one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best, Rear Window from 1954, a murder mystery starring James Stewart as Jeff Jeffries, a noted New York City photojournalist confined to a wheelchair while recovering from a badly broken leg he sustained on assignment. Being locked up in his apartment for an inordinately hot summer is driving him crazy. He gets frequent visits from his sophisticated girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly in her 2nd of 3 Hitchcock films), and his visiting nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter). Whether they’re there or not, Jeff passes the time looking out his rear window, across the courtyard at his neighbors in the street side wing of the complex, through his binoculars & camera zoom lenses. Neither of the women approve & try to get him to limit his voyeurism. His neighbors include: The Songwriter (Ross Bagdasarian); the Man & Woman on the Fire Escape (Sara Berner & Frank Cady) & their little dog; Miss Torso (Georgine Dorsey), a dancer who’s always in her bra & panties, to Jeff’s voyeuristic delight; and the Thorwalds – the evil Lars (Raymond Burr) and his sickly wife, Emma (Irene Winston) – who are constantly fighting. When he notices one day her conspicuous absence, it only fuels his rear window investigating.

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As you know, Hitchcock made a cameo in most of his films. 25 minutes into Rear Window, you’ll see him winding a clock in the Songwriter’s apartment. On the small screen, his cameo is difficult to spot. We see him from Jeff’s perspective from across the courtyard. But in ‘54, television was in its infancy & movies were only shown in cinemas. Today, everyone has a large screen HD-TV on which to stream movies. They’re large, but not by comparison. Seeing Rear Window on the big screen is a must! It was filmed entirely on one huge set (200’x100’x40’), mainly from Jeff’s apartment. On the big screen, his neighbors have depth. On small screens, they’re two-dimensional miniatures performing daily routines. This magnificent Color Cinematography earned Robert Burks an Oscar nomination in ’55 at the 27th Academy Awards, along with nominations for Director, Adapted Screenplay (John Michael Hayes) and Sound. Unfortunately, not many of us have a computer to large screen projector, but the film does run i cinemas periodically. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer below to whet your whistle, then add it to your Netflix DVD Queue. 4 Stars!

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