Rear Window (1954)

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A suspenseful masterpiece that outclasses all modern films in its field. Whilst injured, Jeff routinely watches those living across him play out their peaceful lives but a small change makes him suspect murder.

Beware the following will contain plot detail.

Why wait for 2017’s award-winning films, when there are hundreds if not thousands of gems within the treasure troves of films from yesteryear.  Representing a genre that is rare in film today and commonly relegated to TV, Rear Window is a murder mystery that keeps the viewer guessing at all the right moments, starting with whether there even is a murder.

L.B “Jeff” Jeffries (Stewart) is a photographer in New York who has suffered the misfortune of breaking his leg. Fortunately, he is recovering back in his apartment and to pass the time, he looks over and spies on those in the flat opposite. Across from him, we see a variety of lives back in the bustling 50s but the suspicious activity of a certain man coupled with the disappearance of woman makes him think something is not quite right. Enter Lisa (Kelly), his girlfriend, who along with Jeff’s nurse tries to convince him firstly that spying on neighbours is ill-mannered and secondly, that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. With Jeff stuck in a wheelchair, what could be more exciting for a couple than to investigate themselves?

At the time of release, both Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart were prominent movie stars and they do shine in their respective roles. However, excellent as they are, most of the praise from critics fall to Alfred Hitchcock. I agree completely. Here we have an apparently simple plot, yet it is so effective and impressive, courtesy of Hitchcock’s talents. I could harp on and on about true suspense, but the fact that modern critics and directors alike herald Rear Window for it is enough.

For a film regularly featuring in lists of top films of all time, there exists a wealth of in-depth analysis. Without delving into such deep and murky waters, Rear Window does indulge the curiosity in all of us. Better still, it does not require the discerning eye to be enjoyable. In the world of gems, it is a pure diamond.

 

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