Rear Window (1954) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter.
It’s hard to write a disciplined review of Rear Window without getting carried away with all the things that make it such a great experience. 1954 was a good year for Alfred Hitchcock. It saw the release of two of his most celebrated works, Dial M for Murder and this, a film that showcases his gift as a master of visual storytelling.
The film stars James Stewart as Jeff, a photographer; wheelchair bound due to a recent accident. Jeff passes the time by sitting in his apartment, observing his neighbour’s behaviour. After a while, he begins to suspect something sinister, and so begins the thrust of this seminal moment in cinema.
Co-starring with Stewart, is the divine Grace Kelly. As was the case in ‘Dial M‘, Kelly illuminates every scene with a seemingly impossible physical perfection. Her ‘opposites attract’ sparring and teasing with Stewart, makes for some beautifully played, classic scenes. In addition, Thelma Ritter delivers a finely-tuned comedic turn, which gives the film a welcome, yet never overstated strand of humour.
Like Dial ‘M‘, it takes part wholly in one location. Around it, Hitchcock expertly balances elements of suspense and humour, while making us complicit in the voyeurism along the way. His technical innovation is there to be admired, as is his knack for making every shot count. I hope I managed to remain succinct. Ideally, I’d have liked to have attempted to use all of the available superlatives, but alas – you’d get bored. An emotion you won’t suffer while watching this masterpiece. 5/5