Wild Young Minds: 'Rear Window': superficious suspense

Saturday, November 23, 2013

'Rear Window': superficious suspense

An invalid man with nothing to do for six weeks, except for looking out of his window day in, day out. Occassionaly being visit by his caretaker, a hard-working, sarcastic lady, and his 'to be or not to be' lover, a beautify 'high society' (literally) lady. Sounds like quite a boring setting for a thriller. Yet, when one adds two of the most famous actors of the fifties, James Stewart and Grace Kelly, the film becomes more interesting. A little later, one adds the possibility of 'murder' and the story becomes intriguous. And when we finally mention the name 'Hitchcock', a classic is completed.

'Rear Window' (1954) is a story of a photographer, Jeff, (Stewart) who has broken his leg and who is convicted to six weeks of sitting before his window, doing nothing. However, through his window he has a wide view, and is able to look inside the houses of several of his neighbors. We deal with a typical Greenwich Village apartment block here. Jeff can literally look inside the lives of his neighbors: the pretty dancer 'Miss Torso', the lonely woman 'Miss Lonelyheart', a pianist, a sculptor and, last but not least, Mr. Thorwald, a chubby salesman, and his wife.

One night, Jeff hears a loud 'Don't!' and the breaking of glass. Suddenly the lights in the apartment opposite his house go out and he sees Mr. Thorwald leaving his house in a rush. Immediately intrigued by this weird happening, Jeff pays extra attention to this particular apartment the following days. He discusses his observations with Lisa (Grace Kelly), his girlfriend, and nurse Stella. Lisa is a rich socialite and extremely in love with Jeff. Jeff, on the contrary, is afraid to settle (cliché, cliché) and thinks Lisa is too superficial and too much bound to New York, whereas he travels the world to photograph. Lisa firstly thinks Jeff is exaggerating when he explains his suspicions but soon many strange events follow.

Mr. Thorwald's wife has suddenly disappeared and is never seen again, Mr. Thorwald is seen with strange objects, such as a knife and a heavy suitcase. Whatsmore, a neighbor's dog is found dead and the only one in the apartment block who doesn't come to the window is Mr. Thorwald. Lisa joins Jeff in his obsession and spends many nights at the window as well. The only one who still isn't convinced, is Tom Doyle, a detective and friend of Jeff. Jeff can't keep his mind of Mrs. Thorwald's vanishment and has Lisa sneak into the apartment to settle the matter. Of course, Mr. Thorwald comes home too early and things start to get out of hand really badly.

'Rear Window' is one of Hitchcock's best-rated films, yet I think the story is outrageously shallow.  We all know that Jeff will eventually be right about the murder (sorry for the spoiler, but come on, what would have been the use of the film otherwise), we all know that Jeff and Lisa will both survive and yes, we all know Jeff and Lisa will end up together, despite Jeff's difficulties with commiting. Grace Kelly and James Stewart form a magnificent couple together though, typically American, but lovely to look at. Grace Kelly definitely reminded me of our Dutch proud Doutzen Kroes (should be the other way around actually) and she's perfect as the girl-next-door for this film.

Several analyses have been made about the meaning of this film, suggesting it is a reflection of society, of audience and screen and of people's desperate need of looking into the lives of others'. I think the last one is the most logical one, cause I think Hitchcock didn't have a particular deep intention with the film, he probably just wanted a film that sold good and that had some suspense in it. Well, those things definitely worked out well. Though 'Rear Window' is quite predictable, we were definitely on the ball from time to time, especially when someone was approaching Jeff's apartment (who would that be??) and he could impossibly move, because he's wheelchair-bound.

So, final conclusion: 'Rear Window' is not one of Hitchcock's strongest films, due to too much predictability and too little surprise effects. The actors, though being beautiful together, weren't that convincable either but perfect in the way Hitchcock intended them to be: an all-American man as James Steward and an icy blonde as Grace Kelly. Fortunately, 'Rear Window' has some tensious scenes and therefore deserves to be a classic anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment