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Saturday 13 October 2012

Burl reviews Rear Window! (1954)

Hel-lo, it is I, Burl! Yes, I’m here to review an Alfred Hitchcock picture for you today, an old favourite of mine called Rear Window! Ha ha, when I was fifteen or so, I remember making a list of my all-time favourite movies! That list has changed since then, but I remember that The Wild Bunch was on there (and might still be), and also Stand By Me, which is still a pretty good movie, but nowhere near that list now; and of course Rear Window!
Well, now, ha ha, I can think of almost a half-dozen Hitchcock pictures alone that I think are better, but it’s still a movie I think is really wonderful! Of course you all know the story: Jimmy "Thunder Bay" Stewart, an action-man photographer, has broken his leg and is recuperating in his Greenwich Village apartment during a summer heat wave; he comes to believe that his grumpy neighbour across the courtyard, Raymond Burr, well-known from his role in Gorilla At Large, has murdered his wife! As best he can from the confines of his wheelchair, and with the help of girlfriend Grace Kelly and nurse Thelma Ritter, Stewart attempts to find the proof he needs to send Burr where Burr, as Perry Mason, has sent, or will have sent, so many others: down the river!
The movie all takes place in Stewart’s apartment of course: we are trapped there as much as he! Through his binoculars and telephoto lenses, we get an amusing and enormous look at the rich pageant of life across the courtyard: not just bickering and murder, but newlywed romance, desperate loneliness, creative apotheosis, straight-up sexiness, sculpting, and sleeping on the fire escape!
There’s a subplot about whether or not action-man Stewart can settle down enough to marry his socialite gal-pal, but this is just to add a little human interest or something! I found those parts a bit tiresome, and Stewart’s character comes off as a bit of a jerk during them! (I guess making Jimmy Stewart seem like a jerk is just another example of Hitchcock’s uncanny directorial powers, ha ha!) But the movie is so great in just about every other aspect that it was easy to endure!
No, it’s not my favourite Alfred Hitchcock picture (but what is: Psycho? Vertigo? Shadow of a Doubt? Strangers on a Train? All contenders!), but it’s close, and when you put together the great acting, the marvelous suspense, the hothouse atmosphere, the huge and wonderful set, the gorgeous photography and the purely cine-psychological conceit of it all, Rear Window easily earns three and a half smashed cameras, and I’m not sure it doesn’t deserve more! It’s a great movie!

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