Rear Window

Movie Information

Rear Window will be shown as part of the Wedge Brewing Company's Outdoor Cinema series at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, at 125-B Roberts St.
Score:

Genre: Thriller
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr
Rated: PG

Some years ago when I did a brief stint as a reviewer of movie books, I was handed a fairly weighty tome that proposed to prove that Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) was a “perfect film.” That’s a pretty large claim—especially in my mind, since I’ve always found Hitch’s much-praised 1950s output overrated—but damned if by the end of the book, I couldn’t see the writer’s point. At the very least, I’d concede that Rear Window is as close to “perfect” as a film is likely to get. This slightly claustrophobic tale—a photographer (James Stewart) confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg takes to spying on his neighbors through his apartment window—afforded Hitchcock the ideal chance to make a completely controlled film. It was similar to the confined single location of Rope (1948), but the elaborate studio set allowed for more movement and variety.

Naturally, being a Hitchcock film, our voyeuristic hero is going to see more than he should. Actually, he witnesses a murder—or what he thinks is a murder—and the more deeply he becomes involved in finding the truth, the more dangerous the game becomes. The structure and approach to it all really is awfully close to flawless. It doesn’t hurt that the film is also very entertaining, very Hollywood glamorous and, yes, ultimately very suspenseful.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

14 thoughts on “Rear Window

  1. Dread P. Roberts

    …I’ve always found Hitch’s much-praised 1950s output overrated

    I’m sorry you feel that way, since I tend to think Hitchcock was the best part of ’50′s cinema (from what little I know).

  2. Ken Hanke

    I’m sorry you feel that way, since I tend to think Hitchcock was the best part of ‘50’s cinema (from what little I know).

    I should elaborate, I suppose, since being the best part of 50s cinema wouldn’t take much in my book. For my money, the 50s and the 80s have more suckage per square inch than any other decades. I was actually putting the Hitchcock films in context with other Hitchcock films. My favorite Hitchcocks tend to be his 1930s British pictures. I do quite like The Trouble with Harry (1955) and I admire this one. I have completely given up trying to understand the adulation of Vertigo (1958).

  3. Dread P. Roberts

    I should elaborate, I suppose, since being the best part of 50s cinema wouldn’t take much in my book…

    …I was actually putting the Hitchcock films in context with other Hitchcock films.

    This is a much more agreeable assessment in my mind – not that your opinion of Hitchcock would ever really deter mine, but it’s still somewhat nice to hear this.

    Looking back on Hitchcock, I often wonder what he would have thought of the evolution of some of the things that he had sort of laid the foundation for in movies. I always thought of Psycho as being the birthplace of the “slasher” movies, even though Halloween is technically considered the first of it’s kind. I bet Hitchcock wouldn’t be at all fond of torture porn.

  4. Jay Nicks

    I love this film, one of my favorites. I even like the remake with Christopher Reeve. I hope that isn’t movie sacrilege to say that.

    I like your little review of it. Actually, a little compliment here, I’ve been enjoying your reviews lately. I’ve been reading them for years, never disliked them. But lately I’ve noticed that either your reviews are getting better or I’m just waking up to movies more or whatever.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Actually, a little compliment here, I’ve been enjoying your reviews lately. I’ve been reading them for years, never disliked them. But lately I’ve noticed that either your reviews are getting better or I’m just waking up to movies more or whatever.

    Really, that’s probably a pretty big compliment — regardless of whether your increased enjoyment lies with you or me. I would like to believe that one way and another my reviews are better. God knows, they’re better than they were when I first took this job on. (Well, I think my A Hard Day’s Night review is pretty good and that was very early and it was right at the time I was given charge of the column.) The form was new to me and that took some adapting to. Plus, we all like to believe that we get better at what we’re doing over time. And sometimes it’s hard to see whether that’s true from the inside, so I find your comment encouraging.

  6. Steven

    [b]especially in my mind, since I’ve always found Hitch’s much-praised 1950s output overrated[/b]
    I’m guessing this is directed towards Psycho and Vertigo.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I’m guessing this is directed towards Psycho and Vertigo

    And the ’56 Man Who Knew Too Much and The Birds.

  8. Dread P. Roberts

    Good grief, The Birds is so dumb. I never understood the appeal of that one. Worst Hitchcock movie I’ve ever seen.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Worst Hitchcock movie I’ve ever seen.

    Ever sit through Topaz? Try the 1927 Easy Virtue some time, too.

  10. Dread P. Roberts

    Ever sit through Topaz? Try the 1927 Easy Virtue some time, too.

    I can’t say that I’ve seen either one. I’m assuming the new Easy Virtue bears no resemblance.

  11. Jay Nicks

    I’ll look for your Hard Day’s Night review.

    “Plus, we all like to believe that we get better at what we’re doing over time.”

    In this economy, few of us even get to see how we would do at the same job over time (a twinge of bitterness there.) But your staying power is in itself a comment. I would imagine that there are some hungry young wolves (or hungry old wolves) who would like to take a seat in the movie theater. Clearly you’re qualified. There’s a fairly recent food writer for your publication who I find unreadable and whose appointment smacks to me of nepotism or something. To me you’re really carrying that whole paper and upholding the standards, as if you are almost overqualified for it.

    Yes, it sounds like I’m really laying it on thick, but I’m giving sincere feedback for you or Xpress to do with what you will. I’m probably putting it in the wrong place. But while I’m off the subject, what’s with that guy’s cartoon at the end of each paper? He looks to be about my age, so I guess I’m supposed to get it, but it’s unfunny, baffling, and reeks of every stereotype of my generation that I would like to avoid.

    Back to your film reviews, the real subject at hand: upon further reflection I would say that one of the things I’m picking up on lately is the fact that not only do you love to write/teach about movies, you can be damn funny and can deliver witticisms and putdowns of bad filmmaking with a sense of lightness and good humor. Is Cranky Hanke not really so cranky these days? Or maybe we’ve just had some good movies these days.

    Ok, that’s enough for me, too much coffee for me this afternoon. A good weekend to you sir!

  12. Ken Hanke

    I’m assuming the new Easy Virtue bears no resemblance.

    You would be hard-pressed to believe they share a common source. I tried watching the Hitchcock film when I was reviewing the new one. I made it maybe half way through — that is rare for me with a movie of that era.

  13. Ken Hanke

    I would imagine that there are some hungry young wolves (or hungry old wolves) who would like to take a seat in the movie theater.

    There probably are, but I can’t say I think about it all that much. I don’t see much percentage in thinking about it really — and so many people really have no clue what they’d be getting themselves into. I’m not complaining, mind, far from it, but I understand it a lot better now than I did before I did it myself.

    To me you’re really carrying that whole paper and upholding the standards, as if you are almost overqualified for it.

    I think that’s a pretty wide assessment — certainly it’s not one I would make. As for being overqualified, I doubt that — and I know what I have here and the freedom I have to mostly do what I want that I would not have in most places.

    Is Cranky Hanke not really so cranky these days? Or maybe we’ve just had some good movies these days.

    Maybe a little of both — if I ever really was all that cranky. However, there was a movie this week that sorely tested my lightness and good humor. I haven’t written the review yet, but it’s definitely goosed my crankiness (so to speak) and I’ve been kvetching about how much I disliked this movie all day. I even specifically called Justin Souther to do this at one point — and he sat through the damned thing with me, so it wasn’t like he didn’t already know.

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