Note: This is #32 in my 52 Classic Movies in 52 Weeks challenge for 2009.
Rear Window (the first of several Alfred Hitchcock flicks in this experiment) is another one of those movies that has permeated popular culture to such a degree that I felt I was already familiar with it before I even popped the disk in. In keeping with great Internet Nerd traditions I considered writing my opinion about it before actually watching it, but I’m glad I didn’t. Turns out, I had the whole thing wrong, especially the ending.
The story involves L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart), a professional and perhaps overly adventurous photographer recovering from a broken leg. Jeffries has apparently never heard of books or the television, because he passes all his time sitting in a wheelchair and spying on his nearby neighbors through windows thrown open due to the summer heat. When Jeffries thinks he sees evidence that one of his neighbors has committed murder, he convinces his girlfriend and nurse that he’s right, but the local authorities are more skeptical. Things come to a climax when the trio takes things into their own hands.
From what I’ve read, this is supposedly one of Hitchcock’s most thrilling and suspensful movies, but honestly I really don’t get it. It’s interesting and compelling the way that the clues are doled out and it has some really interesting things to say about how people connect (or fail to connect) with their neighbors in a modern, urban setting and instead tend to objectify them. The former is all the more relevant today given how people connect through the Internet and related technology but rarely know the people living across the street from them. If someone were to remake this movie today for some reason they could really run with that theme. But was the movie suspensful? Not really. Not until the very end and only then for one scene.
But speaking of the end, I had it totally wrong –I thought I knew something about the presumed guilt of the supposed murderer, but I was mildly befuddled when the credits rolled and I figured out that I had been wrong all the time. I imagine that might have colored my viewing of things, and that if I had been closer to a true first-time viewer things might have been more suspenseful. Maybe.