Easily my favorite Hitchcock movie, Rear Window immediately falls into the MUST WATCH category. This is one of those movies filmed in the 50’s that simply does not need to be touched. While the film is dated, that honestly just adds to its charm. It is also the reason that the movie works. Rear window exploits a part of each of us that we do not want to concede: we are nosey wretches. One of the various reasons that the modern adaptation Disturbia* cannot compete is because the boredom that Jeff is experiencing in the 1954 original is excruciatingly real; Jimmy Stewart is brilliant as an injured photographer, wheelchair bound, and stuck in a dead hot New York City apartment without television, internet, video games or any of the other technologies developed expressly to be enjoyed solo. So when he starts looking out his window for entertainment, we don’t assume he’s a busybody craving some sort of neighborhood drama.
In fact, when we meet Jeff [have I mentioned Jimmy Stewart is incredible?]** it is clear that he is not one to snoop around the hood. He is a wanderer, travels the globe in the name of documenting history and beauty through photography, and is hyper-interesting to the point of resenting his girlfriend Lisa (played by the flawless Grace Kelly) for being too perfect. At first we are led to believe that an understandable case of cabin fever has driven him to paranoia, but we are slowly convinced that something is just not right with one of the neighbors. This is where I stop because spoiling this thriller is a crime against Hitchcock.
Rear Window is also the perfect gateway movie for your friends that think there is no point to watching movies filmed anywhere outside of the last five years (if you are like me, you have way too many friends who believe this). This movie is still entirely relatable, it’s suspenseful and shows very minimal evidence that Hitchcock’s creative genius was stifled by the limited technology of the time.*** The film also showcases two of the greatest superstars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. Not to mention, the fact that the movie is in color definitely helps with our modern-movie-only enthusiasts.
*Disturbia is a half-decent movie in its own right, but quite frankly does not begin to compete with the original. If you’ve seen it, watch Rear Window. It’s better. It’s the homemade version of the boxed-up crap that we will still eat when it’s put in front of us.
**Jimmy Stewart is Incredible.
***There are one or two scenes that come off as cheesy in comparison to today’s thrillers. While these isolated scenes are less convincing, they are still entertaining and were considered innovative at the time. You may want to practice your “suspension of disbelief” for a few minutes here.