director Alfred Hitchcock
Is Rear Window Alfred Hitchcock’s best film? I mean that both provocatively and honestly.
I first saw it in the 1980’s when several of Hitchcock’s films became available for the first time on home media: Rear Window, Vertigo (1958), Rope (1948), The Trouble with Harry (1955), and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). I’d seen both Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963), The Birds probably most early and most often, but the minor glut of films on release opened the door for me on one of the most famous and remarkable of film directors.
I won’t belabor analysis here. It’s been done often and better than I could offer. But I will say that the construction and control of the camera, of the viewer, of the whole cinematic operation (something I think is so masterfully Hitchcockian) is definitely as refined and sophisticated in this film as any film Hitchcock ever made. The complex panopticon of a set, the vicarious obsession of the voyeur, the meticulous thrill, black comedy and even the outfits (Edith Head, of course!)
I shared the film with Felix and Clara. We’ve watched a few Hitchcocks together. We’ve even taken to watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well. Oddly enough, or not, this was very likely their favorite to date. And I have to agree at the moment. Of all the films we’ve seen together, I too enjoyed this one as much as any other Hitchcock.
It’s funny that Jimmy Stewart plays such a jerk. He’s downright nearly evil in Vertigo, but here he’s a guy who can’t even appreciate the glorious beauty and boundless good nature of Grace Kelly, who is gorgeous and charming in Rear Window. That said, Thelma Ritter pretty much steals all the scenes in which she appears. Do they make great character actors like her anymore? Do they write roles for great character actors like her Stella here?
I said I won’t belabor the point so I’ll stop. Rear Window is Hitchcock at his best.