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Hitchcock's "Rear Window"


speedracer5
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Just saw "Rear Window" tonight in the theater.  Even though I own this movie and have seen it a couple times (I'll admit, I haven't seen it as much as I have North By Northwest, Psycho and To Catch a Thief) it was fun seeing it up on the big screen.  Ben Mankiewicz put together fun opening and closing remarks-- all in all it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. 

 

Since I'm not as familiar with this film and hadn't seen it in a long time, it was like watching it for the first time.  There were only a few things I remembered: The look on Raymond Burr's face when he finally catches James Stewart and Thelma Ritter watching him; Grace Kelly being caught by Burr in his apartment; and Stewart switching to the telescopic lens to be a more effective voyeur. 

 

What I love about this film is the overall aesthetic and style.  Hitchcock went above and beyond having that courtyard built and I loved how each of the neighbors had a storyline even though none of them were really integral to the action except for Raymond Burr.  I loved the end where Burr approaches Stewart in the dark and all we see are flashes of his bold blue suit.

 

I loved Grace Kelly's clothes in this film, especially the green suit she wears and the white and yellow flowered dress at the end.  She looked absolutely gorgeous in this film and I cannot see why James Stewart would rather play Gladys Kravitz in lieu of romancing Kelly while she's throwing herself at him.  I also loved how she was eventually intrigued by the things Stewart had seen and found herself sucked into solving the mystery, despite many objections.

 

I don't know how the neighbors didn't see Stewart watching them for weeks on end, I know I'd have noticed him.  I thought the newlyweds were hilarious.  I think my favorite neighbor though was Miss Torso and I felt so bad for Miss Lonelyhearts--she finally goes out on a date and it's with some guy who only wants one thing from her. 

 

My only criticism is the obviously fake looking dog after its body is found.  The stuffed animal wasn't even the same breed as the dog!

 

My favorite part of the film is when Thelma Ritter, Kelly and Stewart are looking out the window watching Burr wipe down the bathroom walls.  Ritter says something about Burr washing the blood splatter off the wall.  Kelly tries to act disgusted with such a vulgar statement and Ritter says something like: "Come on! That's what we were all thinking." 

 

I think I've seen all of the Stewart/Hitchcock collaborations except for The Man Who Knew Too Much.  I'll have to get on it and see that one.

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I love Rear Window  No matter how many times I've seen it,when it comes on TV I always watch. What a treat to have seen it on the big screen, and with commentary by Ben.

 

Did you catch a glimpse of Hitchcock?

Yes I did! What a treat to see him.  I don't know if anyone knew this, but did you know that the guy who plays the piano player is responsible for creating Alvin and the Chipmunks?

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I like Rear Window as much as anything else that Hitchcock did. I vastly prefer this film to the darkness and violence (though the latter is admittedly tame by modern standards) of Psycho, probably his most famous film today.

 

One of the many things that I have always appreciated about films made by Hitch is the ambiguity audiences often feel about his villains. This is even true, to a limited degree, about Raymond Burr in Rear Window.

 

There is that moment of great suspense towards the end of the film in which we hear the almost Frankensteinian sounding steps of Burr's feet as he slowly climbs the stairs towards the hero's apartment as their confrontation is finally about to occur.

 

But after he enters the darkened apartment, rather unexpectedly, Burr's first words sound like those of a frightened man.

 

"What do you want from me?" he asks, or words to that effect.

 

After a brief dialogue exhange with Stewart he will return to monster form, trying to physically overpower a man confined by a cast in a wheelchair. And at that moment, of course, since we are identifying with Stewart, Burr's a frightening creature once again.

 

Still, before he actually physically attacks Stewart, Burr's voice betrays uncertainty and perhaps even a desire to reason. After all, he is trying to see a mystery man sitting in the dark who has been observing his activities from across the courtyard, a man who may be able to hurt him. For that brief moment, at least, the audience feels a little sympathy, perhaps, for Burr, even if he is, we strongly suspect, a cold blooded murderer. Even a man such as this, Hitchcock is telling us, can sound like a frightened child for a moment.

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REAR WINDOW was one of the "5 missing" Hitchcock films that were pulled from circulation in the mid 60's (Hitch had control of the rights to these films and considered them an investment, and holding them out of public view increased the value of the films for a future release).  In the early 80's, after Hitch's passing away, the films were rereleased with considerable fanfare, shown in theatres nationwide. That is when I first saw the five films and they all made an impression on me.  Seeing them on the big screen made an even stronger impression, especially VERTIGO, which I feel loses a lot of its impact when just seen on a tv screen.  REAR WINDOW is definitely Hitch at his best, its very entertaining and yet I think the hard core film buffs get much from it too.  James Stewart really makes this film work, I'm not sure if any other actor could have done it  better than him.  If I had to pick one moment that always gets me it is near the film's end: The  phone rings,  Stewart picks it up and before he knows who is on the other end, he starts blabbing (he thinks his buddy the cop is calling), there is dead silence and then a hang up. What dumb  Jimmy has done is revealed himself to the killer, now Thorwald knows who his adversary is , what he knows, and where he is.  And poor Jimmy is stuck all alone in the wheelchair helpless, and he can't get to the apartment door to lock it because it is one  of those "step down" entrances (how many of us noticed that unusual feature earlier in the film).  The lights in the outside hall then go out, and Burr's heavy footsteps get closer and closer, and .... LOOK OUT!

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REAR WINDOW was one of the "5 missing" Hitchcock films that were pulled from circulation in the mid 60's (Hitch had control of the rights to these films and considered them an investment, and holding them out of public view increased the value of the films for a future release).  In the early 80's, after Hitch's passing away, the films were rereleased with considerable fanfare, shown in theatres nationwide. That is when I first saw the five films and they all made an impression on me.  Seeing them on the big screen made an even stronger impression, especially VERTIGO, which I feel loses a lot of its impact when just seen on a tv screen.  REAR WINDOW is definitely Hitch at his best, its very entertaining and yet I think the hard core film buffs get much from it too.  James Stewart really makes this film work, I'm not sure if any other actor could have done it  better than him.  If I had to pick one moment that always gets me it is near the film's end: The  phone rings,  Stewart picks it up and before he knows who is on the other end, he starts blabbing (he thinks his buddy the cop is calling), there is dead silence and then a hang up. What dumb  Jimmy has done is revealed himself to the killer, now Thorwald knows who his adversary is , what he knows, and where he is.  And poor Jimmy is stuck all alone in the wheelchair helpless, and he can't get to the apartment door to lock it because it is one  of those "step down" entrances (how many of us noticed that unusual feature earlier in the film).  The lights in the outside hall then go out, and Burr's heavy footsteps get closer and closer, and .... LOOK OUT!

The suspense at the end of Stewart knowing that he's trapped and trying to get his flash bulbs set as a defense and Burr's heavy footsteps getting closer and closer was definitely the highlight of the film.  Stewart's fall from the window and the sped up crowd scene was kind of hokey, but I chalk that up to Hitchcock being constrained by the technology limits of the time. 

 

I would love to see Vertigo in the theater.  Vertigo is one of those films that everytime I watch it, I notice something new I hadn't noticed before.  The scenery of San Francisco also greatly adds to the film.  A few years ago, my husband and I stayed at a hotel in San Francisco that was used as Kim Novak's apartment in the film.  It was really cool.  The crazy square spiral staircase was intact and definitely made you dizzy looking down, we only stayed one night, but it was definitely a highlight of the trip!

 

vertogo-staircase.jpg

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I like Rear Window as much as anything else that Hitchcock did. I vastly prefer this film to the darkness and violence (though the latter is admittedly tame by modern standards) of Psycho, probably his most famous film today.

 

One of the many things that I have always appreciated about films made by Hitch is the ambiguity audiences often feel about his villains. This is even true, to a limited degree, about Raymond Burr in Rear Window.

 

There is that moment of great suspense towards the end of the film in which we hear the almost Frankensteinian sounding steps of Burr's feet as he slowly climbs the stairs towards the hero's apartment as their confrontation is finally about to occur.

 

But after he enters the darkened apartment, rather unexpectedly, Burr's first words sound like those of a frightened man.

 

"What do you want from me?" he asks, or words to that effect.

 

After a brief dialogue exhange with Stewart he will return to monster form, trying to physically overpower a man confined by a cast in a wheelchair. And at that moment, of course, since we are identifying with Stewart, Burr's a frightening creature once again.

 

Still, before he actually physically attacks Stewart, Burr's voice betrays uncertainty and perhaps even a desire to reason. After all, he is trying to see a mystery man sitting in the dark who has been observing his activities from across the courtyard, a man who may be able to hurt him. For that brief moment, at least, the audience feels a little sympathy, perhaps, for Burr, even if he is, we strongly suspect, a cold blooded murderer. Even a man such as this, Hitchcock is telling us, can sound like a frightened child for a moment.

I agree wholeheartedly about the ambiguity of Hitchock's villains.  For the most part, his villains are never straight out evil, there's always an aspect of them that makes you sympathetic.  Poor Norman Bates, he doesn't seem like a bad guy, he's just suffering from some sort of mental illness--though that look on his face at the end when he's 100% consumed by the "mother" personality is chilling. 

 

With Raymond Burr in Rear Window, while he did commit a crime, James Stewart's spying is definitely questionable.  It's one thing to look out the window at the neighbors occasionally, but he was full on spying on everyone.  Although, on the other hand, if you were basically stuck at home all day every day and can't do much other than sit, why wouldn't you look out the window at the neighbors?  That courtyard seemed like a pretty happening place.  With Burr, even though he apparently commited a very gruesome murder, for the most part, he was minding his own business-- it was only after he killed the little dog (which, how cheesy was that stuffed animal posing as the body? It wasn't even the same breed!) that I think he lost some of my sympathy. 

 

Prior to the end when it becomes apparent that Stewart was right, it seems that Stewart, Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter were so determined that Burr was guilty (based on circumstantial evidence and assumptions) that they were trying to do everything they could to trap him. Stewart's note, Kelly breaking in, Kelly and Ritter digging up his flower bed... None of these proved anything until Kelly managed to break into Burr's apartment and steal his wife's ring.  Which in reality, no body (or body pieces) were found, so it didn't really prove anything.  Burr is being arrested on the basis of Kelly's opinion that a married woman would never leave her wedding ring behind--unless I missed something.

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What I also love about this film is the way Hitchcock approached the filming and sound for this film.

 

Most of the shots in the film are from the perspective of James Stewart, his binoculars or his telephoto lens.  We never really see any of the neighbors (except for Burr) up close.  The way that Hitchcock used sound was very interesting as well.  When inside Stewart's apartment, the dialogue between the lead actors: Stewart, Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter was typical of how you'd hear dialogue in any other film.  The sound from the courtyard and the neighbors talking to one another outside was very interesting.  Hitchock didn't mic them so they'd be easy to hear.  All the sound sounded very realistic as to how people would sound if you at a window listening to people talk outside. 

 

Hitchcock's attention to detail and courage to take risks definitely set his films apart from some of those of his contemporaries.

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With Raymond Burr in Rear Window, while he did commit a crime, James Stewart's spying is definitely questionable.  It's one thing to look out the window at the neighbors occasionally, but he was full on spying on everyone.

 

 

Hitchcock provided his own comment on that in the movie.  If you don't want people to watch what you're doing, pull the shade down, as the newlyweds did.

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While it's Raymond Burr's apartment that gets the story concentration in Rear Window, I think it's safe to say that some years after a viewer has last seen the film the other apartment in that courtyard most will remember belonged to a considerably more athletic member of the community:

 

ae1a71a0-ed12-4813-87c5-2bf16c0373fe_zps

 

Yep, Miss Torso.

 

Just ask Jimmy:

 

ac9a2f53-44fa-42a0-9720-0a16000737be_zps

 

Miss Torso was played by Georgine Darcy, a ballerina who's Mom had once encouraged her to be a stripper for some fast money. (Yikes! What kind of Mom is this? In any event, Georgine turned down the not-so-motherly suggestion).

 

images5_zps4cf9ygnj.jpg

 

I guess Georgine concentrated more on her dancing than she did the movies. According to Wiki, she didn't even know who Hitchcock was when he cast her in Rear Window. The director asked her to name her least favourite pie. She told him pumpkin, and it was a pumpkin pie (combined with crude Cockney jokes) that Hitch suddenly placed before her in order to get Miss Torso's reaction shot to the little dog's body being found.

 

post-37737-12934720391_zpsamzk8p0f.png

 

Georgine only got $350 for her work on Rear Window and she didn't follow Hitchcock's advise to get an agent. She did do some TV work afterward, as well as appear in a few other films, but it's the Hitchcock film that has given her a touch of film immortality, even if most viewers today don't know her name.

 

When Georgine Darcy died of natural causes in 2004 she was one of four surviving credited cast members of the Hitchcock classic. The other three, via Wiki: Frank Cady (also of Green Acres TV fame) as an upstairs neighbour, Rand Harper as a honeymooner and Harry Landers as Miss Lonelyhearts' suitor.

 

By the way, I almost felt a little sorry for Raymond Burr's character of Thorwald.

 

rear-window-81_zpsckugbnyj.jpg

 

I mean, not only did he have a nagging wife in an apartment situated across the courtyard from a noisy neighbour with a lot of time on his hands and a telephoto lens, but, even worse, his apartment location was such that he never had the opportunity to see Miss Torso do her early morning workouts! Thorwald was just a bad luck guy!

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I first saw REAR WINDOW as a presentation in the late '50's or early '60's on NBC's "Saturday Night At The Movies" program they had back then.

 

It'd be safe to say it was the first Hitchcock movie I had ever seen!

 

I would have been about eight or nine years old at the time, and was somehow already familiar with Jimmy Stewart, Thelma Ritter( from WHERE, I can't say.  It was YEARS before I ever saw "Miracle On 34th Street") and of coursem, Burr from the then VERY popular PERRY MASON TV show.

 

This movie left quite an impression.  So much so it remains near the top of my "favorites" list!

 

Over the years, I've noticed and found out other things about it.----

 

Like I wound up owning a camera like the one Stewart sees everything through and throughout the movie.  A MIRANDA, it turns out!

 

That SAM DRUCKER from HOOTERVILLE lived in the apartment across from Stewart, who's little DOG was killed by Thorwald---

 

And that the guy who played the "starving composer" who composed that song that wound up"saving" "Miss Lonelyheart's" life was whatzizname Bogosian, who later went under the psuedonym DAVE SEVILLE and created THE CHIPMUNKS!

 

Yeah.....STILL love this flick!

 

And STILL marvel at how NEATLY Ritter folds that big sheet all the while TALKING a mile a minute!  B)

 

 

Sepiatone

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While it's Raymond Burr's apartment that gets the story concentration in Rear Window, I think it's safe to say that some years after a viewer has last seen the film the other apartment in that courtyard most will remember belonged to a considerably more athletic member of the community:

 

ae1a71a0-ed12-4813-87c5-2bf16c0373fe_zps

 

Yep, Miss Torso.

 

Just ask Jimmy:

 

ac9a2f53-44fa-42a0-9720-0a16000737be_zps

 

Miss Torso was played by Georgine Darcy, a ballerina who's Mom had once encouraged her to be a stripper for some fast money. (Yikes! What kind of Mom is this? In any event, Georgine turned down the not-so-motherly suggestion).

 

images5_zps4cf9ygnj.jpg

 

I guess Georgine concentrated more on her dancing than she did the movies. According to Wiki, she didn't even know who Hitchcock was when he cast her in Rear Window. The director asked her to name her least favourite pie. She told him pumpkin, and it was a pumpkin pie (combined with crude Cockney jokes) that Hitch suddenly placed before her in order to get Miss Torso's reaction shot to the little dog's body being found.

 

post-37737-12934720391_zpsamzk8p0f.png

 

Georgine only got $350 for her work on Rear Window and she didn't follow Hitchcock's advise to get an agent. She did do some TV work afterward, as well as appear in a few other films, but it's the Hitchcock film that has given her a touch of film immortality, even if most viewers today don't know her name.

 

When Georgine Darcy died of natural causes in 2004 she was one of four surviving credited cast members of the Hitchcock classic. The other three, via Wiki: Frank Cady (also of Green Acres TV fame) as an upstairs neighbour, Rand Harper as a honeymooner and Harry Landers as Miss Lonelyhearts' suitor.

 

By the way, I almost felt a little sorry for Raymond Burr's character of Thorwald.

 

rear-window-81_zpsckugbnyj.jpg

 

I mean, not only did he have a nagging wife in an apartment situated across the courtyard from a noisy neighbour with a lot of time on his hands and a telephoto lens, but, even worse, his apartment location was such that he never had the opportunity to see Miss Torso do her early morning workouts! Thorwald was just a bad luck guy!

 

 

Frank Cady is still alive?? Wow. He was old in his Green Acres days!

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REAR WINDOW was one of the "5 missing" Hitchcock films that were pulled from circulation in the mid 60's (Hitch had control of the rights to these films and considered them an investment, and holding them out of public view increased the value of the films for a future release).  In the early 80's, after Hitch's passing away, the films were rereleased with considerable fanfare, shown in theatres nationwide. That is when I first saw the five films and they all made an impression on me.  Seeing them on the big screen made an even stronger impression, especially VERTIGO, which I feel loses a lot of its impact when just seen on a tv screen.  REAR WINDOW is definitely Hitch at his best, its very entertaining and yet I think the hard core film buffs get much from it too.  James Stewart really makes this film work, I'm not sure if any other actor could have done it  better than him.  If I had to pick one moment that always gets me it is near the film's end: The  phone rings,  Stewart picks it up and before he knows who is on the other end, he starts blabbing (he thinks his buddy the cop is calling), there is dead silence and then a hang up. What dumb  Jimmy has done is revealed himself to the killer, now Thorwald knows who his adversary is , what he knows, and where he is.  And poor Jimmy is stuck all alone in the wheelchair helpless, and he can't get to the apartment door to lock it because it is one  of those "step down" entrances (how many of us noticed that unusual feature earlier in the film).  The lights in the outside hall then go out, and Burr's heavy footsteps get closer and closer, and .... LOOK OUT!

 

 

Yes, I saw it in theaters when it was released then. Along with Vertigo and The Man Who Knew Too Much. I didnt see the others as I wasnt that interested.........(I had seen all of them on tv before that though)....

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REAR WINDOW was one of the "5 missing" Hitchcock films that were pulled from circulation in the mid 60's (Hitch had control of the rights to these films and considered them an investment, and holding them out of public view increased the value of the films for a future release).  In the early 80's, after Hitch's passing away, the films were rereleased with considerable fanfare, shown in theatres nationwide. That is when I first saw the five films and they all made an impression on me.  Seeing them on the big screen made an even stronger impression, especially VERTIGO, which I feel loses a lot of its impact when just seen on a tv screen.  REAR WINDOW is definitely Hitch at his best, its very entertaining and yet I think the hard core film buffs get much from it too.  James Stewart really makes this film work, I'm not sure if any other actor could have done it  better than him.  If I had to pick one moment that always gets me it is near the film's end: The  phone rings,  Stewart picks it up and before he knows who is on the other end, he starts blabbing (he thinks his buddy the cop is calling), there is dead silence and then a hang up. What dumb  Jimmy has done is revealed himself to the killer, now Thorwald knows who his adversary is , what he knows, and where he is.  And poor Jimmy is stuck all alone in the wheelchair helpless, and he can't get to the apartment door to lock it because it is one  of those "step down" entrances (how many of us noticed that unusual feature earlier in the film).  The lights in the outside hall then go out, and Burr's heavy footsteps get closer and closer, and .... LOOK OUT!

Hitchcock was always right on the money regarding when to use Stewart and when to use Grant. Using Stewart in NOTORIOUS is about the closest I can come to a reasonable switch.

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Hitchcock was always right on the money regarding when to use Stewart and when to use Grant. Using Stewart in NOTORIOUS is about the closest I can come to a reasonable switch.

 

 

Cant see him in that role.............

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Hitchcock was always right on the money regarding when to use Stewart and when to use Grant. Using Stewart in NOTORIOUS is about the closest I can come to a reasonable switch.

 

I can't see Stewart in the Grant role in Notorious.    Grant was able to be bitter, a cad and treat women poorly and the women in the audience still loved him.    I don't think Stewart could have pulled that off.

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I agree with you JamesJG  about Grant being able to be a "cad" , treating the women rather poorly and yet still able to be appealing to them (sort of like what  the  femme fatale does to the guys in a noir ). Hitch saw that possible quality in Cary Grant when casting him  in  SUSPICION, and then again in NOTORIOUS.  While James Stewart showed quite a bit of versatility in the roles he could play, it would be a stretch to put him in that kind of character . Stewart was too much of the everyman, an  all American boy ( his roles reinforcing that quality). Grant could always be the suave,  sophisticated romantic man, which can either be a good guy or a very suspect type. Hitchcock was willing to use Grant as  that "dark" character , which helped open up other possible roles for Cary. Grant was supposedly weary of that at first, but later appreciated how that broadened his acting persona.

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I agree with you JamesJG  about Grant being able to be a "cad" , treating the women rather poorly and yet still able to be appealing to them (sort of like what  the  femme fatale does to the guys in a noir ). Hitch saw that possible quality in Cary Grant when casting him  in  SUSPICION, and then again in NOTORIOUS.  While James Stewart showed quite a bit of versatility in the roles he could play, it would be a stretch to put him in that kind of character . Stewart was too much of the everyman, an  all American boy ( his roles reinforcing that quality). Grant could always be the suave,  sophisticated romantic man, which can either be a good guy or a very suspect type. Hitchcock was willing to use Grant as  that "dark" character , which helped open up other possible roles for Cary. Grant was supposedly weary of that at first, but later appreciated how that broadened his acting persona.

I certainly agree that Grant was BETTER-suited for the NOTORIOUS role.

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I, too, saw REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO and ROPE on a big theater screen in Chicago when they were re-issued in the '80s (as well as MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE).  They were great on the big screen.  I like VERTIGO but not as much as the folks who consider it the #1 movie of all time and I have other Hitchcock favorites including REAR WINDOW:  great cast, great sets, etc.  Agree that Grant was the better choice for NOTORIOUS.  As for Hitchcock, I've always loved PSYCHO and THE BIRDS (his "bloodier" movies) but over the years I have developed a real fondness for SHADAOW OF A DOUBT, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, NOTORIOUS, REAR WINDOW and ROPE.  I know a lot of people don't care for ROPE but I really like it; Jimmy Stewart cast against type and John Dahl was an interesting actor to watch.

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