Staring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, the 1954 thriller Rear Window directed by Alfred Hitchcock is a masterpiece in suspense, and earns it’s reputation as a classic Hollywood film. The film Rear Window begins with Jimmy Stewart as L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, a semi-famous photographer who was recently injured while on the job. Jeff has a broken leg, is confined to a wheel chair, and his apartment. While confined to this chair, he begins to spy on his neighbors. Jeff, a bachelor at heart, discusses with his nurse how he doesn’t want to be tied down to his girlfriend Lisa Carol Fremont, played by Grace Kelly. As Jeff watches his neighbors, he begins to grow suspicious of one of them in particular. Eventually Jeff falls asleep at the window, awakes to discover this suspicious neighbor making several trips from his house in the middle of the night and the man’s wife has now disappeared. Could the man have killed his wife? Jeff is about to find out with the help of Lisa and Stella, his nurse. The three of them concoct a plan to investigate the man including sneaking into his apartment, sending threatening letters, digging up a recently changed garden, all to prove that Jeff hasn’t gone crazy and that something nefarious is in fact happening outside his rear window.
The first thing I noticed about the film was Jimmy Stewart. Now, I’ve seen some “older” films but I wouldn’t say that I’m caught up on the classic Jimmy Stewart performances. After seeing, Rear Window, I may never be. Stewart, a legendary actor of his day has such an old film style, that it’s difficult not to notice. Aw gee, golly, gosh, is all I think of when I see him throughout the film. His facial expressions in the beginning of the film are so overdone it would be fit for a silent film comedy instead of a thriller such as this. About half way through the film, his acting becomes a bit more naturalistic and the film itself really settles into the classic that it’s known as.
Grace Kelly as Lisa Carol Fremont, is gorgeous in her role as the doting girlfriend who seeks the approval of Jeff and goes to any lengths to help him. What I found troubling was the obvious age differences between the actors here. These two are together and Lisa is pushing them to live together so I would imagine they would be around the same age. I checked their ages and at the time of release, Jimmy Stewart was 46 and Grace Kelly was 25. Now, I realize this was a different time but if you’re going to have Stewart play this role, at least try to make him look younger. He has grey hair in the film and there is a 25 year old woman chasing after him?
As for the actual film, I was engrossed. I loved the way that the set design was made so the neighbors could all be seen as could part of the street. The neighbors around Jeff and Lisa were sometimes silly but overall just complicated enough to make them real. I really enjoyed the sub-plot of Miss Lonelyhearts and her search for love. The ending of the film was great as we get the reveal of if there is a murder or not as well as some very tense scenes. I’m not a Hitchcock film buff, as I’ve only really seen Psycho, but after seeing this film, I will definitely seek out more films from the legendary thriller director. I may have to pass on those staring Jimmy Stewart though.