Classic cinema is always something that has intrigued me. Over the years I have watched many films that are considered classics. There were even films that I can remember watching that my friends refused to watch because they were in black-and-white. Anything that wasn’t in color wasn’t accepted. This is something I’ve never been able to understand as a movie buff because these people are missing out on so many good films. I remember while studying film in college my professor showed me the Hitchcock classic Rear Window. From that moment on, I fell in love with the magic that not only Hitchcock created but I understood why everyone loved Jimmy Stewart and found a deep appreciation for Grace Kelly.
Day 27: Favorite classic movie – Rear Window
Rear Window is perfection. The film’s opening shot is nothing less than absolutely spectacular. In such a short amount of time Hitchcock tells his audience everything we need to know about the tenants in the building across the street from LB Jeffries. Not only do we learn about the tenants, but in a quick movement around Jeffries room we also learn about him. We understand that is a journalist of some kind and that he has covered in event that has inevitably ended in disaster. An event that has put him in a wheelchair for the time being until a broken bone heals. Until then he had to rely on the help of his nurse, Stella, and his girlfriend, Lisa Fremont. Little does Jeffries realize that he has not dealt with true and profound terror yet.
Upon the first viewing, audiences may wonder why we should care about Jeffries and why was we should care about the people across the street. The brilliance of the story is that Jeffries makes us care about the people across the street. But more so than not, he makes us care about learning the secrets of a man who may have killed his wife, Lars Thorwald. Jeffries takes us on this journey with him even at times when even we are yelling just as loud as him for the insanity to stop. Nothing is more suspenseful than wanting if Lisa is going to escape the clutches of Thorwald toward the end of the film. And much like Jeffries, Lisa, and Stella we know to worry about Thorwald. We know deep own that Thorwald has killed his wife because there was too much evidence after the thunderstorm and the death of one of the neighbor’s poor dog.
What is so intriguing about the characters in the film is that ultimately when you see the interaction between Jeffries and Lisa, we doubt want any or even together. In fact at one point I remember wondering if Jeffries even like her at all or if he was merely taking out his spite of his current situation on her. Either way it becomes a moment where we debate if we want to see them together as a couple. There is of course a shift leads us down a road where we cannot imagine them not being together. The trust is built between them so they have to be together. They have to solve this mystery together. We also want to see justice served in regard to Thorwald killing his wife. We know deep down he has been lying to the police, but much like Jeffries cannot prove much of anything.
The beauty of Rear Window is that much like other suspense and horror films of that time period, the prospect of Thorwald is far scarier than actually seeing him. The idea that he’s around every corner lurking and waiting for us not to figure out any mistake he could have made in the murder of his wife. Thus, the mystery becomes intrigue. The intrigue becomes fear. The fear that is derived from Rear Window comes in two floods. One being that we worry for Lisa’s well being once she is taken into custody by the police because they do not understand what has taken place nor the evidence that she has on Thorwald. The other fear is when Jeffries detective friend Doyle calls and informs us that Thorwald has left his apartment afterward. After all, we know that he looked across the street when Lisa was signaling to Jeffries that she had Thorwald’s wife’s wedding ring.
Moreover, we wonder if Jeffries is going to be bestest by Thorwald after all as he comes into Jeffries apartment. Thankfully he is quick on his feet, though not literally, and manages to divert Thorwald’s approach enough that the police get the right man. The only downfall is that Jeffries finds himself even more so in a world of hurt by the end of the film, but pleasantly satisfied with himself because his snooping has put a criminal behind bars. We also discover that some of the information we are lead to believe about the tenants at the beginning of the film were the furthermost thing from the truth. While there is the phrase that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the same can be said about knowledge and assumptions.
Finally, Rear Window is one of those films that never gets old no matter how many times I have sat down to watch it. The film is also one of those movies that makes me want to watch it at least once a year. I also will take the time out to watch it ninety percent of the time that I happen to catch it on one of the movie channels. There is just something about this Hitchcock classic that brings a smile to my face by the end of the film. Maybe it is the ultimate peace of mind. Maybe it is the fact that we can go on this adventure with Jeffries time and time again. Or maybe it is because we are relaxed and happy as a calm by the end of the time, ready to settle down with some reading material that is not as deep as anything we have gone through previously.