BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #69: Rear Window, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list provided such a challenge.
It’s always fun during this challenge when I get to pull that week’s movie off my own shelf. That was what I got to do with Rear Window. I am an unabashed Alfred Hitchcock fan and Rear Window is one of favorites of his films. In Rear Window, Hitchcock takes full advantage of the human tendency to look in on and watch other people’s lives. He also plays on the question, “What does my life look like from the outside?” Certainly, social media has heightened the false outside persona we all craft but back in 1956 there weren’t that many options to see how other people live or show off how you live.
Jimmy Stewart is great as Jeff, the travel photographer stuck in his boring apartment waiting for his broken leg to heal. From the first moment we meet Jeff, he is practically itching to get out of his wheelchair and back on the road. His impressive fear of commitment is magnified by the fact his girlfriend is around all the time. Hitchcock is infamous for his treatment and portrayal of women but I have to say Thelma Ritter as Stella the nurse and Grace Kelly as Lisa are the two most interesting characters. I always forget until I watch the film again how captivating Grace Kelly is on screen. She is arrestingly beautiful but she is also smart, driven, and surprisingly brave and daring. She wins over Jeff’s heart by putting herself on the line to learn the truth.
Part of what works so well in the film is the impressive set that was built and the use of diegetic sound to make everything feel real and lived in. Rear Window has a strong sense of authenticity which makes the possibility that an actual murder has taken place even more gruesome. It also makes the small dramas happening around Jeff feel real and believable. The song writer who has writers block, the lonely woman who contemplates suicide, and the death of the friendly neighborhood dog all have more impact because we have watched their lives and feel connected to them.
Rear Window makes us all take a hard look at our own lives and our impulses to judge other people’s behaviors from afar. There are many points throughout the film when you think Jeff is wrong and that the murder didn’t happen, he just put some circumstantial evidence together and made the rest up. Of course, he’s proved right.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Rear Window ranking: Carrier