Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window remains one of the best “closed room” mysteries ever filmed.
We see the entire murder play out but somehow, Hitchcock keeps us on the edge of our seats guessing until the very end.
Grace Kelly, the future Princess of Monaco
This film features the emergence of Grace Kelly, playing Lisa Carol Fremont, the Park Avenue princess, modeling at the very top of New York’s high fashion circuit, only frequented by the high society elites. It fits Kelly like one of her elbow length satin gloves.
Hitchcock had a knack for casting gorgeous blonde female leads for his horror and suspense films, and his eye for elegance with Rear Window is no different.
Throughout the film, Grace wears only the best fabrics and variety of stylish looks to compliment her slim, shapely frame.
On the other hand, James Stewart’s entire wardrobe consisted of being clothed in two sets of pajamas, one tan the other blue.
The contrast in what the roles demanded for audience appeal to the opposite gender, hints at the disparities in sexism Kelly faced as a young actress in Hollywood.
For all her beauty, natural grace and pleasant personality, Lisa is constantly rejected and doing her very best to show Jeff, she’s worth of him.
She works hard for Jeff’s respect in the film, despite his second thoughts, advanced years, gruff mannerisms, penchant for spying, and lack of dress sense, she still goes out of her way to help him catch the killer!
A few years after the release of Rear Window, Grace Kelly went on to leave Hollywood and marry the prince of Monaco, making her a real life princess!
According to Wikipedia, she spent her life attending to her people in Monaco, living out a fairy tale that began in Philadelphia, PA.
Sadly, in 1982, she passed from complications after being involved in a car accident.
Spoken like the words of a true princess. R.i.p. Your Highness.
Here Lies the Broken Bones of L. B. Jefferies
We find, L. B. Jefferies (played by James Stewart), the disgruntled magazine photographer, sweltering in a wheelchair by the rear window of his apartment in the heatwave that’s settled on the city.
Jeff is understandably restless and curmudgeonly after spending six weeks in his small apartment recovering from a broken leg he’d received on his last big assignment for the magazine.
At the business end of camera in front of car on the race track for a dramatically different shot (a request from his editor) that cost him a few broken bones and temporarily, his freedom.
This last brutally hot summer week begins with Jeff doing the only thing he can do, people watch.
We see his entire neighborhood from Jeff’s remarkable advantage, in his wheel chair by the window.
Different types of relationships play out for him each day from morning to night in open windows and each occupant he observes has a pet name.
There’s Miss Torso, The Newlyweds, The Fire Escape Couple, The Composer, The Hearing Aid Lady and The Salesman, just to name a few.
He really enjoys watching his young, lively neighbor across the way, the ballet dancer, Miss Torso. She has some very interesting dance rituals in her racy scenes throughout the film.
We’ve Become a Race of Peeping Toms
Aside from a phone call from his forgetful editor at the magazine, the insurance company sends out a nurse to check on him throughout his convalescence.
He’s otherwise prone to being miserable, restless, itchy and morose in his time at home, alone, staring out the same window.
His lousy editor informed him two underlings just went out on an assignment he had called before it happened.
As he gripes about his woes to his often disinterested caller, he observes a gray haired, stocky saleman coming home to his nagging wife and thinks about his own impending engagement.
His editor leaves him to his regrets and ignominious realizations about the trappings that begin with the institute of marriage.
The surly salesman draws Jeff’s eyes once more as he escapes his invalid wife to his little garden behind the apartment.
There another harpy nags him, (the hearing aid lady) that lives downstairs, going on and on at the poor guy. About overwatering his flowers, digging his flower bed too deep, if you can believe it!
The salesman waives her off, tells her to shut up and goes back to his gardening. The hearing aid lady walks back to sunbathe in a huff and the young composer in the studio apartment, above it all, continues to hammer out his latest tune.
What a way to start a week for lame L. B. Jefferies..
As he continues watching life in the open courtyard, in walks, Nurse Stella.
For kicks he takes to overanalyzing the very concept of marriage, as she sets up for his session, since he’s seen so many aspects of his neighbors’ relationships through the window.
He can’t help but wonder how a woman like Lisa could possibly fit into his life, the way it was now. Life changing events like getting hitched, for the fella, required serious logical reasoning, no doubt.
His sour disposition and malingering on the whole idea is to be expected. After all, what else was he supposed to do with a full leg cast and nothing else to do all day long?
During his visit from his insurance company nurse, Stella played by Thelma Ritter, she reproaches him over his newfound voyeurism.
Even called him a Peeping Tom, and warning him there were steep penalties (the work house) that went with such a conviction.
Tells him, in the old days he would get a red hot poker in the eye, to be specific, but that’s just Stella’s blunt way of speaking.
Not Everything Rises With the Heat
Before the massage, Stella suggests he has a “hormone problem” because all the bikini sun bathers he’s been ogling for weeks haven’t even raised his temperature in this heat.
It is at this point, Hitchcock (with his ubiquitous use of shapely, attractive actresses of all ages in most of the roles), has once again hinted at Jeff’s probable sexual impotence.
Hitchcock loved a script with a deep psychological struggle, and in this scene, Jeff, (after Stella mentions the sun bathers), waves her off with no interest in anything sexual, at all, through several verbal prompts.
Jeff deflects them instantly, scoffs at the idea of trouble, says instead, maybe he is looking for a little danger.
Is this what set his need to spy into motion, his suspicious mind, wandering eye and sudden lack of commitment to Lisa?
Stella gives him his therapeutic massage along with a few words of foreshadowing advice about how his constant Peeping from the window was just asking for trouble. “You’ll see things you shouldn’t see. Trouble.”
One look at the happy groom carrying his new bride across the threshold and Jeff has made up his mind.
Unlike the young newlyweds, Lisa and he were from two different worlds. Reason prevailed above the heart in this situation.
He would never fit into her high society life and she could never adjust to the harsh realities of his life on the road.
Better to call the whole thing off and spare themselves the imposition of trying, Jeff concludes, dourly.
He finds a sense of contentment observing the newlyweds, just starting out in life in their first apartment, off to his left.
As Stella leaves, Jeff settles back into his chair and dozes off in his spot by the window.
Her Big Night: Our First Glimpse of Grace
As Jeff naps, in creeps his intended Lisa, played by the stunning Grace Kelly, dressed in the latest fashion, fresh from the Paris runway.
She’s dressed to the nines for the evening. Lisa has come to pamper him and celebrate his last week of cast imprisonment, but even home delivered gourmet meals from 21 can’t raise Jeff’s sour spirits.
Though she was a vision of loveliness, he couldn’t appreciate it. She was perfect and his life was anything but.
Lisa was used to the finest things in life, he was accustomed to scraping through with nothing in exotic places alone.
As she floated around, got the wine open, chatted and helped the bus boy prepare their dinner, Jeff grumbled and hinted at the talk that was to come.
He finds his eyes drawn to the apartment across the lower courtyard, blaring out a sad, sentimental melody.
There he finds Miss Lonely Heart, toasting with her imaginary suitor, and drinking all alone.
He’s touched by her vulnerability in that moment and returns her empty toast.
Trouble with the Wife?
Lisa is still busy setting up the plates, pouring wine, tipping the busboy, making things just right when Jeff notices some trouble with the salesman and his sick wife.
She’s in a foul mood, complaining about the meal he’s cooked and tossing the sunflower he included carelessly off her tray with a mocking shake of her head.
The salesman waves off her dismissive attitude with one swipe and returns to the other room to make a phone call.
His wife overhears, tip toes out and confronts him! He quickly hangs up the phone.
Whatever she overheard has not impressed her, she laughs and returns to her bed.
The trouble with the salesman and his wife dies down when Miss Torso’s party begins to heat up.
The tormented composer is back hard at work, with a noteworthy visitor, his tune carrying on throughout the courtyard.
(Mr. Hitchcock always makes a direct-eye-look-into-the-camera cameo in all his films, a physical foreshadowing of death and trouble for his lead characters)
Lisa joins him for a glass of wine as they discuss the talents of Miss Torso.
Jeff sees a Queen Bee fluttering around her drones. Lisa sees a young woman juggling wolves on her own.
Miss Torso (save the muscles and long ponytail) bares a striking resemblance to Lisa, and she is noticeably hurt by the depreciating tone he takes when he compares the two girls.
She remembers the dinner, serves it and he says it’s perfect.
Jeff takes it all in with more than a grain of salt. In fact, with two words he might as well have dumped a whole shaker of salt on top. “As always.”
Some big night for Lisa, huh?
The Hard Pitch For Status Quo
Jeff polishes off the beautiful evening Lisa planned for him, by putting her into a terrible mood with his “too different to be together” argument.
To Lisa, being a magazine photographer was little more than traveling like a tourist on an endless vacation.
Jeff does his best to impress upon her, that when he is on assignment, his meals never compare to the fare she’s used to getting at 21.
She’s too furious to hear him out, she’s so offended he is thinking of breaking her heart this way! She beings to drone on, hurriedly, about her objections to his way of putting things.
He yells at her to shut up just like the awful salesman yelled at the hearing aid lady.
Lisa is not impressed with his tone.
She is already through with him and his negative outlook on life for the evening and prepares herself to go home.
Poor Lisa. After all she had gone through, a lovely lobster dinner, fancy French wine, to just end up receiving second thoughts about their engagement from her fiancé in an $1100.00 ball gown.
She leaves, noticeably hurt and deflated. How long will she be gone, Jeff asked?
For a long time, that is, she says, “until tomorrow night.”
Lisa is gone.
Alone, again, thinking of the mess he’s made with Lisa, perhaps, when just then, Jeff hears a woman shout “Don’t!” in the darkness. It gives him cause for alarm.
His suspicions about his neighbors across the courtyard begin.
Can’t wait for part 2??
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