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REAR WINDOW (Restored)

SYNOPSIS:
Photo-journalist L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jeffries is wheelchair bound at home after an accident, and reduced to gazing out of his rear window as the summer heat pervades the apartment blocks surrounding him. Against the advice of the insurance company nurse who comes to look after him daily, Stella (Thelma Ritter), Jeff is drawn to closer and closer observations about his neighbours, especially a couple opposite, who pose a frustrating riddle: did the man murder his wife or has she simply gone away somewhere? As he tries to placate his girlfriend, the rich and elegant fashion princess, Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), Jeff is drawn into a mystery he can neither solve - even with help from his old detective friend Tom Doyle (Wendell Corey) – nor abandon.

"What a treat it is to see this wonderful classic from Hitchcock restored so we can enjoy it on the big screen. The painstaking restoration is the work of Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, the same acclaimed team that restored Vertigo so magnificently four years ago, and much of it has been done on a frame by frame basis. Although the picture and sound quality may not be as good as that of Vertigo, it is nonetheless incredible that some scenes have been digitally recreated, including one where Grace Kelly walks across the room. For those interested in the technical whizz-bangery, the DVD will surely explain the process in due course, but we can be reassured that this new print will preserve Rear Window for many years to come. Taking the premise that everyone is interested in everyone, add a little murder mystery and hey presto, we have one of the great suspense thrillers of all time, whose delights and relevance lives with us today. James Stewart, debonair as ever and teamed with the astonishingly beautiful Grace Kelly, is everyman, whose curiosity takes us into the lives of each of his neighbours. It's through the windows that we glimpse from afar real people living out their lives. And although we know we should never assume anything about anyone, we are fascinated by the insight that we get. We get to know Miss Torso the sexy ballet dancer who spends her time fighting off wolves, the songwriter who drinks a little too much, Miss Lonely Hearts, whose plight reduces us to tears and Thorwald, whose secretive manner becomes an obsession. The script is deceptively simple and full of wonderful lines ('wives don't nag, they discuss’), but there's nothing simple about the skill with which Hitchcock achieves the tension and total commitment that we gladly give. Rear Window is a joy from start to finish, proving once again that the greatest suspense comes from the depths of our own imagination. Whether you want to be seduced by the most elegant, sophisticated blonde that the screen has ever seen, or feel your heart beat at double rate as we watch Stewart captive in his plaster cast with only a flashlight as a weapon, succumb to the delights of Rear Window. It's a treat."
Louise Keller

"So what’s so great about Rear Window? you may ask, as a newcomer to the film. (Oldcomers won’t need to read yet another review of this film, they can better use their time seeing it again…) For me, the greatest pleasures come from the smallest details in this totally mainstream, commercially exploitable movie. Hitchcock, remember, was a populist: he wanted to scare people who gathered in the dark movie houses for a brief escape from the real horrors outside. But he didn’t scare them with phony music crescendos and crashes, with tilted cameras or with hooded henchmen wielding giant blades. He scared them with the unknown and their own imaginations. But I still haven’t told you my favourite bits. Hitchcock, billed the master of suspense, delighted in teasing his audience. Hence the word ‘suspense’. He suspends us above the fearful abyss: he dangles us in mid air. That’s his weapon: tension. In the first 35 minutes of Rear Window – now come my favourite bits – we are gently guided into a world of the amiable, benign voyeur. Jimmy Stewart’s broken leg is a simple enough device – and metaphor – that glues him to the window overlooking other windows. He even questions his prying himself: but when he does, we find ourselves excusing him so we can keep watching with him. Here, Hitchcock is the ultimate psychologist, pushing our buttons and gently reeling us in (if you’ll pardon the uncomfortably mixed metaphor). All those characters we glimpse across from Jeff’s window are real people, given dimension by basic but brilliant filmmaking techniques. These are valid even today, when their distant actions may differ, but their characters would be much the same. So if you combine the observant, voyeuristic joys with the subtle, sliding grip of tension that Hitchock generates, you will be glued to the screen. It’s not the best position to be in, unless you love cinema. The point is, you can’t help yourself – and that’s Alfred’s point, too."
Andrew L. Urban

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HEAR Andrew L. Urban & Louise Keller talk about the film in Real Audio.

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See our special
RESTORATION FEATURE

REAR WINDOW (1954)
Restored version, 2000
(US)

CAST: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr

DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchock

PRODUCER: Alfred Hitchcock

SCRIPT: John Michael Hayes (from a short story by Cornell Woolrich)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Burks ASC

EDITOR: George Tomasini

MUSIC: Franz Waxman

COSTUMES: Edith Head

ART DIRECTION: Hal Pereira, Joseph MacMillan Johnson

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

RESTORED BY: Robert A. Harris

RESTOPRATION PRODUCER: James C. Katz

MASTER INTERPOSITIVES: YCM Laboratories

OPTICAL INTERNEGATIVE: Pacific Title/Mirage Digital

DYE TRANSFER PRINTS: Technicolor

‘THE KISS’ DIGITALLY RESTORED AT: Cinesite

ADDITIONAL SCENE RESTORED AT: Pacific Title/Mirage Digital

SOUND EDITING & RE-RECORDING AT: Universal Studios

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 30, 2000 (Sydney; other states to follow)

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