Rear Window (1954)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Mystery, Psychological Thriller  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

On the surface a comic thriller about a photographer and the crime he thinks took place across the courtyard, Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) turns into an interrogation of voyeurism and movie-viewing. Keeping the camera in Jeff's apartment (except for a couple of shots near the climax), Hitchcock limits the audience's view to what Jeff can see and hear from his immobilized perch. He is free to take in the spectacle of the events in the apartments that he sees, but he is powerless to intervene. Why he looks, however, is the larger question; Hitchcock suggests not just that Jeff is channel-surfing among apartments for idle entertainment but also that the urge to peep is a more universal trait than we might care to acknowledge. What Jeff finds, moreover, becomes a fantasy projection of his own fears about his own relationship with Lisa. Jeff becomes a voyeur to escape, but his gaze is literally -- and violently -- turned back on him by the suspected wife-killer in his thriller narrative. Wryly entertaining as well as skillfully executed and thematically complex, the popular Rear Window earned Hitchcock an Oscar nomination for Best Director and inspired such later films as Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974) and Brian De Palma's Sisters (1973). It was remade in 1998 as a TV movie with Christopher Reeve in the James Stewart role.