Detective, Thriller

Maddy’s Pick For The Weekend 7: Rear Window (1954)

 

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This is one of Hitchcock’s cleverest films. The way he directs makes us voyeurs just like Jimmy Stewart’s character is. We almost become characters in the film because it’s like we are there alongside Stewart watching from that window too.

Rear Window tackles issues of obsession, curiosity, romance, murder and voyeurism. The film features glamourous clothes, black comedy, fascinating characters, plenty of suspense and one of the best sets in American film history.

Photographer L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies (James Stewart)is wheelchair bound after he breaks his leg.Jeff lives in an apartment complex and starts looking out of his window at his neighbours simply because he needs something to do to pass the time. However what begins as a casual curiosity, soon develops into an obsession as he can’t stop looking at what’s going on in the neighbouring apartments.

Jeff’s glamourous girlfriend, Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly)loves him dearly, but the two are complete opposites in background, life and society. Lisa begins to get concerned about Jeff’s obsession with the neighbours and tries to get him to focus on her instead. Soon Lisa gets drawn into his obsession when the pair begin to suspect Lars Thorwald (a menacing Raymond Burr)of having murdered his wife. The pair begin their own investigation. They are helped in their investigations by Jeff’s nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter) and Jeff’s detective friend Doyle (Wendell Corey).

Hitchcock keeps us guessing as to whether Thorwald is innocent or guilty right up to the end. We begin to wonder at points in the film whether Jeff is correct in his suspicions or not.

I love the apartment complex set because it looks so real. How it’s set up works for the story as Jeff’s window has a clear view of all of the others. All the apartments were also designed inside, furniture etc added.

The one thing about this set up that always makes me laugh, is how everyone has their windows open with the lights on and nobody (apart from the newlyweds)ever has their curtains or blinds drawn. This seems to be a reccuring thing in American, Swedish and Danish films and series; here in the UK, once it’s evening, the curtains and blinds are shut, we’d never dream of having the lights on so everyone outside could see in.

I like how Jeff finally sees past Lisa’s glamour to see the woman beneath. They love each other, but have such different lives. He realises he loves her and sees that she is a resourceful and brave woman. Kelly is glamourous and beautiful(as ever)but shows there is more to her character than looks. Kelly shows us Lisa’s vulnerable side and her desperation for Jeff to fully accept her in his life.

Stewart portrays Jeff as a man set in his ways, but slowly realising there is room for Lisa in his life. He does such a good job of conveying Jeff’s growing fascination and obsession with looking out of the window.

Thelma Ritter provides comic support as the no nonsense Stella. She also thinks Jeff needs to stop watching, but then she and Lisa begin to think he may be right after all.

Raymond Burr is almost unrecognisable as the menacing Lars Thorwald. I love Burr when he plays good guys like Ironside, but he was superb when playing dubious characters and villains.

This is a thrilling film that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. It also makes you see how easy it is to slip into obsession. Excellent performances throughout and skilled direction from Hitch make this a must see.

Please share your thoughts on the film below.

 

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Musicals, Romance

High Society(1956)What A Swell Party This Is…

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Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Louis Armstrong(and his band), Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm, Lydia Reed,John Lund,Sidney Blackmer,Margalo Gillmore and Louis Calhern are the stars of this elegant musical.

This musical version of The Philadelphia Story was released in 1956. I saw this version before seeing the Katherine Hepburn one, and although I love the 1940 film; I think that this version will always be my favourite.

Grace Kelly is perfectly cast as the beautiful, icy, society heiress Tracy Lord. Kelly really makes me feel for Tracy in the poolside scene where she says to fiancé George(John Lund),”I don’t want to be worshipped, I want to be loved”.

Bing Crosby is Tracy’s ex husband, Dexter; the man she will always love but whose human shortcomings she could never accept/understand.

Frank Sinatra is tell it like he sees it news reporter, Mike Connor; who along with good friend and tough gal(and obvious right woman for him)Liz Imbrie(Celeste Holm),is covering Tracy’s wedding to George Kitteridge(John Lund). Tracy must choose between George, Dexter and Mike, which of these men does she really love?

Featuring some cracking music and songs, many courtesy of the legendary Armstrong who plays himself as a friend of Dexter’s(Armstrong also serves as the films narrator/guide.) Well Did You Evah?, My Little One and True Love are favourites of mine.

A beautiful film about beautiful people living the elegant highlife, and proving that all the wealth and glamour in the world can’t create happiness.

This is one that always leaves me in a good mood when I’ve watched it. Funny, romantic and a good remake. Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it.

Please let me know your thoughts on the film if you have seen it.