The last Hitchcock film I reviewed was his TV movie titled “Lamb to the Slaughter”, which I referred to as the absolute worst example of a murder mystery story. Now I’m doing the exact opposite, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 motion picture titled “Rear Window” is perhaps the finest crime drama, mystery of its kind and is rightfully regarded as a generally favored movie in the cinema. The plot revolves around a professional photographer played by Jimmy Stewart, who just broke his leg and is now stuck in his apartment building until he fully recovers. He's so bored that he just spends his time observing the life styles of all his neighbors. Soon, he begins to suspect that one of the neighbors committed murder. He tries to warn the officials but they think he’s just hallucinating do to cabin fever. Now it’s up to him to solve this mystery on his own and with the aid of his beautiful girl friend played by Grace Kelly, he might be able to catch this killer.
This is how you make a perfect mystery flick, because you see everything from our lead characters perspective and for the majority of the film, you feel like you’re in his shoes, spying on the neighbor. The murderer himself is only observed throughout the film, it’s not until the very end that we see him in person and even then, he just act’s like a regular guy and not a stock, cliché Hollywood villain.
Jimmy Stewart is great in the lead role and has played in many of Hitchcock’s movies before, including “Vertigo”, which was another really good one. In this film, Stewart gives a very natural and energized performance. His relationship with the girl friend is also a lot of fun because they have completely opposite interests in life but working together on this mystery brings them closer together, it’s brilliant. Originally, “Rear Window” was based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich, titled “It had to be Murder”. Latter in 2007, there was a movie titled “Disturbia”, which followed the same formula of someone stuck at home, spying on a neighbor who might just be a killer. That was a decent adaptation but it lacked all the same subtle charms of “Rear Window”.
You’d think that sense the movie takes place in this little apartment room, everything would feel confined and claustrophobic, however this neighborhood is so lively and full of activity that the setting practically becomes a character in of itself and it allows you to just breath in this environment. The movie is so beautifully photographed and edited which becomes the films style. There’s a moment when we see Alfred Hitchcock himself making his traditional cameo as a guy in the window of an apartment and he seems to be winding a clock.
Overall, “Rear Window” offers a lot of genuine suspense, great performances and it still stands as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films. I really hope common movie goers don’t pass this film up because it’s old and there’s no gore, but it doesn’t need any of that. It’s so genuine, exciting and stands as a staple of how to make a great mystery movie. I give “Rear Window” 4 stars.