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on May 18, 2004
Show of hands please --- Who here loves anything with Jimmy Stewart in it? How about the lovely Grace Kelly?
Results --- ** Entire world placing hands skyward. ** :)
Well that's not surprising. Put Jimmy and Grace together (in an Alfred Hitchcock flick no less!), and you can't help but to have a classic piece of motion picture entertainment.
One of the all-time great suspense films, "Rear Window" (1954) places us (the viewer) squarely in the shoes of L.B. Jefferies (Stewart), as he peers out his "rear window" at his courtyard neighbors. (BTW -- My spelling of "Jefferies" in this review IS correct. I've noticed "Jefferies" almost always being misspelled "Jeffries" (lacking an "E"). The spelling of Jeff's last name can easily be verified at the beginning of the movie, when the camera pans across his leg cast, revealing the words: "Here lie the broken bones of L.B. Jefferies". I assume that the filmmakers didn't deliberately have Jeff's last name misspelled on the cast. Of course, I suppose that's always *possible*; but I fail to see a reason WHY they'd do it.) :-)
Hitchcock lets the plot of the movie unfold in sections, building the suspense and drama with his usual superb efficiency and skill. But "Rear Window", when you stop and think about it for a minute, doesn't really follow the same "format" as many (or most) other Hitchcock pictures -- in that we (the audience) are just as much in the dark about this possible "murder" across the courtyard as L.B. Jefferies is. In many of the director's films, "Hitch" lets his viewing audience know, right up front, that there's a "bomb under the table" (to use Hitchcock's own example from his interviews). But in "Window", Mr. H. doesn't give us much up front, and lets us discover things as they happen, right along with Jefferies.
There is one particular part of this movie that has always left me scratching my head, wondering why nothing was done about it during the course of the film. .... Near the beginning of the picture, just after Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) leaves Jeff's apartment, Mr. Jefferies hears a woman scream and hears glass breaking right after the scream. Now -- my question is: WHY didn't Jeff tell his detective friend (Thomas J. Doyle) about having heard this "scream and breaking glass" when he called Doyle into the "case" a short time later? Such evidence would surely have gone a long way toward convincing Jeff's skeptical pal that something HAD indeed occurred across the yard. But this "scream" is never once mentioned in the movie.
But, even with this little "hole" in the plot (IMO), "Rear Window" remains near the top of my list of "Best Hitchcock Films". Everything about it is impressive --- The small courtyard (which was actually custom-built right on the movie-studio's soundstage!); the kooky neighbors; the tension-filled storyline; Hitchcock's cameo in the "songwriter's" apartment; the radio playing in the background; the "street sounds"; "Miss Torso"; Jimmy Stewart's performance; Thelma Ritter as the sassy nurse; Grace Kelly for just being there; the mysterious trips with the suitcase; etc., etc.
This DVD comes under Universal's "Collector's Edition" label, and is packed with many first-rate extra features. Let's probe these, shall we? ..........
>> "Rear Window Ethics" is a 55-minute original documentary detailing the making of this Hitchcock classic and the restoration process undertaken to bring the film back to visual perfection for this first-ever DVD release. Very good documentary.
>> There is also a second featurette about the film, entitled "Screenwriter John Michael Hayes On Rear Window". This bonus lasts 13:10.
>> Photo Gallery. -- This gallery of production photos and advertising materials runs all by itself on its own timed track. Music from the film plays as you watch the images go by. The gallery CAN be paused for longer looks at each image. Running time (without pausing) is 3:07.
>> Original Theatrical Trailer.
>> Re-release Trailers for 5 different Hitchcock films. -- Narrated by James Stewart. Length: 6:15.
>> Text features with "Production Notes" and some biography pieces on the Cast & Crew.
Another small "mini-bonus" I kind of like is a video montage of Hitchcock movie clips when "Play" is selected from the Main Menu. This, however, can easily be bypassed quickly with an additional remote key stroke.
Video and Audio Specifications:
This color film is presented in an Anamorphic Widescreen format, and looks mighty fine thanks to the restoration efforts. The image is as clear and clean as we've ever seen it. The 2-channel Mono Dolby Digital soundtrack serves the material on screen adequately.
There is some confusion as to the film's aspect ratio. The packaging shows the ratio on this DVD is supposed to be 1.66:1. And evidently it IS that ratio. But, due to something inherent to the "anamorphic" transfer process with regard to this particular ratio (1.66:1), this DVD will display the image on your TV in a wider-looking ratio (closer to 1.85:1). That is, if your TV is a "standard" set (with a 4x3 shaped screen). If you're watching this DVD on a "Widescreen 16x9" set, then the image should fill the entire screen (except for small "pillarboxed" bars on the left and right sides of the screen). But on some 16x9 TVs, these "side bars" aren't visible due to the "overscan".
In any event, the anamorphic image on this disc looks quite good, no matter how it's ultimately formatted onto your screen.
A four-page booklet is included inside this DVD package, with a chapter listing on the back, plus some Production Notes and reproductions of five "Rear Window" lobby cards/posters.
Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" has stood the test of time for many decades, and will no doubt stand erect for many more to come. If you like this movie, there's no better way to re-visit it than by indulging in this picture-perfect "Collector's Edition" DVD.
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on July 5, 2004
North By Northwest and Vertigo are spectacular cinematic achievements but, for me, Rear Window is the one Hitchcock movie everyone must see. It is as perfect as a Hitchcock movie can be. One of the greatest American movies ever made. Not one false note. It is the movie I would show to someone who hasn't seen a Hitchcock movie but wonders what they're all about and why he's so revered. The tremendous psychological drama and cat and mouse suspense are perfectly tuned. Stewart turns in a brillantly nuanced performance as a morally dubious peeping tom. The film is about him, of course. Not about an unseen murder or a pieced together amateur murder investigation. Listen to the dialogue and observe the interactions between Stewart and his guests. Subtext and more subtext. Just perfect.
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on August 17, 2007
Have you ever looked into a neighbour's home and caught sight of someone doing something he shouldn't? Have you immediately looked away, or have you lingered a little? If you have lingered a little, then Rear Window is for you. James Stewart plays L.B. Jeffries, a photographer whose broken leg has turned him into a voyeur. He is fascinated by the goings-on of his neighbours, none more so than the character portrayed by Raymond Burr, who would have gotten away with killing his wife if only he had invested in blinds.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon August 2, 2011
It's a hot evening in attendance apartment complex. Evidently there is no air-conditioning or self-consciousness that open windows attracts voyeurs. L.B. 'Jeff' Jeffries (James Stewart) is wheelchair bound and board. So for entertainment he gets out his high-powered binoculars to see with the neighbors across the courtyard that conveniently leaves their blinds open are up to. Naturally he must make up scenarios as to what it is he thinks he seeing. The shocker is he believes he spotted a neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) dispatching and disposing of his spouse. He adamantly tells his girlfriend and eventually the authorities. Naturally there is no forthcoming evidence despite the incessant snooping of his girlfriend Lisa Carol Fremont (Grace Kelly.)

Could be he was wrong in his assumption. Or will Lars get Jeff and the little dog too?

This is a typical Alfred Hitchcock movie. That this atypical, is not to say that it isn't great, and lots of fun to watch. We see more than our share of great actors including the Princess of Monaco when she was just Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr in one of his few dark character personas.
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Alfred Hitchcock was in near-perfect form when he made "Rear Window," a stylish, minimalistic blend of mystery and dark comedy. This thriller explores "what you shouldn't see" skilfully, with a few funny bits thrown in. And having a cast that includes Grace Kelly and James Stewart doesn't hurt either.

Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (Stewart) got run over during a shoot, and is crankily waiting for his cast to come off. While he does so, he spies on his neighbors -- some sleep on balconies, some argue, some weep alone, and some ("Miss Torso") dance in spandex. To make things worse, Jeff is having intimacy problems with his wealthy girlfriend Lisa (Kelly), because he fears settling down.

But then Jeff's window-watching clues him in to something -- sickly Mrs. Thorwald vanishes, and her husband Lars (Raymond Burr) is seen acting suspiciously with a saw, rope and metal case. Jeff becomes convinced that Thorwald has murdered his wife. He manages to convince Lisa and his down-to-earth nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter), but detectives won't believe him. So without moving from the room, Jeff uses the rear window to watch Thorwald -- and find out what really happened.

Okay, peeping on your neighbors is not just creepy, it's illegal. In the case of "Rear Window," that fact doesn't really matter. Watching the fellow tenants is as much fun as the mystery itself, whether it's the newlyweds, the pair that sleep on the balcony, the weepy Ms. Lonelyheart, or the buxom dancer Miss Torso. It makes the story even more chilling when you realize that one -- or maybe more than one -- of these seemingly harmless people is a murderer.

Hitchcock -- who appears as a musician -- kept his deft touch in a movie that could have sunk like a stone. All the action takes place in one room, but he keeps it from feeling confining. Instead, the minimalistic set takes away all distractions, and makes the interplay between the characters even brighter. And much of the humor is provided by Ritter -- she's not a comic character, but her homespun wisdom is delivered with tart humor.

Jeff is likable as only James Stewart could make him -- this guy is bored, crabby and in denial about his feelings for Lisa, but he's likable despite that. Kelly does an equally solid job as the "girl who is too good for him," who also proves that in a pinch she can rise beyond her uptown-girl roots. Back when many women were relegated to side roles, Lisa gets to be an equal detective to Stewart.

"Rear Window" gives a view into one of Hitchcock's best films, a taut thriller about how, if you watch other people, you might see something dangerous. A well-deserved classic.
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on April 8, 2004
This is a great film that discusses the mystery of perception. James Stewart plays a photographer confined to a wheelchair, and, because he is bored, he voyeuristically examines the lives of his neighbors in the apartment building. We only see these neighbors through his eyes. Therefore, when he assumes that the man across the courtyard has murdered his invalid wife, at first no one wants to investigate his theory, especially his detective friend. But the clues seem to pile up, leading Stewart's girlfriend and nurse (a wonderfully witty role played by Thelma Ritter) to lure the man from his apartment to investigate further. The climax is powerful, true to Hitchcockian form.
Hitchcock's films are quite different from suspense films made today. The primary difference is the method in which Hitch crafts suspense. It's slow--on purpose. The climax is more powerful because the viewer builds up tension throughout the first 3/4 of the film. In this movie, Hitch's goal is not to shock or horrify viewers, but put them on the edge of their seats in anxious expectation of the climax. That, in my opinion, makes a great suspense thriller.
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on April 4, 2004
This extremely dense and subtle film is assuredly one of Hitchcock's greatest achievements. Too intrepid for his own good, Jefferies pays dearly for his mistake: confined to a wheelchair in a small apartment, he becomes a prisoner and takes pleasure in the multiple visions that unfold in front of him. He soon lives only through these images, a slave of adventures he wants to understand even as they elude his grasp; he periodically contemplates another kind of spectacle, that of Lisa courting him with the same energy he himself manifests as an amateur detective. He gradually identifies with his neighbours, and Hitchcock frequently equals his viewers with Jefferies, letting us see exactly what he sees. The film has a lot to say on the interpretative reading of works of art, as Jefferies tends to accept events only so far as they confirm his own hypotheses. It is when he seemingly elucidates the Thorwald mystery that he goes too far and commits his hubristic mistake for a second time; the film thus ends as it started, with Jefferies stuck in his wheelchair and Lisa reading a fashion magazine. Both goth too involved in the images...
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on April 2, 2004
Undoubtedly one of the greatest movies he ever made, Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 masterwork "Rear Window" has certainly stood the test of times, and with good reason. Every little second of the film is to die for, from the opening credits to the long and breathtaking closeup of Grace Kelly to its breakneck conclusion, it's hard not to love it.
When photographer J.B. "Jeff" Jeffries, played by Jimmy Stewart in one of his finest roles ever, breaks his leg, he is confined to his Greenwich Village apartment room and becomes fixated with the lives of his neighbors across the way from him. He soon expects that a mysterious salesman (played vigorously by Raymond Burr) may have murdered his annoying wife, he decides to do a little investigating - with the help of his gorgeous girlfriend Lisa Freemont (played by Grace Kelly in her finest role ever). It all leads up to a shocking conclusion that will linger in yout mind long after the end credits.
If you're a Hitchcok fan or just love movies, "Rear Window" will surely satisfy. I promise.
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on March 6, 2004
This film was always one of Hitchcock's finest. There is nothing I could add to what has been said before in praise.
However, I question why the film was letterboxed when the original movie was shot with a ratio of 1.33:1 (or 4:3). Paramount Pictures, in 1954, had not released anything in Vista Vision, their wide screen answer to Cinemascope. "White Christmas" would be the first to be released later that year in the new process.
After comparing the new DVD to my 1984 VHS tape, I noticed some striking discrepancies. The most obvious were the shots when James Stewart looked through his camera viewfinder. What he, and we, saw was a complete circle, with the image contained within the circle. On the DVD, this circle is cropped at the top and bottom. Why?
Also, during the DVD documentary on how the film was restored, a technician is seen holding the actual film. It plainly shows the movie was shot in the common ratio of 1.33:1. When before and after comparisons are shown, one can clearly see extra image at the top and bottom of the before shot. Again, why letterbox?
For such a great film, my criticisms may seem of low importance. I would just rather not see cropping like this happen to other restorations of great classics in the future.
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on March 5, 2004
This is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films; one that is confined to only one set (much like his "Lifeboat"). This is a tale about a professional photographer, LB "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart), who is confined to a wheelchair in his two-roomed flat. He passes time by looking out of his window into the courtyard that backs several small apartment buildings. Jeff even give nicknames to some of the neighbours he watches, mostly to keep absolute bordem at bay. But things aren't quite so bad; he has a nurse who comes in daily to take care of him. Her name is Stella (Thelma Ritter). She makes a casual reference to his being a peeping-tom could get him into trouble for seeing things that he shouldn't see. And, even better, Jeff has a lovely girlfriend, Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), who is a number of years his junior. High-class and beautiful; Lisa doesn't care that Jeff is living from paycheque-to-paycheque. Eventually, Stella's warning comes true. Jeff discovers that a salesman (Lars Thorwald played by Raymond Burr), could very well be a murderer. He calls his friend, who is a policeman, to check out the situation. His friend can't; not without sufficient probable-cause. Many rather nasty things occur that Jeff sees but can't explain. He enlists the help of both Lisa and Stella.
I find that this film is very captivating and quite fast-paced. The ending is nail-biting. A must-see classic!
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