My favourite Hitchcock film, and probably one of my favourite films of all time, is Rear Window. There is something in the simplicity of a Hitchcock film that I love. Sure the characterization and narrative can be quite complex, but there is something about the way he taps into our basest emotions that draws me to his work. It’s iconic and Rear Window is one of the best examples of this.
First of all there is the first rate script. This is the perfect example of how to write a screenplay. Incredible dialogue, perfectly crafted suspense, intriguing plot. If all movies where as well written as Rear Window going to the cinema would be a much better experience.
Then you have the combination of James Stewart and Grace Kelly. There is no other actress I would rather watch on screen and this role suits her to a tee. She is sophisticated and strong yet vulnerable. She typifies the kind of movie heroine I love; she doesn’t wait around to get rescued but jumps in to control her own destiny.
Rear Window is also my favourite role for Jimmy Stewart. He’s got a chance to do what he does best which is that likeable sarcasm that works so well for him. Also he gets to be hero by overcoming his own hubris and limitations.
The rest of the cast is first rate as well. Thelma Ritter is a delight and who knew Raymond Burr could be so menacing?
Rear Window is a modernist exploration of paranoia which delightfully turns out to be justified. This movie always has me on the edge of my seat and the most delicious part is how all the violence and threats are left suggested off screen.
Rear Window also has one of my favourite film endings ever. Hitchcock’s stylized take on Stewart using a flashbulb to incapacitate the killer and the great fall shot are beautiful works of art.
While I strongly recommend all the films in the Masterpiece Collection, if someone was asking me to suggest just one Hitchcock film to introduce them to the pleasures of the master I would pick Rear Window. I just hope that upon viewing it they would be compelled to check out as many of his films as possible.