A Nation Of Peeping Toms – When you have times to waste and a pair of binoculars, what would you do?
In 1954 Alfred Hitchcock delivered this film out of the world with John Michael Hayes (screenwriter). Rear Window is a deep and entertaining classic. A fine suspense story combined with romantic tension in the main plot, and there are numerous sub-plots, some humorous and some moving, all with many psychological overtones.
Disguised as a comedy-thriller, Rear Window serves as a meditation on voyeurism and film spectatorship, for like the immobilised central character, the viewer is trapped in a restricted space and forced to sit and watch other people’s lives from a distance. As Ritter’s character exclaims: “We’ve become a nation of Peeping Toms. People ought to get outside and look in at themselves”.
James Stewart plays the freelance photographer (Jeff) holed up in his Greenwich Village apartment, nursing a broken leg sustained on a work assignment. Visited by his no-nonsense nurse (Thelma Ritter) and his fashion-model girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), he whiles away the hours by watching the goings-on in the courtyard opposite with a pair of binoculars. And soon he becomes convinced that one of his neighbours Thorwald (Raymond Burr) has brutally murdered his invalid wife…
A strangely dream-like quality pervades Rear Window, with its frequent fades, the repeated shots of a slumbering Stewart, and the implication that what’s happening up on screen is merely the projection of the protagonist’s anxieties about romantic relationships. Everything from the masterly opening sequence to the ambiguous final shot indicates that this is the work of a superbly talented director.
As one of many Hitchcock’s masterpieces this film brilliantly wooed you into an indescribable pleasure you never had before.