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Rear Window (1954)

Alfred Hitchcocks Rear Window

It only takes one witness to spoil the perfect crime

Directed by:

Alfred Hitchcock

Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 109 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

Hot-shot photographer L. B. Jeffries – or “Jeff”, as he’s known to his chums – is at a bit of a loose end. You see he’s stuck in a wheelchair, having broken a leg in a car accident whilst working on a Grand Prix circuit (perhaps a bit of a touchy subject considering Grace Kelly’s in the cast). So, passing the time in the only way he can think of, he’s started spying on the neighbours through his big ol’ telephoto lens.

The trouble is, Jeff’s hobby becomes more like an obsession when he starts to suspect the silver-haired bloke across the street (Raymond ‘Perry Mason’ Burr) of murdering his wife. Is his idle mind playing tricks on him, or is poor Mrs Thorwald really buried underneath the family flowerbed?

James Stewart dumps his trademark “aw shucks” demeanour and takes on a notably darker persona as the crime-sniffing cripple in this absolute masterpiece from Alfred Hitchcock. Jeff’s visitors – nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter), ladyfriend Lisa (Kelly), sceptical police ‘tec Tom (Wendell Corey) – at first have him down as little more than a sticky-beaking nosey parker, but as the evidence becomes tougher to ignore, so too does Hitchcock up the suspense levels.

If you’re after an example of textbook Hitchcock, this is without a shadow of a doubt the film to watch. Instead of attempting to scare us with repeated shock tactics, the film builds up in tension until, by the time it reaches its one climactic pay-off, it’s become almost too much to watch. Yet, at the same time, it’s virtually impossible to take your eyes off the screen. This is quite simply sheer cinematic brilliance. Hats off to you, Alfred.

It's Got: Neighbours. I’m more of a ‘Home & Away’ man, myself.

It Needs: A good neighbourhood watch scheme.

DVD Extras A decent array of goodies for a film this old – there are two featurettes, an art gallery, and three trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10

Alternatives:

Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo

Summary

Voyeurism at its most riveting (that’s right – it’s even more gripping than the live 24 hour coverage of ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!).

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