This might be a review that came out a tad too late. Fifty-eight years after Rear Window was released in 1954. It could only have been a Hitchcock classic based on a 1942 short story It Had to Be Murder, written by Cornell Woolrich. It’s almost like reading a murder mystery novel, the events of which slowly unfold right outside your window. The script is perfectly crafted by John Michael Hayes, neat and fluid. All I can say is that it doesn’t take long to become Hitchcock’s fan, for choosing a flawless cast and solving the mystery in a little less than 112 minutes.
The cast of James Stewart (Jeff) and Grace Kelly (Lisa) seemed just about ideal, with little old style conservative romance spluttering every now and then. Hitchcock gives a character to each one of his actors; be it our injured professional photographer Stewart, strapped in a wheelchair by the window or our exquisite-looking high-society fashion consultant Kelly, who apart from slipping in and out of beautiful gowns and dresses, plays the almost-perfect associate to Stewart in a tryst to unravel the suspected murder committed by a neighbour Thorwald (played by Raymond Burr), living across the building overlooking his window. And let’s not forget Stewart’s visiting Nurse Stella (played by Thelma Ritter), a sharp 40-something woman who doesn’t mince her words that maketh murder.
Hitchcock makes sure that the neighbours are interesting; and whose neighbor’s aren’t! There isn’t a dull moment in the movie. Take for instance, Miss Lonely Hearts who lives on the ground floor of the building opposite Stewart’s window. She is an older woman living alone in her apartment, looking for love; someone who sits alone on a table set-for-two, drinking wine and making false conversations with no one sitting across the table. Then, there’s a belle dancer who captures our photographer’s attention while she practices her art in her sexy attire.
The building is a block full of characters that will seem interesting if you are paying attention. And then there’s our man who commits the almost-perfect murder but he manages to attract Stewart’s curiosity.
What unfolds is not for a review to let slip even if the movie’s too old. It surely is a classic and you will know why! Movies like Disturbia (2007) were loosely based on the original concept of Rear Window, but none could capture the charm of the voyeuristic pleasure that is Rear Window.
Written by Shubhra Rishi.