August 5, 1954 [Rear Window]

I sit there in the dark looking into the screen--a frame--at James Stewart, who sits in his wheelchair, his leg broken, a telephoto lens in his hand. He peers through it--the movie’s second frame--and looks through his Rear Window--the third frame--into the windows of his neighbors--four’s a charm. We’re watching him watching--and Hitchcock finally gets around to sending a Valentine to his fans, with a little kiss of death for giving in to his advances all these years.

Unlike Stewart’s Jeff, we can get up and leave--but the movie pushes us back down, until our own desire to watch keeps us as helpless as Jeff--as he watches Lisa--Grace Kelly, whom Hitchcock watches more avidly than any of us, taking out a different lens for her, soft and eager. She tiptoes into the murderer’s den, and is menaced--and Stewart sits planted, biting his knuckles, suffering the agonies of any damsel in distress. It is a remarkable performance--with humor (his scenes with the matchless Thelma Ritter would make a good movie all on their own) and irony, kindness and false scorn--but on top of it all a near-panic as he realizes that watching itself is an action, with its own consequences and perils.

Once more, Hitchcock tempts us into doing something we shouldn’t, then punishes us for it. I wish he’d make up his mind: God or Satan, one or the other.


  1. Rear Window was certainly one of the best of his movies. The incomparably sweet Stewart watches the ordinary lives in a residential block and soon needs a telescope because nothing is so ordinary. Then that dog, or was it a cat, plunges to his death. It's the macabre that lies beneath the veneer of mundane which is the trademark of this extraordinary film maker.
    Thanks. It was nice to dream back of this delicious aesthetic and deeply suspenseful ,shall we use the word, masterpiece?


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