August 5, 1954 [Rear Window]
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.