by Ken Bakely
NOTE: I run an Oscar predictions contest every year, and the winner gets to select one film for me to review. This year, Rear Window was suggested. While writing, this piece started out as a traditional review, with a star rating and all, but slowly transformed into a more specific, contextualized essay. As a result, I’ve excised many aspects of my reviews, such as a detailed plot synopsis. This piece assumes that you’ve seen the movie, or are at least familiar with it. However, there are no spoilers.
If someone was going to remake Rear Window, I could only see one “in” – one reason to approach this content and try to rebuild it. Perhaps the one angle which Alfred Hitchcock did not take, but could prove intriguing, is to go deeper into the restrictions of its setting. The film takes place entirely within the line of sight of L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart), a photographer who finds himself strung up in a wheelchair. He’s spent the past several weeks confined to his apartment, staring out the window into the courtyard, where four other buildings meet. It’s a hot summer, and everyone has their windows wide open. You can see right in. He becomes convinced that one of his neighbors has committed a murder. Soon his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) have been roped into his suspicions, and poke and prod on his behalf, as paranoid whims give way into increasingly precarious situations.