If you ignore the star-studded cast and directory, the elements that make up Rear Window are a recipe for disaster: a protagonist of a thriller who has a broken leg and can’t move, the setting that never changes and a non-twist ending (which, of course, because of expectations ends up being a twist ending, but I won’t spoil it here).
But the film, as many have said, and I am now echoing (only seventy years late – hooray!) is most definitely not a disaster: it’s a fun one in the classic Hitchcock tradition. Not even the single setting hurts this one too much. While Rope, Hitchcock’s other one-room special on the list, felt a little constrained, Rear Window works perfectly.
And though awful ingredients have been used to make excellent films before, this one was quite different from earlier efforts. It’s a film that actually plays to the talents of James Stewart, showing him standing on principle without making him an unbearable goody-two-shoes (his voyeurism throughout the film dilutes the overly saccharine character of most of Stewarts works). And Kelly as a society girl is perfectly cast.
So the actors are in the right place, the rest of it is set design, and that is where this one shines in an incredible way. While it’s true that Stewart doesn’t do much moving, the world outside his window is both alive and lively, which keeps the film from dragging. In my mind, that is what makes the movie.
I won’t go into this one in too much further depth, mainly to avoid spoilers. It breaks no new ground, but it IS a masterpiece of the classic Hitchcock thriller. Most people have seen it, and it those who haven’t, should, as they will be entertained. There’s even a surviving cast member out there, so we have the privilege of being able to thank Kathryn Crosby for being part of this.
Recommended for being able to perfect elements that might have been out there before, but had never been combined to quite this effect.
Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose own thriller is very much not constrained to one room. Timeless is a high-speed ride through the murky world of Southeast European crime, and is much sexier than a 1950s movie. You can check it out here.