Sunday, June 16, 2013
Sydney Film Festival: Rear Window (1954)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey
Rear Window will be screening at the Sydney Film Festival on the 9th and 15th of June 2013. Please see here for times, venues and tickets.
It is only fitting that Rear Window be shown at the 60th Sydney Film Festival. The first Sydney Film Festival was in 1954, the same year that Rear Window was released. 30 years later in 1984, Rear Window opened the Sydney Film Festival and the special guest was none other than the star of the film, James Stewart.
It's 2013 and Rear Window has not lost any of it's magic. In fact, it is even more magical on the big screen.
Rear Window has everything that makes a wonderful film. It is flawless. Alfred Hitchcock was the master in his working years and his mastery continues to entertain and amaze those who see his films. This film is a perfect example in every way of how much of a genius in film making and suspense that Hitchcock was.
The scene is set. Panning across the courtyard of a Greenwich Village apartment in New York City, there is much activity going on that photographer, L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) plays witness too. As Jefferies is wheelchair bound with a broken leg, he spends the steamy summer in his apartment analysing his neighbours lives. He soon notices some very strange activity that is taking place in the apartment directly opposite his and suspects there may be foul play involved. As his detective friend, Lt. Thomas J. Doyle (Wendell Corey) doesn't prove to be much help, Jefferies, his girlfriend, Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) and his nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter) set out to solve the case themselves.
Hailed by many as one of the best movies ever made, Rear Window is one of the most attractive and clean cut films you will ever see. Hitchcock lives up to his reputation as being the Master of Suspense here by building the tension in the film from the word go to the climax at the end of the film. It may seem as though the start of the film takes a bit to really get going, but what Hitchcock is doing is building on character development so you grow with the characters and feel like you are going through exactly the same things as them.
The screenplay, written by John Michael Hayes and based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich, is wonderful. The story never stops moving forwards and there is a new revelation and occurrence in quite succession. The spoken dialogue by the characters is also brilliant. Very witty and clever. Almost comical at times, but the suspense and drama of the situation is never lost.
The actual set for Rear Window was the biggest ever constructed on a studio lot at the time it was made. There has never been such an amazingly intriguing set such as this since. There is so much going on all around the apartments of the courtyard. Every time you watch Rear Window you pick up on something different. It is an incredible set, full of intrigue and beauty. You can't blame Jefferies for wanting to stare at the happenings out his window day in and day out.
James Stewart and Grace Kelly are just magic on the big screen. Stewart never had any problem carrying any film as the lead actor and in Rear Window he proved that he could even sit down throughout the whole film and be just as commanding and imposing. He could always show in as subtle way as possible how his character is feeling and towards of the film his anxiety is completely infectious.
It is no secret that Hitchcock loved his blonde leading ladies and the way he directed Grace Kelly shows that she was one of, if not his greatest love. From her entrance into the film, her beauty is entirely captured from the best possible angle. Kelly was not just a pretty face, she was a wonderful actress. It is wonderful in Rear Window to watch how her character grows and changes and also how the relationship between Jefferies and Lisa evolves. Stewart and Kelly had an incredible amount of chemistry on screen, but in real life, Stewart was one of the very few leading men to Kelly who could resist her charms and always strayed true to his wife, Gloria.
It was an absolute treat to experience Rear Window on the big screen at the Sydney Film Festival. It remains one of the great masterpieces of cinema and is, and will always be, completely timeless.
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