“Rear Window,” A Scary Movie Review

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By Daniel Anderson

For the second installment of Halloween Movies You Should Watch, here comes one you probably shouldn’t watch. I know I know Rear Window is a classic. I know I know it’s James Stewart and Grace Kelly. I know I know it’s considered one of Hitchcock’s best. But your author and his wife barely made it through this one. At least I think I did, I may have blacked out for a good stretch of the movie. Natalie’s analysis: “I could have watched like two episodes of Gilmore Girls in the time it took to watch this…”[1]

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Let’s start by looking at the positives: James Stewart can act. He’s so effortless in all of his roles and this time is no different. Except instead of an effortlessly likeable George Bailey, he plays an effortlessly obnoxious L.B. Jeffries, a photographer with a broken leg who passes the time by hanging out in a wheelchair and creeping his neighbors’ day to day activities out of his (you guessed it) rear window. Thelma Ritter plays his home-care nurse terrifically, and Grace Kelly is great as always.

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Alright that pretty much sums up the positives.

The negatives: This movie is 152 minutes of stuff almost happening. Until like the last four minutes. Also, I was not convinced that this was supposed to be a spooky movie. Certainly not “edge-of-your-seat” the way Amazon Instant promised me it was. I get that this movie is about more than a murder mystery—there are definitely some weighty themes/concepts that Hitchcock unpacks over these two and a half hours, e.g. community, privacy, commitment, feminism, patriarchy, etc.—but the thing is, Nat and I were looking for a Halloween thriller. And a slow moving slog with zero atmosphere and very little suspense did not do the trick. Plus, Hitchcock makes the very deliberate (and artistic) choice to film all of the action happening in the apartment courtyard through Stewart’s perspective. This first person perspective frames everything through others’ windows, and while this puts the viewer in the same confusing position as the main character, it also means a lack of clarity in the narrative of the movie. Again, I know Hitchcock is doing this on purpose. He wants us to be as unclear about what is actually happening behind closed doors as Stewart. But for a murder mystery, it’s hard to get clued in to what you should be scared about when you don’t know what’s going on.

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Also, Grace Kelly liking a much-older-than-her James Stewart is stretching the suspension of disbelief just a little bit beyond my acceptable realm. Especially when you consider that the irksome character Stewart plays shows absolutely zero indication of deserving her in any way.

At the end of the day, this was definitely our mistake of asking Rear Window to be a Halloween movie. It’s more like a social commentary with a tense scene at the end. The verdict: skip it. Or watch it. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do.

If you are looking for more classic, scary movies then visit my reviews of “House on Haunted Hill” and “Wait until Dark.” Leave a comment and share what your favorite scary movie is. We are always looking for more great things to review.

[1] In case you didn’t hear, Gilmore Girls (yes, ALL SEVEN SEASONS) is now on Netflix.

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Author: KFB Staff

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1 comment on ““Rear Window,” A Scary Movie Review

  1. stephanie
    / Reply

    Oh, shoot, I love this movie! I really like all the suspense that was created through the near misses. I think also, that Stewart being physically incapacitated, created a feeling of underlying suspense throughout the movie because the viewer knows that should he have a show-down with the baddie, he would be at a considerable disadvantage.

    I also enjoyed the psychological play of the movie. Is the neighbor guilty or is Stewart’s character erroneously stringing together facts out of boredom and paranoia? It is unsettling as a viewer/reader to not be able to trust your narrator, and that suspense tactic rarely works, but in this case, I think it does.

    Also, I am glad to hear about Gilmore Girls on Netflix-can’t go wrong there!

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