1954 / Director. Alfred Hitchcock.
People always ask me what my favourite films are. My answer changes all of the time, however, a few films remain true. REAR WINDOW is one of them. It probably isn't Hitchcock's best film, but it's definitely my personal favourite. James Stewart is also my favourite actor of all time and with the added beauty of Grace Kelly REAR WINDOW is an exercise in immaculate, daring and ingenious filmmaking. There's a reason why Hitchcock is touted as the "master of suspense" and you can cherry-pick at all of his films and point to his brilliance. Thank God my parent's introduced me to him from an early age. Stewart plays a photojournalist who is holed up in his apartment with a broken leg. With boredom threatening to send him mad he occupies his time by watching his neighbours. He lives in an apartment complex and his rear window looks out into a courtyard. Before long he knows everyone's business and one particular neighbour begins to raise suspicion when his behavior and a missing wife pose sinister questions. This is as close to a perfect film as you're going to get. Filmed entirely on an amazing soundstage, Hitchcock employed all sorts of techniques, setting the film apart from others. Most notable is the lack of soundtrack. Rather than exploiting a whimsical and suspenseful score, as he is famous for, he uses natural ambience to hold the atmosphere together. In fact you could watch the film countless times and still discover new nuances. The sound of traffic, weather and voices are just some of the noises carefully placed throughout the story. The film is also set during a balmy heat wave, which plays a huge part in the character point of view. The muggy stench of summer keeps James Stewart on edge and suggests that his suspicions are a delusional obsession brought upon by a stifling humidity. With his curious girlfriend and a snoopy call-nurse keen to investigate, the film soon takes a tense and thrilling turn culminating in a brilliantly taut climax. Unbelievably I meet people all of the time who have never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film. Quite often their reasons are because the films are "old". Needless to say these people astonish me. Almost every Hitchcock film is timeless and one of them alone packs more tension and atmosphere than any 10 modern thrillers combined. The thrillers that are made now owe everything to Hitchcock and it wouldn't hurt people to reflect upon them every now and then. REAR WINDOW is an excellent entry point to the world of Hitch and I shouldn't need to encourage people to explore it.