Rear Window deserves it’s standing as one of the great films. If I put it aside and come back to it, I always get something different.
This time I especially noticed the soundtrack. Franz Waxman did the music. Besides his own compositions, he’s uses a lot of found music. Radios play jazz and pop tunes. A composer (in one of the windows across the way) works on his piano. There’s happy, noisy jazz from a weekend party. It’s a sort of musical collage which flows as freely as the sounds on a busy city block in the Summertime.
There’s good use of street noises and bits and pieces of conversation as well. Alfred Hitchcock was at the top of his game. His cameo was as a clock winder. It seems symbolic of the director at play, winding up the film to make it run.
James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr and Wendell Corey are all excellent. The various neighbors are also well cast, their parts well acted.
The other big star is the set itself. It’s amazing. They found ways to light it it to suggest certain times of the day: morning, noon, twilight, night etc. It’s very ingenious, like a big puzzle. Along with the cast, screenplay, music and direction, it becomes a basis for a poetic evocation of life in the city.
It’s also very much New York City. I’ve been reading Celluloid Skyline by James Sanders. I’ll talk more about this book once I finish it.
It’s an exploration of New York and the movies (both location shooting and New York recreated in California). It has a lot to say about Rear Window and what the film has to tell us about city life. The rear windows are those not facing the street. They form a smaller urban world of neighbors “hiding in plain sight.” Yet they can still be spied upon or intently watched.
If a man has a broken leg and time on his hands, he may well spend some of that time watching what goes on around him. This is what sets this film in motion. You’ll have to see (or re-see) for yourself.
I’ve seen Rear Window onscreen several times. That’s always great, when a screening presents itself. This time, just the dvd but yes that’ll do.