‘Jeff, wives don’t nag, they discuss…’
Hallelujah. It’s finally happened. I’ve sat through an Alfred Hitchcock film and actually enjoyed it. After yawning through North by Northwest and sighing my way through Vertigo. After shrugging during Psycho and shaking my head throughout The Birds. Finally. I have found a Hitchcock film to make me feel like I’m not a freak. I do belong. Thank you Rear Window, thank you…
When photographer L.B. Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart), or Jeff to his pals, is wheelchair bound in the line of duty, he develops an unhealthy obsession with spying on his neighbours. Jeff enlists the help of his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) and his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly).
First off, the elephant in the room. This particular elephant is the kind of elephant in the room who would eat a fish sandwich in hot weather or let off a series of bad smells from his elephant anus before blaming it on someone else. Basically, Jimmy Stewart’s character Jeff is a bit of a dick. He is reluctant to commit to his girlfriend (who is Grace Kelly for chrissakes), despite the fact that he is old enough to be her father. He is dismissive and rude to his nurse, even in the face of her ongoing support of his erratic behaviour. Finally, he attempts to convince his detective friend Doyle (Wendell Corey) to risk his job, break into some random guys apartment and start stealing things that could potentially be evidence. Seriously, the guy is the worst.
Despite the fact that his character is a first grade asshat, Jimmy Stewart is excellent as ever, bringing a necessary charm to the role and just generally performing like the olden days Tom Hanks that we all know that he is. Hitchcock allows the fantastic premise to do the work, telling the story simply and without waffle. The score is spellbinding rather than archaic and the ending is earned rather than convoluted. All these elements add up to what it is by far the best work that Hitchcock has ever produced.
Mostly I’m just grateful that I didn’t hate it. Oh and also that is another film crossed off my 10 Cinematic New Years’ Resolutions List that you can find here.