Sum­mer­time and the sus­pi­cion comes easy

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

A NEW se­ries of Al­fred Hitch­cock’s clas­sic movies on Satur­day nights is in­tro­duced by cin­ema stal­wart and one of this news­pa­per’s film crit­ics, David Stratton, who qual­i­fies for clas­sic sta­tus him­self af­ter 20 years on tele­vi­sion talk­ing about films.

First up is Rear Win­dow. The soft­ened, time- worn Tech­ni­color adds an­other di­men­sion to this 1954 mys­tery thriller set in New York. Pho­to­jour­nal­ist L. B. Jef­feries ( James Ste­wart), known as Jeff, is laid up in his small apart­ment with a bro­ken leg plas­tered from hip to toe.

Bored out of his skull, the usu­ally ad­ven­tur­ous war cor­re­spon­dent has been amus­ing him­self by watch­ing his neigh­bours through their apart­ment block win­dows and in their yards.

It’s high sum­mer in the city, hot­ter than a match head, and the closely packed New York­ers are sleep­ing on bal­conies, walk­ing around in their un­der­wear, just go­ing about their busi­ness, un­aware that Jeff keeps tabs on them all through his trusty binoc­u­lars and tele­photo lens.

Out­side his win­dow he finds life’s rich tapestry: un­happy sin­gle­ton Miss Lone­ly­heart, the semi- naked dancer Miss Torso, a bo­hemian song­writer, old mar­ried cou­ples, and the Thor­walds, an in­valid wife and her un­happy hus­band.

Jeff’s prin­ci­pal com­pan­ions are his nurse, Stella, who gives him phys­i­cal rub­downs and emo­tional pep talks, and his girl­friend, so­cialite Lisa Carol Fre­mont ( Grace Kelly). Lisa re­ally wants to marry Jeff, al­though they are chalk and cheese, but she is one de­ter­mined woman with steel un­der her chif­fon dresses. She proves her brav­ery when Jeff be­comes con­vinced that Thor­wald has mur­dered his wife.

Ini­tially scep­ti­cal, Stella and Lisa go over to the neigh­bour­ing apart­ment block to in­ves­ti­gate, while Jeff keeps watch over them. This is clas­sic Hitch­cock: sus­pense­ful, with wry hu­mour over­com­ing sen­ti­ment, and a plot full of un­ex­pected twists.

The cast, as al­ways in a Hitch­cock film, is per­fect. The weird old English di­rec­tor adored his blonde stars: here the cam­era lingers on Kelly as Lisa, dressed in ex­quis­ite cou­ture. Thelma Rit­ter is the heart- of- gold, face- like- abat­tleaxe nurse Stella. As Thor­wald, Ray­mond Burr skulks in and out, bad tem­pered and suitably enig­matic.

Did he or didn’t he? Watch and find out.

Re­vis­it­ing Rear Win­dow is a fine way to spend a lazy Satur­day night. For those too young to have seen it first, sec­ond or 20th time around, the re­cent Shia LaBeouf film Dis­tur­bia pays homage; in fact the pro­duc­ers are be­ing sued in Man­hat­tan for pay­ing a lit­tle too much homage.

Com­ing up in the weeks ahead: Stratton in­tro­duces The Man Who Knew Too Much, Sus­pi­cion, Ver­tigo


Per­fect cast­ing:

James Ste­wart and Grace Kelly in

Rear Win­dow

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