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Rear Window [VHS]
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Product Description

Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window is both confined and multileveled: both its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbors. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behavior glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder.

Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered.

Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the center of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbors (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch undetected than we do the putative murderer and his victim. Jeff's evident fear of intimacy and commitment with the elegant, adoring Lisa provides the other vital thread to the script, one woven not only into the couple's own relationship, but reflected and even commented upon through the various neighbors' lives.

At minimum, Hitchcock's skill at making us accomplices to Jeff's spying, coupled with an ingenious escalation of suspense as the teasingly vague evidence coalesces into ominous proof, deliver a superb thriller spiked with droll humor, right up to its nail-biting, nightmarish climax. At deeper levels, however, Rear Window plumbs issues of moral responsibility and emotional honesty, while offering further proof (were any needed) of the director's brilliance as a visual storyteller. --Sam Sutherland

Customer Reviews:

  • Hitchcock's Finest
    I'm glad to see that overall, this film got 5 stars seeing that I am a huge Hitchcock buff and have seen all but a handful of his movies. But reading some of the other comments, it just goes to show that all movies are rated to our own opinions. My only disagreement(at least the one I care to share) is that this movie is not based on voyeurism in a good light necissarily, although I think we all have it in us to some extent. Speaking of propaganda-I really don't think ALL OF THE SPY CAMERAS EVERYWHERE are because of this movie. ...more info
  • 5 stars - with a caveat!
    I teach this work as the pinnacle of Hitchcock's oeuvre in a film class, and I can literally watch it back-to-back, once every 10 weeks, and not get tired of it. It is so fantastically done on all fronts that it holds up beyond nearly all other popular films in the history of cinema.

    This is a well-done DVD with a truly fascinating doc on the second disk that gives all kinds of great inside information about not only the work itself, but Hitchcock's methods. My caveat is for the DVD transfer. One of my students worked for years at a restoration facility and when I showed him this DVD, he made disgusted noises at the cheap quality of the digital transfer. Apparently this is the way it's done nowadays because studios are too cheap to go in by hand and restore 35mm, so the pixillation is noticeable during dolly and panning shots, as are the fluctuations in color. However, this isn't exactly a posh Blu-Ray, and I suppose we should be thankful the Hitchcock 5 exist in the public domain at all, so 5 stars it is. :)...more info
  • One Of Hitch's All-Time Great Films
    It took me several viewings over many years before I really appreciated this film. Now I absolutely love it. Next to Psycho, it's now my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film. Having it on a pretty-clear DVD transfer didn't hurt, either. Eventually, I'd like to see a sharp Blu-Ray version of this movie.

    "Rear Window" still dated quite a bit with the dialogue, but the focus of the story, namely Jimmy Stewart's voyeurism and suspicions of what is going on in Raymond Burr's apartment, never gets old. It is a storyline which entertains and builds tremendous suspense. Stewart provides the fun and Grace Kelly is there for looks. The people Stewart observe are really interesting.

    Speaking of dated, can you imagine all the people in the crowded apartments keeping their blinds open all the time? Maybe it was just a more trusting world back in the 1950s!
    ...more info
    This is my second-favorite Jimmy Stewart movie ( VERTIGO being my favorite of both Stewart's, and Hitch's ). I have always been amazed by the intricacy of the staging, and set design in this beautifully, and brilliantly orchestrated psychological thriller, that juggles droll humor, social commentary, and mounting suspense with such aplomb, and twisted, though, surgeon-like precision. REAR WINDOW is an exquisite film, and should be in any serious collection....more info
  • Simply Amazing
    Alfred Hitchock has one of the best and most enduring filmographies of all time. From early successses like The Man Who Knew Too Much and The 39 Steps - Criterion Collection to his later years masterpieces like Vertigo (Collector's Edition), North By Northwest and Psycho (Collector's Edition), Hitchcock is one of the most celebrated filmmakers in history.

    Rear Window is nothing short of a masterpiece. A movie set in and around the front window of a man in a wheelchair. This entire movie, from the shots inside and outside of the window, to the superb acting from James Stewart and Grace Kelly, to the use of only diegetic to set the mood. A wonderful movie.

    One of the greatest of all times.

    Must Have.

    I also recommend: Strangers on a Train (Two-Disc Special Edition), Marnie, and Rope....more info
  • Small Town Life in New York
    This 1954 film is taken from a short story by Cornell Woolrich. The opening shows apartment houses in Greenwich Village and the people who live there. It is 90F and people are sweating it out. [Crime goes up with the temperature.] L. B. Jeffries is a graying photographer laid up with a broken leg. His apartment overlooks the windows of other apartments, the adults there and in the courtyard. A woman comes over to give him a massage. His girl friend is from Park Avenue. The lighting in the apartments allows viewing into the rooms. Lisa Carol Fremont is quite well-dressed and brings along a fancy take-out meal. Lisa wants to domesticate LBJ, to get him to settle down and quite foreign travel. But LBJ loves his career as a news photographer (can he look into his future?). Lisa is an upper-class lady who is happy in her niche.

    At night LBJ sees a man from across the courtyard making many trips at night carrying a suitcase. He views the apartment with binoculars, then with a long-lens SLR camera. At time you hear children, but see none. LBJ is more interested in the man across the courtyard than in luscious Lisa, and this upsets Lisa. What happened to Thorwald's wife? [Decomposition would be rapid in the 90F heat.] LBJ seems cranky from being stuck in his room for the past 7 weeks. Lisa says Mrs. Thorwald would not have left her favorite purse and jewelry behind. Lt. Tom Doyle warns against imagining things, he checked out the shipped trunk. [No search warrant needed?] The death of a pet dog is ominous. Only one person didn't come out to look!

    The amateurs continue to snoop into Thorwald's life. They wonder if something was buried in the back yard. Lisa enters Thorwald's apartment, is found, but the police take her away. LBJ answers the phone without saying "hello" and talks too much. There is a suspenseful series of heavy footsteps (believable?), then Thorwald enters the room. Can flashbulbs stop a murderer? The police arrive in time.

    The temperature drops to 70F. We see what happened to the others across the courtyard. The success of this film tells much about popular taste in those times. It is basically a short story that is padded out to make a long story. I would not rate it among the top Hitchcock films. "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "North by Northwest" were better remakes of earlier films. Such snooping about neighbors is a feature of small-town life, unlike the anonymity of a big city. But some could call this concerns of small-town life friendliness or caring. Before radio or TV.
    ...more info
  • Not In My Back Yard
    An old dog professsional photographer temporarily bed ridden (due to an accident)(James Stewart). A junior socialite (Grace Kelly) looking to get hitched to old dog photographer. A back yard full of troubled `lonely crowd' urban neighbors in 1950's New York. Bring in a salesman (Raymond Burr) neighbor (could it be Willie Loman going off the edge) in an unhappy marriage. Add in the master suspense director Alfred Hitchcock and you have the making of a classic suspense thriller. The plot revolves around the clues picked up by Stewart as he, out of boredom or otherwise, hones in on the apartment across the way. By the time Stewart and crew are done old Raymond Burr is going to need more than Perry Mason to get out of this fix. A word on Grace Kelly. They say Prince Rainer of Monaco, her husband, a man not known for showing emotion openly cried when she died in that car accident long ago. Now I know why. Enough said.

    ...more info
  • Best Hitchcock film ever!
    How can anyone not like Rear Window starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly? There should be absolutely zero thats who!! I recently bought it on DVD and have never stopped watching it since. Everything is so perfect, the cast, the story, the direction, even the cinematography is striking. James Stewart as the protagonist L.B. Jefferies and Grace Kelly as his love interest Lisa Fremont were excellent together throughout the film along with the supporting characters. The story was a clever fresh execution displaying the whole mystery that needed to be solved from an apartment window. The movie is a film that should be watched while your laying down with your feet propped up at night when you have nothing else to do in that busy schedule. I have seen just about every Hitchcock film out there that were all very good, but my favorite is still Rear Window. Simply Amazing! ...more info
  • A great follow-up to Psycho
    This was the first Hitchock movie I ever saw and it's still my favorite. Grace Kelly is as gorgeous as ever in this movie. Thelma Ritter is a great sidekick to Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart, the Hitcock regular. Hitchock creates a great set of neighbors for Jimmy Stewart to watch.

    I couldn't wait to see the ending the first time and I still love the final scenes. I could watch this over and over. The restored movie looks great.

    Definitely one of Hitchock's best movies since you know the crime at the beginning and just wait for it's climax. Law & Order probably got some inspiration from this film (LOL)....more info
  • Rear Window purchase
    Received this great movie in great shape from the buyer. This is such a classic that if you are a fan of Jimmy Stewart or Alfred Hitchcock it is a must have. The suspence keeps you going until the very end....more info
  • Showing its age, but it is still Stewart, Kelly and Hitch...
    This suspense yarn is quieter than many of Hitchcock's efforts, and the New York apartment life it depicts, along with how one recovers from a broken leg, operates a life as a free-lance photographer, and courts a fashion model girlfriend, are all quite changed from 50 years ago. If you must have the same tale updated, try the Christopher Reeve version from about ten years has charms of its own, but it isn't Hitchcock, and it does lack Jimmy and Grace (who is hot as a pistol despite keeping her clothes on.) In Hitchcock's version, the heroes are at least innocent, if not naive, and the bad guy is a killer, but not a psychopathic mass murderer who kills strangers for no reason. Worth seeing for the stars' performances in roles that give them little to do physically, and much to convey psychologically....more info
  • a gift is a gift
    I bought this as a gift for a friend that has Rear Window as one of their favorite movies of all time to watch...more info