What appears to be a tight and quaint little thriller seems by today’s standards so much more. Rear Window, one of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces from 1954, seems more modern today than the half a century ago that it was filmed. With reality television a staple on every channel, a person with a flick of the switch can immediately become a voyeur and watch through a window the staged lives of so many people, famous or not. Mr. Hitchcock put together a film that seems as if he himself had a window to the future.
The film is that of a semi-famous photographer, Jeff Jeffries, who remains in a wheelchair after shattering his leg while on assignment. Stuck in his Manhattan apartment for over six weeks the film audience meets his bourgeois Brahmin Park Avenue girlfriend Lisa Fremont along with his sharp tongued and private nurse, Stella. Bored and frustrated, he begins to innocently watch the neighbors living in the various apartments in the enclosed courtyard from his rear window. But soon, without knowing, he has become voyeuristic in a way. His thoughts about rear window ethics however are short lived when he suddenly comes to the conclusion that maybe a murder has occurred when one of his neighbor’s mysteriously disappears.
Though not necessarily a horror film, the off screen horror elements of what someone may or may not have done with a murdered corpse fits tightly into a story filled with suspense, dark humor, and Mr. Hitchcock’s inside joke that the audience is as guilty of voyeurism as Jeff Jefferies. Not shy about shocking its audience, Rear Window is the definition of a genuine genre classic. Philip and co-host Eric discuss one of their favorite genre films and how it is as much about murder as it is about the person and people who may have witnessed it.