For years I assumed this film's title would refer to the rear window of a car, and that we'd be treated to a paranoid driver obsessively checking his rear-view mirror. It is, in fact, about a housebound Jimmy Stewart, who gets his kicks as an imaginative voyeur. He's a globe-trotting photographer, but he's been stuck at home for the past seven weeks with his leg in a cast, so he's taken to watching the goings-on in the housing block opposite.
Most of what he sees through his neighbours' windows are romances, either requited or one-sided, giving us, in a series of brick-framed silent films, Hitchcock's 'Love Actually'. In one window, though, our inquisitive hero believes he has seen clues to something far more sinister: either he's found evidence of an uncommonly calm murderer, or else he's just being paranoid. Of course, characters in Hitchcock movies are always told they're being paranoid. It's part of what makes the films so tense.
|Thelma Ritter as the wonderfully down-to-earth nurse Stella,
and Grace Kelly as the glamorous Lisa.
I'd seen the film once before, but was unprepared for how enjoyable it was to watch, how immediately likeable the characters were and how much comedy Hitchcock used to include in his alarming tales of violent crime. For the severalth time during this Penciltonian project, I'm reminded to learn that famous directors can make really good films.